Friday, December 4, 2009


... I volunteer at the school.
...the laundry never ends. family wants to eat.
...I prepare lessons to teach at church.
...I accompany others on the piano and/or organ.
...I go grocery shopping.
...every dish and surface in the kitchen are simultaneously dirty.'s the holiday season, thus adding about 47 more things to my to-do list.
...I get roped into making a gingerbread temple for the church Christmas party.
...the gingerbread temple takes hours - no, days - to make.

And sometimes I also bring a breakfast casserole to that Christmas party.

But that is not all. Oh no, that is not all.

Sometimes... son goes through the house like a little tornado and turns everything upside down and inside out.

...that same son develops a favorite hobby of pulling glass ornaments off the Christmas tree and sticking them on his fingers, then running around the house while I try to catch him. daughter throws 3 humongous tantrums in one day that involve weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, general mass hysteria, and cause us to be late to wherever we are going. other daughter gets sick and has to be picked up from school. Sometimes this means hauling the other two kids out into the freezing rain (during nap time) to go get her.

...the sick daughter isn't really sick (they sent her home with a 99.2 degree fever? Really?), but still asks for water/movie/snack/
medicine/entertainment every 2.43 minutes.

...a glass shatters all over the floor and adds an additional hour to cleaning the kitchen.

...I get sick and have to see a doctor. left leg is shorter than my right leg. Okay, actually this is all the time.

...that 1/4" difference in leg length causes a lot of pain.

And sometimes all of the above happens in a 48-hour period of time.

But sometimes... knight in shining armor (i.e. Anders in a black wool pea coat) shows up on his white stallion (i.e. gray Mazda) and rescues me from a certain death (or at least from having a panic attack).

...Anders sends me to my room so I can rest while he cleans the house with the kids.

...Anders takes us out to dinner at my favorite place in the whole world: Chic-fil-A.
Sometimes I think I have the best husband in the whole world.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catching up

Well, I said I was going to do this Gratitude Challenge every day.

I failed.

But all is not lost. According to the rules set forth by my sister-in-law, I can still participate, but I have to make up each day that I skip. Since I've skipped the last 6 days, and since I'm supposed to list 3 items of gratitude per day, that means I'm behind 18 things of thankfulness. (This sounds like a word problem in math class...)

For the last 6 days, I have been thankful...

1)...that I did not have to potty train my children while living in the various apartments we've lived in - apartments that had only coin-operated laundry facilities in the basement or adjacent buildings.

2)...that we are financially established enough that I can afford to throw away poopy underwear, rather than try to salvage it. That is so worth $1 to me.

3)...for Clorox wipes. I know I've already blogged about how much I love them, but they really are a germaphobe's best friend. And they come in handy when semi-potty trained children have accidents on the tile floor.

4)...that in spite of a few mishaps, Natalie really is doing better in the potty department.

5)...that Anders is done with the audit for this year. This means that he'll be home early enough to: a) help with the kids while I fix dinner; and b) intercept all the calls from charity organizations asking for donations. Apparently I'm on some sort of list entitled "Charitable Suckers," because we get at least 3-4 calls a week; they always ask for me; and if Anders tells them I'm not home, they refuse to talk to him and say they'll call back later.

6)...for sweet potatoes and blueberries. These two delectable foods have been hailed as "superfoods," but unlike their contemporaries, Spinach and Broccoli, the sweet potato and blueberry are delicious!

7)...for boneless, skinless chicken breast, and for the people who sold them on sale.

8)...for butter, sugar, and flour. While they might not make the "superfoods" list in a dietitian's opinion, they're tops in my book. Oh, how I love to bake anything that has these three delightful ingredients!

9)...for friends who host Pampered Chef parties (Kristy!). I'm quite sure my life will be complete next week when I get my cookie press.

10)...for Febreeze Air Effects. It keeps my house from smelling like we have potty-trainees and diaper-wearers living here.

11)...for the Twilight blogs on I 'LOL' every time I read them. (Yes, I just said 'LOL'. And yes, I've read the Twilight series. Admitting this is perhaps the most embarrassing moment of my life. And I've had some pretty embarrassing moments, believe you me.)

12)...that Daddy is around to make fun, happy family memories for the kids. As I type this, he is the basement, playing guitar, and singing silly songs that the kids are helping to make up. My hope is that these memories will override the memories of a grumpy, frazzled mommy.

13)...for a healthy family. No one has asthma; no severe allergies; everyone is cognitively sound; we all have 10 fingers and 10 toes, and that sort of thing.

14)...that my mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas back in 2001. I have to admit, at the time, I didn't fully appreciate the gift. But next to baking, sewing has become a favorite little hobby of mine.

15)...that Heavenly Father gives me experiences to help me see how living the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us happiness and peace. I've always known this, but I know this better today than I did even 6 months ago.

16)...for a clean house. Outside of my family, it is one of my greatest joys in life. (And that, my friends, shows you just how lame I really am.)

17)...that my active little Ethan will hold quietly still during our family prayers. The moment the "amen" is said, he is back to his loud, boisterous self, but I sure do appreciate those blessed few moments of silence as we pray.

18)...for Paul Mitchell. Specifically for Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum, and Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Relaxing Balm. Thanks to Paul, my hair doesn't have to look like this:
(You think I'm kidding? This is seriously what my hair does without any hair products. Just ask my husband.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 2 of Gratitude

1. So I have this thing about having a clean house. I can't function when it's disorderly; I can't mentally handle clutter and chaos. And so today I am most grateful that I was finally able to get my house in order (after a week of trying and failing). This means laundry done, dishes done, floors mopped, basement clean, carpets vacuumed, and food storage organized. When my house is clean, I feel like anything is possible.

2. I am grateful to have a television, and kids that like to watch it. I [try to] limit TV time, but sometimes I just need the kids occupied long enough for me to empty the dishwasher without having Ethan throw butcher knives at me. Not that this has happened.

(When I first had Andrea, I promised myself I'd never let the TV babysit my kids. I also never gave her a binky that had fallen on the floor without first sterilizing it in boiling water. Yeah...a lot changes with 3 kids...)

3. Speaking of television, today as the kids were getting ready to watch Robin Hood (so that I could empty the dishwasher without the fear of losing my toes to the butcher knife), Ethan and Natalie started fighting about where they were going to sit for the movie. I heard Natalie scream, "You, sir, have taken my seat!!" (This is a quote from Robin Hood.)

While I'm not sure I'm happy about Natalie being able to quote movies at such a young and tender age, I am grateful that the movie she is quoting is my childhood favorite.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

So, my sister-in-law Heidi does a Gratitude Challenge every November. To participate, you email her 3 things that you are grateful for, every single day in November. Since this is in keeping with my original platform when I started this blog, I thought I'd give it a go. And rather than email it to her, I thought I'd do it on my blog, because why keep my gratitude a secret?

So, here we go...

1. Today I am grateful for Andrea's school teachers. I volunteer there occasionally, and I cannot get over how well-behaved the students are at the school. The teachers work wonders with the students. They know how to elicit good behavior from the kids, and they can do it without the use of a paddle (unlike the teachers I had when I went to school...but that was in Texas...)

2. I am grateful that Anders' busy season is coming to an end (November 13!!!!). No more 14 hour days for him. No more single parenting for me. No more going for days without seeing Daddy for the kids. (Today he got home from work by 5:45! I could get used to this...)

3. I am so grateful that I have my family. Last night a friend of the family was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was a husband, a father, and a grandfather. I am reminded of how much my own family means to me, and of how much I love them. I am also reminded of how grateful I am to have the Gospel - to know that death is not the end - to know that families can be together eternally - and to know that the Savior has born all of our sorrows and will comfort and support us in our time of need.

Friday, October 30, 2009

You know you're a bad mom when... eat all the chocolate out of your kids Halloween buckets. And I mean all the chocolate. Down to the last Tootsie Roll.

What can I say? It was a really hard day. The kind of day that makes me want to move to Australia*. The kind of day that makes me eat my children's candy.

Here's hoping tomorrow is better.

*Did anyone else read that book growing up?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Guess who's back...back again...

Well folks, after much waiting and anticipating, you can relax. Your long wait is over. I'm returning from my 2-month hiatus from blogging. I know the suspense has been killing you. I know you're anxiously awaiting further news and developments from the Erickson household. I know you're dying - dying - to hear about our visit to Grandma's back in August.

The good news is that I am going to update you generally on the goings-on of the last couple months. But the better good news is that I have a cute new background on my blog...Happy Halloween, everyone! (Did you know: Halloween is quite possibly my favorite holiday?)

Okay, here it is. The top 20 things that you've missed out on over the last couple of months:

20) Our trip to Grandma and Grandpa's included lots of time with Uncle Greg, Uncle Eric, and cousin Dallin. We're grateful for any male association that Ethan can get, what with two older sisters and only girl cousins on the Erickson side.

19) Andrea learned how to play the drums with Uncle Eric, and she was actually quite good at keeping the beat on the cymbal, while Eric rocked out on the rest of the set.

18) The kids spent a lot of time in Grandma's vegetable garden. Here they are, eating their carrots they've just picked, and pretending to be the Fierce Bad Rabbit from Beatrix Potter's book, The Fierce Bad Rabbit (which we love).

17) We went bowling with Grandma and Grandpa. It was the girls' first time bowling. They both did well, but Natalie beat Andrea with a score of 76 by using the kick-n-roll method.

16) Andrea is growing up: She started all-day kindergarten in September. So far it has been a success; she loves everything about it, especially riding the bus, recess, and lunch.

First day of school-wearing her favorite outfit

Now that she is a big kindergartner, I guess she's in charge, because she came home after her first day of school and proceeded to explain The Rules to us. For 15 minutes straight. And then we had to "think about The Rules and remember them." And we couldn't talk to each other. And we had to raise our hands to talk to her.


15) With the beginning of school, so started the major meltdowns. They were a daily routine for a while. There was Andrea, melting down each night as she adjusted to her new schedule of all day kindergarten. And then there was me, melting down at least that often because I felt like this was the beginning of the end of my daughter's childhood. Luckily, we're both starting to get a handle on things.

14) Natalie is growing up: "I'm going to put this hat on and look like a woman!"

13) Ethan is growing up: He walks around, hands in pockets, eating big "happles," and calls after "Lollee" and "Sha-sha" (Natalie and Andrea).

12) I feel like I've become a legitimate Mom: I now volunteer in Andrea's art class at school. And I'm the Homeroom Mom. I'm sure this has to be some rite of passage into official motherhood.

11) We continued our 4-year tradition of apple picking at Hartland Orchard. This year wasn't quite as much fun because of the poison ivy Andrea found on most of the trees (her Eagle Scout father has taught her well), but we still got tons of apples and had a great time.

10) Family prayers have been shortened in response to Andrea's request to "make it short, Dad"

9) So the formerly potty-trained Natalie is now struggling in that department. She wasn't having major accidents, just little dribbles that were enough to require a change of clothes 3 times a day. Since I don't like doing that much laundry, I made her a little potty chart and promised her everything from stickers to candy to money in the hopes that it would motivate her to keep her pants dry.
Day One: She had 3 full-blown accidents. We're talking puddles, not dribbles.

We're open to suggestions.

8) We have finally solved the mystery of why Natalie dislikes wearing shoes with such passion - fierce, angry, tantrum-throwing passion: When she wears shoes, she can't cross her big toe over her 2nd toe, which apparently she really really likes to do.

7) Andrea's favorite music has come to include Beyonce and Taylor Swift. (All the single ladies-all the single ladies!) Not sure how I feel about this. Actually, I know exactly how I feel about this.

6) Natalie periodically transforms into "Fairianna," (pronounced fairy-AH-na). This is the magical fairy person she made up who likes to skip and frolic around the house, casting magical spells with her magical ice cream scoop.

5) With Andrea being gone all day, and Anders working his super-fun busy season hours, we try to make the most of our time together. We do fun things, like visit the farm at Frying Pan Park, watch movies, or my personal favorite: do nothing at all.

4) Andrea is learning to read and loves reading to "the kids." (Now that she is a kindergartner, this is how she refers to Natalie and Ethan.) Here she is reading them her first take-home book assignment (in the port-a-crib):

3) I have made some attempts at domesticity. Completed projects include: canning peach jam, raspberry jam, and applesauce; and sewing pillows, jammies, and a witch costume. Projected projects include: sewing more jammies, sewing curtains, sewing a quilt, sewing Christmas stockings, sewing Barbie clothes for Christmas, and sewing Christmas pageant costumes. A little ambitious, perhaps?

2)We went camping a couple of times. Once with Grandma and Grandpa in Idaho, where we had a pleasant time picking flowers, singing by the fire, and eating delicious food...

...and once in Shenandoah National Park, where they only sell wet firewood, and where we learned that our family of 5 doth not fit into a 4-person tent. Go figure.

1) We realized we have shot ourselves in the foot. Ethan does stuff like this...

...and then we point and laugh and take pictures. And then we tell him 'no'. And then we wonder why he's such a stinker who loves to get into trouble.

And there you have it. The last 2-3 months in a nutshell in our crazy family's life. Now that I'm all caught up, let's see if I can keep this thing updated a little more frequently. (But don't hold your breath...)

Monday, August 24, 2009

6 Days in the Car

We just returned from three weeks of a wonderful family adventure. I don't know how to even begin to record everything that happened, or how to explain what this vacation did for our family.

My intent was to update the blog while on vacation; I gave up on Day 2. (I did post a little about the adventures of our first day.) So, if you will bear with me, I will attempt to do this in a few segments. (We'll see how far I actually get.)

First, the car trip:

We loaded up the minivan and headed west to Boise to visit Grandma and Grandpa Miller for a couple of weeks. The trip was 36 hours of drive time; we did it in about 4 days with some stops along the way. We got some weird looks and raised eyebrows when we told people we were going to drive across the country with three little kids. Just to spite everyone, we had a fabulous time together in the car.

Passing the Time
I started off with great expectations. I packed books, toys, games, crafts, coloring books, and other fun things to do in the car with the kids. We made Fruit Loop necklaces, ate fun snacks, and played with punching balloons.

The play dough was a hit...

...and the girls made themselves beautiful with their new make-up kits (notice Natalie's pink, glittery face):

We had a DVD player as a backup - just to get us through the hard times. Our goal was to only watch one or two movies each day. Who were we kidding!? By the end of the trip, we were tired and our enthusiasm was spent; we watched Veggie Tales and High School Musical and the Music Man pretty much non-stop that last day...oh well. Good intentions, right?

The highlight of the car trip for the kids was being at "Hotel." (To Andrea and Natalie, Hotel is a proper noun and a destination in and of itself - like Red Robin or Florida.) At Hotel, the kids enjoyed Cartoon Network - which made me grateful that we don't have cable at home. A pineapple under the sea? Really? Is that the best they could do?

Swimming is always fun, but swimming at Hotel is extra exciting. Maybe it's because Dad is there to throw, catch, and wrestle with the kids in the water - way more fun than the usual baby pool with Mom. I have to mention that at the last hotel pool, Ethan learned how to dunk himself while holding on to the ladder. He was a little dare devil, going under again and again. It scared me to death - that was probably part of the appeal for Ethan.

Part of the fun of Hotel is sleeping together with the whole family in a cool new room. The kids loved it, and I have to say it was nice to have everyone - Mom and Dad included - asleep by 9:00. I can't remember the last time I went to bed that early. So nice!

Beautiful Country
Maybe this is lame, but we loved seeing the country and its beautiful variety. The Appalachians are gorgeous, lush, and green. The Midwest made me want to drop everything we are doing in Virginia and live simple, wholesome lives as farmers. Nebraska was surprisingly beautiful. Kansas was clear and open, and you could see the whole sky (which is something I really miss in Virginia). Wyoming...well, Wyoming had some very interesting windmills - hundreds of them, all lined up on hilltops. And of course, the Rocky Mountains are always gorgeous and were surprisingly green for August.

Family Time
Since most of our vacation time is spent with extended family (which is great), we don't have lots of our own family time together. The car trip was wonderful for that reason...just the 5 of us for a few days. We listened to music, we played, we were silly, and we just enjoyed being together. We even had little Family Home Evening together on Monday night. Dad gave a great impromptu lesson about the beautiful earth that Heavenly Father created; we sang songs; Natalie offered a sweet little prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the trees and birds. And then we played Name That Tune with the iPod - who knew that Andrea knows John Mayer and Natalie knows Jack Johnson?

I have to dedicate a little portion of this to Melinda, who rode back east with us. Melinda sat in the back with the kids most of the time, which allowed Anders and I some quality/quantity time to chat. She was also helpful in expediting potty breaks. The kids loved having her along; she has lived with us for so long that she's like their second mother and is practically part of the family.

Visiting Family
Along the way, we stayed with Great Grandma Erickson in Provo, where we got to visit with Matt, Tyrelle and baby Elllie, Jonah and Charlotte, and Auntie Melinda. A few highlights from Provo included:

playing in the water fountains on BYU campus...

...and riding in Great Grandma Erickson's awesome elevator in her house.

We also got to walk to church, which is a pretty novel thing to do when you don't live in Utah.

Thank you, Great Grandma Erickson, for your hospitality and kindness!!

We also got to stay with Jake, Amanda, and that sweet baby Audrey in St. Charles, MO on the way back home. I wish I had pictures to show, but alas, the camera was full that last day of our trip. But Jake and Amanda were so good to us and showed us a great time - shopping at the outlet mall, playing on new playgrounds, swimming with froggies, and more food than we could handle. The best attraction was Audrey, the newest little Erickson cousin. What a sweetheart!

Ethan adopted a new habit of screaming at the top of his lungs, and it kind of peaked while we were in Missouri. Our apologies to Amanda for keeping Audrey awake. Thanks, Jake and Amanda, for putting up with our crazy family!

The Bad Points
There were a few bad points of driving across the country, such as:

- nasty, nasty, nasty gas station bathrooms
- Natalie's increased tinkling the last day = bathroom stops every 2 hours
- hours of watching/listening to High School Musical 2
- Anders' speeding ticket in Sydney, Nebraska
- a flat tire while staying with Jake and Amanda (but we are glad it didn't happen on the road)
- eating at McDonald's about 5 times, which is about 5 times too many
- the crumb-laden, bug-splattered, slightly stinky car that resulted from 80 hours of total travel time.

But overall, the journey was a success, and we would do it again in a heartbeat. Stay tuned for Adventures at Grandma's...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

They can take my husband away...

...but they can't take away his Marriott points.

My husband works for PwC, a lovely little accounting firm to which we have sold our souls. Anders is gone from home a lot, and he occasionally travels. This stinks, but it also means that we get free nights at the Marriott from time to time.

Tonight we are sleeping in a Residence Inn. Today we drove 14 hours, crossed through 5 states - Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois - and finally stopped in the 6th state - Missouri. We are on a little adventure we like to call "going to Grandma's."

We've never driven to Idaho before, where Grandma and Grandpa Miller live - we've always flown. But we thought we'd try something different this time and use these 4 days of driving to bond, to see the country, and to use our Marriott points.

Highlights from our first day:

- West Virginia: While driving through the mining communities on windy mountain roads , we discovered that Natalie gets car sick. Luckily, I had a bag that successfully contained the results of her car sickness. We took a quick detour to throw away the bag, and to relocate Natalie to a seat where she could see out the front window. It seemed to help. This adventure set us back about 30 minutes.

- Kentucky: We stopped at a gas station. While waiting for Dad, I had the kids line up by the car and led them in doing head-shoulders-knees-and-toes and other various activities. Only later did I realize I that had an audience. A woman came over and said she enjoyed watching me to that.

- Indiana: Practically the whole state was under construction. One lane, 45 miles an hour, for what seemed like forever. We were glad to get to Illinois.

- Illinois: Smoke started coming from the cd player. Hmmmm. We pulled it out; we'll see what happens tomorrow.

The kids were soooooooooooooooooo excited to "go to hotel." Swimming, cool beds, new room - it's like a party to them. They've been amazing on the trip so far. Let's hope they don't revolt tomorrow when we tell them we get to do it all over again.

Friday, July 17, 2009


So our old fridge died. I say old, but I know for certain that it wasn't any older than 5 years. A fridge should last longer than that, don't you think?

Anyway, a repairman came to check it out. He said we were the unluckiest people he'd met in his 35 years of appliance maintenance. It's nice to know you're unique...but you don't want your refrigerator woes defining that uniqueness for you. Apparently there was one wire that was 'arc-ing' - whatever that means - and of all the wires on our fridge, it is the one that cannot be replaced.

And there goes one perfectly good refrigerator right down the drain - or to the dump - all because of a faulty wire. (I'm seeing some potential life parallels here...)

I will not relate to you all the drama that ensued over finding a replacement refrigerator. I will say that more than one fridge was delivered to our house, my counter top was sawed off, some baseboards were removed, and a window sill was cut in half.

And I was not happy.

But not to worry. All is well. We have a refrigerator. It works. More importantly, it fits.

Lessons learned from this experience:
1.) Never shop for appliances with children.
2.) Appliances can be returned. So if they don't fit, it is not necessary to cut apart your house.
3.) I do not look American. (The delivery man informed me of this. According to him, I look either British or Irish. He was shocked when I told him I'm from Texas. I'm not sure what this means...)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Today I'm thankful for all the little experiences that help put things into perspective:

1. I have a dear friend from college who is expecting her third baby. She just found out her baby will likely not live more than a few days past birth, if it makes it that long at all. How grateful I am for my own three healthy kids!

Even though I still sometimes cry when I think about my own rotten pregnancies, her experience has made all those horrible months seem so insignificant. And I would gladly go through them again, rather than to know that I would lose my baby.

Her experience has made me realize that the things that 'plague' my life are just so silly - a hip that sometimes hurts, a house that is never clean, a refrigerator that stops working in the middle of the night. Who cares?! I am so grateful for my kids, and that I've never been asked to experience the kind of heartache she is experiencing right now.

2. So sometimes (or a lot of times), my husband works late. And when he doesn't have to be in the office late, he usually comes home and has to do more work. And I occasionally like to complain about that. It would be nice to have a husband home every night for dinner. My kids would love to have a Daddy every night to sing to them at bedtime.


My sister's husband is beginning his training to become a fighter pilot in the Air Force. We are so proud of him for all his hard work and dedication to his family and country. But something my sister said in her blog put my husband's work into perspective: "i wish i didn't have nightmares about losing my husband to war." (To read her most excellent blog, click here.)

I am grateful that I don't have to fear for my husband's life when he goes off to fight financial and IT fraud in the government. The most dangerous thing that he faces is the drive home every day, and maybe a little carpel tunnel. How easy!

3. So I feel like I am failing at most of the things I do. My kids fight; my house is dirty; my cooking is mediocre. But I have finally realized my true purpose in contributing to this household: Keeping the toilets flushed. I walk around, and at any given time I can find at least one potty in need of being flushed. I'm not sure why, but it seems like I am the only person in the house who knows to how to do this.

And I am really good at it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Quite Content

(This is another post I started a while ago and am just now getting around to finishing...)

Here I am at the end of another long, crazy - yet uneventful - week. This week brought such adventures as: a terrifying trip to the dentist (Andrea), terribly scraped knees (Natalie), 147 mosquito bites (Ethan), a sprained finger and gimp leg (Emily), and working at the office until 2:00 am (Anders).

But the dentist is forgotten, the scrapes are healing, the mosquito bites don't seem to bother, the sprained finger and gimp leg are manageable, and my workaholic husband took Thursday and Friday off to be with his family.

Last night we went camping. Our intention was to camp at Shenandoah National Park. Then we chickened out - we've not been camping with all three kids before, and we thought something a little closer might be a better way to test our outdoor-survival-with-3-little-kids skills. Burke Lake became Plan B - family camping, lots of bathrooms, playgrounds, and only 20 minutes from home.

Then my hip went crazy on me (you'd think I was in my 80's, not my 20's), and Anders got three hours of sleep Wednesday night (thank you, PwC), so we quickly came up with Plan C: camping at the In-laws.

We had a fabulous time.

We roasted hot dogs for dinner (this is the only acceptable way to cook a hot dog, by the way...)

And camping wouldn't be camping without s'mores. (Apparently, in our family you have to look like an Amazon woman to really be camping. Nice hair, girls :)

We also made blueberry-peach cobbler in the dutch oven, using the blueberries we picked last weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Natalie was the Blueberry-picking Champion...she was very determined to get every last ripe blueberry from every bush.

Camping wouldn't be camping without Daddy. He was the hero - building fires, playing with hot coals, and setting up tents. When it came time for lights out, Ethan wasn't too thrilled to be in an unfamiliar place. And so Daddy came to the rescue. He pulled out his guitar and sang until Ethan and Andrea (and Mommy) were asleep. Natalie couldn't be lulled so easily, so Anders paid her $1. She took the bribe and went right to sleep.

Beautiful weather, beautiful family, and time spent together makes one happy, content momma.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Heart Clorox Wipes

I'm always slow to embrace new-fangled things. I was the last person that I know of to get a cell phone, a Facebook account, a digital camera, etc. My general philosophy is that if we could do without it when I was a kid, then we can do without it now.

But oh how I love Clorox Wipes. They eliminate the very tedious step of having to spray a bottle of cleaner. Now all I do is pull and wipe. Genius.

Also amazing are Magic Erasers. And disposable diapers. I don't know how my mom managed for so many years without these wonderful modern conveniences.

* * * * *

On a separate note, I'm still pretty new to the blogging world, and I don't want to do anything that would offend. And so, may I ask a question about blogging etiquette?

When people leave questions in the 'comments' section, what is the appropriate way to answer?

Do I:

a) leave a comment in my own blog to answer to their question?

b) email them the answer?

c) assume that these questions are just rhetorical, and do nothing at all (which is what I have been doing by default)?

And in case you are still wondering...

...yes, Angie, Allison Gagon is my cousin, she did serve her mission in Catania Italy, and she is every bit as awesome as you've heard.

...yes, Marcia, we are coming to Boise this summer, during the first part of August. I would love to get together again; I have to see that sweet baby girl of yours!

...Jennifer, the reason you haven't found my blog until now is because I haven't had one until a few months ago. Also, I'm not sure how to advertise that I have one; I never want to make the assumption that people will want to read it. But I'm so glad you found me!

Monday, June 22, 2009


A gratitude entry is way overdue, especially after that last whiny entry I made. Sorry about that. I've been keeping a little list of 'positive experiences' over the last several weeks, and I think today would be a good day to just pound them out. So please, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable. Here we go.

I am grateful for...

1. ...the Perfect Preschool Mother, who recently complimented me on how 'collected and calm and together' I always was. (Okay, you can stop laughing now.) This came from the mother at Andrea's preschool who always looks beautiful - perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect figure. Think Barbie doll.

I'm quite certain that she said this out of pity - pity that would no doubt arise from seeing the train wreck that unfolded every morning as I herded my 3 tiny kids in and out of the preschool - some kids wearing shoes, some not; my hair always a big fuzzy mess; Ethan in his jammies half the get the picture.

But she said it. And I cling to it - to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I'll be just that someday - collected, calm and together.

2. ...curly hair. I've never cared for my own curly hair, but Ethan's I love!

Also, did you know that "deer with curly hair are really mooses?" Natalie explained this to us the other day as we watched a deer eating grass at the D.C. temple. Which brings me to my next item of gratitude:

3. ...Father's Day. We had such a lovely Father's Day together as a family. No meetings. Nothing scheduled. Just family time, which is rare and precious around here. We took the opportunity to visit the temple and enjoy the beautiful grounds and the beautiful weather...and of course, the beautiful deer.

4. ...Anders. I can't mention Father's Day without mentioning my fabulous, amazing husband. He is another whole blog, so I will save my personal commentary for another time, but I will share something from Natalie's point of view:

Natalie often asks for Daddy during the day while he is at work, but she apparently understands why he works. According to Natalie, "Daddy works to get money to keep the Big Bad Wolf away so he doesn't blow down our house; and also so that the wolf doesn't blow away our bathtubs, because then we couldn't take a bath, and then we'd be stinky forever!"

5. ...that I have the number to Poison Control memorized. It comes in handy when Ethan drinks Woolite OxyDeep carpet cleaner, which he did yesterday. Fortunately, he did it just as Natalie had a little accident while trying to go #2 on the potty. (She missed the potty by a couple of inches. Yuck.) So it was really helpful that I didn't have anything else that needed my urgent attention while trying to save my son's life.* Good thing I had the number memorized so I didn't have to waste any time looking it up.

6. ...that Andrea wants to be my twin. The other day she realized we were both wearing brown Capri's. So she changed her shirt to be the same color as mine, and laid down next to me, with her legs crossed the same direction as mine, and said, "Look Mom! We're twins!!" It's been our little inside joke ever since. Nothing - nothing - is more flattering and encouraging than your daughter wanting to be just like you. Not even compliments from the Perfect Preschool Mother.

*Ethan is fine, by the way. I don't think he ended up with that much Woolite in his tummy. When I found him, he was trying to wipe off his tongue with his little hands. Apparently it doesn't taste all that great. The worst thing that can happen from drinking Woolite is vomiting, which we luckily avoided. The Poison Control number, should you ever need it, is at the top of this entry.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm gonna be honest with you...

Warning: This blog entry was written by a girl named Debbie Downer. Or maybe it was Negative Nancy. Whoever it was, I hope you get the point, and you do not have to read any further.

So I notice that a lot of people primarily blog about the good and the fun and the happy things that happen in their families. Cute things their kids say. Fun family outings. Darling posed pictures.

This is great. No one wants to read about the other stuff.

But today I'm going to blog about just that. The other stuff. The unpleasant side of family life. The day-to-day, I-didn't-sign-up-for-this, how-am-I-going-to-survive, no-one-said-it-would-be-this-hard kind of stuff. Most of it tedious and mundane. But the collective effect of it all is enough to drive you insane.

For example, right now I have poop on my shirt. For the second time in a week.

Also, there are ants in my kitchen. These ants are smart - they skip the counters and the sink, and go straight to Ethan's high chair, because they know it is impossible to keep clean. There will always be a yogurt splatter or a banana slice for them to nibble on. No matter how hard or how often I scrub, I can't seem to get it clean enough.

Then other things happen, like Natalie getting Lyme disease. (Remember my old friend, the tick?) It's simple enough to treat, but it means skipping nap time, finding someone to watch your other kids, spending an afternoon at the doctor's office that you despise, cleaning up the little accident that Natalie had in the car on the way there, wrestling with a screaming Natalie so they can weigh her, and antibiotics 3 times a day for 3 weeks.

Do you remember how in Young Women's, you'd have lessons and activities to help prepare you for motherhood? Well, they should have an activity where you learn how to clean up an exploded diaper. Ethan has one every morning. It's tricky trying to get all those little silicon filaments off of sticky wet skin, even in the tub.

They should also give lessons on how to referee. Not a basketball or soccer game, but little kids. Every mom-to-be needs step-by-step instructions on how to make the call when two kids are fighting and you have no idea what happened or who did what first. Because this is how I spend most of my day, and I am completely at a loss.

People blog about the sweet things their kids say. Well, tell me how sweet this is:
Ethan said his first sentence the other day. It wasn't "I love you, Mommy" or "Cookie please." It was, "I poopy. Ew." And speaking of poopy, Natalie likes to tell me, at least daily, that "stinky" and "pee-pee" rhyme. Multiple lectures about appropriate conversation have yet to sink in.

No one tells you that the only time you'll have to exercise is when you're carrying a kicking and screaming child up the stairs for time-outs at least 3 times a day. No one tells you that the constant barrage of questions will make your head spin and cause brain cells to die. No one tells you that the sound of a screaming toddler will cause your hair to start turning gray before you're 30.

My two daughters haven't slept through the night in over a month. Which means that neither has my husband. And neither have I. They are terrified of the thunder, and on the 95% of the nights when there isn't any thunder, they are terrified of the possibility of thunder. Bedtime is painful; it lasts about 2 hours. It eats away at the precious little time I have to get certain things done - things that can't possibly be done with children around.

Like preparing a Relief Society lesson. This has been a hard calling for me, because it requires me to complete sentences and sound coherent...something I haven't been able to do since having kids. The only time I can work on my lessons uninterrupted is when they are asleep. So anytime after 9:30.

Where is my husband? Can't he deal with the kids so I can get something done? The answer is 'no.' He's at work. Or travelling for work. Or at home, working on work. And when he's not working, he's at church meetings or interviews or hometeaching. Saturday is the only day that is ours, and that's the day we try to get all the things done that I couldn't get done during the week.

And since it's been a while since Anders has been home for dinner, may I confess a few things? My kids have hardly eaten anything for dinner besides chicken nuggets and hot dogs for the last couple weeks. Vegetables? No. Fruit? Rarely. Also, I have this great new babysitter. It's called High School Musical 3. It tends my children for me at least once a day.

As I've been writing this, I've had two thoughts come to mind:

1. Being a parent is hard, and on those horrible, rotten, no good, very bad days, it helps to remember that the positives really do outweigh the negatives. I love my kids to pieces. I adore them. I think they are amazing and beautiful and smart. When I think about my options in life, there isn't anything I'd choose in place of this. I choose this over a career; I choose this over daycare; I wouldn't change any of it.

2. "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." This line is from the hymn "Praise to the Man." It has been running through my head for the last several weeks. I think sometimes people who don't have children don't get what is so great about it. It's easy to see the ugly side of things - the side I just wrote about - and be deterred from having kids at all. It's hard to believe that the kisses and the hugs and the fun times really do make up for the hard work, the insanity, the relentlessness of it all. But truly there are few things that require greater sacrifice, greater selflessness than having children, and I honestly believe that the blessings and the joy that come are proportionate.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I am beginning to notice that my 3 items of gratitude tend to center on my family. Today, I am grateful for my kids:

1. Andrea lately has become Super Child. She walks around the house saying things like, "What can I do to help you, Mom?" Or, "I just made my bed and cleaned my room and set out my pajamas for tonight" (and her jammies will be laid out perfectly on her perfectly made bed).

Or, "Can I sweep the kitchen floor?" "Can I vacuum the living room for you?" "I'll put away my laundry!" "I'll help you clean up the basement, Natalie."

And then she does all these things. I am amazed, and I'm loving all this extra help.

2. Natalie has also been suspiciously helpful the last few days. "Let's clean up the basement before we play the driving game (Mario Kart Wii)." Or, "Look Mommy! I made my bed!" But I am especially grateful because Natalie helps me to feel like maybe I'm not failing as a parent after all:

She tells me that when she grows up, she wants to be a mommy.

She can tell me that it was King Benjamin who said, "...neither will ye suffer that [your children] transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel with one another, and serve the devil..." (Mosiah 4:14). This is the first time she has ever let on that she has been paying attention to scripture time.

She tells me at least once a day that she loves me without being prompted.

Natalie playing with play dough in her jammies and dress-up, with 102 degree fever

3. Ethan is such a boy; he does such manly things that crack me up:

  • He 'pounds some fist.' This was really cute until he started pounding faces and arms as well.
  • He turns anything and everything into a gun/sword/fighting thing, complete with sound effects. I have no idea where he got the idea to do this.
  • He crushes his empty yogurt containers like beer cans

    A few pictures from our Memorial Day T-ball Tournament:


Monday, June 1, 2009

Not My Finest Moment

Today Andrea is home sick with the same lovely illness that afflicted Natalie and Ethan this weekend (sore throat, fever, general crankiness). And so I had to cancel the 47 absolutely mandantory errands I had planned, and instead just hang out with the kids. It's amazing what happens when I have to take a time-out from the busy-ness of life - I realize how much of my crazy life I inflict upon myself. It's nice just to be still every once in a while.

Today I have one thing that I am very thankful for. So thankful, in fact, that it is going to take the place of my usual 3 things. Drumroll, please.

1. My very patient husband.
So I can be a pretty smart person. I did well in school, made good grades, got a scholarship, etc. But sometimes, for no apparent reason, I can be incredibly dumb. My common sense is a little flighty. Here is an example:

Last Friday was one of those days I should have stayed in bed. It was hectic and filled with tantrums from just about everyone in the house (myself included). The chaos culminated with a quick, last minute trip to the pediatrician's office because of Ethan's 102 degree fever and hours of screaming. 3 kids+1 small doctor's office+1 hectic day=1 very stressed, frazzled mommy. Anyway, we got back home, and the chaos continued. And then the phone rang.

I answered, and, because of my impaired mental state, proceeded to GIVE OUT MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER OVER THE PHONE to the Fairfax County Firefighters and Paramedics something-or-other. Come to think of it, it was my debit card. Even better.

Didn't I want to help support those brave men and women who run into the burning building when everyone else is running out? Don't worry ma'am, this call is being recorded for your safety, we don't keep your card number on file, my boss is right here making sure I type in $10 instead of $1000, no you can't mail us a check because it is too expensive for us. And if you're still unsure about the safety of what you are doing, here is my boss. His name is Jason Upright. Spelled U-P-R-I-G-H-T.

Since Jason's last name was 'Upright', I figured he must be a person of intergrity. I hung up the phone after giving this perfect stranger the keys to my family's financial life. And then I forgot about it until last night. Around midnight. The first quiet moment in our house in a few days.

I all of the sudden remembered what I had done, and the severity of what could happen began to sink in. I woke up Anders. I told him the bad news. I didn't think he'd be mad at me or anything, but I didn't think he'd be thrilled to know about it, either. But do you know what he did? He laughed. He laughed at me. He laughed a long, long, time.

We talked it over, did a little digging on Google to determine if it was legitimate or not (it was) and checked our bank account to make sure they didn't clean us out (they hadn't). We determined that I should immediately cancel my debit card and get a new one. He also reminded me that it is never, ever, ever, never, ever okay to give out that kind of information over the phone. Ever. Especially to someone with the last name of "Upright." Which I already knew. I just...well, sometimes I do really REALLY dumb things.

In conclusion, thank you, Anders, for your patience with me. And for not taking away my credit cards.

(In my defense, I really did want to support my local firefighters. They sent a whole team of firefighters and paramedics to our house once when I accidentally locked the kids in the car in the middle of the summer.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crazy Family, Crazy Thunder

Today I am grateful...

1. ...that Anders is home finally! It was two long weeks, but late Friday night he got home from his trip to Denver. It was hard having him gone for so long, but we were both successful in our endeavors while he was away: Anders got some recognition from a partner for the project that he managed; and I, well, I didn't go nuts and the kids are still alive. And I think they still like me. So overall, I'd say it was a good experience for everyone.

The first thing the kids did Saturday morning was 'play crazy in the family room' with Dad.
It's basically another way of saying 'dogpile on Dad.'
It's a family tradition in our house.

Dancing on the ceiling is another tradition in our house.
Now you know how weird we are.

2. ...for thunderstorms. Growing up in Texas/Oklahoma, you learn really fast not to be afraid of them because they happen all the time. And I know we get thunder here in Virginia occasionally, but it's polite, dainty thunder. Not so much in Texas. There, the thunder would shake your bones. So you just had to learn to deal with it, or you'd be scared crazy.

So, last week we had a couple of thunderstorms. There were some very decent rumbles - one even made my house rattle a bit. I loved it.

My girls did not.

And so now, Natalie will not sleep in her room. Naptime hasn't happened since the first storm last Thursday. And every night, the only way she'll go to sleep is if I'm in the room with her. This was obnoxious at first, but it's been a blessing in disguise. I now use that time for reading scriptures. Ordinarily, I only find time for a few minutes of study. Now I have about 45 minutes every night on my hands to just sit and read. Makes me wonder why I don't do it anyway.

3. ...for Ethan. I just think he's cute.