Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Girl Talk

Cierra: I don't like Rachel!
Me: Why not?
Cierra: She's cuter than me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Week Ending 3/29/09

It was hard to get the kids geared up to go back to school after Spring Break but they survived. I was relieved to get back to normal schedules.

Monday I had a dentist appointment which turned into a root canal. That night Aaron, Derek, and Neil participated in a troop's OA election. Aaron recently stepped up to be the Vice Chief of Elections for our chapter. The Order of the Arrow is best described as the Honor Society of scouting.

Tuesday Cierra had Joy School and I took her and another little boy to school. The boy's mom picks them up when it is over. On my way back, I stopped by a second-hand book store looking for a copy of "The Great Divorce" by CS Lewis - April's book club book. They didn't have it but I found some other good books to spend money on. Neil had scouts that night and Aaron had Young Men Activity night followed by an interview with the bishop.

Wednesday we dropped the kids at school, the girls at a friend's for a play date and headed over to our lawyer's office for a follow up on the January court hearing. Found out we didn't actually need to be there as it was simply a telephonic conversation between the judge and the lawyers following up on the counseling that was supposed to be happening. While we had some free time, we ran some errands and finally found the book. Had to buy it full price from a bookstore but at least I have my own copy and I am enjoying the book. We had a pretty easy evening since scouts had been cancelled for the older boys until the end of April.

Thursday was Joy School again and after dropping off Cierra and Sam, Rachel and I went to the library. We participated in story time and ran into a few of the moms/kids from the ward. Afterwards, Rachel and I went home and I put in some movies and scrubbed my grout in the front room. That evening, Neil and I went and helped out at the Pinewood Derby for our pack (even though we no longer have boys in the pack - we still have all the decorations). We had a great night visiting with friends and closed down the building.

Friday I cleaned house again (kinda) and Neil and I went to a cross-over ceremony for the pack I have as a Unit Commissioner. I enjoy visiting this pack as they are well organized and don't need a lot of guidance from me. Aaron went out to a Troop 30 recruitment night called Digalus (google it - it's quite the show) so Derek and Daniel babysat. Saturday Neil had an NYLT staff development training and I woke up with a migraine. After trying to make it go away, I finally gave up and decided to take all the kids to the library. Derek had been asking to go so he could pick out his own movies. We ended up bringing home 30 books and probably as many movies. Luckily, I always bring a backpack and Derek was sweet enough to carry the full bag. Neil came home shortly after we got home and he and Derek went to see a movie then out to get Aaron from the scout activity. They finally got home some point after 10 pm.

Sunday we got up and got everybody showered and dressed for church. We were actually there early. It was fast and testimony meeting as next weekend is General Conference. The kids were all fairly well behaved. We received a lecture in Sunday School and sadly I couldn't even tell you much about what we were talking about other than the gathering of Israel. With it being the 5th Sunday, we combined for the 3rd hour and got a run-down of our ward's emergency communication plan. The highlight of the day was Aaron being ordained as a teacher at the end of the block. We had our home teachers over and then I went and did my visiting teaching.

I have two ladies on my route. One is in the RS presidency and the other is a semi-active divorced mom of 3 teen girls. I have always been a bit reticent about visiting this lady because I don't know her full story and don't want to offend. However, every time I have stopped by (usually unannounced) we end up chatting for quite a while. My visit with her yesterday lasted 2 1/2 hours. She had such good insight into the topics we discussed and we did touch on the spiritual as well as the temporal. Quite honestly, I feel that I came out of it more enriched than anything I provided for her.

Well on to a new week and new opportunities.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break

Daniel and I were invited to join Pack 619 from Phoenix on their Webelos California trip over spring break. Their den leader/cubmaster has become a good friend and she has even agreed to be my asst. den leader next year when I head up the Tiger Den for Nicholas.

We traveled to a campground on Tuesday. I had been at the dentist the day before to deal with my toothache and the dentist gave me a prescription for Vicodin. I took one with lunch since I wasn't driving, believing this would be the best way to gauge how I reacted without putting anyone in danger. We learned very quickly that Vicodin makes me puke.

For dinner Tuesday night we went to Medieval Times. This is a dinner and a show place where you get served dinner with no utensils and watch the six knights of the various kingdoms engage in a tournament. Our group was cheering on the Red Knight - who incidentally ended up being the tournament champion.

Wednesday we spent at Disneyland. We had 6 adults, 4 older teen boys, and 11 scouts. We did a lot of walking and waiting, but the boys had a blast and Daniel made some new friends. Thursday we went to La Brea Tar Pits where we watched a short movie, wandered through the museum, spent money in the gift shop, and visited an excavation pit site. We went back to the camp site, ate dinner, and had a campfire show put on mostly be the older boys. Friday we came home and unpacked.

It was a great opportunity for Daniel and I to get some bonding time and I am grateful for the invitation and my loving husband who willingly took over the household in my absence.

Wood Badge

Neil and I finished our second weekend staffing Wood Badge the weekend while Aaron was in DC and before Spring Break began. Neil's mom took care of the kids for us again. She noticed how much easier it was the previous weekend when she had Aaron to help. Sometimes I wonder if he's more of a help or a hindrance, but it appears that he is missed when he's not around.

The second weekend the staff is more hands-off with the participants than during the first weekend as they are out working as patrols camping in tents. I had been fighting a toothache, which eventually resulted in another root canal, so late nights and pain weighed down on me. I found if I downed about 800 mg of ibuprofen every 4 hours kept me pain free. Nothing I could do about the late nights though. It was a fantastic experience anyway and I am looking forward to another opportunity to be on staff - though I think I'll wait a year or so before that happens.

I am still trying to figure out the best way for the participants and staff to view the multitude of pictures we took. I'm thinking of using a website but we do have a couple who do not have internet access. Other courses have made CDs and that may be the route to go, but of course I have to figure out the technology to best do that.

DC Trip

March 11, 2009 Aaron turned 14 and set off at 4:30 am for his 8th grade class trip to Washington DC. I wish I'd been able to go, as did Neil. Maybe it's something we need to do for a summer vacation trip. Aaron spent the first day mostly on the airplane and a bus. They finally reached Gettysburg that evening where they had dinner and participated in a Ghosts of Gettysburg Tour. The next morning they visited the cemetary before getting back on a bus and going back to DC. He visited numerous War Memorials, got to walk by the White House, and even met John McCain (one of AZ's senators and recent presidential candidate). Unfortunately, he was in a hallway and nobody had anything to get an autograph on, but he was rather impressed with the man.
He took my camera and got some good pictures of the various sites. One thing he looked forward was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Neil had been given a video of the history of this memorial and Aaron watched it the night before. He found the disrespect of many of his classmates annoying and I am pleased at his strong sense of citizenship and patriotism.
He came home tired late Saturday night and slept most of Sunday. He was glad to be back but at the same time wished he'd been able to stay a bit longer.

Monday, March 9, 2009

100 Foods

Copy this list into your blog, including these instructions. Bold all items you've eaten. Italicize any items that you would never consider eating.

Nettle tea
Huevos rancheros
Steak Tartare

Black pudding
Cheese fondue

Baba ghanoush
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Aloo gobi
Hot dog from a street cart
Black truffle
Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
Steamed pork buns
Pistachio ice cream
Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh wild berries
Foie gras
Rice and beans
Brawn or head cheese
Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
Dulce de leche
Bagna cauda
Wasabi peas
Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
Salted lassi
Root beer float
Cognac with a big fat cigar
Clotted cream tea
Vodka jelly

Curried goat
Whole insects
Goat’s milk
Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
Chicken tikka masala
Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
Sea urchin
Prickly pear
McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
Dirty gin martini
Beer above 8% ABV
Carob chips

Curry Wurst
Frogs’ legs
Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
Fried plantain

Chitterlings or andouillette
Caviar and blini
Louche absinthe
Gjetost or brunost
Hostess Fruit Pie
Lapsang souchong
Tom yum
Eggs Benedict
Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
Kobe beef

Criollo chocolate
Soft shell crab
Rose harissa
Mole poblano
Bagel and lox
Lobster Thermidor

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This is the book for book club this month. A long novel by Betty Smith, it is the tale of a young girl living in the early 1900s. Yet it is not only her story. As all lives do, Francie's tale is entwined with the stories of her parents, her brother and later a sister, grandparents, aunts and uncles, school mates, teachers, employers and neighbors. The story gives an adequate glimpse of American life in a New York suburb prior to the outbreak of WWI.

While I found the book interesting, it was slow reading. The story moves forward and backward in time so readers expecting an always-forward-moving tale may be confused at times. For me, the book was more about comparisons than history. Reading of the hard life of the working class, the huge disparity between the haves and have-nots, led to reflection on the luxuries we have today and the values we have given up. While maybe not a Must-Read for everyone, those who enjoy reading will gain their own perspective of Brooklyn.

Week Ending 3/8/09

A rather quiet week overall. The evenings were busy but the days mostly filled with housework and school work. We are working with Aaron to finish up his Duty to God requirements for his Deacon's certificate. He's only got a couple of things to do so he's in good shape.

Monday was rather boring. Tuesday Neil had scouts and Aaron had band practice. Wednesday Neil and I went over to the church about 1:00 to help set up for the Relief Society Birthday dinner. Cierra got sick so once tables and chairs were up we headed back home. Aaron went over with me later to finish some set up and to join in the youth with their combined activity. They played dodgeball using toilet paper rolls. I helped out at the dinner, cleaned up, and Aaron and I headed back home. Neil had called our home teacher over to give Cierra a blessing and she seemed to be doing better by the time I got home.

Thursday night I had a beading ceremony to attend for a couple of my fellow Antelopes out in Mesa. It was the same night as our own district roundtable so Neil was there with the two older boys who attended their OA chapter meeting. The beading ceremony was short so I headed back to our roundtable and got their in time for the commissioner's meeting.

Friday Aaron hung out with some friends after school, Neil took Derek down for an OA friendship party and Daniel played in the neighborhood with some of his friends. Saturday Neil had a CCW class - we had wanted to take it together but I had a meeting with Aaron's high school counselor that I had already rescheduled once. I should have ignored it and gone for my CCW. Oh well. Saturday I picked up around the house and the kids did everything in their power to undo my work. I took Daniel out in the evening to buy some new church pants and came home to look over my primary lesson.

Sunday was church - nothing exciting really. Then home for an afternoon nap. Neil took Derek back to his moms house and we read scriptures. We have been reading the D&C and the boys have been excited as we read about the organization of the church and the offices of the priesthood. Aaron was asking if he could baptize Rachel if she wanted him to. We have it worked out that Aaron will be old enough to baptize Nick, Derek gets Cierra, and Daniel, turning 16 the same month that Rachel turns 8, will get to baptize her. What we hadn't realized is that Aaron will be turning 19 shortly after so may already be an ordained Elder and he can stand in the circle during her confirmation. I don't dare suggest he get to confirm her - that's kind of a big deal for Neil to get to do as dad and I don't want to take that away from him. But there is a good chance that both Aaron and Derek will be able to stand in the circle.

It was my last week of school and I'm off for two weeks before my next course. I'm excited for the break as I can focus on the house more fully and get ready for our second Wood Badge weekend without additional stress.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Sickies

Everyone says there's something going around. Why does it have to keep going around my house? Cierra had it Wednesday, was feeling better Thursday, and passed it off to Rachel today. It's the typical fever, puking, fever, crying, fever syndrome. I just feel bad because there is absolutely nothing I can do to make them feel better. They just have to get it through their system. Hopefully nobody else gets it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Week Ending March 1, 2009

The last two weeks have been pretty busy. Monday, the 16th was a holiday so I caught up on housework and school work. Tuesday everyone went back to school and I was in charge of teaching Joy School. We went on a field trip to the library and the kids all got to check out some books. Cierra wanted to learn about butterflies, Jacob looked up elephants, and Sam picked out some books on flies. Neil had his 11-year-old scouts that night and I worked on some Wood Badge preparations.

Wednesday I went to the middle school to do an observation of a PE class. I finished that up, came home and grabbed the materials that I needed to have printed for Wood Badge and took them in. I knew it was a lot, but didn't think that they would need more than 24 hours to print it. It was pretty simple, just a lot of the same document. I was a bit discouraged to learn that they couldn't have it done until Friday. I mentally figured out how late I could push it before I absolutely needed it and asked to have it ready by noon, but to please call me if it was finished sooner. After running a few more errands, I came home and wrote up my school paper on my observation.

Grandma Janet came to watch the kids for us and the scouts met at our house to learn to light fires. Thursday, Neil left early to attend a scouting alumni breakfast then he headed over to the Heard Scout Pueblo to help with set up. I got the kids ready for school with Grandma's help and took her on the run so she knew where the schools were. I was supposed to do Joy School that day, but with all the anxiety over Wood Badge preparations, I had opened myself up to some kind of bug so cancelled Joy School so I wouldn't get the other kids sick. After dropping the boys at school, I went on a whirlwind search for binders for the various notebooks for Wood Badge. Around 10:30 I received a phone call letting me know that the print job was ready to be picked up. I finished up my preparations and packing for Wood Badge and headed out about noon. I was still short notebooks so hit every WalMart on the way down and eventually ended up with all I needed.

Thursday night we had our beading ceremony where those of us who were first-time staffers received our 3rd bead. I then went to the Kiva where the scribes were set up and put together the first edition of the Gilwell Gazette. My assistant Clint, who keeps me organized and somewhat sane, helped make sure we were all set for the morning when the participants would be arriving. We finished up and were able to head to bed by midnight.

Friday morning I was up bright and early, grabbed a quick shower, ignored breakfast, and went to welcome the participants to Wood Badge. Check-in went rather smoothly and I am slowly learning everybody's names. We had a few familiar faces but most were simply names that I had seen many times in the weeks leading up to the training. We had a great day of training and we kept the Gazette short and sweet. I was able to head to bed by 11 pm.

Saturday I slept in and then showered while the participants were at breakfast. We had a full day of competitions in which we pitted the patrols against each other. Overall though, staffing a course is much more intense for the scribe in the weeks leading up to the training and I was able to be out and about with the participants taking pictures and learning faces with names. I was still in bed by midnight.

Sunday was an awesome experience. We had an interfaith service as part of the course syllabus, but then we had a 20 minute break to allow individuals and groups to have whatever religious cermoney they needed. We have a large contingency of LDS people on course - probably 90% of staff and participants are members. We have a bishop on course who agreed to preside over a brief sacrament meeting. 20 minutes gave us enough time for an opening hymn & prayer, the administering of the sacrament, and a closing hymn and prayer. I have never been so impressed by the power of the priesthood. Women are few on course and I think there were maybe 6 of us in the room. The rest were scouting brothers and it was poignant to be in the company of so many priesthood holders who recognized how important their duty is both as scouters and priesthood brethren.

We returned home by 7 pm, loved on the kids and then sent them to bed to be ready for school. This past week has been much less busy in contrast. Aaron had a band concert on Wednesday night and I had a Visiting teaching appointment Friday morning. Other than that, we've spent the majority of the time here at home taking care of the mundane stuff we call life.

It is time to go read scriptures and get everyone settled for bed. Hope you all have a wonderful week.

Happy Birthday Daniel

We waited until today to celebrate since Daniel was off on a scouting campout for the majority of yesterday. He did get to take his new sleeping bag with him and came home to new bedding for his bed. He's been using an old set of blue flowers that we've had since we lived in the apartment before Neil and I even met. It was getting threadbare so he's got a new set with a sports theme.

I had also made a cake and Nicholas wanted to be able to share because he only got cupcakes for his birthday, so the top layer had 11 candles for Daniel and then there were six more along the side on the second layer for Nicholas. Daniel was a great sport, sharing his cake and song with his brother.

We finished the song and cut the cake then dispersed through the house. Cierra came up and asked if it was time to do presents. I had taken Daniel's presents to the kitchen but forgot to give them to him. So we all went back to the kitchen and watched as Daniel opened his presents.