Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dang Dishes

Okay, it's no secret: I hate doing the dishes. That is why, on days like today when my husband has been gone for two days, the cupboards are empty and the sink is full. There are two reasons that Brian's absence makes this so - number one: he does a fair amount of the dishes, and number two: I try to do better keeping them clean when he's around because he cares a little more than I do about whether we're eating green beans with knives, or soup with baby spoons.

The utensils drawer has been empty now for over a day, so we've been making do with what we can. We have a plethora of baby spoons that are saved for such occasions (because Carson will never succumb to eating only one mouthful of food at a time), so I whipped out the last three of those to eat our pancakes with tonight. About halfway through the dinner, McKenzie gave a frustrated little grunt and said, "Mom, this is just not working." I looked over at her trying to balance a normal piece of pancake on the tiny spoon and realized that she's probably right.

"Ummmm...." I tried to think of a solution..... "OH!" I said. We could stab our pancakes with toothpicks! "I have a great idea!" And I jumped to my feet.
I heard an excited little gasp come from McKenzie that made me turn and look at her. Her eyes were wide with excitement, and her mouth was open in a big smile as she said, "You could do the dishes!"

I laughed out loud for about twenty minutes after that. And even now, remembering her face, I'm typing through bursts of giggles. Maybe she's right... Maybe I should just do the dang dishes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving thoughts and pie problems

This Thanksgiving was SO great - my sister Michelle came to celebrate it with us, and it made it the best ever. We made a FANTASTIC trial-run pumpkin pie the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and I was pretty excited to discover my unrealized pie-making potential. :) I awoke early on Thursday morning to prepare the pie crust dough so it could sit in the fridge for an hour while we went to watch Brian play football in the ward Turkey would have been much more fun had the kids actually enjoyed it - but as it was, they cried most of the time, forcing Michelle and I to return home a little earlier than planned. McKenzie was in HEAVEN as she helped us roll the chilled pie-crust dough, and she was tickled that I was actually going to let her play in the flour! (See the pictures below)

We finished the pumpkin pie and also made a lemon meringue to take to our Thanksgiving dinner.

After the wonderful meal, I was so excited to bite into my pumpkin pie...(we had already devoured the other pie in just two days)...but after the first bite I thought, "Hmmmm...this tastes a little weird." I took another bite and unconsciously wrinkled my nose, "No...this is DISGUSTING!" I quickly sifted through the memories of my pie-making that morning to see if I could figure out the problem.

Sugar. The brown sugar bag sat untouched as I made the filling. Let me give you a quick bit of advice...DON'T FORGET THE SUGAR! Whoops. I thought it was a funny color coming out of the oven. Oh well - at least the meringue turned out well.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


There are definitely some major downfalls to living thousands of miles away from family...but...I have to comment on one of the best things about it: PACKAGES! Whether it's a holiday package or just an 'I love you' package, few other things light up McKenzie's eyes like the package. (For a while, the mailman was McKenzie's favorite person - now, it's the garbage man, but that's a different story.)

The latest package happened to come from Nana and Poppy in Thailand - and it was a huge hit! McKenzie didn't put this umbrella down for an hour after we opened the package, and still today (a week or so later) she'll pick it up and carry it around for a while almost every day.

And the balls - well, I'm a little mad about the balls because they're a pain to clean up. :) But, all the neighborhood kids seem to love them!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to Nana, Poppy, Grandma and Grandpa (alright, who are we kidding - thanks to Nana and Grandma!) for the countless packages we've opened here in North Carolina. They really do bridge the distance and strengthen the love-bonds. :) (And who says you can't buy love?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Peaceful Chaos

Okay, I'll admit - yesterday was one of those days that I didn't feel like holding Family Home Evening. My energy level was not up to par - and if it had just been me, the night would have slipped away without it. But, thankfully, it's not just husband is the better half at things like this and, at 7:00, he cheerfully asked us all to "hurry and help me clean up so we can have Family Home Evening!" I felt like a grumpy teenager as I dragged my feet into the living room.

It seems to hold true that whenever we have FHE when I really don't want to, the spirit is easier to recognize. I think that's because FHE always fills me with the spirit - so when I go into it with a grumpy heart, I notice the change as I go from empty to full; whereas when I have a happy heart from the beginning, it's not as easy to appreciate the small increase. (Now, it's true that sometimes the spirit has to fight it's way through fussy/hyper children who don't want to sit!)

Generally, I love Monday nights! And, despite the rocky start, last night ended up being no exception. Carson is finally starting to participate in the fun songs - I had to get a video!


After our very short lesson on the temple, we took our OtterPop treats up into Mom and Dad's room for the activity of watching some of the Duke basketball game together. (Can you guess whose idea that was?) I was SHOCKED at how special the kids thought that was! We turned off all the lights, cheered for Duke and ate our OtterPops for about 10 minutes before we decided that it really was time to get the kids into bed. We said goodnight to the Duke team and turned off the TV, leaving us in total darkness. McKenzie jumped into Brian's arms and said, "Hurry, Daddy! Hurry! We need to get out of this darkness. Hurry....hurry...." I opened up our bedroom door and a little bit of light from downstairs met our eyes.
"Whew!" McKenzie said, "That was close. We almost saw a monster!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Something's different...

These poor trolls were subjected to McKenzie's haircutting skills while she was alone in quiet time. I just thought they looked really funny!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sisters, sisters...

...never were there such devoted sisters!

In case you were wondering, this picture was taken just after Michelle's performance...she generally does NOT wear this much makeup!

As most of you know - I flew out to Utah this past weekend to see my sister perform in the musical, "Urinetown". She was EXCELLENT...and every time she sang, goosebumps popped up all over my skin.

She didn't know I was coming until about 45 minutes before show-time -- She came into her dressing room and found me sitting in her chair with flowers. She froze - mid stride - cocked her head at me with a dumbfounded look and tried to figure out what was going on. "You'd better be good tonight," I said with one eyebrow raised, "'Cause I came a long way to see this." Immediately the dumbfounded look exploded into life, tears danced in her eyes, and she jumped up and down exclaiming, "YOU'RE HERE!!! You're REALLY HERE!!!" We hugged and cried and I realized just how much I miss my sister.

We're in two different phases in life right now - me with my own little family and her living up the college dream. And sometimes I let that get to me. But this last weekend I realized that we're still the same two people who had 'sleepovers' in the basement together, and built forts out of couches and blankets to sleep in; who watched old movies together, and read the credits in English accents; who created a whole new world with our stuffed bunnies, Bucky and Jessica; who played tricks on our little siblings together. She's still the same sister I tricked into drinking paint water, and into choosing the messier part of the basement to clean, and into thinking the pink insulation in the attic would "suck you up and shoot you out the chimney." She's still the same sister I ran to when my parents were mad enough at me to ground me for a whole month.

Hawaii 2002

There is something almost tangible about the bonds among my family. Bonds that will stay strong - even though the six of us live in four different time-zones across the world - even though we don't talk to each other as much as I'd like.

Tubing in the rain 2003.................................Thailand 2006

My favorite part of the restored priesthood is the sealing power. Because I love my siblings - and I can't imagine a heaven without them.

Christmas 2005

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More from Halloween

Here's a slideshow about our Halloween day (well, some of it anyway). The pumpkin at the end was carved entirely by McKenzie - all I did was draw the face! (And I didn't even touch up at the end...are you proud of me?) Enjoy!

Don't forget to click on the speaker!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

You Really Love Me!

In the previous post, you see that McKenzie is a fairy. Do not assume, however, that this was an easy decision...

On the contrary, McKenzie had her heart set on being a fox for two whole months before Halloween. So, for two whole months, I wondered, 'How in the world am I going to make a fox costume?'

Being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't start shopping for the kids' costume materials until two days before the ward Trunk-or-Treat party. To make a long story short, I spent two hours in Wal-Mart - most of it searching for a way to turn my daughter into a fox - before I came out holding three shopping bags and feeling like I was pointed in the right direction. I spent the rest of the day (literally, the rest of the day) sewing an orange towel into a fox-suit. I had pictures of foxes up on the internet to guide my sewing (word to the wise: be careful when you google the image 'fox'...I guess 'foxy' is pretty similar - yikes!), and finally had an outfit for her to try on. She tried the fox costume on and glanced over to the pictures on the computer. From that moment on, she dissolved into tears every time we mentioned that she was going to be a fox for Halloween. 'WHAT?' I thought, 'ARE YOU KIDDING ME?'

I tried and tried and tried to convince her that being a fox would be the coolest thing ever - I guess she didn't realize how closely a fox resembles her archenemy: the dog. I think she got scared when she saw the pictures... She kept saying through her tears, "Mom, I just want to be a people for Halloween."

So, I decided to give it a rest for the night and talk about it the next morning.

The next day I took her to JoAnn Fabrics with me to get a zipper for Carson's skunk costume. Again, I tried to plant it in her head that foxes are cool - but she never has been one to be distracted or swayed.

At first, it wasn't even an option for her to be anything else - I had already put the time into the fox costume and that was that. She could be a fox, or nothing at all. This attitude was very clear to McKenzie, and pretty soon more tears were shed. And then, my attitude changed. It wasn't her tears that brought about that change (though, looking into those sad eyes was heartbreaking), but a little thought inside my head that said, "Your mom would have done anything for you." I remember that feeling of love I felt when my mom sacrificed some of herself to help me be happy. And as McKenzie looked at me with those tear filled eyes in the middle of JoAnn's, the love I felt for her swallowed me whole. I thought, 'If sacrificing a small part of myself can give her a small whiff of this love, then I guess I'm willing to do it.'

Let's not pretend that I wasn't still frustrated, but, we started to brainstorm. All of her other ideas were either too expensive, or would take too much time (this is, remember, the day before). But, finally, we were walking down the isle with the chiffon, and sparkley materials when her eyes lit up and she said, "Mom! I want to be a fairy!"

'Okay, we can do that,' I thought. She had a fairy dress-up that Nana bought her last year, so we bought some beautiful cream-colored material to make a long-sleeved shirt to go underneath it, some blue glitter and some sparkley pipe cleaners to make a wand. She was in heaven!

Having children of my own, I'm beginning to see more and more of the small sacrifices my mom makes; I'm realizing that it's not in a mother's intuition to sacrifice willingly; and I'm starting to understand - she does it all because she really does love me.