Monday, December 22, 2008

My friend Heidi

I used to teach English at Pleasant Grove High School with my friend, Heidi. She was one of those teachers who, even now after several years of not teaching, former students contact to say that she was their FAVORITE teacher! Anyway, Heidi was a HUGE help to me as a flustered and nearly incompetent new teacher - I literally wouldn't haven't survived that first year without her. She has a really funny blog, and her latest post made me laugh. Here it is for you to enjoy! I hope it makes you smile.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mystery Shopping: The Bane of My Existence

I did two mystery shops today, both of them paying pretty well for what mystery shopping usually pays. I dragged my kids along with me. They didn't mind too much the Arby's shop, because they got to eat lunch, and they thought the Anywhere Fitness I "checked out" was pretty cool because Avery kept slipping on their floors with her wet shoes and making all of us, including herself, laugh. But I found that I minded taking my kids along because it wasn't how I would have chosen to spend time with them. (And yet, I did choose this because I am the one who signed up for the shops!) I'm discovering more and more how I loathe performing these shops that I sign up for, and when the due date approaches and I finally have to make good on my obligation, I'm cranky and resentful and stressed. And the people who pay the price for my bad mood are Kate, Avery, and Lilly (and Mac, too, I guess, but mostly the girls).

When I first started mystery shopping a couple of years ago, it was fun and interesting. Here was an unusual way of making a little mad money that often got me free stuff and allowed me to role play different scenarios. I fell in love with it! But as Mac's work schedule has gotten busier and the number of babie's I've birthed has increased, I'm finding that it's just not worth it to me to spend my precious time out on these errands that have become so laborious and so, well, stupid. It's not just the time spent doing the shop either. Once I'm home, I have to find time to input all of the information online while other important things, like cleaning, cooking, playing with my kids, reading, addressing Christmas Cards, and relaxing all have to wait. It's just not worth it anymore!

So why haven't I quit? The same reason any intelligent person doesn't stop a knowingly destructive habit: Because I'm addicted. I keep saying that I'm trying to stop, but doing the stopping is actually really hard. I've always enjoyed making money, and when I became a mom and quit working full time, I began looking for other ways to make money, even when I didn't need to. But I'm hereby declaring that once the new year is upon us, I will sign up for no more mystery shops! I mean it. I do have one shop I'm already scheduled to perform in January, but really - that will be the last one! By making this commitment public, I'm counting on myself actually standing by it. Mylife will be richer, fuller, and more stree-free if I can finally let go of this little money-making side business that has made me into more of a working mom than I want to be.

I blame (er, thank) Lilly for pushing me to this state. That third child really makes you come to grips with your limits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Budding Author . . .

Kate is really into grabbing five pieces of paper (I don't know why, but it always has to be five), stapling them, and making it into a book! I am really proud of what she's able to do, since she's only four, so I thought I'd share with you one of the cute books she made. I helped her very little. Sometimes, after she had written a word, I would tell her that she spelled a word wrong and how to spell it correctly. She would look at me very confidently and say, "Well, I like to spell it a different way." So I will provide a translation for your convenience for when her spelling gets a little "different."

Cover Page: Boy Stop Writing on the Table . . . Stop Writing.
(Page One): Princess (I'm thinking this is a short prologue to tell us that a princess becomes important later on in the story).
(Page 2:) "Boy, stop writing on the table!" (Apparently, this is a mom speaking, although she's not important enough to be mentioned specifically.)

Page 3: The boy stopped. He gave his mommy a hug.

Page 4: Princess was walking in the woods. She saw a monster.

Page 5: They got married in the temple. (The princess didn't marry the monster - she married the boy, just in case you were wondering.)

Page 6: But there were pirates in the boat. (Cue the scary music!)

Page 7: The pirates came to the . . .

Page 8: Came to the temple!

(The End.)
What a cliff hanger! I mean, did the boy and his princess live happily-ever-after or what.? It's quite a disappointing ending, although not as disappointing as in Breaking Dawn. As her editor and agent, maybe I can talk Kate into writing a sequel with a more satisfying ending.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ta da! I've finally managed to blog my first video. It was really hard, and it took forever for the video to upload, but here it is in all its glory. Lilly has started to "dance" by shaking her head back and forth the instant anyone mutters anything with a beat. We think it's hilarious, but that's because she's our baby and we love her. Most of you will probably find it passably amusing, a little cute, but boring.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Reasons to Smile Today

Reason #1: Cute Baby

Reason #2: Silly Girls
Reason #3: Cute Bums

Monday, December 1, 2008

Locks of Love

After - Curly.
I've tried to replicate the curly look like the stylist did on this day, but I have been totally and completely unsuccessful. I've used all the products, but I still can't get the curls to come!

After - Straight

Friday, November 7, 2008

Halloween Princesses

Other than my mannish arm/hand that ended up being the focal point of this photo, I thought we all looked pretty good here on the set of High School Musical a la Melaleuca. Every year Melaleuca decorates the building and lets the kids come trick-or-treating. It's a big deal, and each department has a different theme. The sales department chose High School Musical as their theme this year, and Mac landed the role of Ryan. They even learned songs and dances to perform for the big day, and I captured some of it on camera. It was a hoot! Plus, they won the Best Overall Award for their decorations and performances, so they get to enjoy a pizza party here soon. We couldn't have pulled off his costume, though, without our friend Kim, who was so so kind to sew the Es on Mac's hat and letterman's sweater. I'm hopelessly inept at sewing and all things crafty, as most of my friends know, so I was extremely grateful for the help. The girls got a lot of candy, and I'm still helping them eat it a week later. Here are some more pictures of them in their Old Navy costumes.

On Halloween, we drove to Boise and went trick or treating with my brother Mike and his wife, Brandi, my sister Jenny, her husband, Woodson, and their two kids, Matthew and Nicole, and my sister Aimee. My parents were there too. My siblings and I were running a race the next morning, so that is why we were all together in Boise. We took the kids to my uncle Gordon's neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. The neighborhood was very festive and enthusiastic about Halloween. One house had a haunted porch for older kids to go through, and one neighbor was dressed as a 70's dj with a sound system playing outside. He was offering drinks for all the adults who came by. I think it might have been an alcohol drink, so we didn't try any, but we thought it was nice of him anyway. Another neighbor told us that last year, they had 500 kids come trick-or-treating. Wow! Last year, I think we had ONE trick-or-treater come to our house. The weather was great - so warm! The kids didn't even have to wear coats. Kate kept saying, "Okay, this is the last house." I guess she just wanted to go home and get started on the candy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Applesauce, Peaches, & Squash, Oh My!

Aren't they pretty? I'm very proud of these lovelies, the result of my first attempt at canning. (These aren't all of the jars I canned - the rest are in my pantry and food storage. These ones are just the lucky few that got to pose for the picture.) The pink stuff on the left is applesauce - my girls love that it's pink. And it tastes great. Thanks, Penny, for teaching me to can! I'd like to say that I'm now a canning fool, but until I get all my own equipment, I'll still be kind of slow to do this on my own. But, as luck might have it, I think Mac is going to get me canning equipment for Christmas. We will just have to cross our fingers and see. I'm really excited about the applesauce. Not just because it's pink, but because I picked the apples myself, for free. It was actually kind of a scary experience. I was dangerously perched atop a VERY tall ladder to get at the best apples, the lower ones having been picked already. I kept having the scene from Pollyana flash in my mind - you know, the one where her hand is reaching for that perfect apple, and suddenly she's screaming and falling, and later we find out she's paralyzed! Well, that scene kept coming to mind as well as the grief my poor husband and girls would experience at losing me if I were to fall, because don't we all at times like to imagine what would happen and how our loved ones would react if we were to pass on unexpectedly and tragically? And believe me, if I had fallen, I would have died. The ladder was THAT tall. Happily, I survived and lived to make this wonderful applesauce, along with some apple butter that isn't pictured, but I didn't bother to can that, I just froze it. Now, you're probably thinking I forgot about the squash part of my title. No, it's coming. Check out this photo:

My friend Kim was kind enough to share with me a spaghetti squash from her garden. I had never had spaghetti squash before, but I was excited to try. So I cooked it according to her instructions, scraped out one half of the squash, tossed it with butter and parmesan, and sat down to scarf almost all of it down. We had enough for leftovers, well, enough for me to have leftovers, the next day. And then I was thinking about what I should do with the other half I had left, so I decided to make baby food with it. I scraped out all the flesh, tossed it in my blender, added a smidgon of water, and presto - I had this perfect, store-bought-looking puree perfect for Lilly. I half-filled old baby food jars I had saved and popped them in the freezer. Since then, I've done carrots (also donated from a friend's lovely garden), and I plan on using some of my lovely canned peaches and applesauce as well. I love all the money I'm saving, so if any of you are wondering what to do with all your leftover winter squash and vegetables, now you know that you can make baby food with it.

While I'm on the topic of squash, I have to pass on a recipe for you. I made this dish the other night, and I thought it was so exotic and decadent. If you like squash, you've gotta try it out. I've only recently discovered that I like squash, since I never had it while I was growing up. (Don't worry mom, I forgive you!) But it is spectacular! I feel the same way about zucchini and sweet potatoes, food I never had the privilege of sampling as a child but now couldn't live without. Here's an awesome zucchini recipe if you're tired of making zucchini bread all the time.

Well, I've finally exhausted my thoughts on squash and canning. Who would've thought my longest post so far would be about food, and NOT my children or family? Well, if you know me, it's probably not that much of a surprise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lilly is 6 months old!

Lilly is in the 97th percentile for height, and 75th percentile for weight. She just got her first tooth poking through on Sunday, and I'm very happy to have her sleeping through the night again.

I love Halloween!

Ever since I had kids, Halloween has become my favorite holiday. Sure, there's nothing significant and meaningful about it, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, but it sure is fun! I love seeing my kids' faces light up when they receive a ton of candy and realize they can eat as much as they want. Halloween has become much more than just a one-day affair. It's more of a week-long blitz, starting with Monday. For FHE, we made sugar cookies in the shape of ghosts and pumpkins and frosted them. On Tuesday, Kate gets to dress up in her costume for dance class, and they have a little party with cookies and punch. On Wednesay, Kate gets to dress up in costume again for her preschool Halloween party. Then on Thursday, all the kids get to go trick-or-treating at Melaleuca. Later that night, they get to go to the neighborhood trunk-or-treat and carnival at the church. Then, finally, on Friday, it's officially Halloween and the real trick-or-treating can begin. Here are some pictures of our family pumpkin carving night and of the t-shirts I made with some friends. Yes, we tie-dyed the shirts ourselves and painted on the pumpkin faces!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Hubby Tag

You can thank Katy Paskett for the following!

1. Where did you meet?
At a stake dance at the Wilkenson Ctr at BYU. I introduced myself, and he got my phone number, but he never did ask me to dance.

2. How long did you date before you were married?
We got engaged a year after our first date. Our engagement lasted 5 months.

3. How long have you been married?
6 years and 4 months.

What does he do that surprises you?
He likes to surprise me with romantic mood lighting by lighting fragrant candles throughout the house.

5. What is your favorite feature of his?
I love his broad shoulders and long arms - great for giving hugs!

6. What is your favorite quality of his?
He's very patient and thoughtful. He never wants anyone to feel badly.

7. Does he have a nickname for you?
Sometimes he shortens my name and calls me "Ju."

8. Does he have a favorite color?

9. What is his favorite food?
He loves the Italian nachos at Carinos. He really likes my homemade pizza: he sometimes eats so much of it that he makes himself sick.

10. What is his favorite sport?

11. When was your first kiss?
I can't remember which number of date it was, but I think we'd been going out for a couple of months. I was wearing this striped sweater that I still have, which he loves. It was on the doorstep of my apartment in Liberty Square, and I was totally surprised by it. I didn't see it coming. (It was also his first kiss EVER - no lie!)

12. Favorite thing to do as a couple?
We like to get on the internet and watch the TV show Bones and Pushing Daisies on the laptop in our bed.

13. Do you have any children?
Three beautiful daughters.

14. Does he have a hidden talent?
When he decides he wants to cook something, which isn't that often, it always turns out really good. He's also really good at reading instruction manuals and figuring out how things work.

15. How old is he?

16. Who said I love you first?
I did.

17. What's his favorite music?
His taste in music is eclectic, to say the least. He loves broadway musicals, Peter Cetera, Air Supply, and Lionel Richie.

18. What do you admire most about him?
I admire his ambition to succeed and advance at work, but I also admire how supportive he is of me in my hobbies and endeavors.

19. Do you think that he will read this?
Probably not, at least not for a long while. I said last night to him, "You know, you can always post stuff on our blog too." And he replied, "I know, it's just the last thing on my mind right now."

Okay, now here's the fun part . . . I tag Aimee, Jenny, Lindsey, Alicia, and Cassie. (Since you're all family, you can't stay mad for long, right?)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pictures of Lilly

My sister Aimee asked that I post some recent pictures of Lilly, so here are a few. She's just starting to eat ceral, and she's really cute about it. She's growing so fast.
Since Kate turned four, I've been wondering where the time went. I recently looked at an old video of her, and I feel like it was a different life completely when I had this little helmet-wearing baby. Now look at her, a little smartie-pants who loves dance class and preschool and Zac Efron! (My girls are High School Musical fans.) Plus I have two other little kiddos. Here are all three of them being cheesy for the camera. Lilly doesn't quite know what to do with all the attention. She really isn't sitting up up that well on her own, so this was one of our "practice" sessions with the boppy pillow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kate's 4th Birthday

Kate turned four years old yesterday. Wow! I made her this lamb cake, which was a big hit to look at but not so much to eat - who wants to eat all those marshamallows? This is what it was supposed to look like. The day was a pretty good one. She was excited all day, and I tried really hard to make the day special for her by not getting mad at her and letting her do whatever she wanted. By the time birthday dinner rolled around, she couldn't wait for her presents. After we ate, Mac set up the video camera and we started singing happy birthday. As soon as we started singing, this funny look came over Kate, like she was getting overwhelmed by the attention and starting to shut down. She's gotten this look many times before: at Easter Egg hunts, her first day of dance class, etc. But it's always been when we're with a lot of other people, when she clearly isn't comfortable. So it was strange to see this look come over her when it was just us, the family, singing to her. After we were done singing, she wouldn't blow out the candles, and it took a lot of coaxing to get her to finally do it. Then, as she was opening her first present, she wouldn't look at it while she slowly took the wrapping paper off. We kept saying, "Look, look - some of the present is going to fall if you don't look at what you're doing." But she refused to look and would only stare at us with that strange look. She didn't even act excited about the gift, even though normally she would be ecstatic at the thought of watching High School Musical. Finally, she started to loosen up and get back to normal after a couple of presents, and then she had a blast playing with everything. She was so caught up in playing with her new toys that she didn't even eat any of her cake. I was afraid they didn't like it, but the girls ate a lot of it today.

Overall, yesterday was a really good day for Kate. She's a funny girl, but she enjoyed herself a lot. Today she was getting excited just talking about her 5th birthday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lilly is Four Months Old

Our sweet Lilly had her four month check up today. Here are her stats:
26" long (100%), 14 lb 3 oz (75%).
She continues to be taller and skinnier than our other daughters. She's rolling both ways now, which is way earlier than our other kids, and she's a little bow-legged, something we hadn't seen with our other two either. This kid keeps the surpises coming, and we love it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Funny things my girls have said . . .

Whenever I take the girls to the park, they only ever want to be pushed on the swings. I have to MAKE them go play on the slides and other stuff. Well, a couple weeks ago (I don't update my blog very quickly), I was pushing Kate and Avery on the swing, and after pushing Kate kind of high, she started laughing and then told me that her stomach was starving. I asked her to repeat herself since I wasn't sure of what she had said, and sure enough, she told me her tummy was starving. I guess this was the only way she knew how to describe the funny feeling in her stomach. I thought it was cute.

Two days ago, we were visiting my parents in Orem, and Avery went to nursery in their ward. In contrast to our ward, my parent's ward only had a handful of kids in nursery. What the nursery leaders told us later was this: The group was singing "I love to see the Temple" when Avery got real excited and interruped everyone, making them stop, so she could tell them all that she was going to get married in the temple. I'm surprised they could understand her! That's our Avery, though. She's obsessed with getting married in the temple. Every day, and today was no exception, she tells me, "See ya, mom." When I ask where she's going, she replies, "Get married in the temple!" Sometimes she'll add, "I be right back." Usually she's dressed up in her fancy, princess clothes. If you ask her who she's going to marry, she says, "My prince!" Kate will usually remind her that she can't marry her prince until she's 20. I told Kate that you don't have to be 20 to get married, and that I was 23 when I got married. She thought that was pretty old and decided to stick to getting married at 20.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Favorite Store

Since Mac forgot and left our camera at his parents house last week, I won't be able to post any new pictures of the kids for a while. So I thought I'd share something about me that you may or may not enjoy. I love Macys! I'm talking about the Department store that once upon a time was called The Bon Marche. In particular, I LOVE the junior's section. They always have cute and stylish clothes. I was able to take a break from the kids last night and do some much needed shopping. I don't get the time to shop for clothes regularly. I fear that I'm slowly succumbing to "The Mom Who's Let Herself Go" look. Anyway, I stopped off at Old Navy first, found a couple of decent things to wear, then hurried over to Macys before I had to get home to nurse Lilly. Found a lovely pair of shorts and two tops that I love. Everything was on sale, so I spent less than $40 for all three articles of clothing! So for all of you out there who have never shopped at the junior's department in Macys before (I only discovered it last year), I urge you to give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Another thing that I love is the movie Penelope. It recently went to DVD, and I watched it a week ago with my sisters-in-law. I thought it was funny and sweet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rice Krispie Treats and Breaking Dawn

So, I know that Rice Krispie Treats are the easiest thing to make in the world. I know this, but I don't think I've ever made them until today - I had to google the recipe. I've also learned an important lesson today: Never make Rice Krispie Treats before dinner, when you're hungry. As I cook dinner right now (boilding hotdogs does count as cooking, right?), I'm looking at the pan of Rice Krispies wondering where half the pan went and why does my stomach feel a little unsettled? So I'm sending out this warning to all three of you out there who will read this and may not already know the perils of cooking dessert on an empty stomach.

Onto my second part of this blog, many of you are fans of the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series. The latest book in the series, Breaking Dawn, is released this Friday. For those of you who live close by and who like to read the books, I am planning on having a party to discuss the latest book. You are all welcome to come to the party, but we will be discussing the latest book, so if you haven't finished it by the time of the party, you may not want to come if you don't like having the endings of books spoiled for you. I will post more information about the party when I get it organized. I would also like you to help me generate some discussion topics/questions for the party. You can post them here as a comment or tell them to me later. Feel free to also leave party ideas! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blacktail Triathlon 2008

On Saturday I finished my first sprint triathlon of the year. It was at the Blacktail Resevoir, about 10 miles from our house, and it was KILLER! I did two triathlons last year, and after I did those, I thought - Hey, these aren't that bad. Anyone can do them! Well, what I didn't realize about the two triathlons last year is that they were very flat, which made them much easier to do. I didn't know anything about this triathlon when I signed up. And then on Friday I attended a meeting and they told me about the 12% grade hill I have to bike up. I got scared. I realized that this was a tough course, and boy was it ever! The swim and run weren't too bad - those are the legs I enjoy. I will readily admit that I'm not much of a biker, even on flat terrain, but I'm even worse if there are hills, and this course at Blacktail was nothing but hills. I was on my bike for FOREVER! Here are my times:
Swim - 22:56:98
Bike - 1:54:14.04
Run - 40.32.07
Total Time - 2:34:42.9
Yeah, I was really slow, especially when it came to the bike. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, but I finished, and when you finish it's just a lot of fun and you feel so good. After having done a few triathlons, I KNOW that anyone can do them. Even if you don't feel very athletic - because I definitely don't - you can do them. It's the perfect sport! So much more fun than a half marathon!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sea World

This picture is classic! Here is our lovely family at Sea World in June. It was a rainy, cold day, but Mac and I are eager to show the girls all the park has to offer. Kate and Avery weren't near as excited at times as we were, as this picture depicts. Perhaps our $137 could have been spent better on something else!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Three Girls

Mac and I feel so lucky to have three wonderful daughters. Each one is sooooo different. It's crazy having three so close together. Just today I was thinking that I don't want to have any more kids. I might change my mind in a couple of years, but for right now I have more than I can handle. Any of you feel that way sometimes?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lilly - Oh How She is Growing!

I have a bunch more photos to share, but I don't know how to make a slide show. Anyone have any help for me there? Lilly is getting some rolls on her legs as she fills out. She started smiling last week, and it is so sweet. You can see the smile in her eyes before her mouth starts to move. She's a lot more fun to talk to and sing to now that she's responding.