Sunday, December 30, 2007

numerically, it just doesn't work out

LUCKY ME!



The past few weeks this message has come up repeatedly when I open my email. I just have a hard time believing that I am the 10,000th visitor, every single time. Don't get me wrong, I'd really like to be winner #1 of the year 2007. Especially if it came with a lot of money. I have a feeling what I'd really be claiming is a lot of spam. And not even the kind you can eat.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Um, yes? I could use a holiday, thanks!

If you were a waiter at a nice restaurant, or even better, some personal assistant at a really nice spa attending to my every need (I'm sure they have a name like "waiter" - I am just not priviledged (a.k.a. wealthy) enought to know the term) that's probably what I would say if they asked me what I needed. A holiday. Although, if I was at either of those places I would probably be enjoying a holiday of sorts and so the question, and therefore the response, would be moot. (Isn't that a great word? Moot, moot, moot, moot, moot).

On Christmas Eve we gathered at my parent's house about 4:30 in the afternoon. A winter storm was rolling in, presenting us with snow for Christmas for the first time in a long time. We mixed and mingled and only started dinner a little bit late, which was actually on time by other year's standards. My sister and I (the only ones with kids so far) requested an early start time so that we could have enough time to mix and mingle (with a jingling beat) before needing to leave at S.M.T., which, if you're a parent you will recognize as "Standard Meltdown Time" which of course is the hour all children in your care immediately tire of the celebration and burst into tears and you must ungracefully haul them out to the car while hurridly downing your last few gulps of eggnog. Or Sprite, in my case, since I don't like eggnog.

Anyway! It was a nice evening and we had a good time, and left before SMT, and the kids, after sort of acting out the Nativity with only a few tears involved because of lack of professionalism on certain siblings' part, got to bed at a decent time. And Santa came, and his gifts were good. And really, it was a nice morning, etc. etc. And everyone played all day without worrying about anything else. Which brings me to the holiday thing.

I know that technically all that I just detailed was my holiday, but I spent a good chunk of time and energy cleaning the house on the morning of the 24th because I really like a clean house for Christmas, and I've been slowly trying to undo the clutter left in Santa's wake for the last two days, because I like a clean house after Christmas, too, but it's really beyond me. Not that the house is awful at all. But just that I need a holiday to recoup from the holiday. You know, get some energy back. I know this isn't an original sentiment. But it's a true sentiment, anyway. So, maybe for New Year's I can get a holiday? No? Well alright, I really didn't think so. Maybe just some resolutions then. Okay. I guess that will have to do!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent Night

And she brought forth
her firstborn son,
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
and laid him in a manger;
because there was no room
for them in the inn.
-Luke 2:7





about this painting

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dear Santa

It's time once again for the annual 'Open letter to Santa Claus.' Read about where the idea comes from and last year's letter here.


Dear St. Nick,

Wow, where does a year go? This one has flown by and I need to sit down and catch my breath. Do you feel the same way when December rolls around? I imagine that you are a Master Organizer and so important dates don't creep up on you, or maybe they do, but you have Mrs. Claus who is your Master Organizer and so she gets you off to the races in time for all of the celebrations going on at this time of year (thanks, Mrs. Claus!)

Of course this year you'll find us in Utah, and not New York. The girls have asked for all kinds of things this year, but Ben and I feel that bikes might be a nice addition to the family since we have a garage to store them in and a little more space where the kids can ride them. Of course the baby doesn't need one, she'll be happy just to be a part of things and will probably just want to eat the wrapping paper. My sweet boy is also enchanted by things that go, so a little trike or something would be nice. They'll understand that you can't bring that puppy they've been mentioning.

Oh. Also a No Whining Potion would be a big hit. My kids might not think they need it, and often they don't, but it would be nice, none the less.

As for me, well, I don't want to sound greedy or ungrateful for my current situation -- I will happily rent until I die if that's how things go -- but I'd like a house. However, I don't think you carry those around in your pack.

Here's something that takes up no room at all: I'd like the gift of making a little go a long way, and that will help with getting a house on our own. Also I'd like a cheerful and contented heart, and a dash of patience, which my children will appreciate. Maybe a bottle of bubble bath, and if you're feeling extravagant on my behalf, some Angel perfume. Apparently there is chocolate in it, and the scent is heavenly. But I don't need it, especially if the bubble bath is scented.

Last but not least, send Ben some down time, and a little relaxation and children who sleep through the night.

That's it for this year, Santa! Thanks for everything you do! Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas! Love, Allysha

Monday, December 17, 2007

the monday morning restoration project

Yikes. The Weekend Whirlwind of Disaster visited my house this, um, weekend actually, and left in it's wake books and toys and markers and small pieces of paper all over the floor, in almost all rooms. In my world, Christmas Cheer has a hard time operating in this kind of environment. That means either I'm a grinch (likely) or that the mess is pretty bad (also likely).

The kitchen counter is overflowing with a myriad of clutter, most of which, does not belong on a kitchen counter. Amid the cluttered mess I found, to my dismay, a cup, once filled part-way with chocolate milk. Said milk was also found, no longer in the cup, but on the counter spread thin and becoming somewhat sticky and glue like, attaching papers everywhere to the faux-marble finish. Lovely.

That said, I am actually writing this and posting this, in other words, I am actually blogging from home this morning on my very own 24 carat, genuine internet connection. Hel-lo World! Can I check the weather for you? Maybe do some online banking? Or perhaps I can just throw in this free set of knives with your online purchase of a new DVD player since your old one broke over the weekend? Just let me know.

Happy Monday, everybody.

Friday, December 14, 2007

all I want for Christmas- the cents of Christmas

Christmas always presents me with a few conundrums, generally arising from opposing desires and certain moral dictates by which I try to live my life. Really what I am saying is, the dilemma is regarding how much to spend and what to buy for my children for Christmas.

I’d love to go crazy over-the-moon and get fabulous presents. Wow everyone. Wow myself! My credit card company would be delighted and would probably oblige. And if they didn’t I have no doubt I could find one that would. My husband and credit score - maybe not so much on the delight part.

Then again, I’d like my family to focus on the meaning of Christmas, and not get hung up on what Santa is trying to squeeze down our non-existent chimney. Also, Ben’s feelings aside, I really don’t want to be paying for Christmas in July. It’s against my money ethic. I am always annoyed at my credit union when I get their annual “spend away on a new line of credit and happy holidays!” letter.

I find that even on years that are more skimpy, Christmas morning has a way of ending with a gluttonous feel. Despite my worry of not having enough and getting a few fillers at the last minute, my children have lost interest in half of their presents as soon as they’re opened and I know the truth: they don’t need that much to have a good Christmas.

What do you do to balance the wow-factor and the practical and spiritual side of spending for Christmas gifts? How do you handle your kids wish lists? What do you do so that you don’t have to loosen your financial belt to handle an ever-expanding debt-line? How do you teach your kids that the giving, not the receiving is the more important part?

These are not rhetorical questions stewing in my brain. I want to know.

Monday, December 10, 2007

sequel

"Mom, can we see Nutcracker II?" my daughter asked me today.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

chestnuts roasting on an open fire - the scents of Christmas

In France in the wintertime they actually do sell roasted chestnuts on the streets. And to be perfectly honest, the smell didn't make me crazy for the holidays or anything, but it was fun to see chestnuts roasting, if for no other reason than it reminded me that Jack Frost was nipping at my nose, or would be in the near future.  There are other smells I prefer for the holidays.

Potpourri was invented for Christmas.  Alright, I don't actually know that for a fact, but if it wasn't it should have been, because it makes perfectly good sense that potpourri and Christmas go hand in hand. The lovely blend of smells that are synonymous with the holidays can go a long way to helping you forget about all of the presents you still have left to buy, and wrap, and send out.  Okay, well maybe that's not a good thing, but it can at least bring a few relaxing moments into your day.

I like to toss a few whole cloves, whole allspice berries, some cinnamon sticks and some orange slices (peel and all) into some boiling water and let it simmer on the stove.  I keep and eye on the water level so that I don't have to deal with burnt cinnamon smell which, let's face it, isn't as pleasant.

If you want to be practical about the whole spicy thing then you can do as I also often do during the holidays: make wassail in bulk.  Yum, wassail.  I find as I get older, it had become my preferred drink on chilly mornings or afternoons or evenings, even more than gourmet cocoa.  (A really good cocoa can catch my attention, don't get me wrong- but it can get to be too much for me).  Wassail has become a tradition for my family in the last few years, and the other night when getting ready to mix up a batch I called to ask where the recipe was.  My mom directed me to the correct cookbook and my sister, heading up stairs, called out "page ten!"

So I present the following recipe for your consumption.  I always double this and put it in the refrigerator for a few days and just heat up a cup in the microwave whenever I feel like it.

Combine 2 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar in large pot.  Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, so that the sugar combines with the water and doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Let boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add 5 whole cloves, 4 whole allspice berries, 1 cinnamon stick , 1/2 piece of crystallized ginger (a good reason to double this, if you need one, just drop in one whole piece - all done) and a partridge in a pear tree.  Just kidding on that last one.
Cover.  Let sit for one hour. Strain mixture (a.k.a. remove all spices, with a slotted spoon if you like).  Add 4 cups apple juice, 2 cups orange juice and 2 cups lemonade (some recipes call for lemon juice - I prefer lemonade).  Reheat.  Serve immediately in cozy holiday mugs to people standing outside your door wearing turtlenecks, scarves, earmuffs, and singing carols to you, preferably in tune.

I know there are other recipes.  I ran across one that called for cranberry juice and it looked delicious, but the whole spice combining was too complicated for my simple soul, so I probably won't try it, but if you have a good wassail recipe, share and share alike!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I wonder as I wander, or maybe I wander as I wonder...

Here I sit on the couch in front of the Christmas tree.  I have Ben's computer on my lap, because it has an airport card and so thanks to someone in my neighborhood who hasn't encrypted their wireless whatever I can blog something. I hope to have a real, live, actual to goodness internet connection of my own in the next week and a half.  That is, if my landlord decides that it's okay to wire this place for the internet.  One would think in this day and age it would be a no brainer.  And I'm hoping it is a no brainer.  But this is one of the many reasons I detest renting.
My best renting experience was in NY, where a lot of people rent, so it's not that out of the ordinary.  We had a wonderful and funny old italian grandmother we rented from.  She grew tomatoes in the backyard and shared them with us.  She gave us the special key to the basement so we could access the fuse box, a privilege that wasn't given to the renter downstairs.  She loved, loved, loved Ben. And when we moved in, we got the house wired for internet and didn't even worry about asking her. 
Anyway, really where this post was going was here: so I have Ben's computer on my lap and my computer to the side of me so I can copy a post I've written up. Ben would tell me I should just copy it over on his thumb drive, but I don't know where that is, and I don't want to copy it to CD because I resist technology or something.
And that whole above paragraph just proves one thing...this post wasn't really going anywhere, and yet here it is.  For something more worthwhile, I direct you to Mental Tesserae where Julie has her fabulous Christmas Art Advent Blog going. It's really great.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

why I should be a real blogger and carry a camera

otherwise entitled: I'll be home for Christmas...

I walk into my house today, past the newly decorated mantle and windows, the glowing fireplace, the lovely music playing and into the kitchen where I am startled. By 'my house' I mean the one I grew up in, so actually my parent's house, but still very much my house. And, as every person who still carries around with them some vestiges of their own childhood, I like to come home at Christmas time.

My mom has a few evergreen trees a couple of feet high that she puts up in small groupings around the house every year. Not real ones, mind you, the fake ones, but nice fake ones. I guess she's not quite done decorating because in the kitchen in a corner by the table are what looks like a rather stiff family, standing vertically, in black body bags. Now, I'm supposing that they really are those fake trees, and I'd love to show you what they look like because I think you would agree with me- it's a little creepy. They look a tad too convincing for me to go over and actually find out if they are real or not...and this leads me to one conclusion.

I really need to start visually documenting the small amusements of my life.

the activity

It sounds like some sort of holiday suspense movie, or something. But actually "the activity" is the charming name my girls have given our nativity. "When are we going to get out the activity?"

And when you think about it, I think there was probably a fair amount of activity going on in the nativity that first Noel; animals, straw, a mother in labor for the first time, a father standing by, one or two blessed midwives. And that's before the shepherds started showing up.  (Technically the wise men appeared a while after the birth, but we need them in the picture since they brought the gifts.) 
There is a lot of activity going on as we get ready to celebrate those events.  I need to remember take a little bit of time in between the activity to really think about those who were a part of that nativity, and why it's so important to me.  

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I love this time of year, LOVE IT, I tell you. I’d like to say that everyone I know feels this way, so it should come as no surprise that I feel this way, but actually a friend of mine from college swore he did not like Christmastime; that the season conspired against him to bring all sorts of bad luck and ironic twists into his otherwise simple and calm life. He gleefully railed against the consumerism and I don’t know how strongly he felt about the Christmas story. He laughed (in an ironic tone) about the two being so strongly bound together (ironically bound, yes?). And although I suspect it was just a case of age induced counter-culturalism, he did indeed claim to not like the holidays.

These days, however, he has a little girl, and I would be surprised if his feelings about Christmas haven’t changed a little bit with her around. Besides, by the time one is over thirty, the whole counter-culture thing can seem a little, well, youthful and naive. There are bigger fish to fry than simply an entire culture one has erroneously perceived.

We are decorating our Christmas Tree today. We will listen and sing along to carols being sung, if not by a choir, then by Harry Connick, Jr. and Amy Grant. And maybe even Elvis. We will get drunk on Sprite and get sick eating red and green peanut M&Ms. Then we will vacuum up the fallen pine needles, set the finishing touches and send the children off to bed. And while wanting to spend a quiet evening in front of the tree, Ben and I will also collapse into a deep but restless sleep ourselves, waiting for one of the children to wake us up in the middle of the night, at least once. Ah yes. The Season is here. Deck the Halls, everyone! Tra, la, la, la, la!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

an efficient use of your time

Test your vocabulary and help end world hunger at the same time. Try it. You'll like it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

concentration

I'm in the laundry room loading clothes from one machine to the other when suddenly I look down to realize I have just put all of my wet darks back into the washing machine from the dryer. At what point did I switch from loading to unloading the dryer, I know not. What I can tell you is this: it could be a long day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm thankful

Each year I make a list of everything I can think of that I'm thankful for. Okay, I actually didn't get around to it last year and I don't know about this year either, but I have done it in years past and it's a fun exercise. I list everything from my family to grape juice, my faith to a good notebook with an accompanying pen. It's all about the big and the small and I enjoy chronicling all of it. It helps me recognize things I really am grateful for on every level.

This year of course I would list my family, which includes my own family and the one I grew up in. They really are what makes my life. Last night almost all of my siblings piled onto the couch at my parent's home to watch Little Women. We laughed, we cried. We groaned at the end, because none of us is very fond of the ending (the resolution is fine and good, it's just the way they executed it - it could've been better). The party was a lot of fun.

Next I would say that as far as frivolous goes, I am in love with the grapefruit Izzy (a carbonated fruit juice beverage, yum) and would just be thrilled fushia if Santa dropped some of those off by my stocking in a month or so. I'm trying to cut down on my "splurging on the Izzy, just today." But I really like that little drink right now and it is on my list.

Last but not least on this mini-list of thanksgiving and gratitude is this little world of blogging. I enjoy the writing. I enjoy the reading. I love getting comments and giving comments. I have been without consistent internet at home, so I squeeze it in when I can and plan on getting "online" for real in a few weeks, so I can get back into a rhythm. But readers, and writers, I am thankful for this little hobby that lets me connect with you.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your blessings big and small are actually too numerous to list.

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's that time of year!

It's been a week and a half since Halloween and Ben takes my daughter, still welded to her kitty-cat costume, to the grocery store, where Santa Claus is merrily greeting the customers.

Thanksgiving must be just around the corner.

Monday, November 12, 2007

In which I think about becoming a cook

My daughter's birthday was on Saturday. She turned four. Which is kind of funny, because in truth, I feel like she's been four for at least six months now. Actually, I always feel that way when her birthday comes around. She has a way of seeming older than she is, and her intellect is certainly up to it. Then again, she throws in a few moments of "younger than" as well, to make up for it I'm sure. In any case, birthdays mean birthday cake. And we needed to make one!

I'm trying to stick to a budget and so in the grand tradition of trying to save a little moolah here and there, I decided to make the cake from scratch myself. Also, the frosting. (Whoa! Don't go too crazy, Allysha!) So I did. With ample help from Ben. Actually, I was probably more of the cake assistant, but it was a cake with frosting all made from ingredients in our kitchen! The frosting required a little bit of cooking, even. But it was easy.

It turned out pretty good. The cake was little bit dry from being in the oven a few extra minutes, but the frosting was great. A chocolate truffle frosting made largely from cream. Yummy. And we had some extra frosting, so we homemade some cupcakes as well. They were not bad. But I think the bug has bitten. Ben and I are curious as to how we can better our cake making skills. Or is that skillz? I'll let you know how it goes, if it goes!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I didn't shave my legs, but I did paint my toenails!

Sometimes you just have to make it about the little things. Like today, for instance: My neighbor complimented the shirt I was wearing, and I confessed that because I hadn't gotten around to taking a shower this morning, I decided to wear something more than just a T-shirt, to make up for it. I can say this to my neighbor because we often greet each other in our PJ pants (or the equivalent) in the middle of the day when I go out to pick up my mail or take out the garbage. I like this about her. I like that one day her daughter came over to play. In her nightgown. Not that she constantly sends her children out into the world dressed like it's a slumber party. But she knows that there are Those Days. She doesn't sweat them. It's a good quality to have in a next door neighbor. It's a quality I emulate well, I think.

Monday, November 5, 2007

it's about Time

What I used to love about changing from Daylight Savings Time back to ‘Regular’ time was the extra hour gained. For a week or so, I could feel like I was sleeping in every morning. Sadly, that changed when I had children old enough to sleep in their own beds.

Time is not something children understand. They refuse to be governed by it, and they flaunt their ability to be wholly unattached to the hands of the clock, mostly by refusing to stay in bed an hour later in the morning after the time changes. So much for sleeping in. What you end up with is a child standing at your bed at 6 a.m. demanding breakfast.

Of course, sometime in between jr. high and high school this will change. The “Fall Back” will come to mean something important to them. At least at an intellectual level, because children like to make up for the lack of sleeping-in done in their early years with an over-abundance of sleeping-in during their adolescent years. Time change or no time change, every day is a new opportunity to sleep late. This fact of life does not comfort me.

There are a few logistical matters to take care of with a time change. I still need to change the clock in our bathroom. We changed the clock in the kitchen right away so we wouldn’t be late, or early I guess (yea, fat chance), to church on Sunday. And actually, there are a few of our clocks still on Eastern Daylight Time. Yes. I know. I have a tendency towards nostalgia and sentimentality and despite the stories I could tell you of busy mom trying to get her house unpacked and ordered, it’s a little bit embarrassing, and may be a wee bit pathetic. But I will tell you nothing, if not the Truth.

Our cell phones access some almighty satellite in the sky that Knows, so they are always in the right time zone. Ben changed our alarm clock a few weeks ago from EDT, because he was tired of calculating when exactly he needed to wake up. “Let’s see. Five-thirty a.m. in Utah is seven-thirty in New York. It says eleven o’clock right now, and that means the majority of people here think it’s nine – bed time in an hour and a half, that gives me seven hours of sleep. Good deal.” I personally don’t see what the problem was but then again, I’m not the one getting up before 6 a.m. I mean, I wasn’t, until this past Sunday. Anyway, the alarm clock was changed and changed again.

So now’s the time. As long as I’m changing the time on my clocks, I may as well situate everybody here, well and good, in Mountain Standard time. At least most of my clocks. For a few months.

Friday, November 2, 2007

sound off - a rose by any other name

So here is a question for all you bloggers w/ children: do you use their real names? Why or why not? I've been weighing pros and cons for awhile and haven't made a decision. (I'm either really slow, or very busy- maybe both.)

I'd love to use my kids nick-names, if they had any. But they don't and I'm pretty attached to their real names. I mean, I named them what I named them for a reason. And I want to use names for my kids here, because when you get three daughters and a son, it's time to identify them by more than age and gender. But I don't know about sending out their little identities unprotected into cyberspace.

Let me know what you think. If you do use your kids real names, but don't want people to necessarily know that, sign in with a different name or as annonymous so others can't link back to your blog.

Thanks! Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I like Thursdays

...because the week is almost over, the extra-curricular activities have all been accounted for, and the weekend is just around the corner. I like Thursday because it's a good day to take stock of what you've done and what's coming up. It's a day when you can have a little bit of chocolate just because. Maybe because you walked an extra block this morning. Or maybe because it was a day to skip the walking because you did a lot of walking last night. You called it "trick-or-treating." (Hence the ready availability of chocolate). Thursdays are like odd numbers. They just are nice to have around or to be. Or maybe like carameled apples, where the caramel isn't too sticky and the apple isn't too sour or too sweet. Thursday just is. And I really like Thursday.

This Thursday is especially nice. For one thing, it's November first and Halloween is OVER. I love November and I have been pretty bah-humbuggy about Halloween this year. I didn't want to participate. I'm working on keeping to a budget, so I didn't want to spend any money on contributing to the collective neighborhood cavity count. The prospect of visiting the non-descript architecture they call houses here, in the cold and dark, was not inspiring. Last year we trick-or-treated on Dante Avenue. It's hard to beat that.

There is a little tradition around here where during the month of October, treats are delivered anonymously to people. The treat comes with a little paper ghost to put in your window, indicating that you have been cheerfully spooked, but not before you make copies of the ghost so that you can continue the tradition.

But really, I wasn't in the mood to run away after ringing someone's doorbell, cackling like a witch over her brewing potion. I did made a few treats and even delivered them. In person. Without the little ghost. I didn't want to pass on the responsibility. I did, after a few days, put my own ghost in my window, so that we wouldn't get treated a second time. (I'm noble like that.)

The girls have been asking why we have Halloween. Hmmm. Because of the commercial dividends paid to the candy makers and distributors? They had a blast dressing up (including the few days before Halloween- let's get some use out of those costumes!) and they enjoyed going out with Ben. My little boy was a sweet cowboy in a costume that cost nothing (hooray for that budget!) and now I'm ready for some real holidays. And, as always, regular Thursdays welcome at any time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

a veritable dragon

"Mommy, I have fire!" my daughter said excitedly.
And then she spit on me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

it's true

This afternoon we were taking a little family stroll across BYU campus. The weather is perfectly Fall; late afternoon sun, no clouds, air crisp but not cold, really pleasant stuff. My almost 4 year-old runs ahead of all of us with her arms open wide and says loudly "I look sooo beautiful today!" Then she skips around some more, her blond ponytail bouncing up and down, the yellow ruffles on her skirt doing the same. She is completely happy and completely oblivious to the amused and charmed glances of those passing by.

Monday, October 22, 2007

metaphorical mountains, molehills and such

There are days when I feel like I'm climbing up a mountain made out of sand. Have you even experienced that? When I was little we had this huge mountain of dirt in our back yard for awhile while it was being landscaped. It was a blast to play in. We got filthy. But getting to the top was a challenge. You'd take a few steps up only to hit some loosely packed dirt and slide right back. That's how I feel right now. I'm trying to climb my own little metaphorical mountain of motherhood and my progress is a little bit halting, to say the least. I'm a little sleep deprived, and having a hard time getting things done. I sweep and sweep but as far as I can tell, my tile grows crumbs and small bits of paper. My books are constantly jumping off their assigned bookshelves. The dishes seem to be multiplying faster than rabbits, although my dishwasher is actually doing a pretty decent job keeping up with them. And funny thing this, my kids actually expect me to be available for them during all of this stuff! I have a pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded in the hallway. Would you say I'm over-optimistic if I told you the good part of that pile is that it's getting bigger? I mean, at least I'm still getting the dirty piles of clothes clean, right? Right.

My current philosophy is this: You do what you can. You pray. And then you can do a little more. And then you try and go to bed early so that you aren't as inclined to yell at your kids when they drop their shoes and coats on the floor and leave them there as they come inside your house. Also, maybe then you remember that sitting down to read some Edward Lear limericks with your kids is, in the long run, more important than getting the laundry folded. And a heck of a lot more entertaining.

Somedays it's not easy. But I'm telling you, by the time my kids are grown and gone, I'm gonna have some really nice looking legs from climbing this thing. Metaphorically speaking.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

it's so quiet here

When we got to Utah, my daughter was awed at the idea of doing our laundry in our very own house! And last week when we turned on the "heater" she asked where the thing was with the "pipes" and was confused, because how do you heat up a house without a radiator? or two, or three? Well, you can do it, but it certainly is heat without character, that's for sure. No hissing, no clicking, no clacking. No loud random bangings in the middle of the night. Yes, middle America, we may have lost a burn hazard and gained some extra floor space wih central heating, but it came at a cost.



( I won't say the same about the in-home laundromat.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm a wimp

It's time to start the sleep training. It's been time for a little while, but I'm having a hard time getting up for it. I know that after a few nights of letting my little girl cry it out, she'll be fine, and I'll get more sleep. But.

I think I'm going soft in my old(er) age.

Still. She's just 4.5 months. And sometimes she'll sleep through the night on her own.

Sometimes.

Also, she's really talented at hysterical crying. Fantastic at it, actually. Which, you know, hinders my desire to attempt the whole rigamarolle. (That's probably spelled wrong. Feel free to correct.) I think she knows this. She knows I'm weak.

But I just read through my know-it-all pediatrics book and I've been induldging my baby in all the things I shouldn't. Picking her up. Feeding her even if maybe she's not hungry. Letting her come to bed with me. I mean, of course she'd rather snuggle up with mom for a little while than sleep in her own bed. But it's all about forming habits now.

I'm just having a hard time giving up the sleep required in order to get her to sleep more. I know, I know. In the long run... for now I guess I just have enough stamina for the short run.

So. At least I'm thinking about it. That's a start.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

green pants

The dreaded grass stain appeared yesterday. Actually, not so dreaded for me, a mother living in the era of Shout and Spray n' Wash and other happy titled stain removers. But for my daughter, oh my, those grass stains appeared on her new pink school jeans and her life was ruined, RUINED, I tell you. She sobbed and sobbed. She's headed for Broadway, that one. And then she choked out something I think we all metaphorically wish for from time to time. " I wish these pants were green (sob, sniff) because then it wouldn't matter if I got grass stains."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

disclaimer on the vampire

So, once upon a time our family went to Wendy's and along with the kid's meals we got a Junie B. Jones CD. And that thing is hilarious. And that was a good deal, I think, cause my daughter listens to it all the time (that's me attempting junie-speak). So we picked up a few other books for reading time and they have been a hit. But Junie B. does have a tendency to call kids some funny and creative names. Also, she likes the word stupid. Which is fine. Because sometimes I like the word stupid. And sometimes you just need to call someone a name. Or, maybe not? It's one of those parent conundrums- I really do like the books, but I know, I KNOW, that my girls are going to pick-up on the name calling, etc. fast than you can say "hey, you, poopy-head" and I don't really like that.

When reading with the girls Ben and I both point out the "nice thing to do and say" vs the "not-so-nice thing to do and say" and that's what we do with some of the Junie B. stuff and it seems to work out just fine.

So it is with these vampire love stories; there are things I admire about Stephenie Meyer's writing. Also, I'm jealous of her success (though I am very happy for her, of course). I am also a very fast reader, especially when it comes to lighter reading, which this is. That means that on reviewing the books I realized how much of the physical relationship I sped-read through, though even on the first time through the story I wasn't entirely comfortable with that aspect of the book.

As a writer and as someone whose religion and values about virtue and chastity are clear and strict, I often wonder where the line is when writing about characters who do not have those same values, etc. And each writer has to deal with that on their own, with each character they create and decide what is and what is not necessary to the plot line, and if it should be written. Bella and Edward have a "chaste" but fairly physical relationship that I wouldn't want my daughter to mimic. But I see how it ties into the whole 'noble vampire' thing: he can kiss her neck and not kill her. And Stephenie Meyer does have her characters make a case for virtue, although not the case I would make, perhaps, but who knows?

So. I did enjoy the books. But there were things that gave me pause. I just wanted to let you know that, as some of you go off to read them.

Friday, October 5, 2007

bite me

So. I've been bitten by a vampire.

Sort of. Also, I find I don't really mind werewolves.

Have you heard about Stephenie Meyer? She is currently living my dream; aka a thirty-something mormon mother wakes up from a dream one morning and writes a book about it that becomes a New York Times best seller. And then another one. And another one. Well, okay. Part of my dream. I have a hard time seeing myself writing about vampires and the like, but my sisters had read her books, so I figured, why not? In the midst of my surrounding chaos, I could use some light reading.

And I'm telling you, the girl knows how to move a story. It's a teen romance, definitely. And while that's not my prefered genre, she does a really good job with the suspense and the plot line. Also, it's a teen romance I'd let my mother read and not be embarrassed. Except that the idea of vampires and werewolves seems totally bizarre to my mom in a romance. But you know, it works. It's not rocket-science or Media Theory (the not-so-light reading I've recently delved into), but it's enjoyable.

Enough so that those t-shirts that say "bite me / The Edward Cullen fan club" make me chuckle.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

a little celebration

My bro is getting married tomorrow! And I'm soooo excited for him. While it's not a surprise, his finacee - soon to be wife, is amazing and incredible and I'm so excited to have her in the family. Lincoln is a lucky boy. And Alena is a lucky girl. I'd post a picture here if I had one...I'll try and get one up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

mortality

I have, for a few weeks, been planning on telling you about our kitty saga. We moved to Utah and got some pets, two little kittens that filled up the heart's desire of my children. Pets weren't an option in New York. But they are in Utah, and so here we were. And then we found this house to rent. And one of the compelling reasons to take it was that they said our cats could stay. So we were happy.

But the house we live in has a generic backyard, with the same generic fencing that everyone has around here and one night the kitties wandered off and got lost. And we were sad, mostly for my second daughter, who loved those little cats, violently. And we told the girls to pray for them. And we prayed for them. And one afternoon someone brought Bella back. Although Azure was still AWOL, having Bella back was a comfort. And there was no chance of losing her again because, like any respectable cat with nine lives, she came back. Anytime she left our yard for the next week and a half, someone brought her home, or called, or left a note saying she was at so & so's house and we could pick her up.

She came back. And back. And back.

So my daughter could haul Bella around in what looked like a most uncomfortable manner, and Bella could meow up at me to ask for a little bit of relief and some food, and I could employ my impressive cat hissing abilities to scare off bigger cats who came to take my kitten's food. And she was a sweetheart. And on Saturday, she died. She was run-over in the most gentle way possible for a little kitty, for which I am grateful, though I'll spare you the details. Our neighbors found her little body curled up in the rain and they put a bucket over her and when we arrived home Ben found her, and our children didn't. Thankfully.

And Ben dug a little grave in the corner of our yard, out in the rain, by himself. When we told the girls, our oldest burst into tears and our other daughter, the one who Loved our Bella, didn't. She looked at her sister and wondered for a second if she should do the same, but that isn't her nature, and in the somber moment, she stayed true to herself. And we talked about our kitty up in heaven and our daughter insisted against the trauma of her sister that our kitty would indeed be resurrected. And that would be good.

The girls and I had been talking about the resurrection just a few days before. Thankfully.

It's been a long time since I lost a pet. I forgot how much it hurts. That this little ball of fluff meant for my children, always waiting for just the right moment to dash inside the house, coming eagerly when I called her, exasperating me with her lacksidaisical use of the litter box, could work her way so easily into my heart and leave it a little bit hollow when she left.

In French, the word for dead is 'mort'. I've been planning the title for this post, but I just realized that. Death is the inevitable result of mortality. It's the reason why we're mortal, because we 'mort;' we can die, we will die. We do die. Even little kitties with nine lives. And I told Ben our next pet will have to be a fish, because I don't see myself getting too attached to one of those. But I also told him that I think one of the reasons you have pets, whether they be fish, or cats, is to teach your children about mortality.

Which in reality teaches them about immortality. We're mortal. But we won't stay that way.

We prayed for our kitty cats, that they would be safe, that they could come home. And Bella did. And then she went home again.

Being mortal hurts. Being mortal means that you'll feel sadness when your kitty can't flit around your ankles anymore. But I can't imagine a heaven and a life after this one without animals. And neither can my girls. In part because they know that at their core, this life is not about being mortal, but being immortal. And even when it's just about a kitty, that's the comfort.

Friday, September 21, 2007

dopey

Things like this make me sad. Who knows what to think? The man has spent almost 2 million dollars defending himself. He says he's innocent. He sounds sincere. But. That's the bummer about today's world. You just never know. Honest? Dishonest? Doping? Non-doping? Pretty much just dopey all around.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ahoy, there! mateys! (arrghhh) - again

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Get out your red bandana and your eye patch. Put some gold chains around your neck. Grab some skulls and a hat. Wear some baggy pants that come down to your knees. (Warning: if you forget the eye patch you may be mistaken for a rapper or a DJ instead). But I say forget talking like a pirate. (I've never been great at that anyway, it comes out sounding more like an Irish brogue.) How about Be A Pirate Day? Today this sounds very appealing.

There are a few things that I have in common with pirates. I look good in hats. I like treasure chests full of sparkling jewels and gleaming gold coins. I don't have a dishwasher. Pirates of the Caribbean was always my favorite (the ride, not the movie).

But pirates have a few advantages over me. For example the cleanliness requirements for dishes are pretty low. There's probably not even a huge need for them as long as you get some food, the preparation of which is minimal, I'd imagine. Pirates don't have to deal with a kid who has decided that going to the bathroom in a toilet is overrated. In fact having an "accident" on the starboard side may happen on a fairly regular basis and is probably not a big deal. My guess is that pirate ships are pretty smelly already and some additional urine won't make a heck of a lot of difference.

Also, pirates don't feel guilty for spanking one child for chasing their sister around when that sister is holding scissors, which is the object they happen to be fighting over. This is because running on deck with sharp objects is expected and even encouraged. And if you trip and fall on the sharp object, well, man overboard! Besides, flogging and making someone walk the plank are a pirates' kind of discipline. Spanking? Probably more of a form of affection, like a stern talking to. Laundry rarely needs to be done because you only have maybe two sets of clothes and a dip in the ocean is as good as anything, and that happens whenever you tick off the captain. If you get concerned with the moral implications of being a pirate you can always call yourself a buccaneer and that makes everything okay. Well, alright. Maybe being a pirate is not all that it's cracked up to be.

The kicker on this gray day is this; as a pirate you get to sail to relaxing, sunny places like the Caribbean, or Puerto Rico or Hawaii or something. Today if you offered that to me, I might take you up on it.



Originally posted on September 19, 2006.

Monday, September 17, 2007

weather report -again

It's kind of amazing that these days we can turn on the computer, go to a website, type in our zip code and presto! the weather report for our town. It's easy, handy, not always right (what weather report ever has been), and I use it all the time. But I think it's time to bump technology up a notch.

I want a weather report for my kids. It would really help me out. I'd get up in the morning, type in their names and get a read-out something like this:

Fair to partly cloudy in the morning with a chance of whining, clearing up by the afternoon. Sunny smiles with minor scattered squabbling until bedtime when a little poutiness will blow in, but an early bedtime with a story will take care of that!

Or:

Watch out today, folks! We have a possible storm brewing on the horizon due to a late bedtime last night and it doesn't look pretty. Take the necessary precautions and don't forget to put on your patience if you decide to undertake any project more difficult than say, getting dressed. Things may be aggravated by some sibling rivalry and jealousy, but could be averted if some kindly words, love, and cookies blow in ahead of the cold front.

See how useful this would be? Actually it would be handy to check anybody's mood, and I'm sure my kids would love a weather report for me as well. Heck, I'd be happy to have a weather report for myself (it could be a tricky day, with some hormones rolling in. Chocolate should remedy any urge to cry or scream...). So someone out there, more advanced than I, get to work. I'll let you try it out on my kids and we'll split the profits 50/50. Deal?



This was originally posted December 7, 2006.

sort of like nick-at-nite

The next week or so I'm posting re-runs. Just a few. Unless something absolutely amazing just insists on flowing out of my brain. But I've picked out a few entries I'm fond of for some reason or another, and I hope you enjoy them, or enjoy them again.
I'd still like that weather report in today's post. And don't miss Wednesday's entry, which is one of my top 10 favorites (argghh, mateys! It's talk like a pirate day!) So, cheerio!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

pantsed

Well, actually, skirted. By my three (almost four) year-old. Because I wouldn't let her go over to the neighbor's house to play. She yelled. Then she grabbed my skirt and yanked downward with all her might.

Fortunately we were in the house. If I hadn't been laughing so hard, and trying to disguise it, I might be a tad concerned about how I'm doing raising this particular child. Do you think she might dare to try this at school someday with one of her teachers? It would be cause for consternation. But I might pay some money to see it...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

kindergarten assessment

My oldest has started school. The first week of school the newbies stay home. Instead of regularly scheduled class they have one-on-one appointments with their teacher to evaluate how carefully their parents have prepped them for this all-important day. How many years has your child been doing phonics exercises guaranteed to have them reading Plato in 48 hours? For my daughter, none. But I can proudly report she does know her alphabet, lower and upper case, can give most of their sounds when prompted (she knows them all, just gets nervous) and had to be stopped by her teacher when asked to count as high as she could. Ahem.

While he drilled her on her colors and shapes etc., etc., I got to fill out a form about her. Did I have any concerns? What was I expecting for this year? What were my daughter's fears? Were there special circumstances I wanted to share regarding my child? I read through the questions. I read through them again. Just who was being evaluated? I began to feel inadequate.

I am a low-key, laid-back person. I usually am not one to jump to an over-emotional response. I don’t get worked up. But put into this context, I began to worry. Maybe I am simply a slacker. Or worse. A slacker parent. Yikes!

My expectations for kindergarten are…that my daughter discover her deepest hidden talents and arrive home singing an aria she has composed with minimal help from the music teacher? Well, my expectations are that she be taught what you teach kindergartners, you know?

What are her fears? Honestly, I don’t think she has any great fears. I mean, it’s not that she’s never afraid, but she’s also melodramatic, so negotiating between “fears” and “fears”, well…have I been neglecting the emotional well-being of my daughter? My, I mean, Her teacher is going to discover some obvious emotional disturbance that I haven’t dealt with appropriately, and what will that say about my parenting skills?

I had the same feeling when she went for her 5 year check-up with the pediatrician. Did I have any concerns? Um…no. Should I? Is this another test I’m failing? I mean, she likes ice cream more than broccoli, but that’s normal. Right? Am I missing signs that she’s growing inadequately? Am I over-confident in her health and well-being? But back to the school form, I could put down that she’s afraid of shots for immunizations.

We’ve survived two weeks of school now and this includes riding the bus to and from school. No real issues. She can be a little over-emotional when she gets home. But everyone seems to be doing alright. I mean, whew! This starting kindergarten thing. It’s a bit more stressful that I thought!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

new moon

The past few days my daughter’s class has been studying colors. Each day the children are to wear the designated color- brown, red, yellow, green, blue. Today, however, they will wear three colors; red, white and blue, in honor of September 11th, is what I think the note sent home said.

My daughter wasn’t born when those attacks, six years ago today, happened. In fact, I doubt she knows anything beyond September 11th than the most benign meaning that a date can convey: simply where the earth is in relation to the sun in its annual cycle. And actually not even that.

Maybe if it were someone’s birthday or Christmas, the date would mean something to her. And yet, here she goes off to school, proudly wearing the colors of our American flag. Have I told her why? Will they tell her at school? What do you say to a kindergartener about something like that? At this age, I think, maybe, nothing. At this age, I think, maybe, nothing?

I don’t really know. Hence, I say it with the question mark, and without.

Last year, living just above Manhattan, I was hyper-aware of the anniversary. It had been five years, and for some reason, a five-year anniversary is significant. CNN streamed on the web a rebroadcast in real-time of the events of that morning, starting about 15 minutes before the beginning of the attacks. To go back to an America and a World that was pre-9/11, that was surreal. Almost more so than viewing the attacks themselves once more.

Each year down at the site of the WTC they have read the names of all who perished there. I have wondered, and I hope not disrespectfully, at what point do we not do that? Is it this year? Is it after 10 years? after 11 years? Never? Is it a conscious decision or does it just happen as my daughter’s generation rises, having lived with 9/11 as Patriot Day as designated by some politicians and calendars, where kindergarteners wear red, white and blue to school, and not as a day that became a significant place holder in a before/after way of dividing life in these United States.

In other words, I’m not sure how I feel about sending my daughter off to school today, draped in the colors of the flag. Because I’m not sure why we’re doing it.

It’s not that there aren’t valid reasons to do so. A show of patriotism. To show respect for those who lost their lives. To have a way our country shows unity, despite being quite divided over how to deal with the ramifications of 9/11. Do I feel funny about the whole thing because somehow a more solemn remembrance has been conveniently folded into Color Week at My Elementary School, USA?

But also marked on the calendar today there is something else. Today there is a New Moon. The beginning of a new cycle and for some reason that strikes me as significant. As with everything else I’ve written, I’m not sure why that is, except that it is. I guess because from something new, comes hope. And that’s something we can never have too much of.

A New Moon. A new beginning. Hope. A happy and oblivious kindergartener skipping off to the bus stop. A place to start from. Let’s start.

Friday, August 24, 2007

a to do list

place to live (aka,house)...check.

place to live (aka, van)...check.

5th year check-up and immunizations (not mine, I am older than five, though I don't always act like it)...check.

registration and insurance for van...check.

unpack...um, it is a lot of boxes...

spend a ton of money at Costco in order to fill pantry and then upgrade to the Executive Membership because what the heck, probably spend as much there next week, too...check.

make bed...ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

load dishwasher...check.

email people in New York I'd like to keep in touch with...I've thought about it guys, you know who you are...so, someday! (Just know I'm thinking about you).

pay bills, balance the checkbook...it never ends, does it.

get an ISP...working on it.

visit my mom's computer, I mean, my mom...check.

blog...check.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

as if giving birth to them wasn't enough

There are some things that just emphasize that, yes indeedy, you are, in fact, a parent. Taking your child to Back-To-School Night for the first time is one of them. And to let you know that you are the parent of four....? How about strapping and buckling all of them in to a minivan. No turning back, Allysha. You're a mom for sure.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a dash of mortification with your motherhood

Aren't kids sweet? No, really, just the sweetest things ever? No pretense, no facades, just themselves.

One of these sweet little girls showed up at my parent's door on Sunday with her dad, stuffed Nemo doll in hand, asking for my daughter. She then handed over Nemo to my daughter who said thank you breathlessly. Our sweet visitor went on to explain that she had two Nemos and so she was giving one away. She didn't need two. I thought this was cute, and a nice gesture towards a new friend. I smiled at her and her dad. My daughter hugged the plush fish tightly.

The little girl went on. She actually didn't play with Nemo anymore. So giving one away wasn't a great loss. And besides, my daughter had asked for it. Yes, there it was. My daughter had asked for her Nemo.

My cheeks may have turned a little pink. But it was a very sweet gesture, one I would like my kids to make if they ever have twin Nemos they have tired of, and I wanted the little girl to be able to continue with her nice gesture...I was abashed, however. We politely accepted the gift; me with verbal thank you's, my daughter with those silent thank you's that children are known for (some people call it staring straight ahead).

We shut the door. I turned to my daughter. "Sweetheart, we don't ask people for their toys, it's not very polite." It was my daughter's turn to be a little abashed, but for different reasons. But (which lesson to reinforce?) "That was very nice of your friend to share with you like that."

So there you have it. Kids being kids. I'd really like to know what the conversation was like that ended with my daughter getting a stuffed fish that all my kids are now fighting over. I realize one of the charms of children is that they tell it like it is, tell you how they want it. And we could use more of that in this world with some of the adults I know. I just wish this candidness wasn't at the expense of my cheek color, a light blush.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

on average, it's not so bad

I think I'm hitting a post about once a week. And while that will in no way allow me to catch up to Barry Bonds, whether I use steroids or not, I'm reasonably happy about my record, all things considered.

Because the housing market in Utah is just starting a downward slide, there are a lot of overpriced houses we'd like to live in, but can't afford. Hmmm. Turns out when you have some student loans in your back pocket, the Utah Valley and NY cost of living doesn't seem so different after all! So we've decided to rent for a year while the market calms it's self down a little bit. It is, happily, a buyer's market, and all signs point to it being even more of a buyer's market in a year and so we shall wait to get our little abode a little bit longer. That way it will be a little bit bigger than if we were to plunk down the money now.

So we are in the hunt for a decent place to rent. Honestly. This is one of my least favorite things to do. But we need to settle down quick for the sake of my sanity and because my oldest starts school in a few weeks, and that might be a nice thing to do, you know- have an idea of where we'll be living so we can actually sign her up for the much anticipated kindergarten!!!!!!!!

If you know of any great houses for rent at a fabulous price (fabulous = low) drop me a line. I'll check it out! Otherwise, we're glad you could join us for the weekly event of posting here at Bells on their toes. Thanks!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

inquiring minds want to know

I have now entered what I am calling "the Voldemort stage" of my illness. And not just because of my random urges to kill whoever crosses my path and annoys me. (Just kidding.) My cold/whatever else it wants to be, has moved up through my head slowly and is now at my eyes. They are red. Red, red, red. Yes, it's a little frightening. It's probably viral, but since my two-month old avoided the rest of my cold but got the eye infection we went to the instacare last night and got twinner prescriptions for antibiotic eye drops. Better safe than sorry. And lots of fun.

But enough about me. More about Harry. ***mild, mild, mild, and vague, spoiler alert on a brief tidbit at the beginning of the book for those of you who haven't yet read book #7. And by the way, what is the matter with you????***

There were obviously justified debates about the nature of Snape and his loyalties. But what I want to know is this: Stanley Shunpike, Death-Eater or Imperiused?

Was he rightfully put into Azkaban and therefore freed by the bad guys? Would it really be worth the effort to get him in on the plot to capture Harry if he were good? I'm just saying, Harry may have his doubts, but I have mine and they are on the other side...I think Mr. Stan isn't the sweet awkward guy we all thought he was...But I don't care enough to write some fan-fic about it or anything. But what do you think? Naughty or nice?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

voice snatchers

I've got a nasty cold, the kind of which if I were living in England in 1789, would probably not have quite killed me, but certainly would have secured me Mr. Bingley's favors and affections. (Though probably not those of his sisters.)

I have lost my voice. It's difficult to parent without a voice and it would make me much more hands on, if I had enough energy. But as it is, I am left to ignore phone calls from mortgage brokers offering to help get us into a house that I really like, but really see no way to afford, because I can't say yea, nay, or anything in between!

It's really too bad, then, in my current state, that I plowed through Harry Potter in two days (one of those days included a family reunion that did require some mingling...are you impressed?) and that kept me pretty well non-communicative as well (except for the occassional uttered name ... I plan to make a list of names I said with exclamation points in the order they came and those of you who have read the book can probably figure out what part of the book I'm refering to...). Meaning, I could use a good Harry Potter book to help keep me down and resting. But I'll figure something out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"we're out of town!"

That's what my daughter said as our plane landed in Salt Lake City almost two weeks ago. And she was right.

Taking off from LaGuardia I hoped to have at least a glance of the city below. The weeks before filled with packing and the like left hardly any time to say goodbye to my sweet residential village, much less the cosmopolitain city just a few miles South. At first I thought that I was sitting on the wrong side but as we took off, the plane curved around and suddenly the city appeared like a map laid out with little pop-up buildings sprouting from midtown and the financial district. Central Park was the perfect rectangle below me and as we flew away, the island of Manhattan getting smaller and smaller, I must admit, I cried.

It's true, there are a lot of things about New York I wasn't overly fond of, and had we stayed that wouldn't have changed. But there is something about leaving a chapter in your life that is a little sad. Farewell to favorite parks, favorite trees, favorite little roads to drive on. We landed in SLC after a relatively uneventful flight (and with four small children, that's saying something) and that part of our lives was over. Almost like we had never been away, and had never lived in New York.

Except for the fact that when I went to Costo it was huge and populated with an unexciting percentage of peoples and ethnicities of little variance, all of whom seemed to like to dress the same. And my kids spent an entire day just running around a vast space called a backyard. I don't have to pay for parking. And when I look out at the expansive horizon, it is incredibly expansive, and not cut off by a multitude of trees and buildings so close together there isn't anywhere to look out, just up. This isn't list of good and bad, pros and cons; it's just a list of some things that are different. And so, if I experience a little twinge when I go to pay for groceries, but don't have to pull out my Stop n' Shop card for the discounts, it's not because I am no longer required to pay $1.40 for a can of refried beans.

It's good to be here. But like reading the last chapters of a book you have completely loved, I can't help but want to go back and flip through a few of the pages once more.

Friday, July 13, 2007

whoosh! where does a year go?

It's the thirteenth and a Friday at that, but I consider it a lucky day. One year ago I clicked save and my first ever post was, er, posted on this blog (granted, last year the 13th was a Thursday, but this year it's a Friday so we'll go with that). It was something I'd been thinking about doing. I was a faithful DYM reader, occassionally venturing out beyond into the greater world of bloggers, and particularly "mommy bloggers" (if you don't mind the term) who fascinated me by being so much the same as myself, and so different at the same time.

I've enjoyed the chance to write a bit of randomness here and there. It's good to have a little space in the world that's your own, even if it's just virtual space. I have some nice virtual neighbors who stop by on a regular basis to say hi and that's a lot of fun. I think I have other nice virtual neighbors who frequent here, but they are more of the silent type, which is lovely as well (although I would love to hear from you).

I've heard about bloggy burn out at about the year mark, and I think I very well could be experiencing it, except that really I've managed to pummel most of my creativity into the ground simply by being alive these last few months. It's mommy brain, on top of everything else. But I hope to get the juices flowing again soon, instead of the slow trickle that seems to produce good blogging ideas, but can't get them past the thought process. But at least they're in there somewhere floating around!

I hope to dazzle and astonish you in the next year with my amazing blogging prowess. hee. But I'll settle for being mildly entertaining for the present, while thinking about some new things to blog about, maybe a new blog design, maybe some new subjects, maybe...the options for the future are endless. Mostly I just hope I can say that a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

floating, a little uncomfortably

So hey. I'm feeling a little ... lost. Oh, I know where I am. I'm currently in Utah. Orem, to be exact. At my parents. Actually we've rented a house down the way, to sleep in, which is good, because there are wedding plans and a missionary just having come home all over this house. It gives us a place to sleep without feeling claustrophobic. And other things to worry about. But actually that is another post for another day. Forget the wide, wide streets and shopping aisles of the wild west. Where I currently feel out of sync is on the www.

I've been disconnected for a few days and so I'm behind on all of my favorite blogs, but all the sites I've bookmarked for easy access are somewhere in Kansas or Nebraska or who knows where. And then they get sent to a storage unit anyway. It's weird to navigate all my happy haunts with an unfamiliar computer. The actual environment is pretty familiar, it being my family home, and yet (another post) with all the insurance adjusters hopping around knocking down sheet rock full of mold spoors due to a leak in a kitchen pipe, things just feel out of balance. But maybe that's because the countdown to the wedding is in less than a week? Hmmm.

Can you say chaos? How about crazy? How about if we all survive the next little while things will be in good shape. Except, we hope, for the mold.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

almost here

We've packed up our wedding, the births of each of our children, the day to day mundane of our lives. I am trying to avoid heart failure at the thought of being parted from all photographs, mini DV tapes, and journals. I don't know that I am doing a very good job.

I have tried to put it in perspective. I've been telling myself "it's much more important that I have the actual child by my side. Losing the photo album really isn't that big of a deal in the scheme of things..." Except that generally the pictures are frozen in cuteness and the child most likely is not, so you can understand the temptation to do a little switcheroo: the kid in the boxes, the family home movies on the plane next to me. Kidding, kidding.

We might FedEx some of the really important mementos. But I haven't felt any better about that. My mind keeps coming up with scenarios in which the movers, the mailers, and the flyers all let me down. It's like I am in some game show and I have to choose a door and inevitably I will make the wrong choice! Sorry about that, door number 1 contained a room of fire! Your possessions are destroyed! You should have picked number 2 or 3.


But really. There is only so much room in my suitcase.


But it is a little unnerving to pack up all my little relationships into reused moving boxes; to send all my Jane Austens into storage for awhile. Oh my lovely Jane, will I ever see you again? And W.S. Merwin? And Ray? Yes, you, too, Ray Bradbury. Then of course my life soundtrack: So long, Sting. See ya Simon. Say hey to Garfunkel. Hey there Beach Boys, hunker down for the ride. Mozart, keep up with that Symphony #40. It's a good one. Pots and pans and stuff, not so much sentimentality. I try not to think about the furniture. Plus, it's insured.

I have yet to say goodbye to Jed Bartlett and crew. You know, you need someone to hang out with when you're so tired of packing and the baby just wants to eat every 15 minutes (Camille has decided that only cat naps are approved during the day time. What is that???). But the time is close at hand my friends. Time to pack up the White House. (Hear, hear! the democrats shout; NY is full of dems, of course. Sorry guys, I'm talking about a fictional WH, not the real thing...maybe in a few more years for you guys).

I know. Enough all ready with the moving posts. But this is it, I promise. The thing is, it turns out, moving is much more life consuming that even pregnancy. It's almost all I think about and it is all I do. But I am here to say farewell from my little blogging corner in Westchester, New York. (Sniff! This is where it all began...) I'm sure there will be plenty of blog fodder in Utah, but there won't be quite the same kind of fodder.

To all you dear ones staying in New York, I'll miss you. To all you dear ones who show up here at Bells, see you on the flip side.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

flying with Archie

The past few Sundays at church have been great fun and quite amusing. And not just because, for Ben and I, the extent of our spiritual feast has been time spent in the foyer with our two babes, too young for the nursery, and too loud for Sunday School. Everyone has been great about offering and following through on helping us get ready for the move, including getting us to the airport without having to employ the use of a double-decker cab. It's been really nice.

A couple weeks ago while hanging out in the foyer at church almost every time we turned around we had someone inquiring, double-checking, and assuring that we did indeed have a ride to the airport, even if it wasn't clear to us (or them for that matter) who was driving us and whose vehicle they would be using. But this past Sunday it all became clear. We're on the same flight as a dog named Archie, and we're hitching a ride with him in his van.

There is another family moving out to Utah in the next week as well and for some reason their dog is traveling ahead of them. He's going solo.
We leave at the same time, have the same destination and the same airline. I didn't know this airline had live animals as cargo and I never thought I'd fly with a dog, but whatever works!

Anyway, this family has a seven passenger van, so the dog's owner, Archie (the dog), Ben, me, and our four children will be heading out for the airport at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Hooray for Archie. We have a ride to La Guardia with little trouble to anyone.

We will not worry about the fact that my kids get a little skittish around dogs. We will not wonder if Archie will get a little skittish about sharing his van with 6 strangers. We'll just assume that all company will be enjoyed from here all the way to Salt Lake City. Thanks, Archie!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

dear people

...who read this blog,

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting when you do. I really do appreciate it. And forgive (if it's really anything to forgive) my lack of diligent posting. And diligent commenting, too, for that matter. I am up to my ears in boxes. I know there are a few post lurking around the house and when I find them, they shall surely find their way online. But until then, I just wanted to say thanks. I'll be back soon.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm getting ready to move even in my dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was at the airport and some how the airline had lost my children, while also failing to provide seats for them on the plane. I mean I guess if the kids are lost they don't need a seat, but amid my panic, I must have been optimistic. We will find my children, so give them their seats, dang it!

In dream like fashion, the waiting area was the actual airplane (or was it the other way around?) and eventually after yelling and screaming at some non-sympathetic airline workers I discovered two of my children in seats far apart from each other. I apparently had found the baby, although she wasn't with me at the time. But come to think of it, my son was no where to be seen. It's always something when you fly the friendly skies, isn't it.

I have no idea if our luggage was on the plane, but I'm going to guess that it wasn't.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

what I'm doing

bubble wrap, grab the tape
toss the flowers, pack the vase
pack the pictures, make some lunch
sort through old clothes on a hunch
throw away a bunch of things
an old stained shirt, some plastic rings
my life is chaos, my life feels hexed
tape up the boxes, what to do next?
decide which toys just have to stay
and swhish the other ones away
take off the sheets, our mattress sags
it's time to nap in sleeping bags
what is needed, what is not?
evaluation is my lot
yes, time to eat leftover food
nutella surely makes my mood!

all the pasta bought in bulk
makes kids smile and not sulk-
good bye to the net and my favorite sites.
make a call to cut the lights
box up the PC, hang up the phone
(starts to make one feel alone) -
moving's fun, moving's neat!
I think I need something sweet
Hmmm. There's a Snickers in the fridge...

I'll be back later.

Monday, June 18, 2007

seven

Once upon a time Lei tagged me for this meme. A 7 random things about me meme. But then I had a baby and some other stuff came up and I didn't get around to it, until now.

Presenting 7 Random ThingsAbout Me! In no particular order (you know, random...heh).

1. I didn't get my drivers license until I was 18, the summer after I graduated from high school. My best friend had a car and I often lived at the high school doing dance company and cheer stuff and in a worst case scenario I could walk home because it wasn't too far away.

2. I don't like pudding, except on rare occasions when it goes in some kind of dessert. And that is rare, I'm telling you. Of course eclairs are accepted. (It's hard to live in France and not accept eclairs. But not the flan. I do not like flan.)

3. A good activity for a summer evening is a happy game of croquet. It's also good to have a trampoline on hand that has been pushed into the corner of the yard, but available to jump on when it's not your turn.

4. I'm not much of a flosser. You know, of teeth. I brush religiously at least a couple times a day, but flossing is something I've never really gotten into. And no powered toothbrushes.

5. Also, no battery or otherwise operated massagers. The vibrations go right into my spine and up to my brain and it gives me a headache. Send me to a masseuse any day. That is heaven.

6. In college I performed with a modern dance company for a few semesters (where we learned how to give and thus receive pre- and post-performance massages
. Loved it). One of those performances included a dance with songs by the Muppets. (Mnah,mnah - I have no idea how to spell that.) It's a classic. Don't kid yourself.

7. And yes, I was a dance major for a time, until I switched to English, a much more practical major. There was a semester where I danced almost all day long between all the different dance classes I was taking (well I guess actually during all the different classes I was taking). I lived in a leotard and I loved it. Hmmm. I was pretty fit. I wonder where that body went? I guess it's not a body that shows up when the majority of your day is spent doing less active things...

Happy Monday, everybody!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

mmm...

For a Saturday evening snack I'm eating fresh strawberries and blueberries. They are making me feel very summery.

Friday, June 15, 2007

just to say I posted

I sat down at the computer to type out a quick to do list and I got sucked into the blogosphere vortex of time suction. Or something like that. So I thought I'd attempt a post of my own. Camille is actually asleep in her bed and not on mom, for the time being. And the three other kids are upstairs playing. And my brain may sustain me through a few paragraphs. I don't guarantee their entertainment or informational value.

This morning I have printed out a form to have our mail forwarded, set up cancellation dates for electicity and gas and phone and internet and t.v. and probably other things I don't even know about. We've booked the moving van and the plane tickets. I have started to pack. Packing is a little bit relief, a little bit
of a tug on the heartstrings and a lot living in between stacks of boxes and packing tape.

For the remainder of today I am focusing on living space as opposed to packing, so dishes and bedroom and toys are what I am trying to get done. Oh, and book reading to Oliver, who is sort of patiently sitting at my feet, having crawled down the stairs, waiting for me to finish with a book in his hand. So I guess I'd better finish.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

in a former life I was a boy scout

Because I am nothing if not prepared.

My mom flies out tonight for SLC. So after 2 + weeks of lovely help and time to nap I will be on my own. Alone. With four children.

But I am prepared. I went to the store this morning and loaded up on pretzels, famous amos CC cookies, mini oreos, marshmallows, etc. For fun snacks, you know. Otherwise known as bribes. Also, no plans to pack the DVD player and TV until the end.

In truth I am big on limiting sugary snacks and TV consumption, but with Ben super busy at work for the next little bit, and with a house to pack up, and a newborn who likes to sleep on her mom, I'm happy to indulge a little bit. Or a lot. As the case may require.

Monday, June 11, 2007

the last 24 hours have confirmed it

I am not going to be able to live on a postpartum diet of chocolate. My baby will not let me sleep if I do, and sometimes one must choose sleep over all else.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

twinkle toes and fairy dust

There are little sparklies everywhere. While some may be inclined to suggest that this is simply my brain on irregular sleeping patterns, it is actually the result of two small girls and their Nana, having a good time making snowflakes that sparkle. And having such a good time in fact, that glitter has been scattered to every corner of my small and humble abode. The carpet is alive with hidden gems. As is the couch, the chairs, the kitchen table, the baby's hair, the mom's face, the dad's face and the bodies of the other three children. It gives a kind of nether-world charm to the events of the moment.

The bummer is that although we have all of this fairy dust around, no one has shown a hint of being able to fly about the house and out the windows with ease. This has nothing to do with the fact that all of our windows except for one are screened. We just aren't able to get off the ground. It's not a lack of faith, at least on the kids part. Why shouldn't they fly?

Well, actually, everyone is pretty good at the moment at flying off the handle. Why is this? My children all have a sudden desire to return to an infantile state, one that does not include any of the charming moments of their younger years, as soon as a new sibling enters the house. We have had our fair share this past week of tears and outbursts, talking-back and outright tantrums that have scared the one year-old, but led him to experiment with that kind of flailing show himself. Fortunately he is a happy child and tantrums do not become him and so we laugh at him and he will usually laugh back after a moment.

It's not an easy thing, this growing up. And even though you are the same age as you were the day before the new baby was born (give a day or two or three) your place in the family somehow shifts and everybody has to adjust. So we're thick into the adjusting phase. I think the key is this: we just have to let things be where they are, and let the fairy dust sparkle where it's at.


Monday, June 4, 2007

there's a check list

In between midnight feedings and daytime catnaps it occurs to me that in one month I am moving across the country.

I have a list of major life events, most of them my own, that are coming together to impose themselves on me all within about an 8 week time period. Things like having a baby. Check. That's been taken care of. Or packing up the house. For that we're waiting for the moving guy to come and give us an estimate on cost, after which we can schedule a time to move our stuff, which will then allow us to book airfare for six people, hopefully at a semi-reasonable price and hopefully all together in two rows, instead of scattered through out the plane, for the sake of the other passengers.

Once that is taken care of, we will find ourselves in Utah, crowding my parents basement just in time for one sister to return home from her mission and another sister's wedding. Then we will look to buy a house, a minivan, and eventually a real live piano that I can play carols on at Christmas time. Also Ben will jump into his new position and try and prepare for the classes he'll be teaching at the same time as helping me take care of the above.

It sounds kind of fun, huh? It certainly has the potential to be overwhelming, but I think I've hit a nice little patch of oblivious denial where I look around at the green, green trees, turn on the air conditioners to help contain the creeping humidity, watch my mom wrestle the girls out the door to the park, hold my sweet little baby and think, this has real potential for crazy, but life is good.

Friday, June 1, 2007

always a good time...

There's a log they like you to fill out in the hospital when you've had a baby. You're supposed to write down time and length of feedings and how many diapers you've changed and what the content of those diapers were. I actually didn't do it because a) no one told me to, b) by the time they did tell me I had a day left but then they didn't leave me a pen, and c) it was my fourth baby and I felt pretty well qualified to decide whether or not she was eating enough and if her digestive system was dealing with said eating appropriately without having to keep track of it on paper.

Also, the title of the paper was the Daily Feeding Dairy. I am pretty sure they meant diary and not dairy, but as I am breastfeeding I became a little suspicious that either some hospital secretary was having a little fun at a lactating mother's expense, or that the subconscious power of suggestion was just too great...

The funniest thing someone said to me was while taking my blood pressure as I was just waking up from a nap. "You know who you look like? That girl on Full House. You know that girl? What's her name? Stephanie? I just about did a double take!"

Okay, if you scroll down a bit to an earlier post you'll find a picture of me from my wedding day. Even though you can't see my whole face, you can get a pretty clear idea that Stephanie Tanner (age 10 in that show?) and I don't really share much of a resemblance.

And my favorite set of question/responses was this:
"So, is this your first?"
"No, fourth."
"Fourth??"
"Yes, fourth."

Last but not least was the television controller lady who lets you have a day of free daytime television and Seinfeld reruns before she comes in 24 hours later and says that the remainder of your visit will cost you. I had enough of my faculties in tact to say no thank you. She literally locked up the T.V., it took two keys, and then all that was available to me were the hospital channels, informing me of their great menu selection. She left with a grumpy look on her face. And so I read Pride and Prejudice instead.

Monday, May 28, 2007

some details

She was born at 1:11 in the afternoon.

She weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces.

She was 18 1/2 inches long (why, when you are born, is it "long" and when does it switch to "tall"? I guess once you become vertical?).

She is a sweet little baby who likes to eat, but then almost immediately falls asleep.

She'd rather sleep with her mom than anywhere else. (And at this point, mom is a destination and so definitely a "where.")

Her name is Camille.

More pictures coming. More posts coming. Eventually.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Proxy Post from a Postpartum Father

Hello faithful bloggers. I have tracked my way through piles of diapers, half-colored pony pictures, bits of pizza crusts, and chewed-up board books to sit at this computer and bravely (though briefly) carry the blogging torch on behalf of my absent spouse. You have probably guessed the reason: a baby has been had.

Allysha, even at this moment, may be sitting in her robot hospital bed composing something much more eloquent than I ever could manage about today's heroic events, so I will leave it at this: all is well. (Except of course for the half-colored pony pictures and pizza crusts strewn about our place. I mention those only because they will be hastily cleaned up shortly before Allysha returns, and thusly unaware she will have nothing to say about them.) And I should mention that I love that Allysha gal tremendously. And here is a picture of the other gal, of whom I am also quite fond, though I have known her only briefly:


Now you can see why I have taken to her so. It's the outfit. (I hear her mom dresses her.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

since I know you're all dying for an update

I'm due tomorrow. I feel like I'm crawling to the finish line, when I can get off the floor. My other pregnancies seem to have ended more gracefully than this one, but whatever.

I have an appointment on Thursday where I get a non-stress test and an ultrasound. If things are fine then they will kindly wait until Tuesday to induce me. If my fluid levels are low, etc., etc., then they'll induce me on Friday.

If I plan on being induced on Tuesday morning, then I figure if anything else happens before then it will just be a happy surprise. In the meantime I will be eating steak and ice cream and watching The West Wing. Isn't that what they recommend?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

once upon a time

Last night we sat at the dinner table, chaos flying around us. I asked Ben what he thought our reaction would have been if the night before our wedding we were given a glimpse seven years into the future. I don't think either of us had any idea what we were getting into.


But it's good, whatever it is.