Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If you need to borrow a pair of gold pants, I've got 'em

We went to a party last night where the girls had to wear something with animals on it and the guys had to wear the ugliest sweater they could find. I stopped by the local Goodwill and first found a great sweater for Brent. Sadly, it wasn't neon. But, ugly nevertheless. Next I found a quite hideous animal print shirt with leopard faces all over it. Perfect for me! As I was headed for the cashier I noticed a pair of gold pants hanging by themselves at the end of a rack. For $2.99 I just couldn't leave them behind. The pants were definitely the hot topic of the party and provided many laughs. I'm also proud to say they earned me the prize for best female animal get-up. Brent however was outdone by a guy who came in his mother-in-law's Christmas poinsettia sweater.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Little Inventor

Everyday Isaac comes up with about five new inventions to solve the problems he sees with the world. Last week as we were piling into the freezing cold car he had another invention brainstorm, "mom, it would be cool if there were heating pads attached to the seats that would warm-up the seats for you." Brent and I looked at each other from the comfort of our heated leather seats and sheepishly admitted that while the kids are freezing, mom and dad have warm and toasty backsides. Life is so not fair!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We're Frozen

I'm all for snow at Christmastime. It sure makes everything feel festive. We had a big storm on Thursday night/Friday morning and the kids cashed in on their first snow day of the year. But today it is -31 degrees outside after the windchill (-5 before windchill). Snow good, winter lovely, windchill BAAAAAD. Our friends left for Mexico today where it is 85 degrees. We realized it will feel 115 degrees warmer in Mexico than it currently feels here...how is that possible?!?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I copied this from my sister's blog who chose not to tag anyone, but invited anyone who wanted to, to play. The invitation is extended to you... Copy and paste into your blog. Highlight the things you've done.
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars (Nights on the trampoline as a kid -- good times!)
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning...fish tacos from On the Border, not fun!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (actually I took the elevator)
18. Grown my own vegetables...tomatoes every year
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France ...I've been to the Louvre museum in Paris where the painting is hung, but I didn't have enough time to make it to the Mona Lisa which is down in the depths of the huge museum.
20. Slept on an overnight train...I just slept on the "Orient Express" in Germany in September, anyone who's ever played Monopoly might recognize the name of the train line! It was a much better experience than the super hot and sweaty overnight trains my family took in Mexico when I was in 9th grade.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (mostly as a kid when I wanted to skip school...as an adult I was always too nervous I'd get caught in a lie if I tried to fake sick--it wasn't worth the effort!)
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (my husband talked about it from the pulpit at church...talk about most embarassing moment!)
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person ...we aren't too far, maybe Spring Break?
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language ...does pig latin count?
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa...no, but I'm going for my 40th bday in a few years
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted -- Does my dad's pencil drawings during church count?
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy...does my blankie count? I still have it.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar or escargot
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book...no, but it's on my list of things to do before I die
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -- the turkey on pioneer trek -- not fun.
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury...no, but Brent did for the first time this week
91. Met someone famous...I got to meet quite a few famous people while an intern at the Supreme Court in Washington DC. Los Lobos invited me to be a guest at their show after the fabulous tour I gave them (but I didn't end up making it...no car to get there).
92. Joined a book club ...still miss my N.Cal book club friends. All our husbands would get together for dinner with the babies while my girlfriends and I socialized, snacked, and talked about books.
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Been to a foreign country

Sunday, November 16, 2008

They are beautiful, aren't they?

I've been a little preoccupied with Facebook as of late and have abandoned my little blog. Anyway, if anyone is still checking-in I thought I'd paste up one of my fav photos for the season. This was taken at the corn maze...no shortage of corn or corn mazes out here in the Midwest.

Ethan - He's three and so adorable right now. He loves to chant E-T-H-A-N - so proud of himself that he can spell his name. He often sings to himself and loves to show us how he can "read" books all by himself ("read" meaning look at the pictures and tell the story-- he doesn't realize that is any different than what we do).

Isaac - Just had his 7th birthday complete with a Pokemon party to celebrate. He had a few favorite gifts, but one we all loved was the Nerf machine gun blaster. Okay, I admit, I NEVER would have purchased this toy myself. I'm not a big fan of guns. But holy moley, it is crazy fun to watch the boys just light up every time it fires off 24 Nerf darts in rapid sequence (when I say boys plural I include Brent in the list).

Morgan - She's performing as a gymnast in the Nutcracker this season, she just had her first gymnastics meet of the season, and sadly said goodbye to her beloved soccer till Spring. She loves her creative 4th grade teacher who does fun things like using Oreos to learn about earthquakes and writing spelling tests in shaving cream. She had straight As on her first letter grade report card.

Brent - Super busy at work these days and when he's home he's remodeling the basement bathroom.

Me - I'm proud to say I'm actually helping a lot with remodeling the basement bathroom. I finally vacuumed my car after weeks on end of neglect (this was a feat, so I include it on the list--sadly we've now lost 1/2 our food storage). I'm trying to get geared up for Christmas shopping, but as of yet have only bought three items--this is the week to kick it into high gear.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can I Fly Like Superman?

Ethan, my 3-year old, says to me today, "Mom, next time we are in the car can I unbuckle so I can go fly like Superman out the window?" It takes me a moment to realize what he's talking about. For years we've told our kids how important it is to buckle-up so they don't go flying through the window in the event of a crash. What I realize now is that my 3-year old thinks it sounds pretty cool to go flying out the window...like Superman. From here on out I think we'll focus more on the bashing-head-into-glass part instead of the flying part.

Speaking of 3-year-olds, Ethan's preschool teacher just turned us onto a great website that Ethan has been loving www.starfall.com. It's a cute site with fun (and free) learning games and no annoying pop-ups or ads. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is it Just Me?

Okay, I finally read Twilight. And I must say I was unimpressed. Is it just me? Everyone I talked to has LOVED it. I'd love to hear if anyone else felt the same way I did. At this point, I'm not planning to read any more of the series...does it get any better? Should I try the next one? Or, will it be more of the same?

For those of you who are not hooked-up with me on goodreads, here's my review:
Like an over-hyped movie often fails to measure up, the much hailed Twilight fell flat for me. The one-dimensional story line lacked sub plots and depth. The whole book was all dialog and very little action or plot. The female character, Bella, was annoyingly and unrealistically helpless and her boyfriend, Edward, seemed all too consumed by his "duty" to protect her from herself--to the extent that I found his comments on her clumsiness to be condescending rather than chivalrous. Sadly, Twilight was not for me what it has been for so many others who love the series and are smitten by Edward.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Right to Vote

The story below came to me by a forwarded email. I don’t know who wrote it, but it hit home with me. Thursday night I was out with some friends discussing politics over dinner and I realized how unengaged I’ve become. I used to be passionate about this stuff. Back in 1993 when I was an intern in Washington I had an opinion on all the issues. But in recent years I’ve checked-out. Mostly because I haven’t found time to read up and really learn for myself which candidate best represents me. So this year, with my 8-hours a week of child free time :-), I’m committing to take some time to figure out where I stand (I’d like to try and find the movie mentioned below too…I wonder if I’m related to Alice Paul). *****************************************************************This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because--why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.Voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.If you are interested in more history - go to the following website:http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/suffragettes.htm

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pagosa Springs Colorado


I love my little community in the Midwest - great families, fun things to do, great city, etc. But, man, when I visit the West how I miss the mountains!!! The last two weeks in July we visited Utah for a week, then drove down to Southern Colorado with all five of my siblings and spouses and all 13 of our kids (plus my brother's girlfriend's 2 darling kids came along too). If you've never been to San Juan National Forest in Colorado, I highly suggest it (Whitney and Jen B - you have no excuses, get yourselves there). It's breathtakingly beautiful. Of course I'm not around mountains much anymore, so maybe I'm easily impressed. But I'm telling you it was amazing. I could go on and on...but my sister already did. So, I'll let you click over to her site for more details and more photos... http://werewinginit.blogspot.com/2008/07/trip-to-colorado.html. Thanks Sheree!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wow - Are We THAT Old?!?


Last night as we celebrated Brent's birthday I stuck one candle in Brent's cake thinking that would suffice. Morgan and Isaac weren't satisfied. They dug through the cabinets to find enough candles for the cake. After mixing and matching from several different sets they had 36 candles. We lit them all up and were ready to roast marshmallows on our little bonfire. There's nothing like a flame burning for each year of your life to help you realize how old you've become. Next year I'll make sure to buy the number 3 and number 7 candles.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Daddy Rocks!

Happy Father's Day to an amazing dad! This collection of photos makes my heart melt. Thanks Brent for loving our kids, playing with them, providing for them, and being there for them when they are sad. I love that you love coaching Morgan's soccer team as much as she loves playing. I love that you spent a weekend making a go-cart with Isaac. I love that you always take time to push Ethan on the swing whenever he asks (wish I could make the same claim about myself). Marrying you was the best thing I ever did in my life. Not only did I find my soul mate but I found the best dad I could wish for for my kids. Love you!








A Little Catching Up To Do

It seems like May is always the busiest month of the year (next to December). I went to the zoo with Isaac's class and the art museum with Morgan's class. Also, this year another mom and I put together the memory books for Isaac's kindergarten class. We kept up on it pretty well during the year, but of course had to scramble to get them all wrapped-up for the "Kindergarten Celebration Show" which was yesterday. School is out on Monday...so the end is near. Can't wait!
Here's a quick little catch-up...we finished off Morgan's soccer season. Her team (co-coached by Brent) did great. They were undefeated going into their last game. Just so happens the last game was against the other team from Morgan's school who was also undefeated. There was definitely a spirit of rivalry in the air. The other team was known to be a powerhouse. And, as it turns out they were about 2x the size of our team. In the end Morgan's team was scoreless. Morgan has a very competitive side to her (...Brent?) and took the loss very hard. After a long nap she was back to herself again.





Isaac joined the cub scouts at school. He marched in the Memorial Day parade in our town, put flags on graves at the cemetery, and went to a camp out at the forest preserve. He came home with a tick and some VERY dirty feet but overall is pretty jazzed to wear a cub scout uniform. Ethan is extremely frustrated that he can't be a Cub Scout yet. He's shed a few tears over this fact--which only makes Isaac more proud of his grown-up stats as a Tiger Scout :-).





Ethan finished up his first year of "preschool" (one morning a week). His teachers made him a darling scrapbook and he loves to look through it over and over again. He asked me this morning if he was married. I said no, and he seemed relieved. I told him he wouldn't get married until he was an adult. He seemed panicked, "No, I don't want to get married". I'm not sure what has brought on this fear of commitment :-). Since then he's been asking all his friends if they are married.





Brent's been busier than ever with work. He took a new job 2-months ago as the Director of Marketing at a medical device company. The workload has been intense and we've seen less and less of him but strangely he's loving it.

Oh, and my exciting news is that I have a new baby...a digital SLR camera Brent bought me for my birthday. Thanks Brent! (and thanks President Bush whose generous check came just in time for my birthday and mother's day...what great timing)! I haven't figured out all the settings, but I'm having fun with the killer 200x zoom lens.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sisters Trip in Arizona


Two weekends ago I had a fab getaway to Phoenix with my sisters and mom. I feel a bit like a kid saying "NE NER NE NER NE NER" when I talk about having four sisters. It really is the best ever. All my sisters are truly amazing women who I just love to be with. I really do feel guilty that Morgan doesn't have a sister--a thought that sometimes makes me consider having one more child (but then I realize the chances are greater of me having another boy, so I should sit tight and enjoy what I've got knowing she and I can have a great bond instead :-).

Thanks to the twelve children and four husbands who didn't complain too much about being left to vend for themselves while thier mothers/wives enjoyed themselves lounging in Bekah's pool, shopping, and eating great grub.

I'm too lazy to recreate the wheel here, so check out my sister's blogs to see pictures and get the scoop on the trip...
http://6shaefs.blogspot.com/2008/05/sisters-weekend.html
or
http://mattbekahjax.blogspot.com/2008/05/sisters-health-retreat-weekend-in.html

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's Hard Work to Get a Bike

After his first morning wearing undies Ethan sighed then said to me in a tired and weary voice, "Mom, it's really hard work to get a bike". (He gets a bike as soon as his potty chart is full of stickers).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Mom at 61 Years Young

Here's my mom at 61 years young. Amazing isn't it? One of her old high school friends is an artist who has sculpted several Cirque du Soleil performers. He recently opened a gallery at the entrance to Cirque du Soleil "O" at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. This photo was taken at the gallery opening after-party with one of the Cirque du Soliel performers. That's my mom for you, always looking for ways to have fun. How many 61 year olds do you know who'd peform this stunt? I'm so proud to have her genes (...if I could only fit into her jeans).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Success! White Trash Style

Sunday afternoon was beautiful. Warm sun, no wind, perfect! After taking time to relax in the hammock (ahhhh, I love Spring) I got to thinking about what outdoor project was worthy of such a wonderful day. I decided to tackle the repair of my car CD player. The disc changer hasn't worked right since Ethan stuffed it full of coins more than a year ago. It would play the first few tracks on a CD, then stop. I didn't bother trying to get it fixed right away because I knew my little darling would only fill it with more coins the first chance he got.

Last Fall I finally decided Ethan's fascination with the coins had passed and it was time to address the problem so I called the dealership for advice. They said the only solution was to replace the whole stereo. It would only cost $450! Circuit City could install a new stereo for under $200. Much better, but still seemed a waste of money since I was certain my CD player would work just fine if I could only get the coins out. The problem was, I didn't know how to get the stereo out. I did some Internet searching and found a place where I could pay $5 to download detailed instructions (with step by step photos) for removing the stereo from my specific make and model of vehicle. Perfect!

Armed with my instructions and a screw driver I set to work. Brent arrived home to find me with both car doors open, the dash pulled apart, the radio on, and tools scattered over the driveway and front seat of my car. Nice white trash wife! After about 30 minutes I had the stereo out and was able to extract three pennies from the CD changer. 15 minutes later everything was put back together and my stereo was working perfectly. There's something so liberating about figuring out how to fix something yourself. I often find myself frustrated with the routine tasks of motherhood that are never really done (cooking, cleaning, laundry...all things that need to re-done again just hours after you finish). It's nice to complete a project with lasting benefits once and awhile. Hooray for me!

Today I enjoyed my drive to Sam's Club listening to a CD (yea!). In case you're wondering, I chose Macy Gray, Big. I love her sound, but must admit I'd never listened to the lyrics closely before. All the songs seem to be about unhappy relationships. Kind of depressing. But I do love her sound.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

An Introduction to DCFS

*** yes, this is long, but please read!***

In order to allow our children to develop and become independent we must sometimes step back and let them explore the world on their own. This is one of the most difficult challenges we face as parents. Knowing when to ease the boundaries and allow our kids to grow-up is scary. Any step in the direction of independence requires calculated risks.

Sometimes these risks are minimal. The risk of a child choosing a ridiculous outfit and getting odd stares is okay with me (usually). For instance, Ethan insisted on wearing a leotard just like Morgan on his first day of gymnastics class. While I felt the need to explain myself to the coach and other parents, he was pleased as punch to wear what he wanted. He was able to express his creativity and no harm was done.

Other risks threaten the safety of our children, like letting them leave our sight in public. Ever since Isaac started school he suddenly became uncomfortable joining me in the women's bathroom. Much to my discomfort he chooses to do his business in the men's room as I stand frantic at the door, calling in several times to make sure he is okay, monitoring for creepy looking men who may enter. As much as I would prefer he join me in the ladies room, I understand that he's getting older and uncomfortable entering the "girls bathroom", so I manage the risk by monitoring the door as best I can, even though he is out of my sight. Yes it is a risk, but it's part of growing up. I have to allow that risk.

Everyday we take calculated risks with our children. Trying to balance the fine line between letting them grow and explore, and keeping them safe. We send them to school knowing there could be a crazed shooter, we send them to gymnastics knowing they could break a limb, we send them outside to ride bikes and jump on the trampoline understanding there are risks, but the benefits of development, exercise, and entertainment outweigh the risks of injury.

This discussion of risk brings me to the surrealistic events of the last two days. It all started Wednesday when my 3-1/2 year old next-door-neighbor, Alena, was on the sidewalk outside her home as her mother kept tabs on her from a window. She'd walked out the door about 30 seconds before a police officer happened to drive down the street.

Before I go on I should preface by saying that our neighborhood is very tight knit. Anyone who has visited comments on how lucky we are to have such great neighbors and a wonderful pack of kids who roam together between yards. We feel very fortunate that there are six homes on the street with young children, all of whose moms are at home during the day. The kids bounce from house to house freely and happily. Even in the cold dark days of winter the school-age kids jump off the bus and immediately begin playing outside in the snow as the preschoolers anxiously run out to greet them. As mothers we enjoy the sense of security we feel knowing that six wonderful moms are keeping tabs on the kids throughout the day. It's a comfort that not many parents enjoy in this day and age. A comfort we do not take for granted.

Because the "big kids" are so comfortable walking from house to house, the preschoolers want the same. On Wednesday morning that is exactly what 3-1/2 year old Alena wanted to do, to walk next door to return a stuffed animal to her friend's house. When her mom, Jenny, reached for her own coat Alena said, "NO, I do it by myself". So, Jenny bundled Alena in her coat and boots and sent her on her way. Jenny busied herself by tidying up the front room so she could keep tabs on her little girl though the window. Within 30 seconds of Alena walking out the front door and police officer driving along the street spotted Alena and stopped, intercepting her as she walked along the sidewalk in front of her own house. Jenny glanced up from her tidying, noticed the police officer out of his car and walked outside and quickly fumbled to find a coat and shoes before walking outside to let the officer know she was there watching her daughter (she was still in PJs, as such didn't want to race out to greet the officer without covering up). She tried to tell the officer why Alena was outside alone but he didn't want to hear it. He curtly told her how quickly a child could be stolen and asked for her personal information so he could write-up the incident.

After a few frantic calls to the police department later that day, Jenny was told not to worry, nothing would become of it. Well, they were wrong. Thursday morning Jenny came home from dropping off Alena at school to find a DCFS officer at her doorstep. He demanded to inspect her house that moment and instructed her to pick-up Alena from school and bring her right home, he needed to see the child and interview her. Fifteen minutes later Jenny was back home with a very upset and distraught 3-1/2 year old who DID NOT want to leave school because it wasn't time to get picked-up. The DCFS officer commented suspiciously, "she really seems very upset", as Jenny tried to explain that of course she was upset, she's three, the likes routine, and you've just interrupted her routine. The officer pressed on trying to get Alena to say her name or her ABCs, when she wouldn't talk to him he again was suspicious, "Can she say her name? She doesn't seem to be able to say her name.". Okay Sherlock, 3-1/2 year olds talk when they want to, not when commanded. Come on, shouldn't DCFS officers have some kind of training on what is age appropriate behavior? During the visit the officer repeatedly talked to Jenny about parenting classes offered by the DCFS, implying that by allowing her child to go outside in front of her house she must be an incompetent parent.

The officer set-up another appointment for 4:00 later that day to interview Jenny's two other children after school. After a very long day of stress, fear, and anger, the officer finally turned-up at 4:15. He interviewed the kids asking them if they'd ever been left alone. Jenny was of course terrified that she'd be hauled off because the answer is yes, she does on occasion have to leave her 8-year old home alone for 10 minutes while she runs her 16-year-old to school in the morning (as we all do from time to time). Mind you, there are always five other mom's on the block that 8-year-old Alex could quickly run to.

When the interviews were complete the officer thankfully gave Jenny a clean bill and said he'd dismiss the case. However, Jenny's name will remain in a database of parents who've been visited by DCFS. Essentially saying, you're okay, but we'll keep your name on our list "just in case". Seems when it comes to DCFS you are guilty until proven innocent. A very frightening place to be.

Before leaving the DCFS agent surprised all three kids with Easter baskets. Some sort of penance for putting their mom through such an awful experience. By the way, just for fun I looked through the baskets, almost every item contained partially hydrogenated oils and/or high fructose corn syrup. Interesting. The officer scolded Jenny for storing her bleach too low on a shelf, but apparently food poisons are okay with DCFS.

I've often joked about being reported to DCFS (the Department of Child and Family Services). But it was always a joke. Of course I never thought I was really at risk of offending DCFS in anyway because I'm a great mom. I care about my kids, I'm concerned about their development, I'm concerned about their safety. I love them. I NEVER berate them, I NEVER lay a hand on them, I do on occasion raise my voice when I'm frustrated, but then I usually feel guilty and apologize.

While this incident didn't happen directly to me, it has made me scared. Scared because Alena is not a 3-year-old who frequently roams around by herself. She's rarely outside without her mom. It's my kid, Ethan, who is ALWAYS escaping and running around outside unsupervised while I'm completely clueless that he's left the house. This incident has made me feel the need to be more cautious. Not because I'm worried my child is at risk of being hurt or stolen. But because I'm scared of the police and DCFS. And this just isn't right. We choose to live in a safe and quiet community so our children can enjoy the childhood we've dreamed for them. I love seeing them ride their bikes up and down the street. I love seeing them run from house to house in a pack all summer long. I love that they love their childhood.

I refuse to live my life in fear of the off chance that someone could get stolen. Is it a risk? Yes, it is. I realize it is a very real risk that one of my children could be abducted someday. However, as I mentioned before, I choose to take the calculated risk that they will be safe outside on our block. I've taken precautions by choosing my house and neighborhood carefully. I know every one of my neighbors--even those without children. We all watch out for one another. That is the what makes our community so wonderful.

Take away the comfort I feel in my neighborhood, replace it with fear, and suddenly my neighborhood isn't so great. If my kids can't play outside then there's no reason for us to live in our town--I'd prefer to live downtown in the busy vibrant city if the kids have to be watched and supervised at every moment.

The truly sad part is that I'm not afraid of my kids being abducted. I'm afraid that a police officer might happen down the street and decide he knows more about what's safe and appropriate for my child than I do. It is truly a shame when the police become the threat rather than the protectors of our community.

Interestingly enough in talking to others at the police department Jenny learned that it was this particular police officers choice to send this case to DCFS. He could have just talked to Jenny, made sure Alena was being watched, then gone about his business without any kind of report. Instead he chose to escalate it to DCFS. A gross misuse of DCFS time and financial resources when clearly there was no parental abandonment or threat to the child.

So this weekend we'll be installing a fence. It's a shame that this is what it's come to. Our house that has been the gathering place for all the kids on the street will now be walled off because I can't take the risk that the police may decide that I'm inappropriately supervising my children when I can't spend every minute of the summer outdoors with them (and they really do spend every minute of the summer outdoors).

It seems the police would rather have our kids stay inside watching movies and playing video games. Is this really a safer alternative? As a mother, I disagree.

On my blog I've had a quote for quite sometime that reads, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength." I wish the police felt the same way.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Isaac's Future Plans

Isaac and I had a nice little chat tonight about his goals and interests. Here's what I learned:

What he DOES NOT want to be when he grows up:

  • Factory Worker
  • Construction Worker (like Bob the Builder)
  • Light Bulb Maker
  • An American Idol (this came up because Morgan has recently decided that she does want to be on American Idol when she is old enough, Isaac however said, "Mom, I don't really like singing".)

What he DOES want to do:

  • Work at the front desk at the Courtyard Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has it all planned out. He'll take his kids there, let them swim in the indoor pool while he works at the desk, then when he's done working he'll play with them for a while in the pool then they'll all go back to their room (I'm guessing that means they'll live at the hotel too). As you might guess we stayed at this hotel a few weeks ago when Morgan had a gymnastics meet in Indianapolis. Isaac had a great time swimming in the tiny indoor pool and as we were driving home he said he was going to take his kids there when he grew up (not Disneyland, not the beach, but the Courtyard Marriott in Indy...what a vacation!). Apparently now he wants to work there so he can take his kids there every day :-).
  • Race Car Driver (convenient--he can hit the Indy 500 track on weekends when he's off-shift at the Courtyard).
  • Swimmer...one who swims in races (he just finished swimming lessons and he's pretty jazzed that he can now swim across the pool unassisted)
  • Baseball Player (interesting because he chose not to sign-up for t-ball this year)
  • Photographer (Excellent! Now I can justify a digital SLR camera purchase..."Honey, it's not for me, it's to encourage Isaac in his interests and dreams" :-).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tagged by Angela


What is your Hubby's name? Brent

How long have you been together? Our first "date" was in 9th grade, February of 1987, 21 years ago--yikes, I've never done the math before, that's a lot of years. We weren't together that whole time (a lot of ons and offs in between...but that's another much longer story). We've been married for 14 years this summer. ***I hope you noticed the cheesy Peter Cetera track I added to go along with this post...Brent dedicated this song to me on the radio back in 1987. Aww, he was such a romantic 14-year-old :-)!

Who said I love you first? Is this crazy, I can't remember!?! I'm sure it was Brent (not my style to go first) but neither Brent nor I can recall when it was first said. This is especially funny since we had at least two (and possibly 3) "first times" to say I love you (since we were together 3 different times before getting married). Pathetic!

Who is smarter? Um, me of course :-). Okay, really, Brent is a math whiz, he puts me to shame in that category. He's also very diligent in studying and can ace any test if he can prepare (like the CPA exam and the GMAT). He can learn how to do anything--not just school related, but how to build and fix things too. I think I'm better at language arts and critical reasoning. We are both pathetic spellers (thank goodness Morgan somehow got my sister, Angela's, spelling genes).

Who does the housework? Brent helps a ton, he usually gets the laundry washed and dried and I do most of the folding. If you ask him what bugs him most about me it would probably be that I am very slow to put away the clothes in my clean clothes basket. He often does the dishes after dinner. Brent's very organized, his closet is frighteningly immaculate. We attribute this to the years spent folding clothes at the Gap in high school and college. He's great at de-junking the house when it starts to drive him nuts--he'll get the bug to organize and watch out, he's unstoppable. I do more of the deeper cleaning (along with the help of the 1x a month cleaning crew), but Brent helps a lot with the picking-up and tidying and day-to-day organizing.

Who sleeps on the right? Me, because it is closest to the door and the kids. While Brent is helpful in many ways, hearing the kids at night or waking up to help them when they cry out is not one of his strong suits.

Who pays the bills? Mostly auto pay on the bills, but the overall tracking of finances has been my job for the last 14 years and FINALLY just this month Brent took over, YAHOO!

Who cooks dinner? Usually me, but Brent is happy to jump in if I don't already have something going.

Who drives when you are together? Always Brent, I don't like driving when we're together. Because he isn't used to me driving, on the rare occasion that I do drive he's a nervous wreck, and an awful passenger. This gets me off the hook for driving on many a long road trip :-)

Who is more stubborn? Ha, these are my answers, so I say BRENT (I'm sure he'll disagree...but then again he never reads the blog so he won't protest :-).

Who kissed who first? He kissed me first, in 9th grade on the steps of the Pioneer Memorial Theatre at the U of U after a Ute basketball game. I believe he was the 3rd boy I'd ever kissed. I seem to remember he was wearing Polo cologne and chewing Big Red gum...there was probably a Vanillaroma air freshener in the car afterwards. Those smells seem to go along with any memory of kissing in my youth.

Who proposed? He did - he was so nervous that night, we were at dinner before he proposed and his palms were so sweaty. He had to excuse himself to the bathroom about five times. I had a clue something was up because he was acting so strange--but I was thrown off because there was no sign of a ring in his pocket. We walked to see the Christmas lights on Temple Square in downtown SLC where his brother and sister-in-law had been sent to hang the ring from a tree for me to find. Once I'd discovered the ring he bent down on one knee and proposed. I wanted to cry, but couldn't, but the onlookers did :-).

Who has more siblings? Me - I have 5 sibs, he has 2 sibs.

Who wears the pants? Hmmm, I'd say it's a joint democracy. Although Brent's trained the kids to say that I'm in charge.

Per Angela's request I tag Sheree and Bekah...and Lisse too!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring Break or Christmas Break?



Yes, this is really a picture of the kids out in the SNOW today...yes today, EASTER. The first day of Spring comes and goes and what do we get? 9 inches of snow! All of you California friends can just stop your snickering now. I'm in no mood to listen to it. I realize we should be spending Spring break setting-up patio furniture and wearing capris. But NO! We'll spend Spring Break sledding, building snow forts, and whacking icicles off the side of the house.

The good news is I just bought Morgan a new snow coat on clearance for next year and now she doesn't have to wait a year to use it.

The even better news is that as much as it is fun to complain about the lack of a Spring, truthfully the kids are having a blast in the snow--and if the kids are happy, mom's happy :-). We went sledding yesterday and they got to try out the huge toboggan like thing they made with all the neighbors--it actually made it 1/2 way down the hill at a descent speed before they all fell off. Ethan was committed to learning to snowboard despite repeated tumbles and falls. Surprisingly he did a pretty good job and was quite pleased with his own efforts.

So while this winter is dragging on, and we'd love to see some sunshine, at least we have fun snow to play in which is much better than cold and rainy or just plain cold. I'll just keep on listening to the music of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (IZ) (who I have on the iTunes right now) and reminiscing about laying on the beach in Hawaii last year this time! Oh happy memories :-)!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And the Silver Medal Goes to...MORGAN!


Today Morgan competed in the State Gymnastics meet for Level 4 gymnasts. In order to participate all gymnasts had to qualify by earning a qualifing score in an earlier meet--so the competition was tough. Morgan pulled through with a stellar performance--her best of the season! It's been a goal of hers to earn 9.0+ scores in all four events. She was close at a few meets, but one of the 9s always eluded her. Today was the day she was working so hard for, all 9.0+ scores! What a great finish to the season and a great final performance of her level 4 career (she'll now move up to level 5 and all new routines).

She placed 2nd on Vault with an amazing 9.725 score (2nd only to her own teammate who edged her out by .025). She placed 6th All Around. She was all smiles and so excited! Her scores were...

Bars 9.200 (7th place)
Beam 9.025
Floor 9.075 (10th place)
Vault 9.725 (2nd place)
All Around 37.025 (6th place)

Her team took 2nd place.

I realize I'm bragging, but I'm just so thrilled to see her end the season on such a great note (and so happy to see her so proud of herself).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Fast Are Your Fingers?

Found this fun little game on Melissa's site. Angela, I'm anxious to see your speed, you always had such fast fingers...

74 words

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

We originally booked a week long vacation in Phoenix, then later realized Phoenix was just a 5-hour drive from Disneyland--too close to pass-up (plus my youngest sister, Rachel, lives in LA and good friends of ours just moved into a new house in Orange County...so all the more reason to visit).

We spent an afternoon at the beach, a day at Disneyland, a day at Disney's California Adventure, and an unexpected evening in the Emergency Room. The ER was not on the original itinerary but we found ourselves there after Miss Morgan tripped up the hard cement steps as we were leaving the beach and tide pools. Her chin split right open and required 8 stitches. Thankfully we were in and out in about 2-1/2 hours which wasn't too bad for Sunday night at the ER. We were surrounded by kids with fevers and flu so I'm glad we didn't have to stick around any longer than we did. I made Morgan wash her hands about a jazillion times.


Morgan's stitches were tender on Monday morning so she decided to stay home from Disneyland to play with her friend, Brooke. It sounds awful that she missed out on a day at Disney, but truthfully she was thrilled to spend more time with her old friend (they've been friends since they were 1-year old). Ethan loved seeing Mickey Mouse and the Princesses. He really wanted to go in the castle and find the Princesses when we first arrived (his little girl friend next door just got back from Disney World, thus the facination with the princesses). Lines weren't bad even though it was a holiday, and the kids had a blast except for the part when Isaac was in tears after not being picked to participate in the Jedi Training. A tip for anyone young Star Wars fans who may be visiting Disneyland in the future, wear a Star Wars shirt or some type of Star Wars costume and you'll get picked. Sadly, I didn't know this ahead of time as Isaac and Ethan were Darth Vadar and Yoda for Halloween so we had the gear at home.


Angela, you'll appreciate this, at Disney we ran into Sue Gertsen and her husband Rob (can't remember his last name...also went to High School w/us, one year older than me). They were visiting from the Seattle area. Small world.


On Tuesday we headed to California Adventure where we met up with Aunt Rachel, Aunt Bekah, and cousin Jax. Thankfully Morgan's chin was feeling better and she was ready for the big rides. Our favorite rides were the Tower of Terror, California Screamin, and MaliBOOMer. Morgan's analysis of Disney, "At Six Flags it's fun when you are on the rides, but here [California Adventure] you have a smile on your face even when you are just walking around." So, I guess that's why they call it the happiest place on earth :-)


We loved visting the Tenny's in their awesome new house and playing our old favorite card game, Canasta, with them. Wish we lived closer! It was also great to catch-up with Rachel who we don't see enough of. Sad we didn't have more time with her.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Phabulous Phoenix

We just returned from a fabulous vacation to Phoenix and SoCal. I believe it should be mandated that all Chicagoans make a pilgrimage to a warm destination in mid-February. It was heavenly to waltz around town in capris and light fleece jackets for the week. A wonderful respite from the boots, snowpants, coats, gloves and hats that we doned again today upon our return to the tundra of the midwest.

While in Phoenix we visited the kid's favorite aunt and uncle, Bekah & Matt (sorry to the other aunts and uncles who may be reading this...if you lived by us for four years you could possibly de-throne Bekah & Matt, but it would be a tough competition). Their new house in Phoenix is beautiful, and the kids fell in love all over again with their cousin baby Jax.

Morgan had a gymnastics meet (thus the impetus for the Phoenix vacation) where she took 3rd place in vault. My dad surprised us by flying into Phoenix for the day to see Morgan compete.

True to form, Ethan couldn't stand to keep himself away from danger. While wading in Matt & Bekah's pool he got a little overconfident, stepped off the bottom step and required a rescue. He did a pretty good job of keeping his mouth above the water while I fished him out. Thankfully I was right there watching and he was fine, just a little scared.

Bekah was a wonderful tour guide around Phoenix. We visited the very cool Phoenix Zoo, a fun train park in Scottsdale, and did some hiking on the beautiful desert trails. I also got to go to breakfast and catch-up with my old friend, Janice, who I used to work with back in my Franklin Covey days.

What Time Is It? Party Time!

Morgan's 9th Birthday Party was a hit. She chose a High School Musical theme and said it was her favorite birthday ever (sorry Bekah, the Harry Potter party you planned has been relegated to 2nd place). This shouldn't have been a surprise, because Morgan planned the whole thing herself. She handed me her guest list and activities list a few weeks back and wah-la the planning was complete. All I had to do was take her shopping to buy the decorations and favors. Morgan even kept track of the time and told everyone when it was time to change activities. Morgan has a great group of friends. We are so lucky to be surrounded by great kids with wonderful parents and families.