Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Girls Weekends

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a much anticipated Girls' Weekend with my sisters-in-law!  I'm so excited!  

Flying into...
then driving to...
...for a couple of days to play, shop, eat, and visit my dear friend!

Then driving to... that I can visit the Gr's and the sister-in-law who can't make it this time.   

Did I mention I'm so excited!??


Monday, February 21, 2011

Right Now

Earlier today, I started an entirely different post.  It has come to our attention that Spell Girl has a "not so secret" crush on Justin Bieber.  And thanks to Presidents Lincoln and Washington, we are having yet another "no school day."  So it seemed like a great idea to take the girls to see the new Justin Bieber movie this afternoon.  I did not have high expectations.  I went with a friend who also has lots of girls and we both intended to be mostly chauffers and chaperones.   But it was surprisingly motivating and uplifting!  Granted, it was a little like sitting through a two hour commercial, and I was completely distracted throughout the whole thing because I kept worrying that Justin's pants were going to fall down while he was dancing!  (Why do they wear them SO LOW!!  How can that possibly be comfortable??)  But after it was over, I was inspired to Never Say Never, too!  I'm sure if I had tried to climb Mt. Everest at that exact moment when the movie let out, I would have been wildly successful!  The movie was a complete and total rush of "feel good."   But now that it's 6 hours later, reality has set back in and I can see that Justin Bieber is probably not the best use of my posting time.  In a week, I won't even remember seeing that movie and I'll wonder why I wrote an entire post about him.  So that's it for the Justin accolades...he's cute, but in the grand scheme of things, just a flash in the pan. 
on to the REAL POST... 

I made a new friend over the weekend in the most unconventional way.  She is in her 70s, I think.  She and her husband have served THREE proselyting missions including one to AFRICA!!  I heard her give a talk in the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference two weeks ago, and I was instantly drawn to her.  She's strong, smart, independent and faithful.  On Sunday, during the broadcast session of Stake Conference, we sat right behind her.  So I was bold and tapped her on the shoulder and told her how much I enjoyed her talk.  She was very sweet, but the encounter was brief and I didn't think about her much more after that.  Then last Friday, I went to the Temple and there she was again.  (I recognized her, but I did not realize who it was until Saturday afternoon when she was one of the keynote speakers at our Stake RS Conference!)  Have I mentioned that I don't believe in coincidences?  I believe very strongly that things happen for a reason.  And that we cross paths with people for a very specific purpose.  When the same person crosses my path 4 times within a two week period, I have learned to  pay attention.  She gave an incredible lesson on Saturday, that I was once again instantly drawn to.  And while she spoke, I thought, "You need to get to know this woman!"  So after the conference, I went up to her and introduced myself.  (insert stalker personality here)  We talked briefly and exchanged email addresses.  That very night I had an email from her saying how excited she was to get to know me.

She sent me another email this morning asking me to tell her my "life story" so that we could get to know each other better.  There were a few pertinent questions to use as a basic outline, but the details were left completely up to me.  I have spent most of the day either pondering my response or writing it.  How do you make an adequate first impression in an email?  And without those necessary social cues of a face to face conversation, how do you know when you've talked for too long?...when she's tired of reading?...when you're going into things that she didn't really want to know in the first place??  ugh! 

The exercise of writing that email, though, made me think...
I have done A LOT of stuff.  I have lived in A LOT of different places.  I have had A LOT of callings in the church.  I have met A LOT of different people.  But there isn't a time that I would rewind or fast forward to that I would enjoy more than RIGHT NOW.  My kids are at the perfect age (self sufficient, but not completely independent.)  I have time during the day that is completely mine to fill with whatever I choose to fill it with...and I have made good choices.  I have a stronger testimony than I have ever had before.  I feel confident and content.  I don't envy the stuff other people have.  I don't have grudges or regrets.  I don't wish I were living a different life.  I don't wonder if I was supposed to be more than what I currently am.  It's a nice feeling...unusual and unique, but very, very nice to finally have after 40 years.   RIGHT NOW is exactly where I want to be.  I look forward to the future with hope and joyful anticipation, but I don't long for it.  I know there will be amazing things in those years to come, but RIGHT NOW is pretty darn amazing, too.

So, tonight, I love my new friend for helping me see the joy in RIGHT NOW.  

And I might secretly love Justin Bieber, too...for a couple more days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inner Beauty

Spell Girl came home this week from a church activity with some great make up tips and this amazing quote...

"What makes a woman beautiful?  The world tries to convince us that cosmetics, perfume, jewelry, fashionable clothing, diets, and even surgery are necessary for beauty.  While some of these fashion aids are desirable and lovely, they can change only surface appearances.  

The gospel teaches us that true beauty is more than skin-deep.  A young woman whose countenance is aglow with both happiness and virtue radiates inner beauty.

If happiness is the most attractive accessory a young woman can have, then a smile would have to be the most charming cosmetic.  Make up, if applied tastefully and in moderation, can enhance appearance.  But no amount of eye shadow, lipstick or mascara could possibly compete with the natural attractiveness of a genuine smile.  It brightens the room.  It cheers others.  It communicates friendship, love and optimism so much more than any cosmetic ever could.  It puts people at ease and is welcoming.  Truly in the world of glamor, there is no close second to a genuine smile.  

Our Father in Heaven sees our divine nature.  We are His children.  The way He sees us, because of His love for us, is perfect.  The mirror which He holds constantly before us, if we will only raise our sight to look, is the one in which we should trust.  Its image is always true and never distorted.  He reminds us, as He did Moses, "Thou art my son (or daughter)"  Moses 1:4.  

I LOVE that quote.  And I LOVE that my girls have that in their minds now.  I found that quote on a piece of paper in Spell Girl's room and thought it might end up in some pile somewhere, never to be referred to again.  But guess what?!  When I was taking my parental liberties and snooping through her emails today, I saw that she had re-typed it into several emails to two friends as well as her grandparents.  (insert sigh of delight here)

Wanna see what young women with inner beauty look like??

Saturday, February 19, 2011

17 Years

Today is my 17th anniversary.  

My husband and I met when we were 16 years old.  I was his first date (and he always adds..."and his last").  When I was a senior in high school, I knew that I wanted to be his wife and have a family and a life with him.   It took a few years to convince him of that, but eventually my persistence paid off.  

In 17 years, my husband and I have moved five times, lived in four different states, visited 10 National Parks, and traveled through 30 states.  We have lived in an apartment and a basement, built a house, renovated a 100 year old farmhouse (that's still a work in progress), put together cribs, beds, strollers and entertainment units, and built shelves in five different garages.  We've raised chickens, killed 3 parakeets (unintentionally), planted gardens, built chicken coops and mowed acres and acres of lawn.  We have made lasting friendships, on both coasts and in several states in between, that we cherish.  We have had church callings that have tested us and stretched us beyond what we thought possible.  We have lost parents, grandparents, and friends.  We have attended funerals and births, baptisms and weddings.  We have experienced unbelievable joy and tragic wreckage.  We have weathered storms, both literal and figurative. 

And most importantly we have had four of the most amazing, beautiful, brilliant, and talented children on the planet.  

I am grateful today for 17 wonderful years.  I'm grateful to be married to a kind, wonderful, patient, compassionate man who adores me and who has made possible all of those dreams that I had when I was 16 years old and others that I could not have imagined.  I look forward to the dreams yet to come.    


Friday, February 18, 2011

Amazing Hair Stylists

Can you be in love with a hair stylist??  I've been looking my whole life for the stylist of my dreams and it's possible that I just found her today.  

So here's the back story before I gush anymore...

I have A LOT of hair.  It's super thick.  It's long.  And when left unattended, it wants to be frizzy and unmanageable.  
see...thank goodness you can't see this any closer
 Therefore, I am forced to spend a lot of time on it.  

Blow Dry until it's totally dry and mostly straight (this usually takes about 20 minutes with scheduled breaks)
And then I set it with hot rollers! (another 15 minutes while they work their magic)

On a typical day, the whole process takes over an hour.  (No, I definitely DON'T do this everyday.)  But the craziest thing about that routine is that when I'm finished and I walk out of the bathroom, it always looks like I could have spent a little more time on it.  I never feel like my hair has that "finished" look.  And after 40 years, I had pretty much given up on ever having really GREAT hair.
It's possible that this is an exaggerated example of a bad hair day.  And it's possible that I may have perfectionist tendencies.

I mentioned to a friend, earlier this week, that I desperately needed to get my hair cut and she referred me to her hair stylist, Lauren, with a warning that she was a little far away and a little expensive.   But I really, really wanted a good cut, so I made an appointment, and crossed my fingers. 

Apparently that "finger crossing thing" works!  Today was the best hair experience I've EVER had IN MY LIFE...NO exaggeration.  Totally happy surprise! (that keeps happening lately!)  And after two hours, at The Johnny Rodriguez Salon, I realized that I have been wrong all these years.  I actually have amazing hair!  Apparently, it's had tons of potential - I was just doing it wrong!  I asked her to put lots of long layers in it and then I let her style it.  I never let them STYLE it!  They almost NEVER style my hair the way I like it, so I usually just leave a salon with it wet and fix it when I get home.  This time, I thought I'd be daring.  And once again...I was happily amazed!!    

Here's what it looked like after... 

These were taken with my phone, so they're not as good as seeing it in real life.  (You'll have to come to DAL if you want to see the actual amazing-ness!)  She even made my unmaintained highlights look awesome!  And it feels like silk! (instead of straw)  And it SMELLS delicious!
I'll have to save some grocery money every month so I can go back to Lauren again in about 3 months!  Did I mention she's the hair stylist of my dreams???  Today, I LOVE LAUREN!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I knew I was going to be alone on Valentine's Day (ok, technically I wasn't alone because the kids were here...but my husband was NOT here, and it was Valentine's Day.)  This business trip wasn't a surprise.  He goes to HOU every month.  I knew it was coming.  We had coordinated our calendars together in January and I was well aware that this trip couldn't be fit in anywhere else.  (especially considering the fact that there is also a birthday and an anniversary all crammed into the same 28 days!)

I tried to be prepared in every possible way so that I would not be pathetic on Valentine's Day.  

We went out for a great pre-Valentine's date on Friday night to my NEW FAVORITE restaurant...

The kids and I made sugar cookies on Monday night and delivered them to 3 or 4 families that we love. 

We watched movies together.  

But despite my best efforts, I was still totally pathetic.  Self induced, but pathetic nonetheless...ugh!  Not enough sleep, too many estrogen movies, and too much time alone in my head.  UGH!

But after 48 hours of "mists of darkness," my clairty came back last night...and so did my husband!  
AND he brought FLOWERS!  Typically, he doesn't do flowers.  (Mostly because I told him when we were first married that I don't really like to get flowers.  I LOVE looking at them and I LOVE the way they smell, but the thought of someone spending that much money on something that I'm just going to have to watch die a slow death on my table is way too sad for me.)  So, in the past 17 years, I can count on one hand the number of times he's brought flowers home.  (again...that was totally my idea, not his)

But last night, he did it anyway.  And I LOVED that beautiful bouquet of flowers.  It was the perfect end to a very long 2 days.  And this morning when I got up and saw it there on the table, it reminded me that I might have more pathetic days, but they don't last forever.  And if you get through the pathetic part, there's always some unexpected joy at the end. 

And it's possible that I might be secretly converted to the idea of receiving flowers after all. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


 ...all kinds of stuff, old stuff, Broadway, classical, instrumental, list is endless.  I LOVE piano music, guitar music, strings, those bell choirs that they have in some churches, the sound of the orchestra tuning, and as previously mentioned, the DRUM LINE is my absolute favorite part of the band!

I've been surrounded by music my entire life.  Both of my parents could sing beautifully.   My mom also danced the hula and played the ukulele all the time.  When we had family parties, there was always "spontaneous uke playing" happening somewhere.  My dad played the piano...mostly by ear.  He used to play this one ALL the time:

When I was little we had a giant console stereo just like this one in our living room...

It had a turntable and an 8 track tape player in it, and I think it had one of those reel to reel things.  And I used to sit on the floor with my ear up against the speakers and listen to whatever was playing...usually Big Band stuff, or Hawaiian stuff, mixed with Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, and Bing Crosby.  

When I was old enough to have my own record player IN MY ROOM, I listened to Shaun Cassidy, The Monkees, Barry Manilow, Andy Gibb, and The Village People.  I had the Grease, Pete's Dragon, Saturday Night Fever, and Xanadu soundtracks.  I had EVERY Osmond album that was ever made (I still have all of those.)  And I had a couple of those KTEL collection albums. 
I hung out in my room a lot by myself.  I would play my records and "check out" in there listening to music and reading Tiger Beat magazine for hours and hours.  (I still do that, only now I have an MP3 player instead of a record player and a minivan instead of a bedroom...and no Tiger Beat magazine and it's usually 30 minutes if I'm lucky and no one sees me leave.)   

In my adult life, I've moved through various music phases.  I was a music minor in college, so I went through a classical phase then...specifically Mozart.  There have been Contemporary Christian phases, Pop phases, country phases.  There was a Reggae phase for a very short time, a Stevie Ray Vaughan phase, an international music phase (while I was taking a class called Planet Groove), an alternative phase.  But typically, once I moved to a new phase, I never went back to an old one.  For awhile, I only listened to current music.  There was something about listening to music released prior to 2000 that made me feel out of touch, not trendy, left behind...(I don't know why.  Immaturity?)  I've reevaluated that opinion within the last year or so.  My musical taste has evolved into something more constant and reliable, I think. 

I sort of feel like 40 is the culmination of all those music phases.  I have had a lot of experience with lots of different music genres, and now instead of picking just one, I've put them all together and picked out the best of all of them.  Somewhere along the way, the music became more than just background for me.  I listen to the words now instead of just the beat. (Kind of like picking the BOOK instead of just finding a flashy cover???)  Now I listen to whatever moves me...and there is A LOT!  Of the 819 songs on my MP3, there are probably only a handful that are just for fun.  Almost every one takes me back somewhere, or makes me think, or makes me FEEL.  

Like this one... 
and this one...
and this one...

and this is my all time favorite song EVER...
I'd be here all night if I listed them all.  What an impossible task.  Even those four up there have taken me all day to choose.  

I think it's the most amazing and wonderful thing that there are so many inspired artists who write what the rest of us feel.  There is nothing that inspires, uplifts and encourages me more than music. It makes me slow down when I need to just be still.  It makes me clean faster when I need motivation just to walk into the mess.  It makes me remember things I thought I'd forgotten.  I am grateful everyday for the inspiring, beautiful musical choices that are available.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top 10 Valentine-y Movie Quotes

10.  Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
"You look good wearing my future."  - Keith

9.  When Harry Met Sally (1989)
"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." 

8.  Eclipse (2010)

"You wouldn't have to change for me Bella. I'm in love with you, and I want you to pick me instead of him." - Jacob

7.  50 First Dates (2004)

Lucy: “I don’t know who you are, Henry… but I dream about you almost every night.  Why?”
Henry: “What would you say if I told you that notebook you read every day used to have a lot of stuff about me in it?”
Lucy: “I would say that that makes a lot of sense.”
Henry: “You erased me from your memories because you thought you were holding me back from having a full and happy life. But you made a mistake. Being with you is the only way I could have a full and happy life. You’re the girl of my dreams… and apparently, I’m the man of yours.”

6.  The Notebook (2004)

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.” - Noah

5.  Letters to Juliet (2010)
Dear Claire, "What" and "If" are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if? What if? I don't know how your story ended but if what you felt then was true love, then it's never too late. If it was true then, why wouldn't it be true now? You need only the courage to follow your heart. I don't know what a love like Juliet's feels like - love to leave loved ones for, love to cross oceans for but I'd like to believe if I ever were to feel it, that I will have the courage to seize it. And, Claire, if you didn't, I hope one day that you will. All my love, Juliet 

4.  Pride and Prejudice (2005)

MR DARCY:  How are you this evening, my dear?
ELIZABETH:  Very well. Only, I wish you would not call me ‘my dear.’
ELIZABETH:  Cause it’s what my father always calls my mother when he’s cross about something.
MR DARCY:  What endearments am I allowed?
ELIZABETH:  Well, let me think. ‘Lizzy’ for every day. ‘My pearl’ for Sundays, and ‘Goddess Divine,’ but only on very special occasions.
MR DARCY:  And what shall I call you when I’m cross? Mrs Darcy?
ELIZABETH:  No. No. You may only call me ‘Mrs Darcy’ when you are completely, perfectly and incandescently happy.
MR DARCY:  But how are you this evening, Mrs Darcy? Mrs Darcy. Mrs Darcy. Mrs Darcy.

3.  Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together … and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home. .. only to no home I’d ever known … I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like … magic.” - Sam

2.  City of Angels

“I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it.” - Seth

1.  Pride and Prejudice (2005)

“…If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love … I love … I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Cruise Director

Last night, there was a Winter Frenzy Dance at the middle school.  Sometime this week, during one of our crossroads times, D1 mentioned that there was a church dance on Saturday night.  

Me:  So you have two dances this weekend?
D1:  No
Me:  Isn't there a dance at school on Friday night?
D1:  Oh, yeah, we're not going to that one.
Me:  Really, why not?
D1:  Because we all talked about it and decided that the music is probably not going to be appropriate and everyone will probably be naked. 
Me:  Naked??
D1:  Yeah, they dress really immodestly whenever they can get away with it.  I'm sure it will be like that at the dance.  So we're not going.  Do you think I could just have all my friends over on Saturday afternoon so we can all get ready together?
Me:  Um...absolutely YES!  (too enthusiastic?)

Last night she had a sleepover with Spell Girl, which usually means that they stay up all night talking and then sleep until noon the next day.   But Spell Girl was up having breakfast by 9am this morning...on a Saturday!  Unheard of...
It turns out that D1 got up at 8am and started cleaning her room, and then woke up Spell Girl and kicked her out at 9am so she could make her bed!!  (I immediately went downstairs to check D1's temperature and inform her that it was only 9:00 in the morning!!  She didn't find me quite as hilarious as I thought I was.)

D1 spent the morning cleaning both her room AND her bathroom!  Trash bags were hauled out, dust bunnies were dusted, drawers and closets were cleaned.  It was a JOY to watch her.  At 1:30 she came out for a lunch break...and I seized the opportunity to peek in and see what she had done.   
Oh, how I wish I had thought to take a picture!  It was spectacular!  Not only was her room SPOTLESS, but she had set the whole thing up like a spa, complete with stations for her friends to rotate through!  
  • big bucket of warm soapy water (yes, with a towel under it!) for pedicure pre-soaking
  • a large selection of Seventeen magazines for everyone to read while they soaked or waited
  • red construction paper, scissors and a heart shaped template for making Valentines
  • a manicure station with an assortment of nail polish, cotton, and protective covering on the dresser
D1 has been the world's greatest Cruise Director for as long as I can remember. (hey!! I think I might have just found her new blog name!'s so much better than Frog in the Box.

When The Cruise Director was 10, she organized her own birthday party...a pajama fashion show for 12 girls.  She planned, games, even the exact timing for the opening of presents.  And I remember just standing there and watching her in complete amazement and awe.  She has since planned all of her subsequent birthday parties as well.

She is a Master Orchestrater of Events and Mover of People.  People just want to be wherever she is and do whatever she does.  She's a catalyst.  She has a thought and POOF! swarms of girls are there doing whatever it is she's thought up.  I've never seen anything like it, especially at her age.  I'm pretty sure I was awkward, insecure and socially retarded at 14. 
The Spa/Salon
Baked Potato Bar

Finally ready for the dance

Oh, and in addition to planning her own party tonight, she also planned a long distance "pick me up" party for her friend in Mendon who was having a crappy day.  seriously, amazing...she's my hero.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Three More Hours

I'm eating lunch right now (vegan-ized Taco Soup...yum!) at exactly 12:00 and it's just occurred to me that I have THREE MORE HOURS until anyone is going to walk into this house.  I've already had three hours this morning of complete, blissful silence that I've filled with great this THREE MORE HOURS is just an extra bonus.  I'm finished with all the pressing responsibilities.  I've read stuff.  I've written in my journal.  I've been quiet.  I've cleaned.  So now, the remaining THREE MORE HOURS are totally mine to do with whatever I want!!  (That rarely happens, btw.  Usually I look at the clock and I only have 3 minutes before the kids come home.  Sometimes, I don't even get to look at the clock...they just appear and I think, "how is it that you're already home?")

But today, apparently I'm getting that alone time that I was craving earlier in the week.  It's my reward for having FIVE unexpected snow days in TWO weeks, I'm sure. 

I've given this a lot of thought in the last 5 minutes and guess what I'm going to do with my THREE MORE HOURS...well, now it's 2 hours and 50 minutes.  I'm going to get garbage bags and tackle the upstairs bedrooms.  Because if not me, then who?  And if not now, then when?  And because I sincerely LOVE throwing stuff away.  Garbage bags are my friends.  My favorite day of the week is TRASH DAY when all the old stuff gets hauled away and I'm left with empty garbage cans to spend the week filling back up.

I have never in my life been a saver.  Which is a good thing because it sort of guarantees that my family will never appear on that Hoarders show on A&E.  But it's crappy when Halloween rolls around and children are trying to MAKE their own costumes.  I don't EVER have any good piles of stuff to rummage through.  If I haven't used it or worn it in the past year, it's gone.  That rule does NOT apply to dishes or table linens or pictures or handmade things, however; except maybe macaroni necklaces.

My three younger kids are the BEST spot cleaners on the planet.  They do a great job putting their stuff away before they leave for school in the mornings.  They can make their beds better than I can.  But somehow things creep in there and never find their way out.  They're not allowed to eat in their bedrooms, but somehow there are empty cups in there with goldfish crumbs in them...hmmm?  There are things under the beds and in the corners that I KNOW I've asked them to find and get rid of...but they're still there.  So I'm going in.  I'm stripping sheets off the beds.  I'm hauling everything out of the rooms.  I'm letting the vacuum cleaner make that delightful sound when it's picking up little tiny things off the floor.  And then I'm going to put it all back where it's supposed to be.  

My kids don't love when I do this.  In fact, they dread it.  Fortunately for them, it doesn't happen very often.  But the rule is: if it's on the floor, it's fair game.  If they love it, they need to put it away.  So I have no guilt about this whatsoever, and hopefully it'll only take me TWO HOURS and I'll still have time before they come home to do something else amazingly productive.  

oh, and I'm taking MY DROID in there with me...MCC Radio on Pandora...bliss...

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Yesterday I read an amazing post by someone who I love and admire that totally made me think.  There was part of a quote in it that I LOVED... 
President Benson counseled mothers to "be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going." 

When I read that, I realized that the crossroads are my favorite part of the day.  

I have been married for almost 17 years, and I've been a mother for 14, and during that time it's always been necessary for me work either part time or full time...until this summer.
  • Before the kids came, I was an Executive Secretary for the SVP of Real Estate for The Home Depot.  (I LOVED that job...and that man.  I stayed until he retired in July 1997.  D1 was 9 months old.)
  • I taught piano lessons from 1994 until sometime in 2008 when I realized that I didn't actually like being a piano teacher.  (I LOVE playing the piano.  I just don't love teaching other people how to do that.)  
  • I sold Pampered Chef from 2004-2006.
  • I was the Mendon City Clerk from 2008-2010.
  • I was a part time secretary at my kids' elementary school for two years.  (I LOVED everything about that job...the people I worked with, the hours, being so close to my kids, and the 30 second commute!  I would have done that job for free if they had asked me.)
(sorry for the resume)

But until this recent relocation/job change, I had never been exclusively AT HOME.  

In our current neighborhood, we live very close to both the elementary school and the middle school where my children attend.  My husband walks the younger kids to their school every morning...unless it's cold...and then he drives them.  So he has a chance to connect with them a little in the mornings.  But our crossroads with them usually happens after school.  That's when the homework comes out of their backpacks.  That's when I hear about the good and bad parts of their days.  It's mostly business, but occasionally I get some useful insight into their lives.  

There is a bus available for D1, my 8th grader, (I've really GOT to find a better blog name for her) to take to school, but because we weren't quite sure of the schedule on the first few days, I opted to drive her there myself.  That very quickly became a habit.

In the mornings, there isn't a lot of time to talk, so I've gotten really good at saving little things to tell her before school.  She's not as chatty in the mornings, so it's mostly me talking, but it's nice to know that she's starting her day with ME instead of with whatever influence may or may not be on the bus that day.  BUT when I pick her up from school, I have more time to linger while we drive home, and that's where all the great stuff comes up!  She is totally chatty then...she tells me about everything that happened at school, everything that happened with her friends, every conversation she had during the day, what she ate for lunch, and anything else she can think of.'s like the floodgates open, and she cannot restrain herself.  I LOVE that.  Because the craziest thing happens when she walks in the door of our house...
...have you ever seen that "frog in the box" episode on Looney Tunes...?
It's the one where the guy finds that extraordinarily talented frog and thinks he's going to be able to capitalize on his discovery, only to find out that the frog won't perform for anyone but him.  That's totally D1.  She talks and talks and talks when we're alone in the car or the store, but the minute you get her home....(ribbit)...nothing.  It's the craziest thing.  

So I've come to cherish that time alone with her.  And now, even though we know where the bus stop is, and we're more clear on her schedule, there's no way in the world I would give up that crossroads time with her.   What if it makes a difference?  What if I have the opportunity to say meaningful things that she'll remember later in life...when she's at an ACTUAL crossroads.  Fourteen is an extremely impressionable age.  If I have 30 minutes a day to make a little bit of an impression...I'm totally taking it!

I am so grateful for the opportunity and the privilege that it is to be exclusively at home and to have my kids as my primary responsibility.  I am grateful for the crossroads with D1 this year, and the ones with my future teenagers in the years to come.    

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Another snow day...

I'm totally running out of ideas to keep these kids occupied.  And I'm totally craving a day ALONE!  (Maybe in the spring...) 

But it's almost Valentine's Day, so this morning, a few neighborhood girls came over to work on their Valentines with Spell Girl and June.  (Mack was not at all interested in Valentines.  I barely got him to write his name on his.)
June picked the boxed Disney Valentines...although she did heavily personalize them with stickers and decorations.
This year Spell Girl was the only one who chose to MAKE her Valentines. 

While I watched them today, I thought about all those little Valentine projects that they used to do when they were little.  They're not as enthusiastic about the butterfly valentines...
or the little puff ball valentines...

...which is less work for me, but it's kinda sad to think that those Family Fun magazine days are over in my house.  I read that magazine in the dentist's office the other day and realized that I probably won't ever need a subscription to it again...(sniff...)
...well, maybe for the grandkids  :)

But, as sad as it is to see those years go by, I am totally excited for the years that are coming up...dances, dating, driving, cellphones, high school.   And the best part is that no matter what age they are, they ALWAYS love MY favorite thing about Valentine's Day...


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


After having three girls, my husband and I were unprepared for the drastic change it would be to have a boy in our house.  

Mack's first words were  "vroom vroom."   On rides in the car, he could spot a wheeled thing from 500 yards away. From the backseat of the minivan, strapped into a carseat, he would rip the binkie out of his mouth and enthusiastically call out, "VROOM! VROOM!."  Occasionally the rest of us wouldn't see anything with wheels and would wrongly assume that he was just randomly making that sound.  But he would continue relentlessly until someone else in the car correctly validated the vehicle he had spotted. A few times, we had to really STRETCH to identify what he was looking at...
 ...well, they DO have wheels, so they MUST go "vroom vroom," right?  

We played the "vroom vroom" game for a LONG time...until he got older and started identifying cars by make and model.  Notoriously, on even the shortest of road trips, Mack will call out (still from the far reaches of the backseat of the van) "There's a Dodge Viper!"  "Hey, we just passed a Pontiac Grand Prix!"  And he has been on a personal quest since he turned 7 to spot an actual Bugatti.

But it's not just the cool cars that he's interested in.  He knows minivans.  He knows SUVs.  He knows domestic and foreign.  He knows the difference between a Peterbilt, a Kenworth, and a Mack truck (hence, his blog name.)  

(The girls NEVER did that.)

A few weekends ago, we had an unusually warm Saturday, so Mack assembled a crew of about 10 neighborhood boys and they spent the ENTIRE day in our backyard building a fort.  He came inside once and said, "OK we're going to need a few things...a hammer, some duct tape, and pocket knives"...hmmm...apparently this is no ordinary fort.  After 6 straight hours of non stop construction, they had only finished the foundation!    

(The girls NEVER did that.) 

early stages of construction
the Foreman

Tonight, Mack decided to make alternative sleeping arrangements for himself.  Normally he sleeps on the bottom of a very comfortable bunk bed.  
But tonight he's sleeping here...
yep, in a box...seriously...
(the girls NEVER slept in a box...although Spell Girl did go through a phase where she was sleeping UNDER her bed instead of IN it.)

So, tonight, as I'm watching my little boy sleep in a box, I am so grateful that I have three girls AND one little Mack!  How incomplete would our lives be without his influence?