Monday, November 24, 2008


1. What time do you wake up? On school days I get up around 6:00AM to wake up the kids. I then go back to bed and keep waking people up every time snooze goes off 2-3 times before I get out the squirt bottle. (Just having it in hand usually does the trick.) On weekends I usually sleep in as late as possible, so it depends what we have going on.

2. On a good night, what time are your kids in bed? They are in bed by 8:30PM, but the boys usually fool around in their room for at least another 30 minutes or so. (On a good night, that is. You don't even want to know what happens on a bad night!)

3. How long have you been a mommy? A little over 11 years.

4. How old were you when you became a mom? 25

5. What is your favorite chore? That is a tough one. I would have to say it is usually doing what ever needs the most attention and makes the biggest difference in our homes appearance. I do have an odd sense of appreciation when ever windows, mirrors, or any other reflective surfaces are spotless however. I also love the look of polished wood.

6. What is your favorite meal to cook? If we are talking about mealtimes, it would be dinner. If we are talking about dishes, it would be cheesy bean burritos or sloppy tacos.

7. What meal do you cook most often? Lunch and dinner are a pretty close tie.

8. What are 5 things about being a mom that make you smile?

1) Seeing my children happy and excited.

2) Watching my children doing nice things for others.

3) Seeing my children happily learn and excel in a new task or talent.

4) Witnessing my children grow up and accomplish their dreams.

5) Seeing my children enthusiastic about the wonders of the universe.

9. If you could take your kids anywhere, where would it be? On the vague side, it would be everywhere possible that would provide good learning experiences. On the more specific side of things, they would love to go to England.

10. When was the last time you went out without your kids? Dave and I went grocery shopping a few weeks back without the kids. As far as having a date, it's probably been a month or so.

11. What is your most heartbreaking moment as a mom? I have to admit, we have been fairly lucky and blessed when it comes to having these kinds of moments with our kids. No stitches or broken bones for us so far, thank goodness. They all had a pretty bad sunburn one time that was rather sad to witness and they all screamed bloody murder when they had to get their shots when they were younger. Seeing Christina struggle with her Dyslexia and ADHD has been rather difficult to deal with at times though. I would also say that I was pretty scared the one time Nolan fell off the bunk bed and passed out from crying too hard. I wasn't sure if it was because of the crying or because of a serious injury. He was only 1 year old.

12. When was the last time you told one of your kids I love you? I tell my kids I love them every time I drop them off at school and when they go to bed.

13. When was the last time you were told I love you? Christina tells me she loves me all the time. The boys usually tell me that they love me after I have told them that I love them first. Dave is the same way for the most part, though he is more creative and funny in his responses, imitating movie lines such as "I know" (Star Wars), "ditto" (Ghost), or other ingenious phrases that don't actually use those 3 precious words but mean the same thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Congratulations Matthew!

This past Wednesday night, November 19TH 2008, Matthew was presented with his Webelos badge and his Arrow of Light (the highest honor available in Cub Scouts) as he said "goodbye" to Cub Scouts and "hello" to Boy Scouts. I must admit that as his mother I have seldom been more proud of Matthew, not because he just received these awards, but because he really earned them without us having to nag him much as parents.

You see, Matthew is a strong willed child, who often doesn't even do the things he wants to do if he feels he is being coerced or manipulated in any way by others. We have found it difficult to be there for him, to offer him help when needed, and to encourage him to do the things he should without overstepping the boundaries of productiveness. As each deadline approached to earn a new rank, Matthew would drag his feet until the last possible moment. Then, only when he realized both parents and leaders wanted him to earn his badge, were willing to help, but weren't going to force him, would he put his foot to the pedal and finish in the nick of time.

Yes, Matthew was blessed to have good leaders like Brother Lloyd, Brother McFaddin, and Sister Goltz etc..., a good home teacher like Brother Essarine, and parents who were both able and caring enough to assist where necessary. We are grateful to them all. (No boy could get far without at lease one of those.) But, despite all of this, Matthew still had a choice. Some boys aren't left with the option to fail like Matthew was, and only a few of those that are given that privilege fulfil their requirements. That is why I'm extra proud of him! He chose to go the distance every time; Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, and now Webelos and Arrow of Light. Way to go Matthew! (Sorry, no pictures yet. I will be sure to post them as soon as I have them ready.)

( Arrow of Light, the only honor that carries over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Visual aid for "Leadership"

In case you can't read what the picture says, it reads: Always remember that fear and intimidation bring immediate results.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What the heck?

While searching for a picture of a child with a runny nose for one of my previous blog entries, I came across this disturbing picture. I couldn't find an explanation though. Is this even possible, or is this some sick joke? Ewe!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Teaching Money Management to Kids

Today's frequent use of credit cards, debit cards, checks, and ATM's often give kids the subconscious idea that money merely spits out of machines, or that it comes from some other magical, renewable source, rather than having to be earned by good, old fashioned, hard work. Of course most kids have been told that it's not all that simple. Many can even explain how all of the before mentioned processes really work, though it probably seems surreal to them.

It's as if some magic trick has been performed before their eyes. They've been told it's just an illusion, but the flawless performance throws them off. The conflicting messages causes their minds to be wary and unsure about which source they should trust; their own eyes, or the words of others. Mix all that with the fact that magic is more adventurous, romantic, not to mention less work, and "presto!", there you have it: A youngster who subconsciously believes in unlimited resources and minimal consequences to some degree.

Though growing up dispels some of the myths children learn while in their younger years, others are so deeply rooted that they may become a life long struggle for them and their loved ones. Those that know better try to help the rest, but it is a long, hard journey belittled with mixed results. What exactly should be taught? How do we approach such taboo topics? Is this person open to learning such matters? What is the best way to learn these lessons? Should people be bailed out ever? If so, where does the line between giving someone a fresh start and enabling them fall? What are our duties as loving friends and family members anyhow?

Although I don't know the answer to all of these questions, I've learned a few things from both ends of the spectrum which can be useful to those searching for ideas. And, though the answers vary according to the individuals involved, there are a few sound fundamentals which I've learned that can at least help us better prepare the rising generation for their financial future. After all, our kids will never be more malleable than they are now, nor the consequences as benign.

Like most parents, Dave and I have tried various systems over the years to provide our youngsters with opportunities to earn money because we felt it necessary to start practicing young. The children mostly spent their money, and we seemed to be making little headway. We assumed that we just hadn't found the right reward system and tweeked things a few more times.

Then we started having problems with the kids' school meal accounts, as their lunch money would be out before it was supposed to be. We tried punishing them, reiterating the rules, and we even had them pay us back from time to time, but the problems still continued. It became evident that their money troubles ran deeper than we thought.

It became clearer that consistency was part of the problem, so Dave and I worked out a uniform consequence. We also realized that this type of discipline needed to include a way for our children to make the necessary reparations, as well as supply additional reproof until they had done so. We settled on having them bring sack lunches to school until they had paid us back in extra chores. This was a slow process, and though we saw some results, we didn't think that they were enough. The kids weren't passionate either, or trying to fix things that hard. They reacted like a dog tucking it's tail between it's hind legs; obedient, but dejected.

We wondered if there was a better way. Then we read the following article in Scouting Magazine, which got the wheels turning some more: (Although I highly recommend you read this report, it isn't necessary to understand what I'm about to say. It does have some additional useful tips though.) It talked of not just giving kids money, or having them earn it, but of having an age appropriate responsibility go hand in hand with it. Something that will automatically provide the child with a natural consequence should he abuse his funds. The expert used the example of supplying younger children with snack money with the understanding that they are to buy their own snacks whenever they go to the movies, or other family outings. If their money is all gone when a particular event comes up, they participate snack less. Teens could be given a clothing allowance with which to buy their school clothes etc... The frequency of these payments should also be age sensitive, but there should be absolutely no loans or bail outs!

After discussing how we would apply this principle to our own family's situation and needs, Dave and I sat the kids down to a family council. We then announced that instead of putting their lunch money onto their meal accounts like before, we would give each child their fair share in cash every weekend. They would now be responsible for deciding how they would utilize that money. Because we also wanted to encourage them to learn how to sacrifice, save up, and be thrifty etc..., we told them that they were welcome to take sack lunches from home free of charge for now, but that there would be no complaining at the monotony of their selection. We told them no loans or advances, and that we wouldn't replace lost or stolen money either.

Well, you should have heard all the "whoops" and "yippees" and seen their bright smiley faces! You would have thought it was Christmas! LOL So far the system is working, though I am sure we will need to tweek things from time to time. In fact, now that we have had this system in place for 3 weeks or so, Dave and I are now going to require them to buy their own sack lunch supplies. They will get an additional dollar too. This way they aren't getting anything even remotely close to a bailout, and they can also learn to make sacrifices in order to pay their tithing and save.

The nice thing is that this doesn't really cost us anything either. In the long run it will probably costs us less, by the time you figure in how much extra they spent on second helpings and treats, not to mention the stress of dealing with it all. Now the kids are their own bad guys (ie...the one's enforcing their own rules). If they don't like a decision, well it's on them.

In conjunction with these hands on opportunities, we are going to be starting a series of FHE's that don't just teach the kids the how's and the why's to money management, but other practical exercises that lets them see it's effects. (Stuff that we didn't completely understand very well when we were little: such as how advertising works, interest, and how long it really takes to pay off a credit card and so forth.)

Dave also found a cool game online that we would love to get, but seeing as we have our own lessons to learn... well, you get the idea. Although the adult version is nearly $200, here is the link for the kid version ($40) if you are interested: (It better be a good game for that kind of price!) Between all of this, we are hoping that our own kids will grow up to be even more savey and better prepared than we were when we first got married.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh, the joys of babysitting!

As many of you know, I watch 3 adorable germ factories in my home, ages 1, 3, and 4. (We all know how kids at that age spread their wealth via slime and uncleanly habits. ) Sometimes I watch a 4Th child (age 8), who incidentally attends a different elementary school than Christina and Nolan, adding to the mix her own brand of bacteria and virus' even when she doesn't come because she is the sister of the other 3 kids. Then you have Matthew, who attends a different school as well, which then multiplies our exposure to even more illness provoking life forms.

Mix in 3 other adults, aside from me, who each have contact with numerous friends, coworkers, church families, service personnel, neighbors, and so on. They, in turn, have their own cesspools going on as well, exponentially magnifying our chances for exposure to what ever sicknesses going around even further. And, if that weren't enough, we had Halloween, when countless numbers of people passed out candy concealing who knows what kind of stowaways, incidentally providing the perfect food source for said trespassers once they settle in with their new hosts.

Ewe! It's no wonder we all have Strep! The fact that this type of Strep tests negative for in-office testing, but then positive for the more stringent lab tests, makes it all the harder to eradicate. Maybe I should just wipe my home down with alcahol and bathe everyone in vinegar!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just a Few of My Blessings

Though counting my blessings would take far too long, naming a few will do for now. And, since putting them in order of importance requires more time and brain power than I posses at this late hour, I will list the few things that I am grateful for in no particular order save the wanderings of my sleepy mind. So, please do not be offended if you feel jipped, as I most likely am grateful for you more than you realize, and more than I have probably ever expressed.

1. The beauty and miracle of life, whether it be through the lives of loved ones, friends, or of the many creatures and plants that dot the face of this planet. And, not to sound selfish, I am grateful for the opportunity I have to take place in it's miracle.

2. The diversity and intrigue in non-living elements (whether it be of this world or another) and the many great creations that can come of them.

3. The marvelous plan of salvation and all of it's divine components, such as repentance, faith, and the atonement, of which I have been blessed to learn about through the gospel of Christ.

4. For my relationships with all family and friends, including the various ward families in which I have lived.

5. For every experience I have ever had, which have both taught me much and shaped who I am today.

6. For the basic needs with which my family has been bestowed, in addition to an abundance of love and mercy.

7. For a Father in heaven who loves us enough to give us freedom of choice for our own good, despite the pain and sorrow it causes him when we do those things which he has cautioned us against.

8. For the health and strength with which my family and I have been given, for there are many who suffer far worse than we ever have.

9. To live in a country where I am able to receive an education and not be forced to live my life the way another dictates, or in which I am unduly oppressed.

10. To live in a fairly peaceful part of the world.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Have you ever had a day, or a moment, when you were totally unable to think outside the box? When you had somehow fallen into a mental trap that things could only be approached by certain angles? Then, to your amazement and/or embarrassment, someone else comes along and says something so simple and effective that you can't believe that the same idea hadn't occurred to you as well? Well I have. And, if things couldn't be any worse, it was a young child who brought me out of my stupor! Ouch!

A few weeks back I was agonizing over how to keep Pierce (the cute 1 year old I watch) from destroying my downstairs array of African violets and other indoor plants. The gate which Dave had made for me had fallen apart and needed some serious repairs. Since Dave was sick, I needed to come up with some other temporary fix until he could mend it. I decided to block off that same corner with a double stroller and toy bucket, as moving the plants would only change the location of my dilemma.

Soon the little whippersnapper figured out that if he climbed up the couch, mounted the arm rest, and reached over, he could still get his hands on some of the forbidden foliage. Unable to think of any other alternative, I then resigned myself to the stress of keeping Pierce completely off of the couch for several days, or distracted at the very least. He tested me every time he thought I wasn't looking ,though. Over and over, bee-line after bee-line, he persisted until one day the inevitable happened. He decimated one of my poor plants!

"What did you do?"

(Hmm...... tempting.)

The other kids came running and shouting once they saw what he'd done, eager to tattle on the little rascal. We then confined the culprit to his high chair, gave him some crackers, and cleaned up the mess. After we were all done, I turned my attention to what was left of my African Violet and tried to see what I could salvage.

It was then that Christina bounded up to me and cheerfully declared that she had fixed the problem. Sceptical, I asked her what she had done. "Moved the couch!", she said matter of factly. "What?" I said doubtful, then walked over to see exactly what she had meant by that. Sure enough, when I got there I could see that she had moved the couch over to the left about 6 inches or so, which consequently left enough room for the stroller to be place directly between the armrest and the speaker, rather than in a diagonal like before. "Oh!" I said, rather dumbfounded at the simplicity of her genius.

We then placed Pierce on the armrest to see if things had been moved far enough. He worked it, and worked it, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't quite execute his old menacing plan. Bewildered by our laughs of triumph (and sighs of relief), he realized his predicament. After a few more tries he gave up in frustration, and moved on to find the next thing that would cause the same kind of uproar. Meanwhile, I just stood there incredulous to all of the waisted time, energy, and agony I could have used else wise, had my head been screwed on just right. :/

Thursday, October 30, 2008

what's your favorite calling?

Most of us have had many callings in life and in church. Some of them easy, some of them not so easy. Up until my current calling (Bear leader for Cub Scouts), I would have said that being Primary Chorister was the funnest thing I have ever done in the church. I just loved seeing those cute little faces get all animated and work so hard.

Being Primary Chorister wasn't all that easy though. It took a lot of work and preparation to do things the way I felt I should. Perhaps the reward was greater because of all the work that went into it, I'm not sure. I do know that my mission worked under that same sort of principle though. Being a mother seems to follow suit too.

For the time being, I am more than happy being the Bear leader for our ward. Those 9 year old boys sure can be a lot of fun, not to mention easy to entertain. I love it! My calling isn't really hard though, in that is doesn't require tons of preparation. Yet, somehow I still seem to reap the same sort of blessings and satisfaction from it. Perhaps it is because I give it my all. Who knows? What I do know is that it is a sacrifice for me to fulfil my duties. (They aren't hard or time consuming, but considering all that I have going on in my life, I don't think I could handle much more.) So, maybe there are some other principles at hand that I haven't quite figured out yet. All I do know for sure is that this is my favorite calling and I'm grateful for the things that it teaches me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Face lift for my blog

Today I decided to be brave and try a couple of new looks for my blog. Normally I'm not very experimental with computer stuff, but I saw several cute sites run by women that shared their own backgrounds for free. They made it sound so simple too. I figured that if these ladies could do it, I could too. So what do you think?

For now this will do, though I'm tempted to learn how to create some of my own backgrounds later on. This particular background I found at
There are also lots of other free backgrounds available at

If you are interested in making your own alterations, just google "free blog backgrounds" and you'll find that there are many other options out there besides those mentioned above. Just make sure that your text colors stand out enough to be seen through your new backgrounds. (I had to change mine, but that was rather simple to do.) Most of these web sites share additional helpful tips like that, in case you wish to make other changes to your site, and even tell you how to do it. In return for their services most sites just ask that you give them proper credit and that you supply their link for others to see. Hope this helps! Happy blogging!

Friday, October 24, 2008


This morning Matthew had a rough time waking up for school. He didn't have time to sit down to breakfast, so I advised him to grab a few Fig Newtons and raw almonds to hold him over until lunch. Nolan helpfully piped in that if Matthew needed to, he could always go to the school nurse and tell her that he had a stomach ache because she would give him crackers to help him feel better. I kind of chuckled at this, and then tucked the memory away without a second thought.

Later on today I get a call from Nolan, who was "sick" in the nurses office for the second day in a row. After getting mixed information from Nolan about whether he needed to come home or not, I decided to talk to the nurse. After we went over things like temperature and so forth, it finally dawned on me what might actually be going on. I then proceeded to tell the nurse what Nolan had said earlier today and she laughed. She then told me that she hadn't tried giving him crackers today, like the day before, but that she would try it again and see if they made him feel "better". LOL !!! (I then gave Nolan crackers after he got back from school too.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One way to make a living

Somebody should give this kid a scholarship, he makes for a great linguist!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Found the picture! So...what do you think?

The most ridiculous item of the day:

Today as I washed dishes, I thought I'd give the Bonnie Hunt show a try. As part of her show, Bonnie showed this ludicrous photo of a very pregnant woman wearing a wedding dress. Apparently this bride decided to celebrate her condition by flaunting her bare belly through a gigantic hole in her dress! (Really!!!!) What is this world coming to?

I apologize that I was unable to find the picture for you. Ah well, perhaps it is for the best.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Some things that I ABC order

A clean house, All animals, Art, Avocados,

Babies, Baths, Beads, Beethoven, Bills that are payed, Books,

Camping, Celtic Woman (the group), Cheese, Chocolate, Chomping on ice,
Church, Classical music, Crafts, Crystals, Cuddling, Culture,

Dancing, Dave, Daydreaming, Debussy, Dvorak

Enya, Everyone, Exploring,

Family, Fire, Flowers, Flying, Fresh air, Friends, Fresh Fruit,

Gardens, Geology, Giving, Grieg, Guacamole,

Happiness, Helping, Hiking, History,

Ice skating, indigo blue,

Jane Austin stories, Jumping on trampolines,


Languages, Laughter, Learning, Less stress, Limeade,

Maraschino cherries, Marzipan, Mexican food, Moon, Mountains, Music,

Natural remedies, Nature,

Obedience, Oil painting, Olives,

Pasta, People watching, Pistachios, Pizza, Plants, Playing the piano,


Reading, Red, Rivers,

Salads, Sauteed mushrooms, School, Science, Singing, Sleep, Snow, Smiles,

Tart candy, Temples, The Savior, Tomatoes, Traveling, Trees,


Valentines Day, Visiting friends,

Walks, Weddings, Wisdom, Work, Writing,


Yacking (not the throw-up kind, mind you),


Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Hallowean of Fright

Those familiar with our household know that Dave loves Halloween. It's his favorite holiday, and he doesn't miss a "creak" or an "eek" when it comes to decorating our house. Every year his amazing displays are touched up, perfected, or made even larger and gruesome. Similarly, more and more people come by to admire his handiwork, engaging their inner child (if they aren't already one).

Dave built it, and they did come. And did they ever come! Last Halloween word spread even faster than the year before. "Come and see the Grimm Reaper's house"! This was no drive by and see the pretty lights type of frenzy, mind you. This was a "Get out of your car and check it out!" kind of thing.

In addition to decorating the outside of our home, we have several window displays in our formal living and dining areas, all of which can be seen by the street. (We aren't talking murals or decals here either.) We also hang a menacing ghoul that floats just above our front door (on the inside) that can also be viewed by passer byes. We have fans, strobe lights, fog machines, scary sounds, music, and lots of black lights too. And then there is Dave....

Dressed up as a 7 foot tall Grimm Reaper, Dave lurks about, silently entertaining those who come within his range. Occasionally some unwary soul will turn around startled, having finally been made aware of Death's presence by the laughter and stares of onlookers. People just can't get enough of his "you will be next" pantomime. Dave's performance has proven to be such a hit, in fact, that by the time things ended last year, he had been asked to pose for numerous photos while dressed in character. If that weren't enough, he also made it on to a few private video recordings! He's a celebrity now, what more need I say?

Sadly, despite all the fun and glory, there always ends up being a few minor incidents in which a child or two ends up on the verge of tears. Although we've managed to avert a catastrophe thus far, this year may prove to be different, as a number of set backs already challenge Dave's flawless record.

As many of you know, I tend young children during the day. I have even been privileged enough to be able to do it from the comforts of our home, unlike when I first started. For this I am truly grateful. On the whole, this hasn't changed our home routine nearly as much as working outside the home did. That is, until the creepy crawlies, and the ghastly ghosties needed to start making guest appearances.

As fate would have it, it turns out that the cute little whippersnappers I take care of freak out extremely easy! (I'm not exaggerating either.) Not only are they highly sensitive to things that go bump in the night, the mere thought of such things puts them in such a state of panic that they literally can't go anywhere alone, much less be in the dark. (They freeze with terror, and cling for dear life, as the saying goes.) Therefore, change is in the air for Dave's Halloween affair.

So what types of alterations are being made to Spookfest 2008? I would love to report that things are being toned down a bit by the adaptation of more kid friendly themes, but sadly this is not the case. In fact, things are probably getting scarier! Dave has decided to do try something else instead; a plan which requires less sacrifice on his part. Dave plans to wean the kids of their Halloween fright: (You actually didn't think that was a typo in the title, did you?)

For starters, Dave is letting the kids play with most of the things he plans to use. We have been having them do things such as honk the masks' noses, pretend to carve pumpkins, or play tag with loose limbs. They pretend to cut pizza with Michael Meyers' knife, which adds it's own scary music at the touch of a button. We also let them talk into a fun voice distorter, which allows them sound like aliens, monsters, storm troopers and so on. You get the picture.

Additionally, Dave has been putting together his villains where the tiny tots can see them transform day by day from mere masks, pieces of PVC, costumes, and so on, to the final product. The kids are encouraged to touch and explore. We move the props around and change their posture occasionally as well. So far things are going as planned.

Next, Dave plans on letting the children help out with the indoor displays by letting them assist with the smaller sized props. Once the spider webs are up, perhaps they may venture out to help put the spiders in place and so on. Then, once the kids have gone home on Oct. 31, David will add the final touches and change into his costume.

We can say that we are doing this for the kids' own welfare, it's also just some harmless fun, but is that entirely so? I have to admit, all of this gradual desensitizing reminds me of Satan and his own subtle methods which lead the children of men "carefully down to hell". (2 Nephi 28:21-22) It makes me wonder who is really being numbed here, the kids, or us?

Though celebrating Halloween by no means comes even close to being a sin, does dressing up as fictitious malefactors glorify the face of evil in some small way? Does portraying gruesome scenes make light of heinous acts? I think so. I think we as a society have slipped ever so slightly into hallowing the not so hallowed. Perhaps instead of weaning little
children of their fright of Halloween night, maybe we should start weaning Halloween night of all the fright. Besides, isn't all the creative costumes, candy, and happy children fun enough?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rollin' Nolan

For some reason, "Rollin' Nolan" has become one of Nolan's nicknames. It is usually used in silly song fashion to an old Western theme song called Rawhide. (Thanks to the helpful comments of Trillium, I was able to learn the name of this song and add it to the top of my playlist for your enjoyment.) The version we sing goes like this: Rollin' rollin' Nolan, see that Nolan rollin', rollin' rollin' rollin'---Nolan". Lame, I know... but we all get a kick out of it. To think of it, the rolling reference probably came to mind due to Nolan's huge, very round head, which we often tease him about. (In a loving way of course.)

In truth, we believe that Nolan's extraordinary large head was made to accommodate his extra large brain. (A fact which he does not refute, I might add.) He truly is an intelligent child; who isn't afraid to ask questions, make observations, or do what ever it takes to learn about new things. I remember when he was younger, he would often get into fights with his older brother and sister about things he knew nothing about. Soon after that, Nolan would state the exact same facts that his siblings had given him, nearly word for word, even though it was obvious he didn't really understand everything he was saying. That is when I figured it out: he was purposely starting those fights in order to get his brother and sister to teach him what he wanted to learn.

Although Nolan doesn't fight as much as he used to, he is still getting others to teach him what he wants to know. Now he uses questions instead. "Dad, are you speeding?!", "Why did you go when the light was red?" (it was a right hand turn), "Are we going West?" are some of the typical questions he asks in his bossy voice. Nolan wants to know the who, what, why, when, where, and how of nearly everything. The kid has a natural drive to learn, what more can I say?

We've concluded that after housing Nolan's massive cerebellum, any remaining head space must then be used as a place for stockpiling spare calories, as Nolan certainly doesn't store them by traditional means. For the most part Nolan eats like most other kids, that is until something extra tasty like pizza, brauts, or hamburgers is served. That is when Nolan has been known to out eat everyone, except perhaps his dad. When you watch him eat, you can't help but wonder where it all goes because he is so skinny. (He even sports a nice 6 pack to prove it. Boy am I jealous!) It will be interesting to see how long he can keep it up though, as most veggies and him don't seem to get along that well.

One of Nolan's healthier habits is the fact that he is the most active person in our house hold. He loves sports and is a very fast runner. Right now his favorite thing to play is kick ball. Sadly, the poor child has been asked to make some sacrifices this year, as last year he slid huge holes into all of his school pants and was asked not to do so again.

Another of Nolan's passions is fishing, though it's been a while since he last caught a fish. His most recent catch was a large turtle, believe it or not. It was so funny to see him scream and jump with enthusiasm! (The boy giggled until he was nearly blue in the face.) The good news is: the turtle got away. The bad news is: he got away before Dave could remove the hook. Oops!

As for talents: Nolan has been gifted with a super memory, advanced reading skills, the ability to motivate himself, and very healthy lungs (so as to make himself heard). As the years go by, more talents are bound to emerge I'm sure. Nolan has also been blessed by the taller side of the jean pool, and will likely surpass his older brother's height in a few short years. It will be interesting to see how much the dynamics of their relationship change after that.

As for now, Nolan is looking forward to following in Matthew's footsteps. He is especially eager to turn 8, as that means getting baptized, getting his own new set of scriptures, having grandma and grandpa come and visit, and joining Scouts etc... I've no doubt that soon after all of that Nolan will talk of the day when he too will be able to join band, or do some other big boy thing that he has seen his brother do. I only hope that he will endeavour to add some of his own unique twists and turns along the way and make that path his own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Princess Christina

Christina is the jelly of our family PB&J sandwich; she is the sweet sticky filling that makes the sandwich irresistable and helps hold it together. She is always making things for others, giving things away, and sharing. She nearly always has a beautiful smile lighting up her already pretty face. Any visitors are bound to have her sidle up to them and make them feel welcome. In addition to hugs and cuddles, she makes sure that they are offered something to drink, or whatever else she feels they may be in need of. She is also usually the first to welcome most new families to the neighborhood with younger kids. (Her parents have to keep a constant eye on their precious, unabashed, and impromptu wanderer though!)

Some of Christina's favorite activities are: playing with friends, crafts, painting, drawing, writing songs or stories, talking, and exploring the wonders of nature. Much like her mother, she loves animals, flowers, trees, rocks, and so on. She also loves clothes, shoes, and anything girlish.

Christina's favorite movies are the typical Disney princess style stories, though she's moved on to the slightly older, non-cartoonish story lines lately. (Stuff like Princess Diaries, Aquamarine, Ever-After and so on.) She also loves to watch the Harry Potter movies, as she thinks Hermione is the best. Her favorite books are The Tiara Club series, in which she claims to be learning how to behave like a proper princess. Her favorite foods are salad (especially with feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette), pizza, and pasta, and much more.

Additional talents with which Christina has been blessed are: gymnastic abilities, singing, dancing, an eye for beautiful picture making, and a creative mind with which she invents her own amazing craft items. She is also a natural babysitter in the making, as she enjoys changing diapers (the non-nasty type of course), feeding, and entertaining the 2 young children that her mother watches every weekday.

Sadly, Christina has also had some difficult trials through which she has had to work these past few years, and from which she will likely continue to struggle with for years to come. She's a trooper though, full of optimism and determination to turn her Dyslexia into a stepping stool. What a relief it has been for her to know that there is nothing wrong with her and that she just needed to be taught how to read in a different way than most kids. Now she is in a wonderful, highly successful reading program which is helping her retrain her own mind. She finds it encouraging to know that many successful people (such as Tom Cruise) struggled with and overcame Dyslexia.

In addition to Dyslexia, Christina's parents and teachers are fairly sure that she may be suffering from ADHD as well, though she hasn't gone in to get an official diagnosis yet. For now her parents have been trying different lifestyle and dietary changes rather than seeking the aid of the often pill dispensing professionals. They are also trying different teaching and reward methods to see if any of those prove effective. So far Christina has been very patient and forgiving of other's frustration with her when she has a hard time staying on task. Once again, Christina has proven to be a loving trooper who finds hope and relief in knowing that both the brilliant minds of Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were able to prosper in life despite having ADHD. Who knows the wonderful things she will do with such a creative mind and giving heart!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Matthew and his passions.

I've decided to do a little blurb about each of the kids this coming week, so that you all can get to know them a little better. Since Matthew is the oldest, I thought I would start with him first. I must warn you though, if you know Dave, you know Matthew a great deal better than you thought. It is hard to tell what exactly has been passed down by genes, environment, upbringing and so on at this point. I anticipate that as Matthew learns who he is, the more we will get to know the real Matthew. As for now, this is the Matthew we know:

This year is Matthew's first year of Jr. High and he loves it so far, especially since he gets to start picking the electives that interest him most. As mentioned in a previous post, Matthew has decided to learn to play the oboe. During Elementary school he had so much fun in the Percussion club and learning the recorder for music class, that he thought he would keep moving in a melodic direction. Curiously, when presented with the opportunity to try out all the instruments to choose from, oboe and french horn were said to be the best candidates for him. (He had no idea that those were the very same instruments his parents played when they were younger, although I did play the clarinet for a short while before changing to the french horn.) It will be interesting to see how far he goes with the oboe. Either way, it's nice to see him eager to learn something new.

When it comes to spare time, Matthew would rather play video games over anything else. His most favorite games are the online ones, such as World of Warcraft, Talisman, Rune Scape and so on. (Matthew would gladly add more mature games to the list, such as Ghost Recon and so on, however his parents don't feel it's appropriate.) But since game time is limited in our household, except for the dad of course, Matthew has had to discover a few more things with which to occupy his time.

TV and movies have then become Matthew's next favorite way to pass the time, though they too have been restricted by his meddlesome parents. Fantasy and action are Matthew's preferred genres, with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies topping the list.

If Matthew can't be found doing either of those things listed earlier, he can most likely be found reading his favorite Fantasy titles . In addition to the titles listed above, Matthew has found the Lightening Thief series and Jack Sparrow books to be among his preferred reading material. Lately, Matthew has expanded his palate to Naruto, a popular series of Japanese Anime. (Boy does he burn through those fast!) In addition to all of the pictures, he gets a kick out of the reverse order of reading.

Favorite foods include: pears, kiwi, black olives, ham and black olive pizza (without sauce), and plain hot dogs and hamburgers. Matthew also loves most types of chips, candy, soda, and junk food, though he doesn't get to eat them as much as he'd like. For the most part, Matthew is a picky eater. (You can only guess what a shock it was when we discovered that he loves sauteed mushrooms. Who knew?) :)

Other hobbies include: antagonizing people (especially his younger brother), semantic games, debating, as well as harassing Nolan some more. He also loves playing with Pierce, the cute 1 year old baby boy I watch during weekdays. (He is actually quite good with him.) If only he were as good with his own brother!
So there you go, that's the Matt we know!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Coupon Crazy!

Dave and I have never really been "coupon clippers". We've used a few up until recently, but never enough to be giddy about. Don't get me wrong, we price compare and search out sales and so on. Organization was part of the problem, I'll admit. Then there is the time you spend cutting. Well, with all the crunch lately, we've started trying our hand at this craft to see if we could make it worth our time.

We researched a few websites that offered helpful tips and learned a few things that we didn't know before. Such as Krogers has clip less coupons you can have electronically added to your Kroger shopper's saving card, and that you can print up a 1 page summary of the ones you have on your card if you need to reference them. (Other stores do this as well.) We also learned that they do double and triple certain coupons, as long as they add up to no more than a dollar.

It turns out that you can walk out of Krogers for less than Walmart if you are careful about things. I had tried a few coupons at Walmart, and it was tedious, as the cashier had to shuffle back through all of the bags to make sure I actually bought what the coupons said. Then, if that wasn't enough, they sometimes lost them. I was about ready to give up when we learned all of that stuff about Kroger. So, I decided to give it all a try.

First of all, I actually organized my coupons so that they would be easier to find what I was looking for. To do that I took several legal sized envelopes and sealed them before cutting them in half. I kept one of them open and uncut, which became my actual coupon holder. Then I took all of the other ones that were cut in half, rotated them, and labelled them near the opening that had been cut into place (what used to be the middle of the envelope) with general sections of the store where similar items could be found. For example: refrigerated section, cereal isle, soup isle and so on. Then, after sorting my coupons, I place the corresponding coupons into their designated pocket and then filled the main envelope with all of the sections that I had created.

Once we got to the store it was rather easy to find what we were looking for. I didn't have to rifle through all of the coupons every time I needed to find a certain one, just the ones that applied to the section we were currently shopping in. That saved us a lot of time. Then we went to the check out. This was it. How well did we do? Our total would have been $128.93, but after the coupons, in store sales, and so on, we saved a whopping $50.79! That means we only had to pay $78.14 for all of that food. Not bad for amateurs eh? Not only that, but Krogers appears to have some kind of electronic system that keeps track of what coupons can in fact be used, so all that the checker has to do is scan them at the end. Hurray!!!! :) I'm giddy now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Photos of the kids.

Boy do kids grow up fast! (Especially when they are someone else's.) Here are some semi resent pictures of Matthew, Christina, and Nolan for all of you who haven't seen them in a while.

Here we have Nolan (age 7) having a play date with Shelob's youngest.
(This was taken around Halloween 2007.) This is when we first discovered that Nolan is in fact a muggle, and was therefore unable to transform Helob Jr. into a Hershey's chocolate bar. Can you believe Shelob tried to dismiss her son's behavior as instinct? "Misunderstood" my foot!

Ah yes! Here we have the lovely Princess Christina, disguised as a commoner, being taken captive by that aggravating bully known as the Grimm Reaper. Thankfully her charms won him over and he decided to show some brotherly kindness for once by setting her free. (Or, perhaps he knew his mother was watching and would haunt him to the ends of the earth.) Anyhow, now she is back to reading her "Tiara Club" princess training manuals, singing, dancing, and sharing as if nothing had ever happened. That's my girl!

Lastly, we have here Sir Matthew the constructive (age 10) as he displays a model of his future popsicle stick mansion he hopes to live in one day. (It was one of the requirements needed to complete his Webelos' art pin.) Bid our brave knight farewell as he ventures on to his next mission, in which he will tackle the mighty oboe dragon from the world of Beginning Band! (Hopefully his father can give him a few good pointers.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Who's that Girl?

Whoa!! Click on it to McSupersize it!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

African Violets

Lovely, and in nearly constant bloom, these tempermental plants have won their way into my heart and perhaps into the souls of my children as well. You see, I have fond memories of my mother's humble collection when I was younger. I recall here swabbing the pollen from some of the blooms with a Q-tip, attempting to pollenate another specimen in asperations of creating a new variety with which to accessorize her home. I recall her talking about how many of her family members back East had even larger displays of their own, and how some were even active members of the African Violet Society. Somehow their passion had made its way into her being, just as hers has done to me.

Years later I see that same enthusiasm brewing in my own children. "Mom, look at these!" Christina declares at every store selling African Violets we shop at. "Can I have this sucker?" they all say regaurding a new plant shooting off the side of an older one. (It's not everyday that you meet a child who knows what to "propagate" means, much less how to do it.) Lets just say that at the rate we are going I wouldn't be the least bit suprised if we had someone in the family decide to go into horticology in the near distant future!

How many of you have similar sentimental interrests? Have the hobbies of your loved ones not only impassioned you, but shaped your destiny as well? I'd love to hear from you and know!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bunny crazy!

Peter that you?

In addition to it's human population, newer neighborhoods in Texas are commonly inhabited by wild cottontails. And, much to our household's amusement, ours is no exception. Though many people find them a nuisance we fully enjoy watching them, feeding them, and anything else these wildly nervous creatures allow us to do. What a priveledge it was, when the rare chance hopped our way to experience a more hands on relationship this past year.

It all started with Christina's emphatic declaration that the ground "chirped" at her. Thinking it to be some odd bug or phenominum, I went to the back yard to investigate her claims. Kneeling upon the ground, I listened as she applied pressure to various places until she again found the spot that had perked her interrest. Sure enough a small squeel of sorts made its way up through the ground.

Now, more curious than ever, I proceeded to slowely remove the top layer of dried grass to reveal a layer of loose fur mingled with dirt. Then, to our excitement, we saw what looked like naked newborn chipmonks, or something similar, blindly wiggling around, desperately trying to hide beneath their nearest companions.

Baby bunnies nestled in their "form" a few days after discovery.

Riddled with amazement, we determined that since we had already tainted the area with our scent unintentionally, we should at least make sure that none of them had been harmed. By now Nolan and Matthew had figured out that something eventful was taking place and had joined us in our little venture. Towel lined shoe box in hand, we proceeded to relocate the precious animals one by one, checking them over for undue stress or injury.

All 8 sleeping critters nestled together.

It is during this examination that we realize that not only did we have baby bunnies in our yard but that we have 8 of them, all of which were thankfully unharmed. Oh's and awe's aplenty, we venture to the computer to figure out what, if anything, we were to do about it. We soon find out that they are very difficult to raise by hand and that if they are to have any decent chance for survival they should be placed back in their "form" (nest like depression in the ground where we found them). We also found out that it is illegal to raise them unless you are a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator or are unable to find one and the situation merits human intervention. By now the kids are sad because they had hoped to take care of them and perhaps keep them as pets. After explaining to them the harsh realities of nature, they reluctantly agreed to help me put them back the way we found them.

As recomended, we placed small sticks on top with a tic-tac-toe like pattern so that we would be able to tell if the mother had been back to tend her young. The next day it was obvious that she hadn't returned, so we brought the babies in and tried to feed them the recomended formula from tiny bottles procured from our local pet supply store. They ate nearly nothing. In desperation, after spending hours unsuccessfully trying to feed them amid a lack of unreturned calls by our local Rehabilitor, I placed them back outside in their form hoping and praying that their mother was okay and would return to feed them.

If you enlarge this photo you can see the markings on the covered form.

Much to our relief the momma rabbit returned that night and fed her babies. (You could tell because the markings had been rearranged over the nest and the bunnies were very fat.) It turned out that unlike all the web articles I had read, this mother didn't return every morning and/or night to feed her young, but every other night as we observed on more than one occasion.
As the days went by the bunnies quickly grew. Their eyes opened less than a week after we first found them. We would sometimes check up on them, take pictures of their progress, or show them to neighbors or friends. We were even lucky enough to see their mother feed them twice! (Too bad we couldn't get that one on film.)

Within days the young rabits left the form and started hiding around the yard, slowly increasing their perameter as they grew more and more independent of their mother. Within weeks they were all grown up and on their own. We often wonder if they remember us, or if any of the bunnies we see were the ones we helped watch over in our back yard.

I spy.....a bunny?

What a memorable experience for the kids! Hopefully they will remember how hard it was to let the rabbits take care of themselves, but how necessary for their own survival, when they themselves aren't bailed out of difficult situations in life by Heavenly Father or their parents etc... Perhaps they will realize that they too have been given the necessary tools and freedom to meet their own individual needs, but are being watched over, prayed over, worried about, and loved by others who care enough to do the right thing despite how difficult it may be.