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.