Sunday, May 31, 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 video game venue. Aaron and some of his friends opted out figuring they would have more fun hanging at home playing video games than fighting for time at a GameWorks machine. Daniel and Nicholas were both uncooperative so in the end I let everybody stay home from school. I still had to get up and take my friend's son to school.

The A/C had failed Sunday afternoon on the suburban so after dropping off Zach at school, I took it over to our mechanic. The compressor had frozen up and so Tim found me a ride back home. I finally got the suburban back at 5:55. We were supposed to be at Joy School graduation at 6:00. I could have made it if it weren't for the fact that I had to take Tim back to his shop first. We finally got to the graduation at 6:30 - I am so blessed to have understanding friends who are willing to delay events.

Wednesday everyone went to school and I took the girls to the library. We picked up some cultural passes to the art museum so I'll have to go use those this week. Aaron had scouts Wednesday night, the rest of us just vegged.

Thursday I took Nick and Daniel to school - Aaron's last day was Wednesday. I got home and started cleaning house. Good thing - we got a phone call from a realtor wanting to show the house at 2:30. I took Aaron and the girls over to McDonald's (too hot to go play at a park) then went and picked the boys up at school. We got home, checked out backpacks, and got another call for another showing. I did some more tidying up then loaded everyone in the car and headed to a park (it had cooled down by now).

Friday was Nick's kindergarten graduation. They sang some songs for us and just looked cute. We had cookies and punch then I grabbed Daniel and we went home. I had a visiting teaching appointment at 11 so I tried to get a few things done before I had to leave. The appointment lasted about 2 hours and involved a food storage demonstration. I can't remember the name of the company, but it looked and tasted good and if we had income, it is something I would probably invest in.

That night I took the kids to the drive-in to see Night at the Museum and was happy when they opted not to stay for the second show. It was a late enough night as it was and I had to be up early Saturday. I had to get Aaron over to the church to catch his ride to Scout camp. We got there about 10 and we were still waiting on one of the leaders. I got a hug from Aaron before I left. He's getting soooo big. I'm really amazed at how much he is growing and maturing. He still tells me he loves me which I appreciate that with all the hormones he hasn't pulled away from me.

After dropping him off, I went home and mopped my kitchen floor then got things ready for us to head down to day camp. We left about 12:30 and I was pretty sure I was probably forgetting something. I never did discover what it was so either I didn't forget anything or it wasn't important. Day camp lasted until 9:30. Then I cleaned up the kiva, made a quick showing at the staff meeting, and headed home.

Today I was one of the speakers at church. My topic was testimony. I had been given the assignment about 3 weeks ago and I knew the direction I wanted to go, but everything I wrote down just didn't seem to flow. I had read a lot of conference addresses that were related, and somehow, it all came together. I'm not even sure exactly what I said, but a lot of people came up to me afterwards and expressed appreciation for my comments. Another testimony building experience. Because I had put in the time to prepare, I was able to convey what the Lord wanted and the spirit touched those in need.

We had more people come look at the house today. I took a long nap once they were gone and am still feeling foggy. Rachel is running a fever and complaining her stomach hurts. I'm expecting a rough night with her - hopefully she'll be able to empty her stomach and be done with it. I hurt so much when she's under the weather like this although I secretly enjoy her desire to cuddle.

Well, on to a new week.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

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 or stand on the suburban seat, stand on the bumper of the suburban, and/or sit on my lap. At one point Rachel stole my foot chair and fell asleep in it. At least I didn't have to worry about where she was.

Overall the kids enjoyed the movie but nobody was dead set on seeing the second feature (Dragonball something-or-other) so we packed up and came home. Yay - everyone is in bed asleep except for me and I'm heading there now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


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 well. He had pretty much completed the ingredients part and the only thing I needed was some more butter. Figuring out how much more was a bit tricky, but over all, not a big deal.

We have gone over the need to have adult assistance whenever he wants to cook, but I fear it won't be long before he and Derek completely take over the kitchen.


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 label.

But it is a sign of the kids getting older as they are now able to climb onto counter tops in search of food. I encourage self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, Rachel has combined the climb for independence with her aversion to labels and I now have a pantry of unmarked cans. Gives a whole new meaning to mystery meat.

Monday, May 25, 2009

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 was a great surprise when we were standing in line at the Science Center to hear Daniel say, "She's following me!" as he pointed to unnamed child number 3 standing by the dad apparently waiting for the rest of the family to catch up. Shortly afterward we did indeed see the rest of the family and after a quick catch up, we had to go as did they.

We had planned to go to the movies this evening but with the A/C out of commission, I nixed that plan in the end. It would have been delightful to find that their own plans to see a movie coincided with our own and to meet at the drive-in. Maybe next time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


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 bookstores so regardless of how your own relationships may be doing, check out the movie and then decide if you ought to invest in the book. While it may be geared towards marriage, showing love to any who we might find difficult to love can be learned through the book.

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 Neil was insistent that Derek could easily shower and change at our house. So of course she resorted to name-calling and placing Derek in an uncomfortable situation. Normally Neil concedes to keep the peace, but he held his ground and this will come up in court and in counseling.

Friday we had a pre-wedding dinner for one of Neil's eagle scouts. Very weird that he's now getting married. We were also invited to be at the temple ceremony so we attended that and then later that evening we took the family to another friend's son's wedding reception. It was much more like a fair than a reception - balloon animals, swords, flowers, etc., popcorn, cotton candy, and sno-cones. The kids had a blast and were reluctant to leave. But with early morning church, we couldn't keep them out too late.

Today the sacrament meeting focused on prayer. The kids were well-behaved but Rachel needed water about the time the choir got up to sing. We were followed out by Cierra and shortly after, Nick joined us needing the bathroom. I ran into some friends in the hallway so we opted to go to the nursery room to let the kids be kids while we listened to the high councilman speak (yay speakers in nursery room). As he drew to a close, my friend realized she was supposed to be giving the closing prayer.

Neil left after church for his week at NYLT. I resent him being gone but it's a commitment he made last year. I realize I am greedy about my time with him - probably don't appreciate him enough when he's here, but miss him like mad when he's not. It'll be an interesting week without him. The kids finish up school and cub scout day camp starts. I still need to go down and set up the kiva for the Mowgli area. I'm still debating whether or not I'm going to be able to help out - I'm really hoping for a paying job and yet I don't want to leave the camp with too short of notice. Decisions, decisions.

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."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

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.

Wednesday was book club, scouts, band concert. It would have been fine if the band concert was actually taking place at the school the students attend. Not only was it not there, it wasn't even held at the local high school that the middle school feeds into. NOPE - I had to drive him to another high school (the one Alyx attends just by coincidence), drop him off at 6 and get back to the church by 6:30. All with the back of the suburban loaded with food. I made it okay but did mention to the band director the inconvenience and requested they keep that in mind in the future. Neil brought Derek over to the church for scouts and the plan was for him to pick up Aaron after dropping Derek off at his mom's house. Timing was just about right. Plan changed - Aaron got a ride home with a friend, Neil stopped to get gas, and they still both beat me home.

Thursday I had a number of conflicts. Aaron had another OA election, it was the night of they boys' school musical concert, the first meeting of the crafts SIG group at church, and the follow-up meeting for Cub Scout Pow Wow staff. Since I haven't figured out how to be everywhere at once, Neil took Aaron and Derek to the election and I took everyone else to the school concert. Family first - and I'm glad I made that choice. The teachers had worked hard with the kids and it was actually a delightful performance.

Thursday and Friday Neil had volunteered down at the NRA convention. I never got a chance to go down and check it out but I'm sure I'll live. The boys had half-day on Friday (normal) but Nick decided to throw a fit first thing in the morning so after talking with his teacher and the principal, we decided it would be better for everyone if we didn't subject the school to Nick's attitude. Shortly after returning home, I got a call from the middle school nurse - Aaron had been popped in the head by a friend (guys goofing around) but seemed to be fine. He was to go back at 11:30 for a follow up. At noon, I got a text from Aaron saying he was fine. At 2 pm I got another call from the nurse asking me to come pick him up. He had gotten dizzy during his last class but he seemed to be okay when I got there. I asked him a number of questions about what kind of dizzy - did it include nauseousness? What had he eaten for lunch? Did he ever lose consciousness? etc. After drilling him for a few minutes, the nurse asked me if I was a nurse. I laughed and said, no, just a mom of 7 kids. Since Daniel was home with the little kids, I took Aaron to get a haircut and was able to get more information about what had happened. It sounds like he just got light-headed from standing up too fast, but because of the injury earlier, he wanted to make sure it wasn't connected.

After all the excitement, he decided to go to the 8th grade final dance of the year. Neil took him over and we hung out at home watching movies with the kids. I picked Aaron up at 9:30 and everyone headed to bed.

Saturday morning the boys had a scout thing then we headed down to the Heard to start set up for Day Camp. We left there about 11:30 and got home just in time to scarf some lunch and take the younger kids to a primary activity. Neil took Derek to the NRA convention where Derek was excited to get Ted Nugent to sign his hat. I picked the kids up at 4 and then came home and finished doing laundry and general house cleaning.

Today was church. Sacrament meeting talks were on the priesthood. The kids were more or less behaved. We only had to take Cierra out while she had a meltdown because I wouldn't let her sit on my lap. Cierra had a talk to give in Primary so I went up to help her. She got through the first two lines and then decided to get shy. So I had Daniel come up and read her talk - yay for big brothers. After church I had an Enrichment committee meeting and Neil had a scout committee meeting. We finally got home around 1. The kids were all tired and cranky from waiting out in the truck. We got some food and water in them and they became somewhat normal (less cranky). Aaron, Daniel, and I played a game of Clue in which I beat them (normal) after Aaron made a faux pas and accused the wrong person.

Well it's time to gather the family around for scripture reading and prayer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

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 mind at whim?

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 was obnoxious, rude, and malicious to any who opposed her. Yet, somehow, she made it to the final show as one of the last two celebrities. While she did technically win the final challenge, her opponent had a better record throughout the entire season and was a lot better behaved.

Sure enough, Joan was named the celebrity apprentice and while I was disappointed that it did not go to the more deserving competitor, I was offended that Donald Trump would not only completely gloss over Joan's poor behavior, but he actually oozed over what a "great role model" she is. I'm sorry, role models do not walk out when they don't get their way. They do not malign a complete profession simply because they do not like one person who is in that career. They do not call others names, insult others for fun, or treat others as pond scum in an effort to elevate themselves.

Trump - you got this one wrong - Annie Duke was the true role model and the better celebrity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

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

On to a new week. Hopefully it will bring some job interviews and little other stress.

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 that is not in line with gospel truths (not counting the supernatural side of things). The romance between Bella and Edward is an adolescent romance that alludes to physical desires left unmet. I guess the one nice thing about vampires is that they do hold traditional values when it comes to some things. And while the physical relationship does eventually take place, it does so within the bonds of marriage and the author graciously allows the reader's imagination to reign. But Bella is 17 and has some maturity on her side from the life she led prior to moving to Forks, WA. Edward, of course, has a century or so of maturity and is not a typical 17-year-old boy.

And so after deliberating the mother's question and all the unasked side questions, I finally told her that I would not suggest an 11-year-old to read the books. I emphasized that the series is good and does not include anything inappropriate, but that the material itself is intended for a more mature audience. I suggested she go ahead and read the books herself, which she had already planned to do, and then she could make a better decision on whether or not she felt her daughter was ready for the books.

Kids are growing up too fast thanks to the onslaught of media and the change in social mores. While I will always recommend good books to others, I will be more careful in defining the audience for which the book is appropriate.

As for the Twilight series - please go and enjoy them if you are over 21. Otherwise, let your parents read them and consider their opinion before you delve into them yourself.

Friday, May 8, 2009


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 rich have for the poor and the greed for men to become richer at the expense of their fellowman. I do not believe the desires and dreams of the pearl-finder were wrong - who does not wish for a better life for oneself and one's family? But are we truly more likely to place those desires ahead of the simple necessities when the two come into conflict?

Facing difficult times in our own economic situation at this time makes me acutely aware of the desire to just be able to enjoy the basic necessities. With Neil out of work and his severance pay now gone, the house in foreclosure, and the savings slowly but surely dwindling, what is truly important to our family?

I have determined that I do not want to move because of the inconvenience of finding another place to live and moving all our stuff - it is not about the house itself. I rejoice in having the ability to have gotten all the children in to see the doctor before the insurance coverage ended. I am grateful that we have been thrifty even when we appeared to have the means to be extravagent. And mostly, I appreciate the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father that while these economic situations are inconvenient, I have been blessed with feelings of peace and contentment rather than stress and worry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

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 devotion to chocolate. Occassionally, someone combines the two and there is always the one creation that reminds you that these are, after all, 11-18 year old boys.

We walked past all the tables while it was still light enough to see the displays and get some basic information on the desserts. Then the boys were called away for their OA call-out ceremony while the judges went back for the taste tests. The only way to get through this many desserts without going into a diabetic coma is to truly just take a taste. Some are so good you want to take the dutch oven and run and a few make you want to throw up just looking at them. There was one this year that made you want to do both. The patrol called it Swamp Goo. The ingredients were mostly chocolate and caramel. It looked horrid and tasted divine.

However, there was one dessert that out-did the goo. Both in looks and I can only assume taste. As it turned out, this was the final dessert to be tasted for the evening. I don't know if I was just too sugared up from the previous ten or so desserts or if the idea of placing such a concoction in my system was just unbearable. This was the dessert that reminded me that the cooks are, after all, just boys. The dessert was deep-fried oreos. Now I have a friend who contends that you can deep fry anything and it will be considered edible. And since the other judges did actually taste this dessert, I can't exactly argue the point. But that is one dessert that I will never know how good or bad it truly was.

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 whiners. Generally I don't give in - I've learned that rewarding the behavior means they'll just get whiney again. But I do evaluate my time being spent with them and at least for my children, they will get over what they thought they wanted if I sit and read a book or color a picture with them.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


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 of her brother and herself, she will not allow herself to like him - not solely because she holds his previous behavior against him - though that would certainly be just cause - but because she fancies her cousin Edmund though she has no hope that feelings are returned. In the end, her judgment does show correct as Mr. Crawford proves untrue to his ardent attentions to Fanny, but I just cannot fathom why she could not explain her dislike to at least Edmund - who has been her confidante in all other aspects - and let him speak for her to his father. Instead, she simply claims that she cannot every see herself liking Mr. Crawford well enough to marry him and ignores the evidence that her uncle truly cares for her well-being. In fact, had she been willing to tell her uncle her reasons for disliking Mr. Crawford, he might well have been able to avoid the scandal that involves both his daughters. But Fanny is so afraid of her own shadow that while she can be quite passionate about her feelings, she will not share them with those who can help her.

I did try to watch the movie after reading the book and found that I was just as annoyed with her character onscreen as in writing and the only good thing about having read the book was that I did not have to pay too much attention to the movie but could easily multi-task and even leave the room for blocks of time without missing anything.

You will not hear me complain anymore about Austen's books. Neil has forbidden me to read any more of her works.

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 that if I had had this information a bit earlier, I could have had time to schedule appointments for the kids. On Tuesday, as I was driving somewhere, I had the impression that I should go ahead and call the doctor's office to see if I could get any of the kids in. Since Cierra will start kindergarten in the fall, she was my first priority but as it turned out, even though it involved a lot of driving back and forth, I was actually able to get appointments for all five children. We are truly being blessed.

Last weekend I helped a friend move. Her mother is getting married and basically kicked my friend and her three sons out of the house. Since the weekend was also the District Camporee, I had no idea how we were going to get enough manpower to move the furniture and other big stuff. Although she is not a member of the church, she was married to a man who was so she's had some association with the church. She even knew which ward she belonged to so I sent an email to a friend who lives in that ward and Saturday we had two groups show up - one with a Uhaul truck that had been used earlier that day in another move. I can't think of another organization who would come out and do that for somebody they don't even know.

Well, back to work here. It's getting close to bedtime so I need to go help kids get ready.