April 29, 2013

Our Not-So-Secret Family Announcement

The kids keep asking me if it's time for the baby to come out yet, or if I'm ever going to stop being sick.

The boys are hoping for a boy while the girls are hoping for a girl.

Either way, Alayna is dead set on naming it "Sparkles".

Anyway, there is a lot that has happened with this pregnancy in it's short ten weeks that my family doesn't know. I will write a full report next post.


April 26, 2013

The Importance of Listening to Your Child

We got a call  from my children's principle last week to tell us that one of our children had punched another kid in the face and knocked out their tooth. Though the teachers suspected the kid's tooth was already loose.

I was stunned.

And mortified.

Yes this child has acted out before and has had some trouble with tantrums at school, but it had been a long time since we've had an incident, and they had certainly never hurt someone before! I could not really fathom that they would just... punch someone!

I thought for sure they would get sent home from school at the very least, or even suspended or something. But the principle assured my husband that they had everything under control at the school and that they had just wanted to let us know about the incident.

I confess I thought it odd that they weren't taking some sort of serious action against our child. And what about the other kid? How would their parents react?

Hubby and I talked on the phone and worked out how we would handle it and what the consequences would be. We were both feeling incredibly worried at this point.

For the rest of day I felt like the world's worst mom.

Where did we go wrong? What have I done to my child that would create this kind of lack of control or caring for another person? Thoughts and questions swirled through my brain for the whole afternoon as I struggled with my epic parenting failure.

But I had been taught more by example than by words from my own parents, that every child has a right to explain their side of the story. My parents always listened to us.

So when my children came home, I called in this child and asked them to explain what had happened.

This was their version.

A kid behind them was trying to pull on my child's hat (a winter beanie) while they were standing in line. Because of this my child turned around and pretty soon they were goofing off and pretend karate chopping each other. As my child went to swipe the other kid with their hat, a miscalculation in the heat and fun of the moment caused my child to accidentally hit the other child in the mouth with his hand instead of the hat.

The story was told without hesitation or embellishment. I knew they were telling the truth. My children are still young enough that it's obvious when they lie. They hesitate because they know lying is wrong, they won't look at me, and they take time to think about what they are going to say.

Thankfully we have taught our children to be honest so lying is not a big issue.

It had started to be at one point with one child, until it occurred to me that this child was afraid of getting in trouble. They were extra sensitive to that and so would come up with stories to get out of trouble.

We worked out ways of clearing that up so now we don't have a problem with it.

Anyway, as I listened to my child's story, I realized that it had merely been an accident caused by two children who were goofing off together.

When I asked if the other child was upset that their tooth was knocked out, my child said no, they were actually happy because the tooth was loose and they really wanted it out so they could put it under their pillow for the tooth fairy.


That was sure a whole different take on my child "punching someone in the mouth and knocking their tooth out" and explained why the other child wasn't upset or that my child wasn't in trouble at school.

My relief was palpable.

I called Hubby right away and explained what really happened, his relief was obvious as well. We still talked to our child about how they shouldn't have tried to hit the other kid with their hat, but the consequences we had planned on earlier were no longer necessary.

I can't help but think how important it is that our children can trust us.

And especially that they can trust that we will trust them.

Each child is different and there is certainly not a "one plan fits all" for building that trust or even in some cases, honesty. But I truly believe that if we will take the time to listen and try to understand, children will want to tell you the truth, even if it isn't always good.

Giving your child a chance to explain their point of view is key. Because so often, their understanding is limited and their viewpoint is vastly different from ours.

I'm so glad I listened.

April 22, 2013

Trampoline Art

I sort of have this love/hate relationship with chalk.

I love it because it can keep the kids busy for hours! It's doesn't stain and it doesn't stink, and it's relatively easy to clean up.

It helps them use their imaginations and I love seeing all their creativity.

I can only assume it was my children who started this particular creative project in which the neighbor kids happily joined.

But it can also be annoying when the kids throw the little pieces all over the yard.

Or bring them inside to color with as though they were crayons and chalk dust covers everything.

Or when you catch the baby eating them.

Or when the kids go all crazy and color everything, then crawl through their chalk designs and coat their clothes, then come in the house dancing and prancing as though they had just won the "World's Cleanest Kids" award, and pretty soon you're wiping down couches and cabinet doors.

Hubby on the other hand has a straight up hate relationship with it and tends to scowl a bit whenever someone busts out the chalk.

He can't seem to let go of the past.

Not since last year when Alaya decided to color the brick on the front the house solid chalk colors.

Which was surprisingly hard to get off.

I'm helping him work though his chalk issues, trying to get him to move on.

Maybe seeing the trampoline with help!

Or... not.

April 19, 2013

Pizza Pile

I made homemade pizza for dinner last night.

For whatever reason this became the main idea for my children's after-dinner trampoline game. They put a new twist on the traditional dog-pile.

Savannah was the "crust", Joseph was the "sauce", Jacob was the "cheese", and Alayna and Claira were the "toppings".

Until Claira decided it was easier to just jump around the pizza pile rather than be a topping. So Savannah dubbed her the "drink that comes with the pizza".

I gotta say, my kids are so dang awesome.

Especially when they aren't fighting.

Or whining.

Or coloring on the walls.


But seriously, my kids are so dang awesome.

April 17, 2013

Secrets, Hair, and Shoes

Whew! So much going on! So much to tell! Yes, there is a good reason why my blog is struggling to stay alive.

But patience, all secrets will be revealed soon enough... perhaps sometime within the next week or two.

And now with that suspense hanging in the air, (mwah ha ha ha ha!) here is a post about well, nothing in particular.

Because that's just how we roll around here.


Claira did my hair this morning. Not bad eh? What do you think? Could I pull off the hippie mom look... er, with pink satin and lace headbands?

I understand this look is coming back. Claira is ahead of her time.

It even goes well with my pre-shower, slept in make-up look, don't-cha'think?

Love this thoroughly frustrating almost two-year old who still doesn't talk, who refuses to drink out of a sippy cup, and won't eat more than three bites of food a day.

I've never had a child not eat before. It's... strange.

If the word stubborn had a face, her's would be it.

Did I mention she comes equipped with some powerful vocal cords? Oh ya, this whole not talking thing doesn't go well with those. I'm wearing my orange ear-muffs a lot lately.


I also did something I probably shouldn't have.

But I couldn't help myself! *blissful sigh* It was love at first sight.

I know! I know! But... but... aren't they just, beautiful?

And I got them on sale too. Twenty bucks shipped!

That sealed the deal for me. So yes, I caved.

And I love 'em.

April 15, 2013

Eggless Eggnog - A Re-Post

I try not to re-post old blog posts very often. But I was thinking of this one today and it made me laugh. So if you haven't read this one before, enjoy!

Well, maybe.


This story came up came up last weekend while talking to my younger brother. I was surprised he had never heard it before, as it was one of the finer moments for my younger self and proves that I have always been a cooking goddess.

And so, I have come forth to record it for all to see, and bow before my cooking prowess... or not. 

I can't recall exactly how old we were, perhaps 10 and 11 or so?  But it was Christmas time when my older sister Jenny, and I decided to take matters into our own hands.

 (This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this story. We were merely trying to save all the "wild flowers" (aka weeds) from death by lawn mower. Cause we had big hearts like that. I'm sure my mom appreciated the giant bouquet we made.)

We really, really wanted eggnog. When you grow up in a house where sweet things were rare, you learned to improvise... a lot.

I would spend an hour tackling the lid on the five gallon bucket of raw honey, as it was quite often the onlysweet thing in the house, just to be able to slip my spoon in under the corner I barely managed to pry up. 

But that was before I learned where my dad hid his candy stash... errr, not that I ever swiped anything dad... honest! Mostly... *cough* anyway.

I digress.

As there was no eggnog to be found in the house, we decided to make some, because we were cooking geniuses.

We dug up a recipe for eggnog and immediately headed for the kitchen.

"6 eggs" were the very first items on the ingredient list.

Jenny and I looked at each other. Having always been warned of the evils of raw eggs and knowing full well that one never just ate them let alone drank them, we set about hard boiling six eggs.

While that was cooking, we mixed all the other ingredients together and had some nice, sweet, cinnamony flavored milk. All we needed was the eggs.

After all, it is called "egg"nog, right?

Once the eggs had finished cooking, we peeled off the shells. That's when we suddenly realized that there was something odd about this recipe.

"Umm, how do you think they mash up the eggs so well there aren't any chunks?"

"I don't know! But let's try."

Getting out the eggs masher and taking turns, we mashed, and mashed, and mashed, and mashed, and mashed some more, trying to make them all "creamy". But all we got was a bowl full of dry, crumbly eggs. 

Finally frustrated, we decided that we should just add the eggs to the wet ingredients and blend them. Perhaps then they would creamify! (cause creamify is a cool word)

But alas, to our great disappointment, all we got was chunky milk.

Finally deciding that whoever wrote the recipe was a total idiot, or had some fancy mashing machine, we strained out the eggs and drank the milk.

Yes, you read that right.

And so, my sister and I continued to make egg less eggnog for many a special occasion, and sometimes even went to far as to share with our siblings.

 (picture taken before my youngest brother was born)

We always wondered how the store bought eggnog makers managed to mash their eggs up enough so they were creamy enough to drink.

To this day, it remains a unsolved mystery.

P.S. My sister added: By the way if you recall I think this recipe called for egg "whites" and we couldn't figure out how to get the white of the egg unless it WAS boiled. That was an awesome time!

April 10, 2013

You Can Be A Book Nut Too


Here we are last year. Not that it has anything to do with this post.  You're welcome.

Since she lives clear across the country, I wasn't sure what to expect.

Did she want me to re-name my children after her?

Did she need me to step down from my self-proclaimed status as our parent's favorite child?

Did she want me to give up chocolate?

What did she want from me that was so huge?

Finally she asks if I'd be willing to do a little shout-out on my blog about her new blog.


She decides to sweeten the deal and promises to send me chocolate if I do it.

*silence* At this point I wanted to see how much I could get out of her.

Oh... cha... come on. I did not!

I said of course I will! You're my sister after all! Yes, I will do a shout-out.

For a hundred bucks.

Okay not really.

Anyhow, here's the deal.

Rebekah has started up a super fun blog called, "Be Awesome Be a Book Nut" in which she does book reviews, giveaways, shares news on books becoming movies, makes YouTube videos, etc!

And since we have all established long ago that most of us here love to read, you guys NEED to check her out, she's very honest and will tell you how it is.

So if you wear ugly shoes, beware. Don't have them on while you're visiting her blog. She'll know.

Anyway, if she gets enough followers on her blog, the big fancy shmancy publishing companies will start sending her unpublished books to review and blog about.

And here's the icing on the cake. If you publicly follow her blog, you can participate in her TEN BOOK GIVEAWAY going on right now! All the details are there.

So, here's all the ways you can follow her. Just click on the words below to be taken to her sites.


So go, and follow away! Especially her blog. Just scroll down a little ways until you see her "followers" app. She's pretty awesome and had good taste in books.

And even better taste in sisters.

Just sayin'.

April 8, 2013

Our Salt Lake City Spring Break Trip - Part 2

I meant to finish blogging about our trip last week, but... ya.

I left my Captain Obvious cape on the closet so I won't finish that thought.

Hubby and I were at odds for most of the week and it finally all came to head Saturday afternoon. All I can say is, after almost 10 years of marriage we've finally gotten to the point where we can work things out right then and there instead of dragging out the solution for a couple days.

By Saturday night we were happy with each other again, just in time for him to leave for a business trip to Guatemala the next day.

At least now we can text each other sincere love notes like:

Hubby: Are you trying to avoid saying that I'm right? Because I always am.

Me: I don't want to pop your homemade happy bubble, so I'm just going to smile and nod.  :)

They could write a romance novel about us.

Then make a movie.

Then everyone could wear shirts that say, "Team Serene".

Anyhow, moving on to the rest of our family trip!

Saturday morning everyone was sadly up by 7:30am. Our hotel room was actually on the first floor right across the hall from the breakfast room. So we more or less stepped out in all our freshly rolled out of bed head glory and went to get some breakfast.

Several spilled cartons of chocolate milk and ten pounds of bacon later, the kids were happy and full. After getting ready for the day, we piled into the car and drove down to Temple Square.

Our first stop was the Church History Museum.

It started out well enough. I mean, they have a few "child friendly displays". Like ship bunks,

and handcarts.

"Take a picture mom!"

 "Me too!"

"Wait for us!"

I know Savannah was simply trying to look like she is working hard to pull the handcart, unfortunately... well, let's just say it's not her best moment.

However, soon we were constantly pulling Claira out of displays, and re-straightening the large framed images on the walls she tried to pull down; telling the boys "not to touch", and at one point, Alayna wanted to walk through the "pretty doors" and climbed up into a display and turned the knob to what was probably original temple doors.

I don't remember exactly because I was too mortified when I noticed her just in time for museum staff member to poke his head through the other side of the door and tell her she needed to get down.

So... not awesome.

We made a quick escape to the upstairs where they have an entire children's play area. It was "The Latino Culture and the Book of Mormon."

Nephi's boat was immensely popular.

As was the building of a wall.

Claira's favorite part was the kitchen area. Complete with a garden where she couple pull out vegetables.

And I know you probably can't see, but if you look really close at the picture on the right, she's holding a chicken. There was even a chicken coop with several chickens in it that clucked and carried on. 

She especially loved the chickens.

Alayna made some new friends, 

while Savannah learned some new dance moves.

 She even convinced Daddy to dance with her.

What a daddy won't do for his daughter. I never could get the man to dance with me.

Sorry the video is so shaky, I was having a really hard time not laughing.

Finally after two hours, we managed to drag the kids away. They probably would have stayed there all day if we had let them. Especially Claira.

After a quick snack, we visited the Tabernacle.

I never cease to be amazed at the pioneer's incredible craftsmanship and devotion.

I love visiting the Tabernacle!

Just outside of it was a fountain, one of many on Temple Square.

As soon as the kids saw it they charged over. Next thing I know they are all begging me for a coin to toss into the fountain.

Amazingly I had enough pennies for each of them to have one.

Check out Joseph there on the right. He's wishing pretty intensely.

I would love to know what his wish was.

We made a quick stop into the Assembly Hall.

Jacob particularly thought the spiral staircase was cool and wanted me to take a picture of it.

By now the kids were starting to wear down and we knew we needed to start wrapping this party up.

We decided we walk around the Salt Lake City Temple before heading back.

"It's too bright! We can't see!"

Joseph: "Now mom and dad, go sit down and I will take your picture."

In which daddy goes on a picture taking spree.

As we headed back to the car, we really wanted to take a quick walk through of the Conference Center so the kids could see where General Conference takes place.

Unfortunately, it was closed because there was going to be a YW broadcast there in a couple hours.

But the kids didn't care one they saw the water!

Once the realized I was fresh out of pennies and they couldn't make anymore wishes, they were practically dying to go swimming in it. They even asked if they could drink it because it looked so crystal clear and clean.

We shut that idea down as fast as we could.

And thus ended our adventure to Temple Square.

There was tons of other buildings to visit, but the kids had had just about all the walking they could handle.

So we grabbed some food and headed back to the hotel, where the kids promptly announced they wanted to go swimming!


So we all changed and headed down to the swim park. Claira didn't last long though, she was super tired. So she and I went back to the hotel room, got cleaned up, and watched "Wizard of Oz", and then "The Ten Commandments" that was on TV.

Around 7:30pm, after several hours of swimming, daddy and the rest of the tired crew tromped back into the room.

Once everyone was ready for bed, they all plopped in from of the TV, just captivated by "The Ten Commandments". I was surprised, but all of them, even Alayna was fascinated.

Slowly, one by one, they all fell asleep to the show except Savannah.

By 10pm, we told her it was time for bed. She was disappointed she didn't get to finish the movie, but was tired enough not to put up a fight.

Sunday (Easter) morning, we all groggily got up to get some breakfast. After ensuring that the breakfast room was covered in scattered fruit loops, we got ready for church and headed over to my brother's apartment where they let us hang out until their ward started.

Since it was already after 2pm by the time Sacrament meeting was over, we went ahead and started for home.

A few hours later, we pulled into the garage and spilled from the car.

Home Sweet Home.

The End

Six hundred loads of laundry later........
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