Monday, January 30, 2012

Sad News

I just found out that someone I was looking for has died.

When we meet in the next life I will hug her and tell her, "We were both moms to some really amazing children."

Rest in peace, Bee.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Confessional--Again!

I don't have paragraphs-worth of things to say lately, I guess. Bryce said my last post was too tame, that I needed to confess something way better. Unfortunately I don't have a criminal past or a secret life so my options are limited to my suburban housewife existence. But I will dig a little deeper this time...but don't hate me for what I am about to reveal.

1. I voted for Obama. And since Bryce coaxed me to open this Pandora's box, so did he. There. Two life-long conservatives voted Democrat in the last election. In the voting booth I felt sassy and rebellious, like a bad girl about to get a tattoo against her parents' wishes. It was intoxicating.

(Let's be fair. We all knew that whoever was elected in 2008 was inheriting a million problems and a broken Congress.Will I vote for him again? I guess that depends on whether or not he faces off with my man Mitt. It's too early to tell.)

2. I faithfully DVR the show on Lifetime called Dance Moms. It is the ultimate train wreck and I can't get enough of it. I even told Bryce, "On Wednesday morning I got a little thrill when I realized I had a new episode to watch today." I would not normally flaunt this information but for you . . . well, you are special.

3. I hate it when people with differing opinions call you judgmental for judging them when they are also, by saying that, judging you?

4. It bugs me so bad when people fish for sympathy.

5. This isn't a confession but yesterday when I went to wake Mary for school she blurted out, " They're trying to barbecue me from every side!" Oh, boy, what goes on in that girl's brain should be made into a movie.

6. Sometimes I don't want to be an ambassador for adoption. Truth be told, sometimes I even forget my kids are adopted. And sometimes I think of all the tangled problems and issues we have and think, oh my, I'm not the person you want to talk to right now.

7. This may sound weird but I'm not a fan of the cutesy-ness and trendiness of cupcakes. Too presh.

8. I like to watch the A&E show Hoarders because it motivates me to clean my house and get rid of stuff. But lately the people have been so mentally ill that it makes me kind of sick (physically) to watch it. Mainly it strengthens my resolve to never own cats.

9. When I was a kid learning about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. in school, I totally wished I was black so I could be part of that amazing legacy.

10. I love singing and sometimes think I might be good enough to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes.

That's about it for today. It's been busy here as usual. Tonight Bryce, Tyce, and the Teachers' quorum are going on a hike. The twins are going to a friend's house and two of Mary's friends are coming over to ours. It will be quite a change to to have the girl house! I am trying to fight an annoying runny-nose cold (as is everyone else in the family). At least the kids have Katie to lick their faces clean--it's disgusting but admittedly helpful.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Confessional

It's been a long time since I've done one, eh?

1. Our Christmas tree is still up. It's been undecorated since January 1st but it's still standing in the corner, beheaded. Only the top piece is off. We started to take it down, but . . . well. You know.

2. The older kids had mid-terms this week. This was not my favorite week. They were done at 10:55 a.m. (Tyce) and 11:20 a.m. (Mary). Do you think they spent their extra time studying? Aha. That would have been nice. Instead I just had kids home for a reeeealllyyyyy looonnngggg tiiiiimmmeeee.

3. I had a Seminary inservice this morning and I skipped it. I've been to every single one so far and I just didn't feel like being church-dressed at 6:00 in the morning to hear what I could have read in an email. If I really did miss something--I'll probably have a message in my inbox tomorrow. See? Win-win.

4. I broke the top off the jar of molasses. It had been more than a year since I'd used it and it was stuck as can be. I whacked the plastic lid with a knife and . . . it didn't behave like a metal lid, that's for sure. But I got it off! I made my barbeque sauce (pretty good) and had a little molasses left over. So guess what I did? I made brown sugar. Mix molasses with white sugar and suddenly you have brown sugar. Cool, right? Wonder why I've never tried that before.

5. I am giving my second talk in church in a month, this Sunday. The first one was January 1st. The next one will be to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Seminary program and all the Seminary teachers are speaking in a ward. I get to speak in my own ward again--to the thrill of my own congregation, no doubt. In the last four weeks I've also sung in a quartet and given the benediction. January is all-me, all the time. It probably makes up for the last few years when I rarely did anything like that at all.

6. I have much reorganizing to do. The kitchen, the pantry, my closet, the garage, the playroom. The house may look clean but just don't open any doors.

7. I sometimes buy holiday socks for the kids--and then wear them myself.

8. That's all for now. I'm off to take Mary to her favorite place, Fresh and Easy. Blueberries are on sale and we can't go on without spending all her allowance on them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What I Learned about My Boy

Harrison and I spent the whole weekend alone, as Bryce and the other kids (even the dog) went to Utah. It's been a while since I've had one-on-one time with this little dude and I realized after just a day together--it been too long. The other kids are in my face a lot but Harrison is different. I would say he gets crowded out and misunderstood. After this weekend I certainly hope to change that. Here are some things I learned about Harrison:

1. He doesn't like Ranch dressing. What? Who doesn't like Ranch (besides my mom)? He also dislikes mustard, pickle relish, and mayonnaise. He doesn't really even like ketchup! I had no idea.

2. He loves watching the news and documentaries. I kind of knew this but I really discovered it this weekend. He was happy to watch the Today Show on Saturday morning, and two genealogical documentaries called "African American Lives 2" on PBS. He has lots of questions and tries to make sense of what's going on in the world.

3. He needs a lot of physical activity. I realized with just the two of us around that after a while he'd get antsy and start kicking a ball around the house or jump from couch to couch. Normally with all the other kids around I merely find this behavior attention-seeking and annoying (because with the other kids--it usually involves chasing and yelling). But today it was plain to see that he has a great need to expend his physical energy in a constructive way. I guess that what I learned is that he's not "acting out" when he's running and flipping around. He's just reached the end of his rope and needs to get up and move.

4. He thinks and talks a lot about death. I will admit that I find this disconcerting.

5. He likes chips "in a white bag, with a picture of a lady on the front. She might be an angel." Do you know what he means? I sure didn't. When we went to the store he pointed them out: 

These are Bryce's favorite tortilla chips! I didn't know they were Harrison's too. I always buy Mission brand but Bryce is loyal to Santitas. I guess Harrison is his daddy's boy on that.

6. He is getting to be an awesome reader. We played the UnGame together and he actually read his cards to me; for example, "Talk about a time when you lost something."

7. He fancies himself good at puzzles and making houses out of cards. I introduced him to 52 Card Pick-up and he laughed like crazy. Ready...aim...FIRE! But his technique is not as refined as mine so when he did it back to me--he basically threw the deck at my forehead. Don't say it: I know I got what I deserved!

8. He is getting less shy about praying. Tonight we knelt beside his bed and he willingly offered a very nice prayer. I complimented him and asked if he still felt shy about it and he said no, but that "praying is kind of boring....but no offense to Jesus. Oh man, I shouldn't have said that."

9. He is super loyal and loving to his twin brother. He's wanted to talk to Cameron every day they've been apart. He tells me how much he loves Cam, that he hopes he's having fun. He coiled up his own beloved stuffed snake (Grape) on Cameron's bed so it would be a nice surprise for his brother tomorrow. I tell ya, that twin bond is really something special.

Super twins! They were so proud of the identical outfits they chose! Is it bad that I let them go to school like this? Yeah, those are my knee socks.

10. He created this masterpiece in art class:

Displayed on the fridge.

I mean, HELLO!!!!! I think it's really, really incredible, especially for a 1st-grader. In fact, we were all so impressed we suspected the teacher did a lot of it for him! But he said that he followed the instructions (you can see the faint intersection of lines making quadrants on the face) and that he did it himself. He's got talent then, that's for sure.

And what I learned most is that Harrison is a wonderful kid who deserves to be noticed and listened to and appreciated for the interesting, intriguing person he is. He's quiet, he's loud; he's independent, he's impulsive; he's aggressive, he's sensitive; he's frustrating, he's endearing; he's our sweet fourth child--he's our Harrison.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

M is for....

Mario, as in the character for many a Wii game. The kids have adored playing the Olympics one, London 2012. This will tell you just how much they love it; even *Tyce* will play. Tonight he and Mary had a bang-up time together. (It also helps that his own video game time was up and that Skyrim wasn't an option.) Yes, we love those Mario games.

Melatonin, the natural supplement that induces sleep in 3 of the 4 children. Grateful for this magic pill. You want to know something bad? Bryce injects liquid melatonin into a Capri Sun every night for Mary, who doesn't even know. That's the only way we can get her to sleep on time and up for school every day.

Mutual, every Wednesday at church for the youth--and tonight is Mary's first time!

Masood, a character on the British soap EastEnders. Bryce and I have looked forward to watching episodes on the laptop in bed. Do you remember how sad we were when they stopped carrying that show on BBC America? Probably not, that was a long time ago. But now we can log on as Brits and stay up with everyone in the East End. Ah, the more things change the more they stay the same around Albert Square. Love it.

Me. I am doing just fine. Thank you for asking. Will I begin a yoga class next week? I believe I shall.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Question

Harrison likes to go to The Friend magazine online. Sundays are a good day for that. He found the sweetest video, the true story about Heber J. Grant called, "The Coat." He watched that many, many times and told his siblings, "You have to see will capture your heart." He is a sensitive, perceptive soul. Sometimes he masks that, or it gets misinterpreted. For homework he had the assignment: "Write about yourself." He wrote:

I am a bully. I am sensitive. I get mad easily. I am a friend to Tommy. (I had to encourage him to say something positive.)

That made me sad. Who calls himself that? I would never label him a bully, and yet he labeled himself. There has been bullying behavior, by him and by everyone else in the house. That's true. When he's in the throes of "a situation" and the behavior is most definitely unacceptable it seems that he doesn't care what anyone thinks. Obviously he does. I know he hates to feel out of control and yet he lets loose with wild abandon. Or is that only how it appears? He pushes and pushes away, yells to be left alone. Deep down I think he's really saying, "No matter how I act, will you still love me?" Why is that so easy for me to forget?

He does well at school for the most part. But as Cameron said once, "We hold it in at school but when we get home we can't do it anymore."

So my question is: What can I do? I need to do more to help him see himself for who he is: a smart, nice, sensitive, loving, interesting, worthwhile and valuable boy who is a real light in our lives. Life would not be complete without our Harrison.

I think it's harder being a kid than I give him credit for.

Friday, January 6, 2012

She Had a Birthday, Shout Hooray!

See this girl? Yeah, she's my favorite. Not only is she the most creative, funny, clever girl I know, she's also the cause of celebration this week because now she's 12!

Her dad brought her donuts before school--her favorites, including donut holes. After he dropped her off at school Bryce called me and told me about their conversation in the car:

Bryce: Mary, I'm going to sing to you! "You've had a birthday, shout hooray! We want to sing to you to--"

Mary: Dad. Please. Don't.

Bryce: But I want you to know how special you are!

Mary: It's not like we don't sing that song every single month in Primary.

Bryce: But I want everyone to know today's your big day! So when you get out of the car I'm going to sing it again.

{They stop and she exits.}

Bryce: "You've had a--"

{She quickly shuts the door and runs for the building.}

It was all in good fun because Bryce could see her trying not to smile!

While she was gone I picked up the cake, shopped for dinner, made coconut macaroons (per her request), cleaned up the house and decorated the table. It was a busy morning but worth it!

The table with the macaroons. If you don't like coconut you wouldn't like these cookies, but if you do . . . oh man, they were the bomb.

After school she told me that Nikki embarrassed her by informing the class it was Mary's birthday, and then everyone sang to her. By the smile on her face she didn't look too embarrassed to me!

For dinner I set out her favorite things: a cheese plate with sharp cheddar, Brie, and Swiss; a fruit plate with pineapple, blueberries, and kiwi; and a bread plate with baby bagels and French bread. I also made homemade chicken noodle soup (not for her) but for the rest of us. Not all of us can survive on the diet of a Parisian model.

Party time. There's the cake.

We had Bella over for dinner and the party, which was a treat for Mare because she hadn't been able to get together with friends all week.

Isn't she a cutie!

Extremely posed picture of blowing out the candles. It looks more like "sucking in" the candles.

Bryce took this gem of a candid shot! You can see where Cam's mind was during the party!

Her lip gloss be poppin'. Her lip gloss be cool.

She got the DVD of Phantom of the Opera . . . and then proceeded to sing the theme song.

She knew she gave a stellar performance!

We are so glad to have Mary in our lives. She has a big personality and a big heart. It's hard to believe she'll be in Young Women now: going on temple trips, roughing it at girls camp, attending Mutual every Wednesday, and making new friends. Such good things! But no matter how old she gets she'll always be that little girl who stole my heart and showed me that God answers prayers--my baby Mary.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Eve

So guess what, I *did* get the New Year's tree done, but I used my little 3 footer instead of the big one. I think I may have liked the small one better anyway? I don't know. But it worked out well.

Cute, right?
I decorated it before we went to Chuck E. Cheese's. Going there wasn't the same without Bryce and Tyce, who were out snowboarding at Mt. Charleston. I was tired and kidded-out and in no mood for funny business. Good thing that giant rat kept to himself, you know? Somehow I got roped into taking Mary's friend Nikki with us but it actually worked out great.

Monster truckers.

Two pretty young ladies, Mary and Nikki.

I prepared for my talk while the kids played.

I sure do have cute boys.

They're photogenic too. Hello.

The girls hoped to score the mother lode--they did that a couple of times and ended up with a ton of tickets.

The hardest part of winning is deciding what to spend your earnings on. A plastic frog and an Air Head? Three packs of stickers? Heck, I still struggle with that.

Back to the party. That night I had each person pull a Scrabble tile to decide the order of balloon-choosing. We went in alphabetical order of the tile chosen. I would have used a pair of dice but.....I grabbed the first game I could reach. Anyway, Nikki went first. Each balloon had a fortune and some cash. Some had $1 bills, some had coins, and one even had a $5 bill.

Nikki's fortune: You will get an important message from a mysterious stranger.
Mary's fortune: Your smile will change someone's life. She thought that one was lame.

Harrison's fortune: You will eat something on accident, that if you knew what it was, would repulse you. That was a good one.
Other fortunes:

You will succeed in an area you previously found challenging.
Your hard work will pay off in a dramatic way.
You will dream of zombies and bunnies.

But everyone's favorite was Cameron's, which was perfect for him:

You will toot in public but get away with blaming it on someone else.

The the kids put on their beads and took blowers and horns and made an awful racket. I don't know what I was thinking . . . I will never buy those bleating party horns again. At least I had the sense to tell Harrison "no" when he asked me to get everyone air horns. Oy.

Later that night we went to the Hardys and partied it up with the Schillings by playing Quelf. Do you know that game? It was a blast. Tyce went to the 6-stake New Year's Eve dance and had a grand time, as usual. It was a fun night and a great way to bid farewell to another year!

May I speak? Permission granted. And all the brothers and sisters shouted, AMEN!