Thursday, December 21, 2006

Santa Got Run Over

Hello everyone,

Well another week has gone by and I have only one present left to buy before my Christmas shopping is complete. Of course that will be crammed in with writing a christmas letter, addressing and mailing cards, making treats for our friends, washing clothes and packing for our trip, but that still leaves plenty of time for holiday cheer.

This has not been a fortuitous year for outdoor Christmas decorations in our family. We bought icicle lights to hang on our house several weeks ago. We went to hang them and realized that we needed gutter clips. No problem, except Target was out. So was Home Depot, Fred Meyer, Lowe's and any other store I could think of in our area. After weeks of fruitless checking back to see if any store had gotten them in, I finally returned our icicle lights and figured we'll try again next year. However, we still have our inflatable Santa and light-up candy canes to spread holiday cheer. Because we unplug our inflatable Santa each night, he deflates and when we inflate him the next evening, he is in varying degrees of tipsiness- looking like he has had a bit too much of another kind of Christmas spirit. The first few days I went out and adjusted the stakes holding him up, but eventually I tired of it and figured we could have a tipsy Santa Claus. Then, last weekend we had a huge windstorm that completely took Santa down, so now when we inflate him each night, he is face-down on our lawn, looking like he really did get run over by a reindeer. Several of our candy canes were knocked down in the storm, too, but I haven't had the time or inclination to fix either one. We have had better luck with our indoor decorations, although Jared unwittingly discovered that cute train-shaped stocking hangers can turn into dangerous flying projectiles.

Last Saturday we celebrated the weekend's arrival by going to our ward choir christmas program run-through at 9:00 am. There was a thick layer of frost on everything, so it almost looked like snow. As we were going around the traffic circle to leave our neighborhood, Dave wanted to prove to me that Oregonians don't know much about REAL winter weather- this little of frost doesn't make roads icy. So he purposely took the turn hard and slammed on his brakes... and we started sliding, right into the curb. Luckily the curb was low and we weren't going very fast, but Jared was sufficiently impressed. "Dad," he said solemnly, "this is our first crash." If only Jared knew.... As soon as choir was over, I ran off to play in a piano quartet/quintet at a friend's piano studio recital. Then I came home and took the kids to a birthday party. After the birthday party we rushed home, made treats and left for the ward Christmas party.

While we were at the Christmas dinner, they had lots of people from the ward playing or singing background music. One of our friends came up to me and asked if I would play "Mary's Boy Child" for her to sing. No problem. I went to run through it with her in the other room and she said, "You know, this is kind of high for me tonight. Do you think you could play it in a different key?" and proceeded to hum a key that was nine half steps lower than written. Being the dumb prideful piano major that I am, I responded, "Sure." After all, I had to play every hymn in every key in my Keyboards of Death class. So I started to run through it with her, and while I could get the right chords out, I was stumbling my way along, and not even remotely getting the melody. Given that Dave had looked at the piece and said it looked easy, it suddenly occured to me that if I went out and stumbled my way through it, nobody would know I was transposing and so I would look REALLY dumb, so I told her she was going to have to sing it in the original key. Thus, pride of not wanting to look stupid conquered pride of wanting to look amazing and all was well.

Our ward choir program on Sunday went pretty well. I got to use my multi-tasking skills: I played piano for two songs, sang in the choir, sang in a trio, played the organ chimes (YES!! I've always wanted to do that!), and sang a teeny solo. Dave also sang in the choir and gave dirty looks to Jared and Camryn (sitting by themselves with the person on the row in front of them keeping an eye on them...) if they started to get up from their seats.

Tuesday we started making treat plates to take to our friends. I thought the kids would get a kick out of making marshmallow-cornflake holly and I wanted to make fudge in addition to the treats we were already making, so we set off to Target in search of Christmas-y paper for our christmas letter and the required ingredients. After a quick 45-minute browse at Target, and purchasing $30 of stuff, we determined that Target was out of two of our required ingredients and had no christmas-y printer paper. So we went to Albertson's in search of sweetened condensed milk, cornflakes and a bag of chocolate chips. We resolved to be fast and stick to our list, so we came out an hour later with a total of $45.71. Chocolate chips are getting expensive...

After multiple hours of intense labor (and two evenings of eating either scrambled eggs or frozen pizza for dinner), we successfully finished our treat plates. So yesterday morning we went to deliver some of them and while we were driving around Camryn barfed. We immediately returned home and got her to bed, but that left us with a dozen or so treat plates undelivered. They are, at this very moment, getting more stale by the hour, as I still haven't had the courage to take Camryn out to deliver them again (and Dave got home from work after 9:00 pm last night). The good news is that Camryn seems to be feeling better today and nobody else has gotten sick yet (knock on wood!).

Jared and Camryn are so excited to go on an airplane to visit Grama Susan. Jared made a list of all the people he is going to see in Bountiful and put an X next to their names: Trevr, grama Soozin, Broos, Jen, Leesu, Shon, Madisin, popu, Sweed, Cordr (Trevor, Grama Susan, Bruce, Jen, Lisa, Madisyn, Papa, Sweetie, Carter).

We hope you are all doing well and have a great Christmas this weekend.

Notes written by Jared
"Fon iz Brokin" (Phone is broken)
"Weer Closd" (We're Closed)

Quotes of the Week:
Jared: (We have a rule that you can't draw at the kitchen table- you have to sit up at the counter) "If you draw on the table you have to go to bed, even if mommy says to give you another chance. That's called a consekence."
Jared: (We lost Camryn after church last week and found her sitting outside the door to the church) "What were you doing Camryn? Were you basking in the sun?"
Jared: "It's really hard work... I have to exercise, make notes for people, make stuff. It's really hard work."

Camryn: "It's okay to barf. It's just an accident."
Camryn: "I'm sick, so I can't have big marshmallows. I have to have little marshmallows."
Me: "What's you're favorite part about Christmas?" Camryn: "Going to Grama Susan's house."

Me: "What's your favorite part about Christmas?" Jared: "First, eating lots of candy. Second, opening presents. Third, getting lots of toys. Fourth, eating lots of candy. Fifth, playing with the Christmas decorations. And the feast. I also like, hmmm, decorating the tree. I also like the candy canes and the opening presents."

When my husband comes home, if the kids are still alive, I figure I've done my job. -Roseanne Barr

Monday, December 11, 2006

Deck the Halls

It's been a busy, yet normal, week or two, so I haven't found a whole ton of inspiration for anything interesting to say. To be honest, I've been suffering from a severe case of writer's block. Having written a few updates that ended up being amusing, now I feel like I can't send an update unless it is side-splittingly funny. And nothing is less funny than trying too hard to be funny. I also am wondering if I should feel remorse at making my updates forever long and having unflinchingly included some of our not-quite finer moments- sometimes it is nice to at least have the illusion of a well-ordered life. Oh well.

On last Wednesday Jared and Camryn had a visit to the dentist. They both visited, but Camryn refused to climb into the dentist's chair, despite the fact that she has been to the "bentist" twice before in California. Despite her non-cooperation, they both got gift certificates for free kids meals at Red Robin. I took the kids there for lunch before Camryn's preschool on Thursday and it is now Jared's new favorite restaurant.

Last week we finally officially hit December. After weeks of pestering from Jared, we finally got most of our Christmas decorations up. We also celebrated by buying an inflatable Santa and light-up candy canes for the lawn (you can guess whose idea this was...). Yes, it's a little bit tacky, but the kids are SOOO excited about it. We have been trying for two weeks to hang lights on our house, but every single store in the Sherwood/Tualatin area is out of gutter clips, so we are still waiting to hang our lights. Last Saturday, Dave took the kids to see Santa fly in to Sherwood on a helicopter- there apparently wasn't enough snow for him to use his sleigh. Then the family went to see me (very briefly) perform a piano duet from the nutcracker at a local Christmas concert/show while ballerinas danced in tutus. Jared's favorite number was "Linus and Lucy" from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Later Saturday afternoon, we drove about a mile from our house to a Christmas Tree Farm and cut our own Christmas tree. We, of course, neglected to bring the camera and so missed an amazing opportunity to capture breathtaking views of Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley while the sun set. After an hour of very serious deliberation, several cups of complimentary hot chocolate, much complaining about the cold from the kids, and very muddy knees on Dave's part, we came home with a lovely Christmas tree. We had previously stopped at another Christmas Tree farm about a half a mile from our house, but the visit was cut short because Jared was wearing short sleeves and had neglected to put on his jacket (Okay- whose son is he? "Mom, I don't need my jacket. I love the cold.").

We crowned the momentous beginning of December celebration with a down-home dinner of Thai and Vietnamese food at our favorite place before I had to race off to play for a second Christmas performance. Despite Jared's protests that he didn't like Thai food (fickle children!) and wanted to go to Red Robin, as soon as we got our food he recalled that he actually did like it- especially the sweet pork, the yummy noodles and the fortune cookie (but he still doesn't like it as much as the chinese buffet that Grama Rogers took him to in California- there's no ice cream machine or watermelon at the Thai restaurant).

By the way, my fortune, which I am very proud of, said: "You have an iron will, which helps you succeed in everything." Amazing. How did the cookie know about me slamming my head against the wall as a two year old? I read Dave the fortune from his fortune cookie as we were driving out of the parking lot. Dave was asking me, "Which way do we go to get out of here? I'm kind of confused," and I read back to him, "You are about to embark upon a great adventure." Uh-oh. Despite the foreboding of ill-timed adventure, we soon made it out of the parking lot and I made it to my performance.

Apparently, the delicious meal we enjoyed on Saturday night had a very soporific effect (I learned this word from Beatrix Potter and the Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. Who says you don't learn from reading children's books?). Last Sunday morning, we set a new record for our "lastest arrival to church in Sherwood." The fact that we were late would be much more shocking if I had not (in a state of semi-consciousness) snoozed my alarm several extra times and finally gotten out of bed when I realized (with an unfortunate jolt of consciousness) that it was 8:35 a.m.- and we have 9:00 a.m. church. Under the circumstances, I thought we made extremely good time.
Despite this unfortunate incident, last weekend we had an altogether relaxing and lovely weekend. I realized why it was so relaxing when I woke up Monday morning and saw Friday night's dinner dishes still sitting on the stove. Suddenly it made more sense. I also realized that while I have many talents, keeping up with the dishes is not one of them. By Tuesday or Wednesday morning, I had finally cleaned up the rubble and made our kitchen look nice again, but within the day, every dish in our house was dirty again. Another personal discovery... not only am I not talented at doing dishes, but I actually have quite a talent for getting them dirty quickly (I guess liking to cook helps that along). I recall from one of my teaching classes at BYU that people are motivated by the belief that their action will help them achieve a desired outcome. I realized that I am not very motivated by dishes or cleaning because countless scientific studies (conducted by myself) have proven that even concerted effort towards cleaning my house does not necessarily make my house look cleaner: in fact, usually it looks worse because the kids mess up something else while I am cleaning. So not cleaning is just a rational reaction to scientific data.

So on to this week.... This week I have spent working on Christmas projects and trying to finish up the last of the Christmas shopping. On Wednesday, I forgot my previous lessons about shopping with children and took the kids on a trip to Target. Armed with popcorn and lemonade, the trip wasn't too bad, but just as it was getting very late in the afternoon and we were about to check out so we could go home and make dinner (we had been there over an hour and a half), Camryn had to go potty. We left our heavy cart of stuff and made haste toward the convenient "Family Bathroom" located at the front of the store (which is much more convenient if you happen to be at the front of the store). Once in, I started to help Camryn onto the potty, still in a hurry to get home quickly. While Camryn is quite good at going to the potty, she has not yet mastered the concept of going to the potty with clothes on: she still strips down completely whenever she goes. While this isn't a big deal at home, this is less desirable at Target, especially when I'm in a hurry to leave. So I attempted to get Camryn to leave on her shoes and just pull her pants out of the way. This drew loud screams of protest that echoed through the entire bathroom and into the store. Wanting to avoid another accident, I pulled off one of her shoes and pant legs, picked her up and plopped her on the potty. Still screaming, she went potty, but then insisted that I take off her pants, both shoes and her socks, despite the fact that she was already done going potty. I was in no humor to do this, especially because SHE WAS DONE GOING POTTY, so I refused and Camryn doubled her screams in volume and intensity. Fed up, I put the pant leg and shoe back on my screaming, flailing child and carried her out of the store into the parking lot (getting a lot of very suspicious looks as I carry a screaming child from the bathroom outside). Then Jared started to get upset because all of our stuff was still in the store. After several minutes of standing in the cold, trying to reason with a screaming child in front of Target, Camryn finally calmed down enough for us to go back inside and complete our purchase.

Despite Camryn's occasional outbursts, she is usually very sweet, affectionate and fun to be around. She just put on her tutu and ballet slippers and she told me she is going to be a ballerina. Camryn and Jared are very excited about Christmas. Camryn has taken to sticking a dried cranberry on her nose and saying she is "Rudolph." They love to turn on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir cd and run in circles around the Christmas Tree to "Joy to the World." They also love Bing Crosby's "Jingle Bells" and our "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" cd. Camryn likes to help me put clothes in the washing machine. Both Jared and Camryn love to "help" me cook: they always ask if they can do the next "dump" of flour or sugar ("I want to dump it!" "Can I do the next dump?"). Last Friday they were thrilled because we made "pigs in a blanket" for lunch along with some "gingerbread man" shaped biscuits.

Jared is becoming a very good reader. He is starting to just see words on things and then tell me what they say (Mom, why does that sign say, "Do not enter?"). Camryn is learning a lot from watching Jared learn to read. One morning last week, I was in the kitchen and Camryn saw a bag of microwave popcorn that had been left out. She pointed to a word on the bag and said: "T-O-P, Tuh- ah- puh- Top!" This week Jared went to "Young Shoppers" at school. We gave him a little allowance and he got to buy and wrap Christmas presents. He was so excited about the presents he picked, that he couldn't wait until Christmas- he wanted us to open them NOW. He got Camryn a little stuffed snake, her new favorite toy. He got mom and dad a snowman plate and he got me a hot pink glittery magnet that says "Super-Star Mom." (He told dad he would have gotten him one too if they had one that said "Superstar Dad".)

On Saturday we finally hung curtains in our living room and hung a few more pictures (it seems to take longer for us to get pictures hung with every move- only 6 months this time). I decided that for now we are just going to live with our paint job; it really isn't so bad. After all, if puke-yellow mini skirts are "in" in London, it must be kind of fashionable to have pukey-olive greenish tan walls (they really aren't that bad- they just aren't exactly the "perfect" color, but I'm getting used to it and the desire to not paint again makes it look better every day).

On Sunday, we capped our week with a rousing primary music time (complete with bells and rhythm instruments), ward choir practice, top ramen and pumpkin pie for dinner, and a performance with our ward choir at the stake Christmas music fireside.

So that's our week or two. Hope you all are doing well.


Jared's Notable Quotables of the Week:

To Camryn: "Remember the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. You were so silly. They were not real monsters; it was a radio saying "Raaar!"

"Just remember safety! I know safety means a seatbelt!"

J- "On the school bus I used to be the first picked up and the first dropped off. At school I used to be the line leader all the time: those were the greatest days of my life."
me- "Did you really like it?"
J- "It made me feel so great and special."

"Do you remember the Rescuer's Down Under? It's a good kids show. It gives you good ideas of how to rescue someone who is captured."

Camryn wanted a red bow (like the girl reindeer on Rudolph). Jared said (about the girl reindeer), "Rudolph fell in love with her. He thought she belonged to him, but she belonged to Santa."

"When I get a teddy bear from Santa, I will name him Ted."

Jared made 2 cards for me that said the following:
"Yoo or goiing sum wer spethl" (you are going somewhere special)
"diznelad ol uv us r kumiing" (Disneyland: all of us are coming)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Revenge of the Tooth Fairy

Hello everyone,
I think the tooth fairy must have overheard my flippant remarks about my wisdom teeth removal and is seeking her revenge: after having a fairly easy surgery and recovery, this past week my teeth were very sensitive and sore- not enough to warrant Codeine, just enough to be irritating. Luckily they are finally getting back to normal and crunchy foods are edible again. I was beginning to worry that I would be forever doomed to eat only oatmeal and applesauce. =]

Last Monday, the kids and I had a marathon shopping day, including visits to Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco and Target. A five hour shop-a-thon with two kids in tow is any mother's idea of paradise: kids hiding in and out of the display curtains, begging for a candy-cane-shaped dog bone, having lively conversations with random shoppers and running off and disappearing at regular intervals. At the end of the trip, I firmly resolved and vowed to do all my Christmas shopping on and avoid any other shopping trips ever again. This shopping trip was precipitated by mine and Dave's decision to put up curtains in our living room, which seemed to me like an easy enough task: find curtains and rods that you like, buy them and take them home. But so far this seemingly simple scheme has required 3 trips to Target, 1 trip to JCPenney and 3 trips to Bed Bath and Beyond- and we're not done yet.... Maybe this is why I am such a dedicated Costco shopper: it's kind of nice to have only one or two options to choose from. It eliminates most of the opportunity for indecisiveness. If only they carried curtains....

On Tuesday while Camryn was at preschool, Jared and I went grocery shopping for food for Thanksgiving. Since I figured the cart would be full, I had Jared walk with me next to the cart (not too challenging for a 5-year-old, right?). Jared took advantage of his newfound freedom by sliding on the floor as if each aisle were home plate, and then running and spinning like an 80's break-dancer. Pushing aside my germ-phobia (do you know how many feet have walked on this floor???), this made it difficult to navigate the aisles without running in to other shoppers. We (thankfully) did eventually make it out of the store without incurring lawsuits from injured shoppers.

After preschool, we went to meet one of Jared and Camryn's friends and hang out with her at the mall. Since it was raining, I figured it would be a good way to get out of the house. We played at the mall's indoor playground, split a Jamba Juice, went to the Lego store and got a Santa-shaped chocolate at the candy store. I say this to prove that I am not an altogether unfeeling, fun-hating, child-punishing mother. As we were about to leave the mall to go home, Jared spotted someone he recognized in the mall: Santa Claus! Never mind the fact that it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet, Jared was enthralled by the idea of standing in a long line to see Santa. It was already time to be home making dinner, and I noticed a sign next to Santa offering a picture with him for an obscene amount of money that further turned me off to the idea, so I told Jared we were not going to see Santa today. Jared started whining and when he saw that I was serious about my refusal, his whining turned into an all-out screaming fit that lasted from Santa's cute little house, all the way through JCPenney and into the parking lot. I tried to talk to Jared about it on the way home and to explain that I did want to see Santa, but today wasn't a good day, and Jared said he did NOT want to see Santa on a different day- just today. After repeating this same segment of conversation about 50 times, Jared finally figured out that he was not going to get me to return to the mall, at which point he said, "Mom, when you wouldn't let me see Santa, it really hurt my feelings," to which I promptly responded, "When you screamed your head off through the entire mall, that really hurt my feelings." Jared, trying to impress upon me the depth of his grief at this travesty of justice, said, "The end part of today was the worst part of my life." This didn't have quite the desired impact on his unfeeling mother, who started laughing out loud. I went home and made Zucchini Carbonara for dinner and- to my complete and utter shock- the kids actually liked it and ate it!

On Wednesday, Jared had a minimum day of kindergarten because it was the day before Thanksgiving. What I don't understand is how you can have a minimum day if a full day is only 2 1/2 hours. We went to swimming lessons and the kids had a substitute teacher. Camryn didn't want to get in the pool because it was a boy teacher and not a girl teacher. After finally coaxing her into the pool, on her 2nd time kicking around the pool with the teacher, Camryn started screaming at the top of her lungs, thus bringing her swim lesson for the day to a speedy conclusion. When I talked to her about it later, she said she didn't like the boy teacher, Mike, because he "ruined her heart," by putting her on time out for not listening. Speaking of hearts, later on Wednesday, Jared and Camryn had a conversation about marriage: Camryn told Jared that she is going to marry Tyler from her preschool class. Jared said,"I will wait till I am a teenager and then I'll marry whoever I fall in love with. You can't marry one of your friends!"

On Thanksgiving, Dave and I took advantage of multiple consecutive broadcasts of the Macy's parade and slept in. The kids eventually got hungry, so Jared made Camryn a huge "salad" of dried cranberries and mozzarella cheese sticks. Dave later tried it and said it was pretty good. For Thanksgiving dinner, we went to my old roomate Jacki's house and had dinner with her family and her cousin's family. I brought stuffing, cranberry relish, drinks and Susan's famous Cranberry Salad. I carefully followed Susan's instructions to loosen the salad from the mold by dipping the pan in water for about 10 seconds. Unfortunately, the jello still stuck. Undaunted, this time I tried again, but I put the pan in deeper water and kept it there longer. This time the jello came out, but it slouched its way onto the pan in a less-than-impressive pile. I was sad that my impressive offering to the feast was a slightly deformed cranberry salad, but at least it still tasted good.

On Friday, Dave and I indulged anew in our penchant for home projects, this time attempting to paint some of our downstairs and update some light fixtures. Four trips to Home Depot later, we finally painted on Saturday- ALL DAY Saturday. 

When we finished, we paused to admire our impressive work. The paint job looked very striking- and completely clashed with our furniture. Somehow, the lovely tan that we selected came out as a slightly sickly olive green. It could look great- if we completely redecorated our house. So, we will probably end up painting the downstairs again next week.

I will close this overly long epistle with Jared's quote of the week:

Jared: "I'm thinking about something all the time."
Me: "I believe that!"
Dave:"What are you thinking about right now?"
Jared: "Running on a planet."
Dave: "Which one?"
Jared: "Mars or Pluto."

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Love,


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Well, everyone, we have had a week of non-stop exciting events. I promise, I am not making any of this up.
On Tuesday afternoon Jared had a playdate with his friend Tyler that is in his primary class. They very happily played until about 5 minutes before Tyler was supposed to leave. They were playing on our resonator bells when Jared hit himself in the eye with a bell mallet. Jared screamed and seemed more than usually hurt, so after sending Tyler home, I called the advice nurse and asked if his eye needed to be checked. It looked to me like it just scratched his eyelid, but Jared was adament that he was mortally injured (even 15 minutes after the actual injury) and insisted that he needed to go to the doctor. So, instead of making dinner I took Jared in to the clinic.
After waiting for 45 minutes, we finally got in to see the doctor on duty. She began the visit and after briefly asking me what happened immediately turned to Jared and asked him what happened (translation: Did you REALLY hit yourself with a bell mallet or does your mom scratch you in the eye when she gets mad and then make up dumb excuses?) This did not endear the doctor to me, to say the least. Having ascertained that I was not a suspect for child abuse, she looked at his eye, checked his vision and then put dye in his eye and used a "Halloween lamp" (a blacklight) to look for any damage. Jared thought this was way cool and said, "I'm going to have to tell Allie about this on the bus tomorrow!" The doctor said that Jared's eye was fine and it was just the eyelid that got hurt (not that I couldn't have guessed that before we went to the doctor). As we left, Jared said, "I'm really glad we went to the doctor, Mom. I feel much better now that she fixed my eye." Arrrgh! Oh well, it gave Jared a cool story to tell on the bus and he got Papa Murphy's for dinner, to boot. Who needs Safari Sams for entertainment when for $5 you can go to Providence Healthcare and get to play with a blacklight, do a fun eye game and get lots of free stickers?
On Thursday, I realized that I had repeatedly found puddles of water behind the toilet in the upstairs kids bathroom. The first time I thought it was just water the kids had splashed out of the bath, but I kept finding it. Finally I explored the underside of the toilet tank, and sure enough, there was a steady drip of water that appeared to be leaking from one of the screws. Given my vast knowledge and great confidence in dealing with plumbing issues, of course I did not panic: I called Dave at work and said, "Help!!! What do I do? Our house is going to flood and we're going to have to rip out our flooring in the upstairs bathroom and replace the vanity (wait a second, that wouldn't be so bad...)!" He told me to just put a container under the leak until he could get home and look at it. Well, a couple hours later, 6 inches of water had collected in the container I put behind the toilet. Luckily, Dave was able to fix the problem in about 5 minutes once he got home and thus, our house did not flood, despite the imminent threat.

Not wanting to deal with the toilet issue that afternoon, while Camryn was at preschool Jared and I went to Target and thoroughly wasted an hour and a half shopping for cleaning supplies and curtains. After we picked Camryn up from preschool, I took the kids to the post office. They were patient (well, as patient as can be expected of a 5 and 3 year old) so I thought I would take them to Mudpuddles, the local toy store that is next to the post office, and let them play with the toys while I returned something. We went to Mudpuddles, I got up to the counter and Camryn said, "Mommy, I have to go potty." Perfect timing. "Just wait until I'm done returning this," I said. "Mommy, I need to go right now!" she whined, sounding quite urgent. So, I asked the lady at the counter to please excuse me for a moment and with great dignity and alacrity raced Camryn to the restroom in the back of the store. Unfortunately, it was a single-stall restroom and it was already occupied. I was relieved to hear the toilet flush, because Camryn was starting to sound very urgent, "Mommyyyyyyyyy! I need to go potty." As I heard the sounds of the sink running and hand-washing from behind the closed door, Camryn's panicked, "I need to go potty now!" changed to an all-out scream and I knew it was too late. "Mommyyy!!! I'm wet! The pee-pees are coming out!," she screamed at the top of her lungs, (resounding through the whole store, I am sure). I scrambled to try to move any nearby toys away from Camryn and the growing puddle. The door opened and an unsuspecting employee walked out to the sight of a hysterically screaming 3-year-old standing in a puddle of pee-pee. "I'm really sorry...." was all I could think of to say, "she really had to go."

Given the tumultuous nature of the afternoon, I was in no mood for cooking adventures, so we had a well-balanced dinner of frozen pizza, Stove Top stuffing, large quantities of frozen peas and canned peaches. The sad thing was, the kids were more excited about this dinner than they had been about anything a had cooked in weeks.... It is *definitely* worth the effort to make quality home-cooked meals. : / On Friday for lunch, for the very first time I served the kids Chef Boyardee canned ravioli! Jared had begged me for it at Target because it had a picture of Lightning McQueen from Cars on the front. So when I finally served this delectable special lunch, Camryn wouldn't touch it and Jared said he didn't like it that much. -->

On Friday afternoon, I had my wisdom teeth taken out and I just have to say, it was fabulous. Not that having them taken out was fabulous, although our dentist numbed me up enough that I didn't feel much. I came home from the surgery and plopped onto the LoveSac for about 18 hours straight, vegging out watching "The Office," BYU Ballroom Dance and the 6-hour Pride and Prejudice.

I haven't done that for I don't know how long! Dave took the kids to KFC for dinner and brought me home mashed potatoes and ice cream. Sure, my cheeks and jaw were a bit sore and I couldn't open my mouth more than an inch wide, but after Codeine and massive doses of ibuprofen work their magic, how could you not enjoy an excuse to watch TV, read books and ignore all housework for two days straight? =] So, yes I stuck to my diet of scrambled eggs, ramen noodles, applesauce, ice cream, and the like and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am just sad that the dentist removed all of my wisdom teeth: I wouldn't mind having them removed again sometime.

Saturday afternoon the kids went to our neighbor Andy's 4th birthday party. I was feeling recovered enough to take them. We put the present into a gift bag and rushed over. As we walked in, his mom complimented us on the cute gift bag. Jared announced, "We got the bag from a present our Grandma gave us." (Thank you, Jared.) Camryn won a rousing game of Pin-the-Fireman-Badge-on-the-Firedog by blatantly looking out under her blindfold, despite repeated attempts to get her to keep it on. (The mom giving the party finally gave up on trying to get her to not peek). Aside from randomly jumping, rolling and doing somersaults, the kids were mostly okay during the party until it was time to open presents. Andy made the mistake of opening Jared and Camryn's present first. Camryn screamed for about 10 minutes straight because SHE wanted to open the present that they were giving to Andy. I love kids birthday parties.We finished the day off by going to JCPenney to look at some curtains that were on sale. Camryn and Jared loved the housewares department, finding it perfect for tumbling and wrestling (despite repeated threats of unknown terrible evils if they did not calm down and stay with mom and dad). Dave and I were examining some wall pictures when we heard the sound of shattering glass. Sure enough, our charming children had broken a glass lampshade. Well, we were looking to buy a lamp anyway, unfortunately we were not looking to buy a multi-directional multi-shade lamp with pink and purple glass. I guess our kids just have exotic tastes. Luckily, JCPenney is a big store and the clerk said they can write off broken items and it wasn't a big deal, thus saving our kids from years of indentured servitude to pay off the new purple lamp they had inadvertently selected for their room.
--> Our weekend, alas, came to a less-than-rousing conclusion with me waking up 10 minutes before it was time to leave for church to every single dish and every single piece of silverware dirty (You mean there are consequences for ignoring housework for two days? Dangit!) and Dave sick with a stomach bug. The primary music "Dave and Karen" show turned into the "Karen and Karen" show today, with me running back and forth from teaching words at the chalkboard to playing the piano. I crowned it all by losing my purse at church (luckily it was church and some kind person turned it in).
What can I say? Nonstop excitement! Hope you are all having a good week.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sequel to "Happy Monday!"

For anyone who's interested, yes, Tuesday did go better than Monday. On Monday after he got home from school, Jared said, "Mom, tomorrow can I take a fruit stick on the bus?" ARRRRGGGGHHHH! "NO! You're never having fruit sticks ever again!" (Okay, I didn't say that, but I felt it.) =]

Also, I found Jared's swimsuit: it was hanging on the drying pole above the washing machine, right where it was supposed to be. I just couldn't see it because it was right in front of me. I think there really is something to motherhood causing loss of brain cells.

Karen =]

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Monday!

Hello everyone,

We are pretty much having typical week. However, this week, Jared made a great discovery about Kellog's Frosted Mini-Wheats that he pointed out to me. He said, "Mom, Wheats have Kellog's Frosted Flakes in them." When I asked him why he thought that, he pointed to the Kellog's logo and said, "See."

Last week we had a major score. The "discretionary" budget had already been extinguished for the week (and part of the next...) but I made the mistake of going to Target anyway. Target is one of those dangerous stores, because most everything is pretty cheap, but if you get 10 pretty cheap items in your cart, it's still $50. You add the fact that when you have two preschoolers with you, as soon as they eat their way through their fruit snacks and start whining, your brain operates at 2% of its normal power and you're really in trouble. Well, at Target, the few remaining Halloween costumes were clearanced for 90% off. There wasn't much to choose from, but I figured this would be a great chance to update the dress-up trunk: long red gloves, a weird blond wig, hot pink and black striped tights, a flight attendant costume with hat, a chinese dress, a "knight in shining armor" and a Superman costume. The superman costume was the most expensive at $2.50. I'm just mad at myself that I didn't pick up the matching black vinyl wig that went with it. That's what I get for trying to be responsible and stick to the budget. But you know, that extra $1.25 could have really put us over....

Budgeting has never been a really strong point for Dave and I. We usually settle for the "when the bank account is empty, we'd better be done" approach, but now that we are "real" people, home-owners who are finished with school, we have felt the need to at least attempt to be more organized and responsible. The irony of it is, now that we are finished with school, have a PAYCHECK (woo hoo!!!), and should, of course, be able to buy whatever we want whenever we want it,=] it seems like sometimes we have to be even tighter with money than when we were "poor" students. Maybe it's just being home-owners and having half our paycheck direct deposited to Home Depot =], or maybe it's just real life and I need to get used to it. Still, when we set up a realistic budget- after paying all bills and monthly expenses, setting aside reasonable amounts for groceries, laundry soap, household items, paying for preschool and lessons, and putting some aside into savings- we are left with a discretionary budget of about 75 cents a week. Dave tells me that this is PLENTY to buy clothes and incidental items that we feel like buying, but sometimes I'm a little bit skeptical. I still think I'd better avoid Target whenever possible.=]

Dave and I had our first day as primary music directors/pianists yesterday. It was pretty fun. Our primary room has a digital piano (in an oak "Relief Society piano" case, of course). I was extremely disappointed that the church would condescend to having a FAKE piano in a church, until we made an exciting discovery: the piano was programmed with most of the hymns and lots of primary songs. This didn't matter much to me, but Dave was excited, because even though he hadn't had time to practice "For the Beauty of the Earth" (the song I was teaching), he just had the piano play it for him. As Jen would say, "Sweet!"

Camryn, taking after her mother and brother, has caught the cooking bug. While I was reading the newspaper and eating breakfast this morning, I looked up and Camryn had climbed onto the counter. She was pouring different spices from the spice cupboard into a cup and mixing them. I asked Camryn what she was making and she said, "A mandarine." A mandarine, apparently, is a savory blend of garlic powder, ginger, chili powder and cream of tartar. I have to keep an eye on her or all of my spices are going to be gone!

Today, we celebrated Monday by almost missing the schoolbus. I snoozed the alarm for 10 minutes straight, woke up late, and was late waking Jared up. We got downstairs for breakfast at 7:29 (the schoolbus comes at 7:30). After hastily getting a few bites of cereal down Jared, I gave him a piece of fruit leather, (still attempting to be nutritionally balanced in spite of my haste) and ran him to the door. The schoolbus was already at the stop, so I pushed Jared out the door, yelling, "Run!" About halfway to the schoolbus, Jared realized that his malicious mother had saddled him with a piece of fruit leather and he DID NOT want it. Stopping in his tracks, he said, "Mom, I don't want the fruit stick!" "Just put it in your backpack! You're going to miss the bus," I yelled back. "No!!! I don't WANT IT!," Jared whined, as the schoolbus was about to pull away from the curb. Bursting into action, I sprinted across our lawn in my pink plaid pajamas (complete with white socks and brown sandals from the nearest shoe basket) grabbed the fruit stick and shoved Jared in the direction of the bus; he reached it just as it was about drive off. Sometimes, you can just tell it's going to be a good day. -->

We finished celebrating Happy Monday by realizing that we had lost Jared's swimsuit moments before we were supposed to walk out the door for swimming lessons. Luckily it was Jared, not Camryn, who had lost the suit, so after a few minutes of futile searching, I grabbed a pair of old shorts and we left. An "Arthritis Exercise" class in the pool gets out just before the kids' swimming lessons, so the women's locker room is usually pretty busy with people changing. As the kids were getting into their swimsuits today, there was an unpleasant odor in the locker room. Jared said (loudly), "Mom, something stinks in here. I think it's the old ladies." If I have a shred of dignity left at the end of parenthood, it will be a miracle!

I hope you all are having a great week. Love,


Thursday, November 9, 2006

The up... or downdate

Hello everyone,

Life goes on here. Jared and Camryn are doing well at their swimming lessons. Jared has almost gotten past his dislike of putting his face in the water. Camryn splashes around, trying to paddle and says, "I can swim!" Jared announced the day after Halloween that now we can listen to Christmas music because Christmas is almost here! I don't have enough energy to protest, especially with an enthusiastic 5 year old. If only I could convince him that that means we can get rid of all the Halloween candy....

Last Thursday I finally faced our unrelenting mountain of dishes. My typical approach to dishes is the same as Dave's approach to General Education classes in college: If you ignore them long enough, maybe they will go away. Unfortunately, both of us were proven wrong in our theories and were forced to face the unpleasant reality of doing them anyway. I decided to accept defeat gracefully, and so I enthusiastically removed all traces of our dish-pile and even kept up with all the new daily dirty dishes as they were created. This was a proud moment for me. Unfortunately, it didn't last much longer than a moment. Soon enough, I was faced with a surprise return attack of "Mt. Dish-More"... we went to eat breakfast yesterday and there were no clean bowls or spoons. By lunchtime there were no clean plates or knives. Wow. It's a losing battle. I feel like the girl on the Morton Salt package: I'm trying to clean up, but there's a trail left behind everywhere I go. Maybe I will convert to paper plates.

Last Thursday I also tried to clean up our house a bit before we left for Utah on Friday. I have to say, I outdid myself. I swept under the stove (finding hair balls and old dog treats from the people who used to live here), mopped the floor and even scrubbed the baseboards. I scrubbed the stove, cleaned the counters- I was truly amazing. And then I looked up. While I was busy, the kids had been busy too. The house actually looked worse than when I started. The family room and living room were trashed. I realized why I don't clean house that often: the net effect is that our house looks worse. =]

Last night I made the worst dish I have ever attempted in our 6 1/2 years of marriage. This was even worse than the famous "White Bean Soup": a remarkably bland and tasteless concoction that left Dave and I with, how shall I delicately put this, extreme flatulence for days on end. Encouraged by my success with a super-yummy warm balsamic-reduction dressing infused with garlic that I made earlier this week, I decided to try a recipe for "Balsamic Glazed Vegetables": tender-crisp veggies with a sweet and sticky warm balsamic glaze... it sounded tempting enough. Either something went horribly wrong or the recipe was put in the cookbook as a joke, but what I ended up with was soggy, watery vegetables doused in large quantities of extremely strong balsamic vinegar that dyed my zucchini and carrots an appetizing black color. I attempted to eat it before finally conceding that it was indeed a horrific failure and as a result gave myself an upset stomach for 30 minutes after dinner from an acute vinegar overdose.

The tragic vegetable adventure (what a waste of four good zucchini!) sadly overshadowed a very tasty chicken curry that I made as our main dish. As a postscript, this week I made another more successful attempt at Pumpkin-ish Soup: this time using acorn squash (much easier to cut and peel than a pumpkin- no sledgehammer required) and high-quality stock. It was quite tasty and I was proud of myself, except that the kids wouldn't touch it (Jared said maybe he'll like soup when he's 6) and Dave came home from work at 3:00 am that night, so he didn't try it either. Oh well!

Dave has been busy. He promised some people at work that he would write a program to help analyze particle problems, so any time a machine has particle issues they can compare samples of the issues to a database of other particle samples to try to narrow down what's causing it. Of course, they could just buy a program from another company that will already do this for $100,000+, but what's the point of doing that and helping my Dad's company get more profits when Dave can do it himself for free and just give the profits to his company? (Time is "free," right?) However, shockingly (given the looming deadline of the main project he is working on right now), Dave has not had any time during his regular work day to work on the particle analysis program -hence, the 3:00 am double work day. Dave's "record player" project is a success so far. Dave is trying to talk his company into making it into tool and selling it. (Would this mean they would have to sweep all of the area Goodwill stores for record players?) =] Before Dave leaves for work each morning, Camryn tells him, "Be a good little Daddy! Be nice to all your friends."

On a more serious note, we were so happy that we were able to go to Grama Holland's funeral last week, both to see everyone who was there and celebrate the life of a truly remarkable woman. It was so great to be able to visit with everyone, and the funeral itself was very uplifting and inspiring to me, and almost happy, despite the sad circumstances. Death makes you think about what really matters in life. While Grama did many great things with her life, the thing that stood out the most to me was how much her family and friends remembered and appreciated her love and service. I was touched by how visible it was that she was so deeply loved and that her life touched so many people in simple everyday ways. It made me think that when all is said and done, all that really matters is the family and friends who you love and love you, and showing them your love. Maybe there is a point to cooking meals and doing the dishes after all. =]

Sorry to ramble. We hope you all are doing well.



Monday, October 30, 2006

Our Week and Other Major World Events...

Well, another week has passed by, more or less uneventfully. The kids have been busily occupied with counting down the days, hours and minutes until Halloween and trick-or-treating.

Dave had some particularly long work hours this week, so I amused myself with further culinary adventures. Among the dishes I attempted were Cider-Glazed Roast Pork Loin accompanied by sage-butter penne, and pumpkin soup (made from a real pumpkin). I also attempted to make delectable Banana Muffins and Penne with Spinach Garlic Cream Sauce.

A few notes on my discoveries: if you ever attempt to make pumpkin soup from a pumpkin (something that I have deduced that most sane people only do once) and attempt to peel it, make sure to have on hand a very sharp knife or a sledgehammer. Also, if you are going to go to all the work to slice and clean a fresh pumpkin for soup, don't completely ruin it by using cheap powdered $1 chicken bouillon powder from Walgreens. That said, the other dishes turned out pretty well. Strangely, I am finding that whenever I get on a cooking hobby kick, for some strange reason, our kitchen has unflagging huge piles of dirty dishes, try as I might to contain them. Hmmmm, more evidence that you really just can't have it all.....

I am continuing my workout program with great vigor but diminishing enthusiasm. I feel great after my workouts and revel in my confidence that this will bring lifelong intangible health benefits, but I weighed myself recently and since I started my program I have GAINED 4 pounds. Needless to say, I am really ticked off. Dave has tried to point out to me that I might be building muscle as a result of my weight lifting and it might be healthy weight gain, but I told him that was such a guy way to look at it. HEALTHY weight gain??? Whatever. Okay, fine, he may have a point, but I don't want to have to start lying on my drivers license form.

I started exercising regularly as an outlet for myself, to increase my general health and feel-good-ness, not as a weight-loss program, so why am I ticked off at a few pounds? Well, you would think that if I am working so hard and being so diligent (I have done this program faithfully for a whole 4 weeks now), =] that by now I would- just as a token side benefit of course- have an amazingly flat stomach and toned muscles that would put any supermodel to shame. Hmmmmm, maybe I do fall into the exercising-because-I'm-an-egomaniac-who-wants-to-look-like-Cindy-Crawford category. So how did I get from "I'm going to work out so I feel good and have an outlet for myself" to "I'm ticked off that I'm 4 pounds heavier?" Alas, vanity loves to intrude itself.

We had a tri-ward "trunk or treat" on Friday night, which was a huge highlight for Jared and Camryn. Jared dressed as Pooh Bear and Camryn dressed as a beautiful princess (wearing... guess what color... pink). When our home teachers came today, Jared informed them that there was a lucky adult who was going to get a surprise for being good and quiet during the lesson and he gave one of our home teachers a Kit Kat from his trunk-or-treat candy. Camryn, not to be outdone by her brother, gave our other home teacher a special surprise: a lollipop! A member of the bishopric came over to discuss a calling with Dave and I, and Jared and Camryn spent the first 10 minutes eagerly telling him about the trunk or treat and showing him their "Rhinoceros Tap" book page by page. When we went to a neighbor's house for a potluck tonight (and I was carrying a 10 lb. casserole) Camryn started to have a cow because she wanted to hold my hand and couldn't figure out why I wouldn't just drop the casserole and hold her hand instead.

So, Dave and I have a new calling together... in the Primary. We are being called to do Primary music together. Between the two of us we will conduct the music and play the piano, to be divided between us however we like. Having just finished a two-year stint as primary music director in January, at first I wasn't super-thrilled, but then I remembered that nobody in this ward has seen any of my ideas yet, so I can just recycle!! And I thought I was going to have to pack all my drums, scarves, bells and rhythm instruments in a box in the garage.... Dave suggested that maybe he can just accompany the primary on the guitar. I thought that was an awesome idea. So this does sound like fun after all. We're going to have the Dave and Karen show! (We'll see how long they like us doing this.... ) At first I was worried that are fun plans would come to naught because I know you can't have guitar in sacrament meeting, but Dave pointed out that you don't usually do rhythm instruments and scarves in sacrament meeting either, so we're probably OK.=]
So that's the long version of our uneventful week. Hope you are all doing well. Love you all!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coconut Macaroons!!

Hi everyone,

A long time ago I found a recipe for fabulous coconut macaroons (the big chewy kind that you can get at specialty bakeries dipped in chocolate), but I lost it and have been mourning its loss ever since. Well, today I found another recipe for coconut macaroons; I made it and it was just like my other recipe! Given my rejoicing at this find, I thought it appropriate to share my happiness with my family, especially because they are super-easy and fast to make (they take about 2 1/2 minutes to mix up). This just makes one more thing besides marzipan that we have to make and dip in chocolate over Christmas break.....

These are super easy. They turn out yummy and chewy and would be great dipped in chocolate. If you don't have a cookie scoop, form the cookies into haystacks with your fingers, moistening your hands with water as needed to prevent sticking.
1 large egg white
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt

1¼ cups (3¾ oz.) sweetened flaked coconut
2 Tb. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the egg white, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Toss the coconut and cornstarch together in a medium bowl, making sure to thoroughly coat the coconut with the cornstarch. Pour the liquid ingredients over the coconut mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

Drop heaping round tablespoons of batter onto baking sheet. Bake until light golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the macaroons on the baking sheet until slightly set, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool for 10 minutes and serve. Makes 10 cookies.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another Update Already?

Well, not much of consequence has happened since our last update, especially since our last one was sent late. I will forewarn you that this letter has not much in the way of exciting, important or relevant information, so feel free to skim or skip as you choose.

My latest thing (and about the only thing I have right now that resembles a goal...excuse me for a moment here while I pat myself on the back) is I have gone to the YMCA to work out 3x a week (consistently!) for the past 3 weeks. Not only that, but I have done 45-50 minutes of high-intensity cardio workout AND an additional 20 minutes or so weight lifting each time I have gone. (And no, I wasn't just tagging along with Dave, our household champion of fit lifestyles.) This is only funny coming from me, a lifetime, card-carrying member of the anti-workout club, who secretly believes that the only reason people really work out is because they are masochists who enjoy pain and discomfort or ego-maniacs who want to look like Arnold Schwarzennegger or Cindy Crawford. Well, I guess the fat lady has sung (or I've become a masochist or an ego-maniac =] ), because not only am I working out, I'm actually enjoying it. Maybe it's just because I have 90 minutes 3x a week when I actually can do something for myself, by myself (let me just say, hooray for YMCA childwatch!!) or maybe it is the fact that I can blast my mp3 player (thank you, Dave!) and let out any pent-up aggression built up from dealing with temperamental preschoolers without harming anyone or causing damage to property. =]

Now, having said that, I am finding a strange coincidence. In the past few weeks I have been having a very hard time keeping the house clean. In fact, the house seems to be in a perpetual state of decline from extraordinarily messy to national health hazard. We spent all day Saturday trying to restore some order and cleanliness to the house, as we were on the verge of having to open a ferry to get from the kid's room door to their bunk bed. Now, you may think that I am implying that this circumstance has something to do with my new regularity of workouts at the YMCA, but no, I am not trying to evade responsibility. I'm just finding you just can't have it all- at least not at the same time. =]

Jared continues to write prolifically and to be the most accurate phonetic speller I've ever seen. Too bad English isn't spelled phonetically (maybe he is a Russian at heart). He recently wrote in marker on a paint stick, "We r u prt uv u famly" (translation: We are a part of a family). I have to say, his way of spelling it makes much more sense. As I write this, he wrote "RTHR" (translation: Arthur) and is now currently drawing an October calendar: he is drawing rows of boxes, starting with "1" in the bottom left corner of the page, each with a number and a neatly-drawn candy corn.

We got adventurous this weekend and took the kids out for Thai food on Saturday night. After two years of avoiding Asian cuisine with the kids (after a disastrous outing at Chef Chu's that involved screaming and not very much eating) we finally tried again. And the shock of the evening was.... the kids liked it! They gobbled up their Vietnamese stir-fried pork and Pad Thai noodles. In fact, they liked it so much, that today during the Sacrament Meeting primary program, Jared spent the whole time telling the member of the Primary Presidency who was sitting next to him, "Last night we went out for Thai food. It's food from Thailand. I really liked the yummy sweet pork. It was SO good." At least that was what he did when he wasn't popping up and down in his seat, waving to Camryn with one hand and picking his nose with the other.

Well, that's more than anyone wanted or needed to hear, but that was our week..... Love ya.

Karen, Dave and kids

There are only two things a child will share willingly; communicable diseases and its mother's age. -Benjamin Spock

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Momentous, Stupendous Update

Dear Family,

Yet another week has passed by. We hit our 3-month anniversary of moving to Oregon on the 15th. (Wow, isn't it funny how time flies and drags at the same time?) A lot of this update will be similar to Susan's, but since I started writing it a few days ago, I'm going to send it anyway.

We had the chance to go to Richland, WA on Saturday and Sunday. Chris and Crystal (Dave's brother and his wife) were having their daughter Cailyn's baby blessing. After a beauftiful drive through the Columbia River Gorge and a not-so-beautiful drive through desert-y central/eastern oregon, we got to Chris and Crystal's on Saturday afternoon for our momentous first meeting with baby Cailyn! Cailyn is beautiful and absolutely perfect (my compliments to the parents=] ) and Chris gave her a beautiful, inspired blessing on Sunday.

Crystal's dad is an apple farmer, so on Saturday afternoon, Chris took Dave, Jared, Camryn, Susan and I on a tour of his orchard. We picked a few apples (okay, a few large boxes of apples) and Dave tried out Phil's 4-wheeler to see how fast it could accelerate (only shortening my life by a few hours as a result....). Dave has since informed me that we need to add a 4-wheeler to our list of must-purchase cool toys. As we were getting ready to get home and it was getting colder and darker, Camryn came up up to me with her shirt off. When I asked her why she took her shirt off, she replied, "Because I'm SO sweaty!" Okay, so which parent is she related to? Probably as a result of this escapade, Camryn got a nice, big, fat mosquito bite right next to her belly button.

On Monday, we celebrated the momentous and stupendous occasion of Jared turning in his first.... homework assignment! Before you are shocked at this unseemly example of child labor, you should know that the assignment involved tracing, coloring and cutting out shapes and gluing them on to a page to make your own monster (yes, they work them hard, even in kindergarten).

Jared and Camryn are obsessed with "mailing" letters right now. We actually ran out of a ream of paper and are running low on envelopes since they started the habit of writing several "letters" multiple times a day. Camryn, amazingly, has started writing her name. She can write "CAM" by herself, complete with an upside-down A, and can copy the other letters of her name if you write them for her.

Yesterday I went to the dentist for the first time in a while (after a break of I won't say how long... Hooray for dental coverage and good health insurance!). Camryn and Jared also had their well-child check-ups with our new doctor. I was informed that if Camryn keeps on the same growth trend she has had thus far in life, she's on target to be 5'11". Despite this shocking surprise, =] I had already resigned myself to being the shortest- er, um, second-shortest =] -person in Dave's family, so my self-esteem was undeterred by this revelation.

So this momentous update has turned out to be much ado about nothing. Oh well. The less there is to say, the more words it takes to say it in.=] I hope you all are having a great week. Love,

Karen (and D,J, and C)

Where have all the clean clothes gone? Kids have worn them, every one....

Sunday, October 8, 2006

The Ever-Anticipated Update

Hi everyone,

We had a very exciting week. After swimming lessons on Monday, Camryn got the week off to a rousing start by barfing in Safeway while we were shopping for groceries. Luckily we had just started shopping so we were able to make a quick exit after cleaning it up with the complimentary sanitize-your-cart-handle wipes. We took Camryn to the doctor on Tuesday to make sure she was staying hydrated, but she was and they said it was basically a wait-it-out kind of thing. So Camryn (and I) had a less-than-exciting week of mostly staying indoors and trying to stay away from people. By Thursday she was feeling better and was back to preschool (where she painted a very nice picture of a tree).

Jared, luckily, did not get whatever Camryn had. He had his school pictures taken on Wednesday.

He continues to experiment in the kitchen. The other day while I was upstairs, he made himself a bowl of cinnamon sugar and when I came down (and was a trifle suspicious that some cinnamon-snitching had taken place) he had a great cover up: "Mom, I made this bowl of cinnamon sugar for you to eat and put in the cinnamon jar" (this was said with brown lips and face). However, I was very impressed when he reproduced the feat of making a bowl of cinnamon sugar completely by himself with no help (this involved climbing the counters to get down the sugar). On Tuesday and Wednesday since we were stuck at home all day, I used the afternoons to experiment in the kitchen. I concocted chicken with herb butter, tri-color fettucine, cinnamon-sugar acorn squash and broiled herb tomatoes on Tuesday and then on Wednesday we made home-made applesauce in the microwave along with pot roast. Jared and Camryn enjoyed making the homemade applesauce, but when it came to eating it, they preferred the Tree-Top variety we get from Costco (their loss!).

On Thursday, I was still in the "I would rather cook than clean" mode, so I decided that I wanted to try to invent something with our pot-roast leftovers since we had lots and I didn't really feel like a meal of now-mushy carrots and potatoes. So I (and I have to say, I am so proud of myself over this) invented a recipe with our leftovers and it was amazing. In a frying pan I mixed up the leftover potatoes, carrots and roast with the leftover gravy (thinned down with a little milk) and added some thyme, basil and oregano. I topped it with biscuits and baked it to make a roast beef pie. Combined with a side of acorn squash topped with cinnamon-brown sugar-walnuts, it was a great meal. It was quite comical how excited and thrilled I was about my invention- I even called my mom- but hey- simple pleasures.

But that was about as exciting as my week got. And apparently all of my culinary adventures must have sapped my energy because by the time Saturday came around, I (gasp) did not feel like working on the yard. At all. And Dave didn't either. I guess the yard mania must have passed.

Dave got transferred to a new project at work this week. He was kind of disappointed because he really liked his old project, but he's building a gizmo to take measurements that involves a record player from goodwill and a plate spinner/lazy susan thing from Bed Bath and Beyond, and I think that's just way cool. Oh to be an engineer! They get all the fun. =]

We hope you all are doing well. Love ya, miss ya.

Karen, Dave, Jared and Camryn

I've noticed that one thing about parents is that no matter what stage your child is in, the parents who have older children always tell you the next stage is worse. -Dave Barry

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Life in Oregon

Hello everyone!

We're not particularly good at keeping in touch with everyone, so I thought I could at least send an email update. We've been doing really well. We still love Oregon so far, even though we have gotten at least a taste of the rain that they say is going to come. However, the past week it's been sunny and beautiful again. Having our own house helps a lot, but we just love the area in general. I was called as the ward chorister. The good part is I get to pick the hymns. The bad part is that we have to be to church early and it starts at 9:00 am. I guess it's been good for us. We've become remarkably punctual. Dave is the Elders Quorum moving coordinator. We really like our ward so far.
Buying a house has turned Dave and I from ordinary semi-normal people to yard maniacs. We have literally spent every single weekend since we moved here in July- except one- working on our yard. We have successfully re-seeded and greened up our semi-dead front lawn. In the front yard I planted the space under the front window, by our front walk, and next to our driveway with bushes and flowers. In the backyard, we built a Costco play structure (it basically comes as a kit), ripped out 6 unfortunately placed trees (we still have about 10 others- don't worry), pruned several overgrown trees, removed the rocks that were in our border (note:don't ever put in small rocks in your yard without landscape fabric beneath them), cleared out the ugly dead plants from our border, worked manure into the border soil, planted 3 trees and 10 bushes (including 3 blueberries), put brick edging around the whole yard and we're in the process of finishing it with mulch. I also stained our music cabinet and our $20 tv stand to be walnut so they wouldn't clash with our dining table. So, yeah, we've been busy, but I guess Dave and I are overkill personalities. But the weird thing is we've been really enjoying it (Is it really possible to enjoy mowing the lawn and weeding? Who would have thought?).
Jared started kindergarten at the beginning of September.

He really likes it, although I think his favorite part is riding the bus. The bus picks him up at 7:30 am. That's been a big schedule change for us- I used to think that getting out by 9:30am was early. But the bus stop is two doors down from us and the kindergarten bus drops him off at our house, so it's basically doorstep service- I can deal with that.=]
Camryn started preschool and she really likes having her own "school" that she gets to go to. The kids are taking swimming lessons at the YMCA and I go there to work out several times a week (the membership includes free childcare- talk about a windfall!). Jared and Camryn also like to cook. In the past week Jared has invented two classic dishes (Food Network here we come...): the super-dooper noodly sandwich (bread with smashed bananas, peanut butter and a variety of sprinkles) and a chocolate nanjareene (cocoa mixed with cinnamon, honey, baking powder, brown sugar and a variety of sprinkles). The chocolate nanjareene, Jared has informed me, doesn't taste very good, it's just meant to be smelled and not eaten. It also needs to be stirred every day until Halloween. Today Jared signed me up for his class on how to make chocolate nanjareenes and I got world-class instruction from the pro himself.
Dave is loving his new job. It has been pretty high-intensity, but he's enjoying it. I am loving that Dave's work is only 7 minutes away, so when he has to work long hours he can get home quickly! I have really enjoyed working in the yard and working out at the YMCA. I haven't played the piano much recently, although I've been meaning to get back into it. I can always tell it's been a little too long when I have a recurring nightmare that I have a jury in less than a week and I somehow just haven't practiced the whole semester. =]
Love ya all,
Karen, Dave, Jared and Camryn