Monday, August 31, 2009

Today I am . . .

Baking pies for Family Home Evening to give to new neighbors.

Making the week's dinner menu.

Telling the boys to wipe their noses--constantly.

Receiving contraband stickers from a workbook someone isn't supposed to have.

Remembering the good talks from Stake Conference yesterday.

Planning the boys' 5th birthday celebration (for Thursday)!

Doing laundry and housework--always.

Feeling good and ready for a great week!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mary's letter at Open House

The kids practiced their form by writing letters to their parents. This is Mary's entertaining epistle that Bryce picked up at Open House on Thursday night.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am enjoying 4th grade and my teacher is really nice and we do a lot of work! We've done about 4 tests already. I have 7 Knutson dollars! We are reading books for Readers' Workshop and I am reading Charlotte's Web. It's really good so far but Wilbur, a baby pig, is lonely, sad, and has no friends. One night Wilbur hears a small voice that says I will be your friend. Wilbur says but I can't see you and the voice says you will see me in the morning.

Anyway, today is P.E. and I'm looking forward to the game we're going to play. I think we'll play outside because of the nice weather.

Today the lunch is blucky so I think I'll skip it but I'm going to sit by Sara and see if I can knock some sense into that girl. She really drives me nuts with all her goo goo gaga behavior! I think that I'll play with Niki at recess!

I hope we'll play Skunk this afternoon because last time I got 0 points. It's quite frustrating.

Now we're back from lunch and I think my bladder is about to burst but I'm going to have to suck it up 'cause it'll cost me a Knutson dollar to go but I swear I went at lunch time.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kristina from Casa

We were priviledged to have our long-time friend Kristina visit us while she was on a much-deserved vacation with her husband.

When Bryce and I volunteered at Casa's 1801 Wichita, in our pre-child days, we felt an instant connection with Kristina--one of the house's foster parents. She was funny, smart, warm, and she obviously loved all the kids in her care.

She especially loved baby Tyce.

In fact, she got in trouble for holding him too much.

(I think that's awesome.)

Back then, she made a one-year commitment to Casa before returning to her normal life in Minnesota, where she became a high school art teacher, married, and had two kids (and one on the way).

I wonder if she knew that her one-year commitment would have a lifetime of impact on our family?

She brought a scrapbook of her year in Houston and had tons of pictures of "her baby." And what an adorable little guy he was! We all loved poring through the photos--even the younger kids recognized what a cutie their big brother was back then. We had dinner together and got caught up on each other's lives.

Tyce, of course, doesn't remember her per se--he was only 17 months when he came to live with us--but I can imagine it feels good knowing that he was loved his entire life.

When I took Kristina back to the hotel that night, it felt like time had melted away. It was like we'd turned back the clock 12 years and were sitting on 1801's hardwood floor, picking up puzzle pieces while kids got ready for snack time, talking about her days at Notre Dame and my job at Hollywood Marine.

I love friends like that.

Add to that the fact that she dedicated herself, heart and soul, to Tyce's happiness and well-being for that critical year, and you know why she's more than just a friend to us.

She's part of our family.

Our huge, giant family that includes not only grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but our childrens' birth families, former foster siblings (many brothers and a few sisters), and former foster moms like Kristina.

We are lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.

We are lucky to have Kristina.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mare and her Hair

I took some pictures with Bryce's camera yesterday and today, which we were fortunate enough to access. (His camera has issues. Information goes in but does not want to come out . . . much like one of our stonewalling children.)

Here's Mary on the first day. We did some low loopy ponytails with ribbons. This is a lot like the styles we used to do and I think it made her feel more comfortable. From a stylist's standpoint--and yes, I am referring to myself--the relaxed hair is way easier to work with.

This is a picture to show off her cute dress.

Today was a hair down day and I love it. This time I think Mary did too.

On her way to school. This is truly the best picture of her hair style but you will have to enlarge it to see better.

(This is a repeat for some of you, but I had this exchange with Mary on Sunday night:

Me: Do you want me to take you to school tomorrow or do you want to ride your scooter?

Mary: I want to ride. I can't wait to get back on the old gal.)

Like my dad said, she looks beautiful no matter what but I really like this new look.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School

Sigh of relief.

Two at school, two at home . . . I know this is bad but I'm thinking, "Hold on. Why are half of you still here?"

Prechool starts September 14th, which is about 23,344,535 days away.

Cameron's hourly "Is today the day we go to Pre-K?" is taking its toll on me. It's been about 58 minutes, so I'm bracing myself.

Harrison threw my camera last night because he was mad at me. I am just so mean, as you all know. And now my camera is broken, or at least injured. It won't open. I'd say that's a bad sign.

These kids.

If I were at church I'd say that with a frown-smile.


In preparation for the first day, I took Miss Mary to a salon to get her hair done.

She wanted it straightened. The stylist made it pretty clear that she wasn't impressed with my hair-doing skills.

(She was nice about it but I got the hint.)

The shop was run like a doctor's office. Our appointment was for noon but we waited and didn't finish up until 4. Poor Mary was dying of fidgety-ness.

But I think she looked gorgeous in the end!

But guess what. After her initial delight with her new look, she hated it.

It was the I'm-not-going-to-church-but-if-you-make-me-I'm-going-to-hide-in-the-mother's-lounge kind of hate.

She said, "I'm supposed to be the girl with the braids and the puff-puffs! I don't like this straight hair. I wish I had never had it done! I want to go and wash it out right now!"

(LaKeisha, I know you're going to blame me when we come for our next appointment, but what can I do?)

Well this morning she got over it and she looked beautiful. I'd show you a picture but Harrison broke my camera, remember?

Mary is entering 4th grade at Sue Morrow Elementary. She is excited for a new year.

Tyce is entering 8th grade at Brown Junior High. Somehow he bamboozled me into buying this $7 preschool-sized backpack at Wal-Mart. All I know is that four kids were going in four different directions, and I'm shouting, "Yes! I mean, no. What? Hold on."

And I ended up shelling out the cash for a Spiderman bag that will likely last as many days as dollars spent.

I think he'll either get a high-five for his kitchy selection or an Indian rug burn for being weird.

We will see.

I have laundry and dishes to do. And apparently twins to keep track of. But I am excited for our back-to-school feast for tonight!

I can't wait for Tyce and Mare to come home and tell me all about their days. The first day of school is always the best.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Camp Chawanakee

Tyce and Bryce were gone for 8 days--Saturday to Saturday. It felt like forever to me but it was fun for them!

The Boy Scout camp is in California near Shaver Lake, about 20 miles away from where they went last year, Camp Kern. Fishing, the Gumby stick, merit badge classes, playing games with friends, and catching frogs made up their days.

Tyce earned 5 merit badges while he was there: space exploration, woodcarving, camping, citizenship in the world, and communications.

The food was hit and miss, but varied widely from quite delicious to revolting. Two of the worst meals were "French" toast, which was dry, toasted bread--no eggs, no butter--with syrup on top; and oatmeal, which was just oats and water. Luckily Bryce brought his own freeze-dried meals for this very scenario.

A highlight for Tyce was the sacrament meeting their troop held. It seemed to be a special experience to pass the sacrament and hear his leaders speak away from the normal noise of the world.

And the biggest surprise of all was that Tyce--literally--bumped into Peter! Peter, our former foster child who is now 12 and was adopted 9 years ago by a wonderful family. You might remember that his family stayed with us for a few days this spring. Peter and Tyce lived like brothers so long ago, and still feel like brothers today. He lives in Califoria, but what are the odds that his Scout troop would go to the same camp on the same week? It seems there may have been divine calendaring going on.

Bro. Peterson, Bro. Callister, Bro. Stembridge, Bro. Rekve, Jackson, Tyce, Gonzalo, Cody, and Ian went.

The beautiful lake.

Tyce, Peter, and a friend fishing.

Gonzalo on the rock. Tyce catching frogs under the rock.

The boys: Jackson, Ian, Gonzalo, and Cody.

Another view of the lakes, through the trees.

Tyce was able to spend time with Peter, doing things like playing football with his troop.

Giant osprey built a nest on top of a very tall tree.

Tyce and Peter--brothers at heart.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Balancing the old and the new

This Sunday was the big change.

Except that I got all the drama out of my system several days before, and the news rang in my ears like something I heard 100 times before. Just the normal, usual callings and sustainings.

Except that Bryce left us to sit on the stand . . . that was hard.

So let me break the news to you now. Bryce is the 1st counselor in the Bishopric.

And let me tell you why, last week, I felt like my heart had been ripped out.


Before going to the stake president's office, we speculated on the reason for our visit.

"Maybe it's this. Or that."

"Maybe it's not for me, it's for you."

"Will we have time to get ice cream after? I hope so."

So President Steadman, whom I love and respect, extended the call to Bryce. It was on our list of "what ifs" so it wasn't a surprise, but that didn't stop me from bursting into tears.

(Can you imagine being on one side of the desk, ready with a smile and a handshake for the husband, except that the wife looks like she's reenacting the funeral scene from Steel Magnolias?)

But my feelings weren't about Bryce serving. He had the same calling in our other ward for 4 years, so I knew what to expect. He would be great and an asset to the ward.

My tears were about ME. MY CALLING. My Young Women.


I questioned whether my service was viewed as less valuable than his. I wondered whether the Bishop appreciated my leadership to the girls--his girls--in the ward.

Usually a call like Bryce's would mean release for a call like mine.

And after only 18 months, I wasn't ready. We're doing well. We have a fabulous group of leaders who teach and inspire the girls, and are friends to me. I love the young women with all my heart. The girls need consistency. They need organization. They need things to stay the same.

I needed things to stay the same.

Fortunately for me, I have a husband who is committed to helping me make that happen. He knows how much the young women mean to me. He knows how much I love the leaders. He knows what I do behind the scenes to keep things organized and connect with the girls.

We will make it work.

We will have conflicting schedules. We will have to attend the same meetings. We might have to pick and choose who goes where, when. I might have to delegate more. God first, family second, and church third. After all, our own children are our first priority.

I needed a few days to catch that vision. The Bishop's remarks at church coupled with a beautiful musical number were the words I needed to hear. They touched my mind as well as my heart.

I know we can make it work.

And now I am at peace.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I was smart enough (or foolish enough) to bring my camera to the pool. With how crowded it was, I was at constant risk of being tsunami'd by cannonballers.

It was a nice hot day, perfect for playing in the water. We had a great time--and I even felt generous enough to buy treats from the snack shack.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Last night I settled down in the boys' room to tell bedtime stories.

Mom: I'm going to tell you a story tonight, but no interrupting. Cameron, did you hear that?

Cam: Yep.

Mom: Once there were two brave knights. They were the bravest in the land. One--

Cam: --one of them had a black sword and a dagger and a shield and it was me!

Mom: Cameron. Don't interrupt or I'll stop telling the story.

Cam: Ooops. Sorry.

Mom: And the black knight had a sword and a shield and a dagger and a black horse.

Cam: Don't forget that spiky ball called a mace!

Mom: {Silence}

Cam: Take it away, Mom!

Mom: {Silence, finger to lips}

Harrison: She said she wouldn't tell the story if you kept talking, Cam! You're fired!

Cam: From what?

Hare: From this story! Like that bad kitty guy [Edgar, from the Aristocats] got fired. He went away.

Cam: Because Madame told him to go away?

Hare: Yeah, so stop talking or I will tell Mom to fire you.

Cam: Okay.

Hare: Take it away, Mom.


Yesterday I went to the grocery store with Mary and the twins.

Mary: Why can't I just stay in the car?

Mom: Because for one, it's 104 degrees, and besides, I can't leave you in the car alone. The police will come and arrest me.

Mary: Humpf.

Mom: Come on, everyone!

We start walking towards the store. Mary takes an extra 30 seconds to put on her shoes.

Cam: You better hurry up, Mare! I'm not paying to get Mom out of jail when the police come to arrest her.

(Confidentially) But I do have some money, like quarters.

Mom: Thanks.

Cam: Actually . . . I need those for candy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Peter Pan, and other stuff

A few weeks ago the Primary had a Peter Pan activity. I knew the kids were invited to dress up like characters from the movie, but I still waited until 15 minutes before it started to figure out what to do.

Harrison was the Bono-inspired version of a Lost Boy.

I guess no there were no Lost Boy dogs, but we had the right idea. (Originally he was labeled as "Nana," the St. Bernard but became a Lost Boy after the fact.)

Cameron was a pirate. I love his bunny on the shoulder (because we didn't have a parrot) and, of course, his "R" shirt!

We were 15 minutes late to the activity. The movie has already started and the boys walked into a pitch-black room. I guess they could have worn anything they wanted, really.

Mary wanted to be pixie dust. Then she wanted to be the night sky or the crocodile. Finally she settled on no costume at all, which was fine by me. With all the prep work needed to make her ideas come to life, we would have missed the activity all together.

Now for the other stuff.

Bryce and Tyce are at Scout camp this week. There's no school day or coming-home-from-work to break up the hours, so I have put on my cruise director cap and planned a fun week for the rest of us. (I hope.) Today we had friends over to play, and after dinner we're going to get ice cream. Tomorrow is the free movie, then swimming. That kind of thing, a week's worth--hopefully it's the magic formula for making the time go faster.

Also, I have been up and down these past few days, for a reason. I'll tell you why later. Today (and every day hereafter) I am sunny-side up. It's a choice as much as a feeling--who wants to be unhappy all the time? I already said this once, but I put a curfew on my pity party last night. No more tears. No more drama. No more what-about-me.

I can't say that I reached this zen-state on my own.

I believe in the power of prayer.

I'm ready to go forward.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Twins' Preschool Graduation

Cameron and Harrison had a wonderful experience in the early childhood program at the local elementary school. They had an adorable class and wonderful teachers in Miss Charlotte and Miss Sandy.

Our boys "graduated" from preschool this week . . . and they will graduate again next year . . . and then from kindergarten. I think it's overdoing it a bit but you will die when you see their pink and blue caps and gowns!!!

But first things first. Here are the boys before the program started. Very sober and solemn. Some of the kids were hyper but a lot looked kind of scared.

As the kids lined up to sing their songs, Harrison started to cry. Bryce motioned for him to come over to us, but Harrison wouldn't do it. It seemed like he was frozen to the spot. The kids sang about 10 songs and Harrison wailed through every one . . . I knew it was bad but I couldn't help laughing! Poor little guy!

Luckily Miss Sandy was able to calm him down after the singing, and when he emerged in his cap and gown, he was as good as new. How cute are these tiny graduates? (C & H are third and fourth in line.)

Cameron received his diploma from Miss Charlotte.

And then Harrison did. He looked so much better by that point, don't you agree?

And apparently felt well enough to play pirate with his certificate.

I was so proud of Cameron because not only did he sing all the songs with gusto, he stood straight and still and proud throughout the entire ceremony.

Mary took this picture outside the school. We love our little graduates!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do you like hearing about other people's misfortune? Come on over!

I went to the dentist today to replace some fillings. Apparently 15-year-old fillings don't last forever--or, at least that's what my dentist told me.

Perhaps I am just gullible.

So there I was, pretending the dentist chair was just a long, green chaise lounge. After the initial round of anesthesia, the dentist asked me if my lip was numb. I said no. She frowned and said, "Paula, another dose of hemlock." (Or whatever drug it was.) Paula gave it over, and within 10 seconds my lip was numb, which signaled that the torture--I mean the procedure--was ready to begin!

You've been to the denist. You know they stuff you full of cotton on one side and prop you up with a jack on the other. They spray you with air and water, gossip about who's dating who around the office, cram and jam their instruments around your mouth and tell you to keep your tongue out of the way.

Well guess what. Some time during all of this, my heart began to beat out of my chest. I could literally see my paper bib going bum BUM bum BUM. It began to beat faster, and while the denstist and her assistant wondered why Bobby bought all those new clothes, I felt the darkness closing in on me, like when you're going to pass out.

I kind of raised my hand and said, "ungh."

"Are you okay?" the dentist asked. I shook my head.

I think I had a panic attack!

Even after they sat me up and stuck that sexy oxygen tube up my nose I felt wrong . . . off . . . not right. They hooked me up to the blood pressure monitor and my breathing was rapid and like when you do that shuddering cry, which I last did when I found out vampires aren't real and I'd never have an Edward of my own. It was freaky, because this time the reaction was purely physical and not emotional.

They surmised it was that extra dose of epinephrine they gave me with the anesthetic. Apparently they have anesthetic without epinephrine available too. I shall file this information away under "Things That Are Not Helpful To Me At This Moment."

So after my little break they resumed work. But guess what.

The anesthesia started to wear off at the end.

With my mouth jacked open and my tongue dutifully out of commision, I said, "I can feel my nerve."

Except it sounded like "Uh a uh a uh."

Try it.

You sound like a rooster, right?

Well, I endured. Because they couldn't really understand me, and I surely did not want another dose of meds.

On the plus side, I watched the History Channel for 2 hours straight!

And that is the end of my story. My unfortunate, miserable story with the silver lining that I learned a lot about the Bubonic Plague.

P.S. I will floss my teeth two--no, four--times a day for the rest of my life.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I won 1st prize!

Our Relief Society had a cook-off and my dish--Chinese chicken cabbage salad--won first place in the salad category. Woo hoo!

Picture from Zakka Life.

It was an fun night with RS friends (and the Laurels, plus a few other YW). There was so much food it was like being at a buffet. A good buffet, not one of those $2.99 ones where everything is fried, and the catfish nuggets and taquitos taste disturbingly similar.

I'd like to say that the best part of winning was the feeling of accomplishment. But in reality, it was being presented with this:

How awesome is that??!!!

The amazing Lisa made these with her Cricut. It wasn't until I read her blog that I realized how much work it actually was to make these turn out just right. And on top of that, she wrapped them so beautifully I hated to undo mine.

(I said if I were in charge of coming up with prizes, first I'd panic. Then I'd spend hours on the Internet searching for ideas. Next, I'd bemoan my lack of craftiness and wonder why I'd been given this task. And finally, I'd buy some bottles of lotion, peel the price tag off, and say, "Here you go!")

Man, I sure do appreciate other people's talents.

Well anyway, I did unwrap it, and wrote the rest of the week's plan with a dry erase marker.

(Check out that shiny sink.)

Thank you, Lisa!

And thank you to all the ladies at my table (and beyond) for making it a wonderful night!