Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Service Continued

So we have wrapped up our Grayson "summer of service" and it was a wild success.  I am so please with how everything went that I just might do it again.

Yesterday we went to clean the church.  Despite the grumbles I endured earlier there were none when the big day came.  None!  And I didn't even have to threaten their little lives!  I'm so proud.  We finished our dinner here at home, got our shoes on, and left in the middle of a monsoon heading towards the church.  The kids were a huge help.  They went through the chapel collecting trash and straightening up in the pews and then they went to each and every classroom to empty the waste baskets.  They didn't complain.  They didn't fight.  They didn't run away to play chase up and down the hall ways.  They worked diligently until it was done.  I am so proud of the work they did.

Our final project was making lunches for a women's/children's shelter.  I bought some plain, white lunch bags and zoo stickers so the kids could personalize each bag.  This was the result of our Family Home Evening project.

Our Stickers

Stickers and Bags - A Beginning

After much concentration...

unfailing diligence...

and some hard, hard work...

we were done.  Here are some examples of the masterpieces that were created.




The next step in the process was stuffing baggies with carrots...  

and apples.

I really felt like all of the food groups should be represented - fruit, vegetables, meat/protein, grain, and fruit snacks.  This is the only part the process the kids grew a bit bored with.  They hung in there till the end though.  Even Ashton stayed for all the hard work.  Of course that could be because he sat in the middle and was effectively trapped.

I set up the staging areas...

And we got to work.  At first our "to do" pile was much bigger...

than our "done" pile.

But we persevered.

Always working with a smile.

And our "to do" pile got smaller...

and smaller...

and smaller.

And we kept smiling...

as our "done" pile got bigger...

and bigger.

Eventually, as with all things, we came to the end.  We were very sad.

But proud of all the work we had done.

Once everything was put in bags the kids helped me pack it all in boxes and carry everything to the car.  We then drove down to the shelter and they helped me unload.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of those things because I was loading and carrying as well.  The lack of pictures, though, is in no way indicative of less work.  In fact, I think they worked harder towards the end in stifling heat.  There was no complaining, no tears, no abject refusals.  These kids were awesome.  And, as if that were not enough, my girls came to me at the end of the day and suggested that we give their old backpacks to some kids who maybe don't have any.  

I joke quite a bit about my kids but the truth is that I have been richly blessed.  Blessed beyond my imaginings with kind, empathetic, good children who have spent the last couple weeks making their world a little bit better.  The strength of their spirits astound me.  I am better because of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I don't matter...

Now, before you start sending me notes about how I do matter and how I shouldn't off myself just because we have reached ridiculously high temperatures and I'm fairly certain I saw a tree burst into flame for no apparent reason... please, read on.

Ellie:  I don't matter which popsicle I get.  I just get which one is familiar to me.

Here is some background.  

Nap time had just ended and the girls decided they would like a popsicle.  Liv grabbed hers and Ellie walked over to the box, looked in at the 3 red ones left and grabbed one.

This begs the question.  What went on in those few seconds?

"Yes.  You.  Popsicle.  I know you.  We have met before."  

Cue evil maniacal laughter and fade to black. (as the popsicle was eaten and we are a G rated blog.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our summer so far...

I think it is quite amazing that I am posting this before the summer is over.  Too bad they don't give out prizes for this sort of thing.  

We have had a pretty fun summer so far.  It has only started to get ridiculously hot the past couple weeks so our mornings have been around 90 degrees or so and playing outside is not only possible but pleasant.  This first picture isn't an outside shot but it is of Ashton playing with his best friend Cade.  They are so cute together.  They will run up to each other, legs pumping, arms flapping, and stop nose to nose narrowly avoiding a head on collision.  They will then exchange pleasantries.  

"Hi Cade."
"Hi Ashy"

And then the fun starts.  Notice they are both wearing the newest styles in shoes.

Ashton also turned 3.  Unfortunately none of my pictures turned out so you will have to trust me on this.  It was wonderful.  Cars themed with the real Lightning McQueen making a cameo.  There was also a balloon artist that could do all the disney characters, a mime (because what party is complete without one?) a helicopter ride and a not so brief jaunt to the moon where we raised the Ashton flag.  Typical 3 year old party really. The kids were really tired by the end of the day.

We have also begun the Grayson "Summer of Service".  We started small.  Simply choose a family member's name from a hat and you have a week to perform service for that person.  At the end of the week we tried to guess who had our name.  Ellie had Livvy and spent the week making her bed and taking care of her water glass.  I had Ellie and I also made the bed but added in a room clean here and there.  Livvy had daddy and made an extra effort to run to him at the end of every day and give him his welcome home hug.  Bigger than ever before.  Ashton had me.  He put his diapers in the pail so I wouldn't have to get near the nastiness.  Thank you Ashton.  Daddy had Ashton and he made sure all of Ashton's dirty cloths made it in the laundry room.  It was a great week and everyone had a really fun time.

The next week we branched out to our friends.  The girls picked the Allen's to serve and wanted to bring them dinner and pick up their toy room.  Broccoli soup, lasagna and homemade bread were the menu items of choice and Wednesday was the day chosen.  The kids helped with the soup and the lasagna.  Both turned out really well.  I called ahead to make sure the Allen's would be home and we headed over.  The kids filed in the house and marched (with only a little prompting) upstairs.  Ashton and I hit the toy room and the girls cleaned up their friend Kyra's room.  On the ride home they let me know they didn't have any fun at all but I think they were still secretly happy to be helping.  Deep down.  Really deep down.

Next on our list were our neighbors.  We made these (caterpillar cupcakes in case you couldn't tell) for our neighbors.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, only 2 of our neighbors were home so we had a lot of cupcakes to eat.  Oh well.  It's the thought that counts right?

Ellie with her cupcakes

Livvy with her cupcakes

Our final two challenges are cleaning the church and making sandwiches for a battered women's/children's shelter.  I'll have to take copious pictures and tell you all about it.  I don't really have high hopes for cleaning the church building as the grumbles have already started and we are not schedule for another 2 weeks.  But, I think the sandwich making has serious potential.  It was difficult finding a community service project in the dead of summer that is appropriate for small children.  This should work?  I'll let you know.

Finally, after all the fun was had Brock and I have stretched out to take a minute for ourselves.  We've earned it right?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mom vs. Dad

As a parent you quickly learn your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes I will be better at something than Brock - cooking for instance.  And other times it is the other way around.  For example, Brock is much better at being a monster at the park and chasing small children around, they don't even have to be ours.  

I am better at finding things.  A typical conversation could go like this...

Ashton:  Blankie.
Mom:  Look down.

or this...

Brock:  We're out of salsa.
Me:  It's on the second shelf.
Brock:  No, it's gone.  I don't see it.
Me:  Move the mayo.
Brock:  Oh.

Brock is better at fixing the car.  Not that he actually gets on the ground and fixes it himself but he always takes it in for the things it may need.  Except gas.  I can do gas.  (That didn't come out exactly like I would have liked it to.)  Brock also washes my car for me.  Always.  I love that about him.

I am better keeping the house and all who reside in it organized.

One place where I can't touch dad on the good, better, best scale is the pool. Dad rocks the pool.  Mom gets out of the way.

If you look at the picture carefully you will notice Livvy is holding onto dad's shoulders from behind while Ellie is sitting on his shoulders holding onto his face.

Ashton got too cold. He doesn't like to fly anyway.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My brain will eat itself and I'll die - an Easter story

So Easter has come and gone again just as it has done ever since its inception.  It is, like all holidays, comfortingly consistent.  Well, as consistent as a holiday that seems to land on random Sundays can be.  Will it be in March this year?  April?  Who decides?  Is there a world Easter Czar that pronounces it's day and how does one get that job?  

Okay, I digress.  On with my Easter story.

Saturday night I got home after watching some friends kids and my husband turns to me and asks if I remembered inviting the missionaries over for dinner the following night.  What a silly question.  Of course I don't remember.  Do I ever?  And of course the following day would be Easter and I was now in charge of bringing a little piece of home to these poor elders who are serving so diligently our Lord and Savior, but, hey, no pressure right?  Did I mention that I got home that night at about 10 so I immediately felt slightly overwhelmed?  Being the man of the hour my dear, sweet husband offered to run to the store for anything I might need.  I thanked him profusely and told him I would, in payment for services rendered, make his favorite banana cream pie.  He was very excited and left immediately.

The next day was the sabbath but I had agreed to stay home and man the Ashton station.  Since I was missing any and all forms of spiritual uplift I decided to commit myself to making the best Easter dinner these Elders had ever had.  I would serve them to the best of my abilities.  I spent most of the day cooking and trying to keep the kitchen under some kind of control.  I did well if I do say so myself.  I even had everything ready in a timely manner for the elders arrival at 5:30.    

The elders came in, greeted everyone and sat down at the table.  Now, while the food was made it was not yet on the table.  Elder One (name changed to protect the innocent although "innocent" is a relative term here) looked at me sweating in the kitchen and said.

"Did we mention our dietary needs?"

Why no, no they hadn't mentioned "dietary needs".  There had been no "needs" mentioned at all accepting the obvious "need" to be fed.  

"No." I answered hesitantly hoping they would then say, "We are allergic to walnuts." To which I would answer with relief in my voice, "Oh that's fine.  I didn't use any walnuts."

"Elder Two can't eat protein."

WHAT?!?  I made pot roast!  That's like 4 pounds of protein!  Are you serious?

"What do you mean by protein?"  I asked although I already knew the answer - most if not all animal by-products contained protein as well as a host of other sources.  I was biding my time hoping against hope that his condition would be miraculously cured in the next few seconds.  It wasn't.

"I can't eat protein."  Elder two explained in a very non-explanatory way.  

So you wont be eating my 4 pounds of cow?  Or my cheese sauce that I have smothered on the cauliflower?  Or the banana cream pie that is chock full of dairy?  

"What can you eat?"

"Fruits and vegetables."  He answered.

Fabulous.  The only vegetable I have is covered in a very offensive (but tasty) cheese sauce.  So we took the only option available to us.  We gave him a salad which really amounted to a lot of lettuce with some semi-oldish italian dressing (no ranch for this one).  Nothing says Easter like a small amount of lettuce on a dinner plate with a dressing that could very well be older than my children. 

As we all sat around the table enjoying our various dinners I felt prompted to ask, "So what happens  to you when you eat protein?"  I was thinking perhaps he got a nasty rash, hives, some swelling, maybe his throat would close causing a panicked call to 911.

"My body can't break the protein down so my brain will begin to eat itself and I'll die."

Oh.  Well.  Goodness.  That's not good, is it?  But, hey, at least you wont get a rash.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

cute hair

I never thought I would have girls.  I really didn't know what to do with them.  You see all these mom's with little girls with cute hair - I could barely do a pony tail.

Now, however, I have girls and I love to do cute things to their hair.  It is a sickness.  I see a cute hair style and I will follow the child (at a discrete distance so as not to scare the mother) to see how they did it.

My stalking days are over now though.  (No I was not arrested.)  I simply found this blog that gives great ideas and walks you through them.  

This is for you with cute girls (I know your out there - I've seen your pictures).

I wish I had found this before valentines day.  They had the cutest ideas.

Have fun and take pictures so we can see how you did.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's in a name?

Every year of my son's short life some time has been spent in the ER.  Always for breathing/croup problems.  When he was only a few months old he got sick and after the first round of medications didn't work he was diagnosed with the beginnings of pneumonia.  (To make matters worse our pediatrician wouldn't see him because his name - the pediatrician's - wasn't on his - Ashton's - medical card.  So while I am holding my wheezing new born they sent me away to find an ER.  In the interest of full disclosure the ER was downstairs but I still had to pay $100 instead of $10 and wait in ER lines instead of seeing the man that had seen him multiple times by this point.  Why you ask would your pediatrician see him a month ago for a well check but not now when his little life hung in the balance?  No idea but hostile phone calls were made and things were taken care of by the time our ER visit was over.  Don't mess with Mama.)

The second year his cold turned into a double ear infection which again turned into pneumonia.  I blogged about it once last year in phhbtt.

So here we go again.  Ashton had a cough that just wouldn't go away.  He didn't have a fever, no body aches, no changes in his appetite.  I brought it up to the doctor we saw for his 5 month well check.  It was a new doctor.  (Not new to the practice, just new to us.)  

"Why don't you try this Singular?"  He asked me.  "Here is a 2 week sample.  Call me if it works and I'll get you a prescription.  It should help with his allergies."

Okay.  I thought.  Why not.  So I used it and after about a week he got better.  After 2 weeks he was great.  "Wonderful."  I thought.  "No need to use that anymore."  So I didn't call back.  (Can you see the mother of the year award sliding away from me yet again?)

Then comes the good part.  I was having a presidency meeting here (I am now in the primary presidency.) and Ashton started to cry.  I ignored him as we were in the middle of some very important ... stuff.  About 30 minutes later they had left and I went to check him.  He could barely breath.  His chest would cave in on each inhalation and his little body was wracked with coughing fits upon exhalation.  I ran with him outside to see if the cold air would help.  No good.  I tried to decide if I should try to give him a breathing treatment at home but I wasn't sure he was getting enough air into his little lungs to do him much good.  So, back to the ER we go.  Again.  Again they tell me croup.  

To be honest with you I didn't know what to do.  We have done this every year.  Every year I rush him to the ER and every year they tell me croup which eventually turns into pneumonia and it isn't until my son is really sick that the medication seems to help him.  Why, I ask, is that?  Why does he have to get so sick before he is allowed to get better.

Today I got my answer.  Today I took him back to the doctors because, again, he wasn't improving.  I asked this time to see the same doctor I had seen about a month ago now.  The "Singular" doctor.  Double ear infection was the diagnosis again.  I could have cried.  "So why don't I just skip giving any medication and just come back in a few days when he has pneumonia and get that medication.  It'll save me a few bucks on medicine that doesn't seem to work anyway."   I thought.

"Tell me about him."  The doctor said.

So I did.  I told him how he had prescribed the Singular and how it had worked.  I told him about our trip to the ER and the diagnosis of croup - again.  

He looked up and said, "Croup?  Are you sure?"  
"No."  I said.  "That is what they said.  I don't know."
"It isn't croup.  It's asthma."

Now I will tell you what is in a name.  Everything.

Everything is in a name.  Now my son has a name for what has happened to him every year of his life.  Now I have a name to treat.  Asthma.  I can fix that.  This cold, flu, croup thing I can't fix.  Nothing worked.  But asthma I can work with.  By giving the illness a name he gave me hope.  Hope that I wont have to listen to my son struggle to breath while praying with all my might that he didn't just take his last as I drive too fast to the ER for help.  Hope that he wont have an attack at night that I miss because I have been awake for too long listening to each breath he takes and I am so tired.  Hope that I wont have to watch my son cry for relief that I can't give him and then stop because it requires too much energy.  More than he has to give.  Hope that I wont have to sit in the ER waiting for some doctor I have never seen before say "croup" before he has even touched my son and after 4 hours in the middle of the night I am sent on my way with nothing more than a "call your doctor if he doesn't get better".  Here's a clue for you - HE DOESN'T EVER GET BETTER!

Doctors don't diagnose kids with asthma when they are under 5 years old unless they meet very specific conditions.  Ashton does not meet those criteria.  When I brought this up with the doctor he agreed that Ashton does not have the diagnosis but for all intensive purposes that is what he has - treat is as such.  I could kiss him right on the mouth.  (I wont because it is very inappropriate and wrong.)  But, I could.  So here's to you doc. The one willing to give it a name.

SMACK!  (Kisses for you.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Final thoughts on Disney Land

So, I was looking through some old pictures of us in Disney Land and I realized that there were a lot I never posted. (If you are thinking "No surprise there." I would ask you to keep your comments to yourself.) So I am going to post them now with my thoughts on the happiest place on earth.  I will warn you now that there are a lot of pictures.  I have to make up for lost time.

1.  Disney Land is clean.  I love clean.  The bathrooms are clean.  Don't you hate walking into those bathrooms that smell like they were built in the middle ages by people who routinely chucked the contents of their chamber pots out their own windows?  Well I do anyway.  Everywhere you look people are sweeping and wiping and picking up.  Even the train is clean.  In the 3 days I spent with hundreds of people I never once stepped on gum.  Bliss.

2.  Disney Land thinks of everything.  You can even buy diapers if you need one from nice ladies dressed in a very Mary Poppins-ish outfit.  They have nice changing tables and even little potties for little people to use.  (This is not in reference to people with dwarfism as that would be rude.)  Unfortunately, the diapers cost a dollar each so Mickey and his peeps are raking it in every time some mom (i.e. me) forgets to bring more than one diaper for 8 hours of drink filled fun.

3.  People are nice at Disney Land.  I know I haven't been there as much as some people have but I have rarely heard snotty remarks made.  (Except that time the drunk guy stepped on some ladies kid in the haunted mansion but my kids were not there so they didn't hear rash words exchanged and even then there was no cussing.  Impressive as Mr. Drunk smelled like a distillery with a leak.)

Ready for pictures yet?  I thought so.  No need to make rude remarks.  See #3 above.  We can all learn from Disney Land.  (I meant about being nice not about being so drunk you step on children and smell like you have a leak.)

4.  The characters are great.  After our Easter Bunny trauma I was worried but they really know how to put the kids at ease.

Here is Ellie with Aladin (lest you think we let our children hang out with strange men with really small red caps on their heads). Isn't she cute?

Ellie, Ashton and Liv with Minnie.

Ashton with Mickey. I know he doesn't look all that thrilled but he was. Really.

Okay, not as thrilled as he was to sit in Mickey's car but still... thrilled.

In fact, the characters were so great that sometimes we didn't even care if they were real.



5.  Disney Land offers not only the afore mentioned characters and rides but also performances by some world renown actors such as...

Pooh, Tigger, and the new girl. (As a little side note, what was wrong with Christopher Robin? Did the feminists get him? After all, Kanga was the only female character. Perhaps she was too maternal for their liking? Chris is gone. New girl
comes in. Coincidence? I think not.)

The Little Einsteins

And.......... Mickey!!!!!!!!

6.  Mickey may be a mouse but he rules the world.  For instance, he has an ice cream sandwich made in the shape of his face.  Can the president say that?  Today Obama was sworn into office as the president of the most powerful country in the world.  But I ask you, does he have an ice cream sandwich made of his face?  No he does not.  And Mickey can charge a few hundred dollars for a mouse shaped desert and people will pay.  That's power my friends.  That's power.  

Ellie proving that even over priced treats looking like rich rodents are tasty.

7.  Disney Land makes you tired.

8. To every lesson there is an exception.