Thursday, July 28, 2011

fashion police

If anyone needs more proof that most 10-year-old boys don't care how they look, this post is for you! This is how it went this morning trying to get Chandler ready for school.

Me: Chandler, you've got to get your hair completely wet. It is sticking up all over.
Chandler: It's not a fashion show!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

things that make you go "hmmm"

1) bribing my children with a $1 reward for finding the case to the Monk DVD that needs to be returned to the library, upping it to a $2 reward, children cleaning and looking for hours, and then yesterday telling Shanley I'd take her to Harry Potter 7.2 if she could find the case in the next 40 minutes. She finds it. When relating the story to Brakston that night he "high-fives" Shanley for waiting until the reward is "worth it".

2) wondering why Kevin has spread 14 black dress socks across our bed

3) having McKayla tell me she almost overturned the boat yesterday by turning too sharp while going too fast. When I ask her why she was the one driving (not OUR boat) she tells me it's because the 3 guys trusted her the most to be able to handle it.

Anyone besides me going "hmmmm" right now?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

is anything REALLY free?

This saying is part of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. I like the sentiment because it is always good to remember that our country's freedom comes at a price.

But, then, what doesn't?

Today is Chandler's 1st day of school (yes, for you non-Utahns I do realize it is still July but we here in this child-loving state have year-round school to deal with the sheer number of students). It is also enrollment time for middle and high school so I have spent the entire morning filling out a bazillion forms that some poor secretaries will spend hours filing and that will never be used/looked at again!

Now, I am writing checks for my children's "FREE" public education. Yes, our fees total $376.75. That is for only 2 students and does not include any class fees, sports fees, extra-curricular activities, etc. I anticipate that I will spend 1.5 to 2 times that much on cross-country and soccer fees and uniforms. And, of course, I pay my property taxes quite faithfully.

Don't get me wrong. My children have excellent teachers and are getting a good education. Somehow, though, I just can't quite reconcile myself to this notion of "free".

Monday, July 25, 2011

bridal shower

Saturday was Whitney's bridal shower. Her grandma and aunt hosted it. We are 6 weeks from the wedding!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Washington, D.C. (day four)

Tuesday was spent touring Arlington Cemetery and quite a few monuments/memorials. Arlington Cemetery was the attraction that made the biggest impact on me when I first visited D.C. It fills me with a reverence and awe every time I am there. It also fills me with a profound gratitude for all those who serve our country and protect our freedom.

We watched the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Eternal Flame at Pres. Kennedy's gravesite. I have read several books on the Kennedy assassination and have been to the grassy knoll and the 6th floor book depository (now a museum) in Dallas.
The Marine Memorial - raising the flag on Iwo Jima. At this point we had to drop off Brakston at the airport so he could attempt to fly home. We left him and toured more memorials. Unfortunately, he didn't get on a flight until 5:30 pm so he could have stayed with us. I love the effect on my budget of flying standby but it definitely has its disadvantages as well.

My all-time favorite memorial is the FDR one. It is immense. I love the water aspect and the fact that it tells the story of his terms in office (statues of war, bread lines during the depression, etc).
Thomas Jefferson
We even caught a glimpse of the newest memorial - The Martin Luther King one. It is not completed yet so you can only see it from across the Tidal Basin but it looks like it will be a good one. My camera doesn't zoom in enough to do it justice. It is a rock broken in half with a MLK emerging from the chasm.
We managed to meet up with my cousin for dinner that night. He is a foreign service agent and was in D.C. between assignments. He just returned from 2 years in Cuba and now will be heading to South Africa for 3 years. It was fun to catch up with him.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Washington, D.C. (day three)

I managed to get a run in on Monday morning. I couldn't believe how many rabbits I saw. Then we spent the day at Mount Vernon. I had never been there before so I really enjoyed it and learned quite a bit about our nation's first president.

Mount Vernon was spectacular. Here's the view of the Potomac from the home.
Here's the home (from the back). They were restoring the front.
Here's where Pres. Washington and his wife are interred. We watched a reading and wreath-laying ceremony.
We even toured a grist mill and a whiskey distillery that were part of George Washington's business empire (he really was an amazing businessman).
We spent the entire day there. We ate lunch at Mount Vernon Inn and enjoyed their specialty - Peanut and Chestnut Soup. It was delicious and I got the recipe. I can't wait to make it at home but will probably wait until it is soup weather!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Washington, D.C. (day two)

Sunday morning started off with a trip to Brookside Gardens near my parents' apartment. We missed the height of the flower season but it was still beautiful!

This pic showcases Brakston's personality so perfectly! Hard to believe he's old enough to get married. He is actually very mature and responsible but he can still act like a 5-year-old at times. It usually makes him a lot of fun to be around!
This was in the children's section of the garden.
Can you believe this wood? It's got more twists and turns and convolutions than my mind!

One of my favorite flowers that I saw:
A Chinese-inspired addition to the garden:
The pond was filled with Canadian geese, cranes, and turtles.
I couldn't believe the number of turtles we saw.
The younger turtles had beautiful shell markings like this one. The older ones were completely moss-covered. Yuk! hmmm....covered in moss or covered in wrinkles and gray hair? Not sure which I prefer.
Mom and Vicki (sisters)
After the gardens we went to church. Their branch consists of temple missionaries so Brakston would've been the youngest one there by far except another family was visiting as well. After church we had time for a quick dinner and then we headed to the Visitor's Center for a fireside. A lady who played Cosette from Les Miserables on Broadway spoke and sang a couple numbers. Then we walked around the temple.

The D.C. Temple is one of my all-time favorites (the other is San Diego). They are so incredibly beautiful! (inside and out)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Washington, D.C. (day one)

One of my favorite places is DC. My first opportunity to go there came when I was about 16 and I went on the "Close-Up" program. I paid my own way for a week-long trip focused on government. I fell in love with all there is to do and see in DC. As an adult, I attended 2 national Down syndrome conferences held in DC. I got to revisit so many of the things I loved plus experience some of the new things that weren't there my first trip (Holocaust Museum, FDR Memorial, etc). Two years ago, I took my girls (and Jill took her boys) and we spent almost a week there. This time I took Brakston and my aunt, Vicki, also went. My parents are living there. We visited a lot of my favorites but hit some new stuff too. It was another wonderful trip!

Brakston and I arrived Saturday late afternoon about an hour after Vicki arrived (and at a different airport). My parents gathered us all up and we headed to the National Mall. The first stop was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Then it was off to walk the mall and visit several of the monuments/memorials. We saw the Washington Monument.
Viewed the White House (one of these days I might actually remember IN TIME to request tickets for a tour).
Saw the World War II Memorial.
Captured my own reflection on the Vietnam Memorial.
Saw Lincoln again (Brakston showed me that his hands form the sign language for his initials)And stood with the troops in Korea.
Liked this photo of the Korean Memorial.

So many people have served this country so nobly and have given their all in that service (even their lives if necessary). I'm grateful for the opportunity to reflect on that and honor their memory.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Seven Peaks

We had a marvelous opportunity to go to Seven Peaks Salt Lake (formerly Raging Waters) yesterday. When the girls got home from girls' camp I told them they had 1 hour to eat or whatever until we left.

We had a great time!Lots of fun, thrilling slides. Cool water on a hot day. Friends. Food. Here's Alec, Nathan and Katie Goins, McKayla, and Shanley waiting in line for a slide.
Here's Chandler after the slide.

Here's Alec at the end of his slide.

Alec, Chandler, Jared Goins, Shanley, Katie Goins, McKayla, and Abby Nebeker enjoying pizza.
Maybe they enjoyed TOO MUCH pizza??!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I won! I won! I actually won! Isn't winning fun?

Primitive and Folk Artists did a fun summer Bingo game and I took part and here is my prize:It arrived in the mail yesterday. So much fun to get something GOOD in the mail!

You should check out Primitive and Folk Artists blog since they are doing another awesome giveaway! There will be 11 winners and the prizes are all great!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

getting into it

Watching movies with Alec is such an interactive experience!

He really gets into movies. His laughs are contagious. The biggest thing is that when something really cool or good happens, you have to give Alec high-fives. He wants to celebrate when Harry Potter comes out victorious. Or when "Goldfish" makes a rescue in The Guardian. He whoops and hollers.

It's not really a sedate, passive activity to watch an action flick with Alec.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I am quite excited for the new Harry Potter movie to come out. I say quite instead of extremely because I am not fanatic enough to go to a midnight showing. However, I am fan enough to help host a Harry Potter movie marathon. Yep, we're watching the first 7 movies this week with Goins and Nebekers. We've even got appropriate party food. Day one (Monday) included the first two movies and chocolate frogs (made from fudge and shaped into a mere semblance of a frog - I am NOT an artist!)
We also had magic wands (pretzel rods coated with caramel and chocolate and sprinkles).
And what Harry Potter party could be complete without butter beer? I found a recipe in the newspaper that looked good and tried it. We liked it! Here's the recipe:

1 C light brown sugar
2 T water
6 T butter (I used margarine)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cider vinegar
3/4 C heavy cream, divided
1 t rum extract
cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium high heat combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until candy thermometer reads 240 degrees (or soft ball stage for those, like me, without a thermometer). Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar, and 1/4 C heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When cooled, stir in the rum extract. In a medium bowl combine 2 T of the brown sugar mixture with 1/2 C heavy cream and beat with an electric mixer until just thickened but not completely whipped (about 2-3 minutes). To serve, put about 1/4 C brown sugar mixture and 1/4 C cream soda in each glass and stir. Fill each glass with cream soda and then spoon the whipped topping over each. (I doubled this and had plenty for at least 15 of us (though I cut the serving sizes in half).

Today's plan is to watch #3 and #4 and enjoy cockroach clusters (dried chow mein noodles and chocolate).

Tomorrow we'll finish up the movies with cauldron cakes (chocolate cupcakes with black string licorice handles) and acid pops (sour suckers coated in pop rocks). Sometime Friday I'll probably go see the new release.

Monday, July 11, 2011

girls' camp

My girls leave today for girls' camp. I can't believe I am not going with them. I am a YW leader and have gone to camp 19 years including the last 6 years. I am so very sad not to be going this year.

I've shed a lot of tears about it (long story) but now I just need to come up with something fun to do instead.

I know one thing - I will enjoy watching the U.S. Women's Soccer Team in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday morning!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Alec really made me laugh on Friday! He can be so dang funny sometimes.

We were on our way home from summer seminary and Alec, McKayla, and our neighbor Kenzi were in the car with me.

McKayla said, "Alec, you're so cute." Alec said, "I know. And I'm funny too."

That made us all laugh.

Then he started rythymically saying, "bum, bum, de, bum, bum" over and over. It was grating on my nerves a bit so I asked, "Alec, what are you doing?"

He said, "I'm going bum, bum, de, bum, bum".

Oh man, I laughed so hard I almost cried. I guess that's what I get for asking a stupid question.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

he missed us after all

After several false starts, we finally got Chandler home from Texas last night.

He was supposed to come home on Thursday at noon but the flights filled up overnight (how do they do that?). So, we decided to try for Friday at noon but the flights filled up again! We finally decided that Friday at 6:55 pm looked like an okay bet. When Dawnette and Chandler arrived at the ticket counter they told them there were 5 seats available but by the time they got to the gate they told them there was only 1 seat available. This upset Chandler. I guess he really was ready to finally come home.

I don't know what that gate agent was smoking because I was at home on the computer viewing the airport standby list and could clearly see that there was 5 seats available and that Chandler was prioritized as #1 for a seat.

I think Chandler just about ran down the jetway to get on the plane.

I'm glad he missed us! We certainly missed him!

Friday, July 8, 2011

failure as a mom

I try to be a decent mother. You know, teach my kids moral lessons, teach them life skills, stress education, force them to go to bed on time, run them to soccer practice, attend every game/meet, keep them fed and clothed, etc...

However, one area I am a complete and total failure in -- I can NOT get my kids/husband to put their dishes in the dishwasher. Seems so simple to me but...

If I am standing there telling them to do it, they will. Otherwise, they leave the dishes in the sink. When I get upset, the standard response is "I didn't know if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty." I'm not sure what is so difficult about opening the door to check.

Don't suggest the dirty/clean reversible magnet. They are not sure whether to believe it and again, it's just too darn hard to open the dishwasher to check.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Is this just one more of the things that people tell me I'll miss when the kids are all grown and gone? I am having a hard time imaging that!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

WARNING: a very long (mostly dull) post on running

About all I can say about my running career (I realize it's really a stretch to call it that!) is that it has lasted a little over 22 years thus far. It started back in my BYU days after Kevin and I were married. I had a neighbor and friend named Leslie Stilson. We started walking together early every morning. After a while, we decided to try adding a little running. We gradually ran more and more and walked less and less. Eventually, we were just running every day. Then, I got the bright idea to train for and run a marathon. Yup, I got bit by the running bug!

Unfortunately, I also tore a tendon. I saw a doctor to diagnose my problem and he diagnosed a whole lot more - I was pregnant. I hadn't realized it yet and was extremely surprised but think I would have known withing a week or two anyways since I started puking within a week and didn't stop throwing up every 20 minutes for the next 3 months. By then, I was feeling fat, awkward, and out-of-shape and had no desire to run.

After Brakston was born, I finally got back into shape and started running again. Decided once more to attempt a marathon and got serious about training only to get pregnant once more. I didn't get sick with Alec and was running again 2 weeks after he was born. Still, caring for a newborn and a 3-year-old and working full-time didn't leave a lot of time for training.

About a year after I had Alec I got really serious about training again. I ran a lot of 5Ks and 10Ks. Then came my first half-marathon in Moab. It was a disaster! I felt like my legs were encased in cement and I couldn't make them move. It was such a struggle to even finish the race. I was pretty disheartened and it really scared me for the marathon. Luckily, the marathon day went well and I felt good.

Then it was back to on-again, off-again running between pregnancies and babies and so forth. I haven't had any babies for a while but I still seem to take winters off (I do Jazzercise INDOORS like any sane person would in Utah weather).

I reflected on all this during my run this morning. I did 7 miles and felt like my legs were encased in cement for most of it. It brought back memories. I thought about the upcoming Rivalry and Ragnar Relays and felt that mild pang of fear again. What if on race day I have a bad, cement-filled day again? This time it not only affects me but a whole team. I'm not really worried about it but can't help but think about it a little.

Especially since this morning's run was bad all the way around. I'm still running barefoot on the grass due to blisters. Besides the cement legs, I managed to step on stickers - not just once but twice. Yup, each foot got its own dose of prickly stickers in it. Even worse, I stepped on a snail/slug. Gross! They are all over near the north fence line so I try to watch carefully. Still, at once point I heard and felt the crunch underfoot and then the oozy slime. Disgusting!

Isn't running supposed to relieve stress?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm afraid he'll never want to come home

Chandler is having a grand time in Texas!

He has cousins to play with 24-7. He has new toys to play with and someone (Carson) who loves Legos as much as he does. Yesterday they went to a big breakfast at the church. Chandler's first words EVERY morning are "What's for breakfast?" so a large breakfast buffet is right up his alley. Then, they spent 4 hours at the swimming pool. Chandler never tires of water. Today they are going to Jump Zone.

Yep, it's official. Chandler is having a great time and we may never convince him to come home.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Freedom Isn't Free
by Major Kelly Strong, USAF

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform;
so young, so tall, so proud.
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
he'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil;
how many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant 'Amen.'
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
of the mothers and the wives,
of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea.
Of unmarked graves in Arlington .
No, freedom isn't free.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Summer vacation is so great!

We've made the most of it so far. McKayla went to EFY and Shanley went to Oakcrest. We all went to St. Maarten. Kevin, McKayla, and Shanley went to Washington, D.C. Kevin, McKayla, and I went on Pioneer Trek. Chandler is now in Texas. hard to believe that school has only been out for 1 month.

We've also been busy celebrating the 4th! We've been to the carnival, watched the parade, went swimming, rocked out to the entertainment in the park, floated the Jordan River in tubes, watched fireworks, etc. Kevin, Alec, and I listened to The Flashback Brothers in the park. They're a great band and played lots of favorites from "my day". Alec got up and danced. Brakston and Whitney even got to go to Stadium of Fire in Provo with Whitney's family.

Also, at our home, we don't go for the all-American pastime of baseball. Instead, we have spent our free time during this holiday weekend watching Wimbledon, the U.S. Women's soccer team at World Cup, and the Tour de France.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

pictures from Trek

Two of the prettiest, best-dressed pioneer women you'll ever see - Leesa Baldwin and Christine Everill.
McKayla at the Stake Center pavillion before leaving on Trek.

McKayla and I dressed up and ready to go.
McKayla and her "friend" Colin Gibbs during the pioneer games.
My favorite part of the Trek was the re-enactment of the Sweetwater River crossing. The boys carried the women across and then got the handcarts across and up an extremely muddy, slippery, steep embankment. They really worked hard and worked together well!

Here I am helping my adopted family pull the handcart. The Ma's and Pa's weren't supposed to help but since I was just support staff, I lent a hand where needed. This family was really short-handed due to illnesses/injuries. Several of their family members were in the sick wagon.L to R - Bradley Nottingham, me, ?, and Colin Gibbs.