Showing posts from May, 2009

Week ending 5/31/09

It's been a long week. The kids are finally out of school and day camp has begun. Monday was Memorial Day so we went to the breakfast at the church, headed down to set up day camp stuff and then took the kids to the Science museum to check out the Legoland display. Parking was miserable because there was also a D-backs game going on so all the parking structures we charging a flat rate of $12.00 to park. Thanks, but no thanks. The one garage that was available for museum parking didn't offer enough clearance for the suburban. (Who only allows 6 feet clearance anymore?) I finally got a tip from an event helper that we could park at a meter free of charge, but warned that we might have a bit of a walk. The walk wasn't too bad actually and we spent a couple of hours at the museum before my feet objected to any continued movement.

Aaron spent the night at a friend's house as Tuesday was the 8th grade celebration field trip. The school took them down to GameWorks - a huge vi…

Night at the movies

Since we are going to be busy starting tomorrow with Day Camp, I decided to take the family to the drive-in to see Night at the Museum. The kids really enjoyed the first one (as did I) and the drive-in is extra special because you get a double feature and tickets are cheap. Adult tickets (12 and older) are only $6.25 (vs. $10.00 or more at a regular theatre), children's tickets (ages 5-11) are $1.00 (vs. $7 or $8), and children 4 and under are free. Try getting anybody in free at a regular theatre.

We took the suburban which does not have a working radio and my portable cd/radio/tape player. We took the third seat out figuring the little kids could all sit on that, and brought 4 camp chairs. What ended up happening was Aaron and I took 2 camp chairs each (one to sit in and one for our feet), Daniel sat on the suburban seat, and Rachel, Nick, and Cierra took turns wandering. They'd stand behind me, in front of me, try walking closer to the screen (we were in the front row), sit …


I never sleep well when Neil is away. Usually I will lay in bed with the television on until sleep overcomes me. I can usually be asleep by 1 or 2. But this week has been different. I lay in bed and my mind races. So I am back at the computer, typing trivial stuff and playing computer games. My throat is sore and I suspect I'm getting sick. Don't have time for that. And yet, if I'm not going to sleep, I ought to have time to clean my house and do laundry.

It's now almost 4 am. I am feeling tired, but now the dilemna is what are the chances of actually getting decent sleep before I have to get up to take the boys to school?

Speaking of Independence

Nicholas finishes kindergarten on Friday. I guess I am not yet ready for my little guy to grow up. I still have the two girls to baby, but still - he's my last boy. He has obviously been watching his older brother, Derek, more intently than I had realized. Derek loves to cook and recently he has been baking cookies and brownies for the family.

Sunday evening, after Neil had left for NYLT, I was at the computer typing my weekly review, when Cierra came over holding an egg. She began babbling something about a bowl and chocolate chips. My guess was she was wanting to make cookies. So while I normally would have put her off until I was finished with whatever I was doing, the egg in her hand prompted me to act immediately. Taking the egg, I walked with her back to the kitchen. There on my island was Nicholas, the carton of eggs, a bowl filled with a cookie mix, and butter. As I tried to ascertain what he had already done, I found a mixture of pride and concern - okay, some annoyance as…


Labels are an interesting thing. We now label our children in an attempt to excuse away poor parenting. We have labels on our clothing in an effort to stay on top of Who's Who in fashion. I admit to being particularly fond of Hanes who started the tagless labels. We also have warning labels - inspired by those with a noticeable lack of common sense.

The labels I find most helpful are product labels. They help keep me straight between the raspberry-lime gatorade and the strawberry-kiwi gatorade. However, my children have an aversion to labels and I am left guessing as the exact flavor of gatorade that has been left on the kitchen table. As a mom, I am not against drinking the remains of a child's beverage provided there are no noticeable floaties. And gatorade is gatorade after all, regardless of claimed flavor so my annoyance with the loss of labels is generally aimed at the children's total disregard of the trashcan which is usually less than 2 feet away from the discarded…

She's Following Me

We have some good friends who moved from our ward out to Mesa. At least I like to think of them as good friends. I've always thought highly of the mom and seeing her, reading her blog, or hearing about her from mutual friends always brings a smile to my face. The dad is one of those guys that you wish your husband could be more like, no matter how great your own husband may be. The kids are typical kids. They're not perfect, but they are well-behaved at most social events and incur the right amount of embarrassment at the most inopportune moments for their parents. How can you not like them? Since they moved we obviously do not see them very often - at least not as often as we did when they lived in the ward.

It was not unusual to run into them at the wedding reception of another ward member's child Saturday night. It was a little more unexpected to see them at the ward breakfast this morning, and there was disappointment that they were coming in just as we were leaving. It…


This is another movie by the same organization that did "Facing the Giants". It tells the story of a young couple who are facing trials in their marriage - to the point of considering divorce. He is a firefighter who is respected by his co-workers and community, but not at home. She works at a hospital and is dealing with aging parents and a flirtation at work. While neither is free of accountability in making the marriage work, the viewer must wonder if it wouldn't just be better to cut losses and move on. They have no children so it would be a clean split.

The husband approaches his father with the situation and is given a love dare diary. He is to complete each task for 40 days - each day bringing a new task related to showing love to his wife. As he commits to the program without his wife being aware of what he is doing, the viewer starts pulling for the husband and may have a tendency to villainize the wife.

Apparently, there is a true love dare diary available in boo…

Week Ending 5/24/09

Another busy week out of the way. We are doing better at having family scripture study. Because we know the summer will be crazy and trying to remember which chapter we left off on, we have pulled the current Ensign issue which contains the conference addresses. Last time, I just picked randomly, hoping that luck and inspiration would lead me to the address we need to read. This time, we're just going in order. Inspiration I believe is still involved.

This week I was in charge of teaching Joy School. On Monday, we went to the library so I could find books needed for the lesson and return the materials that were due back. Tuesday was Joy School and Neil went to a Job Fair. Wednesday I went back to the library to get more Joy School books for Thursday. Thursday Neil had an interview but isn't what he thought it was. He's still looking. Thursday night was Derek's graduation celebration from 8th grade. As usual, his mom wanted him back early and couldn't understand why …

When I grow up...

Nick, Cierra, and Rachel are discussing school. Nick finishes kindergarten this week and Cierra is excited to start kindergarten next year. They are trying to figure out when Rachel will get to go to school. Since there is also a pre-k/day care class at the charter school, Nick announces that Rachel can go there next year. Rachel replies "When I turn to be a boy, I can go to Nick's school."

Week Ending 5/17/09

Another busy week with too many meetings and not enough cars. Monday Aaron had an OA election, I had signed our family up to clean the church building, and apparently we're avoiding Family Home Evening again. I took Aaron and his friend David to the election, Neil took Derek to clean the church building, and Daniel was relegated to babysitter of the three younger children - easier to leave them home then allow them to wander through the church.

Tuesday Neil had scouts, Aaron and I had a Day Camp Staff Meeting (waste of time as usual), and we got home just in time to see the finale of The Biggest Loser. We were rooting for Mike or Tara, but Helen won instead. Well, good for her! She shows that losing weight in the advanced years isn't an impossibility. Hopefully I'll never have to deal with that issue. Luckily I seem to have inherited my mother's McNeill genes and have been the same weight since I graduated high school, other than when I gained weight during pregnancies.

Favorite Brother

I had all the kids in the car this morning as we did our morning run to the various schools. Rachel had climbed into Aaron's lap and declared him her favorite brother with Nicholas taking second. Daniel and Derek were not in the running as she claimed they were big meanies.

The afternoon run goes in reverse as I pick up Daniel and Nicholas before getting Aaron. As the boys climbed in, Daniel headed for the back seat to sit next to Rachel. Sure enough, Daniel has now been promoted to favorite brother. When asked about Aaron, she simply replies, "No, Daniel!"

After getting home and taking care of homework, we go to the pool. Aaron and Daniel have declined to join us but Derek is quick to jump in once he gets home with Neil. Because Derek will let Rachel cling to his back while he swims from one side of the pool to the other, he quickly is dubbed favorite brother.

Hmmmm, do we have a politician in the making? Or just a typical girl who recognizes her female right to change her…

Celebrity Role Models

For those of you unaware, Donald Trump has a reality show called The Apprentice. A bunch of people are on the most bizarre job interview as they compete each week in challenges to stay out of the board room and hopefully at the end of the season hear the words "You're Hired." Most of the time these are just regular people you've never heard of before. Some you hope to never hear of again. But just for fun, The Donald includes a season in which the contestants are celebrities. Instead of being rewarded with a position within Trump's empire, the celebrities are hoping to grab the grand prize of $250,000 for their favorite charity. Along the way, as they win their challenges, the project leader gets smaller amounts to donate.

This season, the most well-known faces were Clint Black, Dennis Rodman, Joan and Melissa Rivers, and Scott Hamel. Others included a reality tv star, a golf pro, a professional poker player, and sports heros. Through the entire season Joan Rivers…

Long Term Goals

I'm driving in the car this morning to take Cierra to Joy School. First we have to pick up her friend Sam. Sam is about 4 months older than Cierra and has already indicated to his parents that he will be marrying Cierra. Some days Cierra is fine with this, others she isn't so sure - claiming she doesn't want to get married. At least it's not personal for Sam.

Out of the blue, she declares that she's not going to work when she gets older. I'm not sure what has driven this comment - possibly overhearing Neil and I discuss the possibility of me going to work, or just one of those random thoughts. As I search my brain for the correct response to this declaration, she then informs me that she won't have to go to work because Sam will. So then she explains that she will stay home and watch the kids. And in that instance, she becomes overwhelmed - she doesn't know what she will name her babies.

Week Ending May 10, 2009

Once again, nothing exciting or out of the ordinary. Mostly involved in scouting of some sort. Monday night I went to judge the Dutch Oven Cook Off hosted by Troop 30 and just about went into a diabetic coma. Tuesday was typical stay-at-home stuff. Wednesday the boys had a combined activity where they learned to line dance. Thursday was Roundtable. Friday Daniel had a birthday party/sleepover at a friend's house, Neil had a staff development overnighter for NYLT, and the rest of us just vegged out at home. Saturday Neil was still at staff development, I helped teach a Baloo training course, and the kids cleaned house (sort of). Sunday was Mother's Day. The ward gave us small boxes of See's candy, Daniel, Nick, and Cierra all gave me cards, and I got caught by one of the counselor's at church and am now speaking on May 31st. The topic is Testimony so if any of you have any good personal stories on Drawing on Your Testimony in Times of Turmoil, email me at taggteam2002@h…

Breaking Dawn

This is the fourth book in the Twilight series of a human who falls in love with supernatural creatures. As much as I've enjoyed the series, I had to consider its true worth when another mother asked me about whether I would recommend her 11-year-old daughter to read the books. I realized that I was not just evaluating the value of the series and its appropriateness for an 11-year-old, but that I was also taking into account that this was not an LDS family - though they were scouters.

I found myself not wanting to assume that their values were any better or worse than my own nor did I want to offend the mother by placing my own values ahead of her own - unbeknownst as they might be. I also found myself evaluating if I would let my own 11-year-old son read the books knowing that while he might enjoy them, I also knew I could have the conversations necessary to explain or gloss over any thing that might be confusing to him.

Now, there is nothing in the series that promotes behavior th…


I'm trying to grow a garden. We have a small plot of land under Aaron's bedroom window that I thought would be manageable. I kept it small - wanted to see how the plants did before I expanded. I have two tomato plants, two strawberries, two peppers, and a canteloupe. The canteloupe has already not survived. The strawberries are looking limp, the tomatoes are yellowing, but I still have hope for the peppers.

I'm trying not to be pessimistic - maybe hoping that if I have the faith to actually plant the garden, I will still be here when it is time to harvest. My faith is strong enough for that; however, I'm not sure my gardening skills are.

The Pearl

John Steinbeck is one of those classic novelists that you always feel you should have read. Most high school students are exposed to at least one of his works - usually Of Mice and Men or Grapes of Wrath. I vaguely remember Of Mice and Men probably because we watched the movie as well as read the book. I don't recall which year that was.

This month's book club selection is John Steinbeck's The Pearl - his modification of a folktale where a man finds a pearl only to discover his supposed wealth leaves his life in danger. Steinbeck transposes the young, single hero of the original to a middle-aged man with a wife and baby son. The dangers posed to the original finder of the pearl are now increased to include the threat to both the man and his family.

At the end of the story, the pearl is returned to the sea but the story is about the ethical decisions made when wealth becomes a higher priority than life. At the same time, I was extremely saddened at the obvious disregard the r…

Dutch Oven Cook Off

Each year, Troop 30 puts on a dutch oven dessert cook off. Most years it consists of the various patrols of Troop 30 (somewhere around 10) competing amongst themselves. Occassionally a few other troops send a patrol in to add to the confusion. Neil and I have been invited to judge the creations for about the past 4 years.

Monday night was this year's contest and a right-fitting activity for Family Home Evening. The rules are always a bit sketchy - this is the same troop that puts on a weekend campout as its recruitment activity which includes the Dirty Derby - so rules are generally left to rule themselves. The patrols were told to begin their cooking at 6:30 with judging happening at 7:45. We had 5 judges and we were handed a wad of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons - enough for 6 categories. The categories were left for us to determine.

Having been through this a few years, I knew more or less what types of desserts to expect. There is always the array of fruit cobblers and the devo…

Monster Joke

Okay, I made this one up myself so feel free to groan.

Q. What did the grandma monster say when she saw her grandson after 3 years?

A. He's grue-some (grew some)

Okay, not exactly gramatically correct. But you have to admit you thought about laughing for a minute there.

What to do about Whiney Kids

I used to like Rachel. Most days she was my favorite child - though parents are not supposed to admit to having one. Now she is three. It's probably my own fault that she is whiney. She used to change her voice level and tone when asking for things and it used to be cute. Now it's just whiney. And when whiney doesn't work, the tears turn on and she moos. So at the moment I am ignoring the current tantrum - it is the third one today.

I've come to the realization that I'm not very good at being a mean mom - at least not to the little kids. When they get older and are capable of rational thought I am better at being a disciplinarian - but not great. What is it about the tears, the sad eyes, the look of disappointment in a child's face that tugs at a mom's heart so that not only do you want to give them everything in the world, but you feel guilty for being the cause of such a sad state of affairs?

So I have no clue what the right answer is in dealing with whiner…


Every now and then I pick up a book from the teen section just for fun. After all the hoopla about the movie, I talked to a friend from church who has been listening to the Twilight series as she drives to and from work. She thought it was good enough to recommend and I'm glad I read it.

I've actually finished the first three books and have a request on the fourth one at the library. I've been surprised at how well written the books are. They are of the same calibur as the Harry Potter series and Stephenie Meyers has developed both plot and characters very well. Because the plot is so intriguing, these many-paged novels are a quick read.

I do not know that they will stand the test of time or ever be considered classics, I do find it nice to come across a book that allows you to be drawn in without having to think too hard. Oh, and the movie was pretty good too.

Mansfield Park

They say "third time's the charm" so I chose my third Jane Austen novel with great care. I had heard that Mansfield Park was Austen's particular favorite and she was particularly enamored with the heroine - Fanny Price.

I suppose I should offer some praise for this book rather than continue to be negative about Austen's writings just on general principle. I suppose I could praise this one more than others if it weren't for the fact that Austen's heroine does not come across as very likeable nor does she evoke any emotion other than perhaps pity bordering on disgust. Not that Fanny is completely unlikeable, but I found her overly stubborn and at the same time very meek - and not in a good way. I myself am overly stubborn, but do not hold to a first impression when other evidence comes forward to allow for a change of position.

Fanny's problem is that she dislikes Mr. Crawford with good reason at the first but when he later engages himself to the benefit …

Week Ending 5/3/09

This should encompass 3 weeks worth of review, but on review, I realize that my mundane existence provides little noteworthy actions. One week or three weeks and the truth is it has mostly been involved in school for me, school for the kids, housework, and scout meetings. So instead of a day-by-day breakdown, I'll just highlight some of the out-of-the-ordinary occassions.

First, most recently, we have been missing Derek. He has come down with some variation of the chicken pox and has not been over all week because of fear of contaminating our little kids. We've talked to him on the phone every day and are hoping he'll be feeling up to being back among us this coming week.

Last Monday we got information from our insurance company regarding the COBRA plan. We had been told that the insurance had ended in March at the same time that Neil's severance package had stopped. According to the letter, we had insurance coverage through the end of April. I was frustrated, feeling t…