Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week Ending August 29, 2009

It has been a busy week though nothing out of the ordinary. For the kids, it was school and scouts as usual. For me and Rachel, we visited the library, McDonald's and went grocery shopping. For Neil, it was pretty much just work. Tuesday night he did take his 11 year old scouts to the Arizona Science Center which has the Lego Display going on right now. It is one of the perks of being an employee at Chase.

Yesterday we cleaned up the yard a bit as we had a couple of trees attacking visitors to the house. Cierra had a birthday party to attend and Neil and I had a scout dinner, for which I was the MC. I think it went rather well but I always have the jitters and don't ever get to actually enjoy the food. I do this for our district dinner every year.

Today we went to church. It was a small group as our ward had a service responsibility putting on a Sacrament Meeting for the Randolf House. I'm not sure of the details as Aaron wasn't forthcoming and Neil and I are usually in Primary where communication tends to get overlooked. So Aaron didn't go, even though he should have, because he was supposed to meet at the church at 5:00 am. Honestly, that is not a time that usually exists in my day. I was torn between letting him stay home and making him go to church. If I let him stay home, the church members attending would not know that he hadn't gone to the service project but letting him stay home seemed like he was being rewarded for not going to the project like he should have. So I made him go where he had to go to the adult classes since all the rest of the youth were at the project or had stayed home.

After getting home from church, we had the kids change clothes and took them to the Museum of Natural History. I had been able to get free passes from the library but because of the limited hours of the museum, today was the only day that worked into our schedule before the passes expired. Some may claim it wasn't very sabbath-ish, but we were together as a family, it was somewhat educational, and we made the kids dress nicely (collared shirts and nice pants) in order to help remind them that today was still Sunday. The kids seemed to enjoy it and Neil would like to go back without the kids so he could spend the time reading all the posters and placards throughout the exhibits. Having kids who can't read but are mobile does cause you to go through the exhibits a little more quickly than you might want.

Well, they have all bathed so we need to go read scriptures and get everyone to bed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chocolate

I'm not a big fan of shopping. I particularly don't like taking kids shopping because they want everything. But we're about out of milk so it's a necessity. After dropping the kids off at school, Rachel and I head to the grocery store. As we get to the milk area, she clamors for chocolate milk. Hanging off the doors enclosing the dairy reefer, are bottles of chocolate syrup. She wants that too. The little bottles of flavored milk are on sale, so I grab one of those for her. Next up - eggs.

I open the door and pull out a carton to check for cracked eggs. Rachel discovers that in the reefer next to the one I am working with is another shelving unit full of eggs. These are the organic, special, pricier eggs. All of a sudden I hear her exclaim - Mommy! Chocolate eggs!

No dear, those are just brown-shelled eggs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Art of Blending

I've never been much of an artist. I appreciate art and recognize a talent in others that does not exist in myself. I am aware that most artwork involves some amount of blending. There is true genius in the eye that can catch the subtle differences in shades of green which allow the artist to create a tree that actually looks like a tree.

I stay away from actually pursuing such talent on my own. I have been accused of being unable to blend my own makeup and am sure that I have been seen with that tell-tell line around my chin because I couldn't blend. My mother didn't care for makeup and my relationship with my older sister was not one where I would rely on her for advice - she would have ensured a clownish look just for spite. But because I had a blotchy, pale face, not wearing makeup was not an option. I guess I would rather have the chin line rather than expose my freckled self to my high school peers.

I have been attempting another type of blending for the past 7 years. Neil and I are in a second marriage for us both. We each brought two children along for the ride along with a lot of baggage. Personally, I could do without his baggage. They say women over pack, but in this case, I'm the one with the overnight bag while he has the 7-piece luggage set with garment bag. I realize that for the most part, this is not his fault. My ex-husband allowed me to slip away with my two boys and live a new life with little interference. While I am sometimes saddened that my boys do not have a better relationship with their father, the reality is that my life is much easier because of it. He sends a monthly child support check while I get to make all the decisions. Honestly, it's not much different from when we were married.

Neil on the other hand has an ex-wife who is angry and bitter. She hates me simply because I exist. I have been accused of a number of things and labeled as white trash. I do not take any of this personally because she doesn't actually know me. Seriously. We've technically never met. Oh, I've seen her at a few of the children's events, but I'm sure she could never pick me out of a crowd even if I was the only woman there. However, she does everything she can to influence the children to hate both me and Neil. And though I try not to take things personally, it still hurts that they would repeat the things she says when they are angry or upset. It is easy to keep my mouth shut and not retaliate towards them. I know, after all, that they are just words. It is much harder to not have made-up scenes repeat themselves in my head whenever I have down time. Often I am in a court setting banishing the evil ex-wife out of our lives with my quick wit and logical arguments. She can only sit in humiliation as she has no wit or logic.

The hardest part in all of this is how it affects the rest of the family. It seems so unfair that the hateful venom of a woman who should have no part of my children's existence, can cause their father to become so tense that he lashes out at home because he cannot lash out at her. For my two boys who have no real dad to speak of, Neil is supposed to be their protector and example. Instead, he becomes an attacker and it divides our family. I want to love and support him as a faithful wife should. Yet, my children are just children. They do not have the maturity and understanding that I have as an adult to recognize that his actions are actually reactions and need to be forgiven rather than resented. So I must protect them from him and try to explain that this isn't who he really is.

At church during Sacrament Meeting, the high councilman speaking was talking about how we are often faced with challenges which lead us to plead for them to be taken away. The trial is more than we can bear. I have contemplated numerous times how much easier it would be to just walk away from his children. After all, they are the ones who claim they don't want to come or want to go back to their mom's house when they don't get what they want here. Give them what they want. Terminate parenthood and just let us be happy with our little family that remains. But I realize that it would not truly be happiness. Regardless of Neil's actions, I know that he truly loves his children - all of them, even mine who are his by sealing if not by blood. I could not ask him to give up Alyx and Derek even though it seems it would make life easier, nor do I want them to disappear from our lives. My hope is that as they grow older and mature, they will recognize our love for them as sincere regardless of the vile ramblings their mother may spew.

I guess an artist would say that you don't use all the colors of the palette to get the shade you want, but each color used is vital if you want your work to capture reality. Reality is that blending a family is not easy, but each individual is crucial for the picture to be complete.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week Ending 8/23/09

School is now in full swing and schedules are getting ironed out. Rachel is home with just me so we'll see how long we can enjoy this before I drive her nuts.

Monday was a horrid day. I had received some calls from agents wanting to show the house so I spent the morning getting the house cleaned up from our return from camping. It didn't take too long and Rachel and I headed out about noon. We didn't get very far before we had a tire blow-out. So I pulled to a side street, opened up the back of the suburban and started pulling out the jack and other tools. The spare tire was wedged in pretty tight so it took me some time trying to get it out. While I was struggling, a truck pulled in behind me with three guys. They offered to change the tire for me (woo hoo!!!) but the jack we have didn't fit well anywhere on the truck. Luckily they had one and the tire was changed out without too much effort on my part. I headed over to Discount Tire and ended up being sent to another store which had the tire in stock. While I was there, I had them check out the other tires since this was the second blow-out in less than a month. The other rear tire was just as old (7 years) so made the decision to go ahead and change it out rather than wait for another blow-out.

By the time the tires were changed, it was time to get the kids from school. I picked them up and headed out to Mesa to buy some scriptures for Aaron to have for seminary. We also stopped by D.I. to check for school uniform clothing for the kids. Not much luck in the shirt department but found the boys some pants and also picked up a couple of pair of scout pants.

Tuesday was better. Aaron started seminary and seems to be adjusting to his new schedule pretty well. He had received his school supply lists so we did some shopping after picking him up, then it was time to get the other kids.

Wednesday and Thursday had similar schedules with more realtors wanting to show the house. We included a trip to the library and a visit to McDonald's playground. Friday was a half-day for the younger kids and I had a job interview. I'm not sure about the job. It would be a great opportunity and I know I could do the job. Rachel would end up in day care, but I don't see that as a negative. She'd be at the same place as the kids' charter school so I wouldn't have any additional running around. My biggest concern is getting my own schooling finished. I have two more courses to finish up for my Bachelor's and then I am set to start student teaching in the spring. I hate the idea of starting a job knowing that I'd need a 12-week hiatus while I do the student teaching.

This is when I turn to prayer, but the truth is, I'm afraid of getting an answer. I'm afraid of not knowing if I'm getting the right answer. I'm afraid this is going to be one of those answers where it doesn't really matter which decision I make because there are good things to come out of each choice. I like things logical and neat and straight-forward and prayer requires faith and understanding and patience. Not really my strong points. I believe in the concept of prayer and I can say that I have had answers to prayers. But I've also had a lot of non-answers in which I am responsible for just making the decision and I usually screw those up.

Friday night the boys went on a campout and I took the three little kids to a pack meeting. Nick wants to be a Tiger Cub so we're checking out different packs. Saturday we did some house-cleaning and then took the kids to a birthday party. Neil got home with the older boys about 6:00 and had to run off to a scout meeting - which ended up being a waste of time since nobody else showed up that should have been there. They're going to try again on Wednesday. When we called home to get food orders, we learned that Derek had taken off. Neil finally tracked him down and had a conversation with him. It pretty much ruined the rest of the evening and weekend.

This morning we got up and got everybody ready for church only to get out to the suburban with a dead battery. We shoved everyone into the green truck and made it to church almost on time. The chapel was packed so we went to the other side from where we normally sit. As we were getting ready to go in, Rachel threw a fit so I sat out with her while the others went in. I finally got the problem out of her - she didn't have any shorts on under her dress. I'm not sure why this is critical. Cierra started the habit as soon as she was potty-trained and Rachel just assumes this is the normal attire for church. She survived church but we were joined in the foyer by Neil and Nick and then Cierra. The talks were good - at least from what I heard. I really enjoyed the talk given by Sister Cherrington. It was neat hearing how she had met Paul and I appreciated her testimony.

I took Rachel to nursery and ended up talking to one of the sisters I visit teach. I was supposed to teach one of the primary classes, but noticed the teacher was back. When I talked to her, she had prepared the next lesson so she sat with the kids in opening exercises, I taught the lesson, and we both went in for sharing and singing time.

Well, all the kids are showered and ready for bed so we need to go have family scriptures and prayer. Here's to another week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Those Little Idiosyncracies

I've been mulling this over for a while. I think I'm OCD. I know everybody has little things that make them unique but don't actually interfere with their daily lives. I've mentioned my candy-eating strategy to others in which any type of candy such as M&Ms or Skittles that can be categorized by color must be eaten by color. And each side of the mouth must get equal chewing time. Yeah, it's weird, but it doesn't interfere with the important stuff.

I've discovered a new game. It's rather annoying actually. You all know the car game where you have to find the letters of the alphabet, right? There are variations on the rules such as whether the letter has to be starting the word or how many letters you can use from a particular sign. Rules really only matter if you are playing against other people. I don't play well with others so the rules don't really matter when I play. And I don't normally play but found myself doing this when I was working at the Cub Scout Day Camp in June. I had to do something to keep myself awake on the drive home. But the problem with driving the same route everyday is that you get to know where all the letters are. So to keep myself more alert, I changed from looking for letters to looking for numbers. You start at 1 and go as high as you can. Numbers can be from signs, license plates, car advertisements, street addresses, etc. You have to find the numbers in order and they must be truly together (no getting "12" from "6201" just because it has the 1 and the 2).

It was entertaining for the month of June but now it's getting obsessive. I have many opportunities to find numbers driving around as I cart kids to and from seminary, to and from school, to and from scouts, to and from friend's houses. And because some drives are short, the game culminates throughout the whole day. Now admittedly, I have learned a few things from playing this game.

1) There are a lot of people out there with personalized license plates. I wouldn't say half or even a fourth, but probably 1/10th of all license plates are personalized. Most of them do not include any numbers.

2) I can tell you the street numbers for all major east-west streets. Thunderbird is 13800 in case you care.

3) I know the best route driving west-east to get all the numbers off of the street signs and which ones will cause problems. For example, there are no street signs/numbers between 34th and 36th street on Bell so if you don't get the 35 from a license plate quickly, you're pretty much screwed on Bell.

4) There are a lot of discrepancies between the left and right sides of the streets regarding house numbers. I'm not sure who came up with the numbering system, but they didn't do a very good job. In the course of the game, though, this can come in handy.

Yeah, I'm definitely OCD.

What To Do?

I'm feeling off today. I'm not sure but I think this started awhile ago and it's just now catching up with me. I started working from home part-time and really enjoyed the work. Then the company called and asked me if I wanted to help in another department as well. Sure, why not? So I got trained for that and am still waiting for any kind of work to come from that area. But I also have an interview today with the owner who indicated he wants to discuss additional work. I'm excited about that. I think I know why I'm off.

The kids went back to school and I only have Rachel left at home. We have gone to the library, done some school supply shopping, gone grocery shopping, cleaned the house, gone to McDonald's while the house is being seen by potential buyers. I'm bored. I have a lot of empty time now and when all the kids are gone, it is a lot easier and faster to clean the house.

So I'm really, really hoping that this interview will bring more work to fill my time or I'm afraid I will turn to inane postings here at my blog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Education of Little Tree (by Forrest Carter)

I decided to wait until I had attended our Book Club meeting before I wrote my review of this book. Then, fiasco hit and I was unable to stay for the Book Club meeting and never got back on to write about the book.

I did learn quite a bit from the few minutes I was there about the author and while this knowledge is a bit disappointing, it does not take away from the lessons that can be learned from Little Tree.

The book's introduction touts it as an autobiographical account of the author's life with his grandparents. The truth is that Forrest Carter was born Asa Earl Carter and was a known segreagationalist and unofficial speech writer for George Wallace. It is unknown if there is any Cherokee ancestry for him to claim. Though many claimed he was Asa Carter, the author denied these claims. And though he was indeed Asa Carter, can anyone wonder at his decision to deny his identity? It is quite possible that he recognized the wrongs he had done and, in making a break from that life, simply decided to denounce the man he had been and allow himself a new life.

The book, now known to be a fictional account of a young Cherokee boy raised by his grandparents, offers many life lessons. It does portray the white man critically and embellishes the Cherokee Way. But as I look at the world we now live in, the book invoked a desire to return to a society in which decisions were not dicated by the almighty dollar.

Lessons Learned

Children will learn by example and by doing. Many times throughout the book, Little Tree learns how to do things because his grandpa does them with him. Though Little Tree is only five years old at the start of the book, and has lost both his parents, he is not coddled or mollified into being useless. He is expected to work, but not alone. He and grandpa till the field, make whiskey, carry their wares to the store, gather nuts, berries, and other food, and collect wood. He is not expected to do much, but he is given the opportunity to do his full share. As he and grandpa get older, the tables turn and Little Tree now takes on a greater portion of the burden and grandpa's abilities lessen.

The only way you will learn is through experience. As parents, we often want to protect our children from the harshness of the world. We want to limit their exposure to failure, greed, cheats, and bad judgments. Yet, if they are to truly learn, we cannot shield them from the bad parts of life. Little Tree is paid for the work he does with his grandpa and saves up with the intention to purchase a present for his grandma. However, at market one day, he chooses to purchase a calf from a young man claiming to be a Christian. He gives all his money (50 cents) in exchange for the calf. Unfortunately, the calf is sick and doesn't even make it back up the mountain. His grandpa explains that he had to let him make the purchase so that future purchases would be made with more caution.

Teaching a man is better than providing for the man. This is the old adage "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This is one of those lessons that I wish more people would learn - especially our government leaders. I received an email about a woman on welfare who was complaining because her house wasn't good enough and her television wasn't a plasma. She had lived in government housing since she was born and had worked for only one year. She claimed the experience was so horrible, she just couldn't do it anymore. Heaven forbid she provide for herself.

It's Not All Good

Although the book was enjoyable, I disliked the way it portrayed "civilized man." The lesson that Little Tree failed to learn was that you can't just lump everyone into a category. If a person was dressed up, he was automatically a politician and you couldn't trust him. Religious people were scoffed at simply because different factions disagreed on religious points. The young man selling the calf claimed to be Christian and the lesson Little Tree got out of that experience was to never trust a Christian.

I would give the book 3 out of 5 stars. It's a quick read, once you get into it. It offers some great lessons, but remember that the book is told from the point of view and a 5-8 year old so some of the lessons and observations are skewed.

Week Ending 8/16/09

What a busy week. We had the three younger children start school on Wednesday so Monday was our meet-the-teacher night. We did some recruiting for cub scouts as well. Nick is so excited to finally be a cub scout. He's worn a uniform for so long without being official. I'm going to be his Tiger leader. Most people think I'm crazy given all I already do in scouts, but I admit, I covet the knots. Being the leader will give me another knot to have Neil sew onto my shirt. I can never get them centered correctly.

Derek was sick with strep all week so we didn't get to see him until Sunday night at the Seminary fireside. Aaron will be at the Waltann building with Bishop Tate as his teacher. Derek and Alyx will be at the PV Stake Center. Derek will have Sister Dahl, previously of the Stake YW Presidency, and Alyx gets President Case - recently released as the 2nd counselor in the PV Stake Presidency. As the teachers were introduced at the fireside, I realized that I had had some type of knowledge of all but one of the teachers, so that tells me they are pulling the best of the best to lead our youth in Seminary. Most were prior bishops, presidents, and leaders at the stake level.

We were invited to join some friends on a camping trip this weekend so Neil and I reviewed our finances and made the decision to purchase a tent trailer. It was hard to make such a major purchase given the uncertainty of our home, but we realize that any vacations we take will have to be done driving so the tent trailer allows us to travel without feeling like such an invasion on family and friends. We also figured that in a worst-case scenario, we could always live in the tent trailer if we had no other option.

The camping trip was great. We went to Kaibab Lake up near Williams/Flagstaff. The weather was rather windy so though fishing was attempted, there was not much success. Our friends were able to catch a rainbow trout and a large-mouth bass and Neil was shown how to clean a fish. The kids were very excited about this and even ate some of the fish after it had been cooked.

The remainder of the week was filled with school, scout meetings, and general running around. This week has started out busy which is why I am late posting last week's review.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Out Of Towners (Starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn)

This movie version of a Neil Simon play is a fun, light-hearted comedy with great actors. Martin and Hawn star as a couple from Ohio going on a trip to New York. Share in their ride as they get re-routed, have their luggage lost, get mugged, attend a sex-a-holic group meeting, air their dirty laundry, and get put in jail - all in less than 24 hours. Martin and Hawn are joined at the hotel by John Cleese who plays the perfect brown-nosing, snooty concierge, born and bred in New York. This is an older movie so if you can't find it at the rental place, try your local library.

Daily Funnies

Today was a busy day. I tried to get all of the kids up at 7:30. This is the time they will all need to be up on Wednesday and the rest of the school year. Except for Aaron, who, at 7:30 am, will actually be at school and should have been awake for at least an hour already. Daniel got up, used the bathroom, and went back to bed. When I called to him, okay, yelled at him to get up, he claimed he was up, he was just making his bed from the inside.

Nicholas, on the other hand, jumped out of bed, ran to find me, and requested to play the PlayStation (TM). Never mind that 1) he is still in his boxers, and 2) we have a standing rule that you do not ask to play the PlayStation (TM) before 9 am.

Cierra claimed she needed help getting dressed, but when I went to find her, she had already changed and left her pajamas on my floor. I'm still not sure exactly how that happened since she emerged from her own room fully dressed yet I never saw her go from my room to hers in just her underwear. It is possible that she has learned to transport, but highly unlikely.

I had promised Daniel a one-on-one trip to go shopping. He is really into magic tricks and had been told by a friend about a store over by the mall. To make sure I headed for the right place, I looked it up online first. I verified the name of the store with Daniel and he assured me I had the right name. Sorry son, Optical Illusions is an Optometrists office.

Aaron had asked me prior to leaving if he could go to a friend's house when we returned. I told him we would see how the day was going. I returned from shopping and had picked up fast food for lunch. Of course I had forgotten Rachel's cheeseburger (she usually eats the chicken nuggets) so had to dash out for another run. After the kids had eaten, Aaron approached me again about going to his friend's house. His friend lives approximately half a mile away.

Aaron: I know you probably don't want to go back out so can I just ride a bike over?
Me: Sure
Aaron (coming back in from the garage): All of the bicycles are flat.
Me: You could skateboard over.
Aaron: I'm not that good at skateboarding, and the roads aren't really great for riding my ripstick.
Me: You could always walk.
Aaron: uhhhh
Me: Or here's an idea - go out to the garage and use the compressor to fill up the tires on one of the bikes.
Aaron: I'll just ride my ripstick.

And here's the kicker. Two hours later he called to find out when we were planning on picking him up. Because of our evening activities, I told him he had an option in pick-up times (heaven forbid I suggest he ride his ripstick home). We settled on one and then I asked him what he was up to. He and his friends were walking to Circle K. Not the close one, the one up at 56th street and Bell. The one at least three miles away.

Kids - you've got to love them. Killing them is a federal offense.

G-Force (starring a bunch of rodents)

This furry adventure tells the tale (tail?) of a special force of agents pursuing a master-mind criminal. The agents are animals - rodents actually - who have special equipment which allows them to talk to and be understood by humans. Things get complicated when their infiltration comes with a few bugs (literally and figuratively) and the animal force gets shut down. The rodents want a second chance and have to fight through pet shop adoptions, garbage trucks, and appliances gone lethal. The movie includes a couple of unexpected twists - one that was actually just useless information and one that leaves you smacking your head for not seeing it coming.

It's a cute movie but not one that you have to see in the theaters. Save your money until it comes out on DVD, or if you do want the theater experience, take the kids to the drive-in where prices are cheaper and you have the option of staying for a second movie.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seven Pounds (starring Will Smith)

Not having television has led to an influx of movie-watching. Luckily, we have access to a wonderful public library which doesn't charge to borrow movies (unless you return them late). I like Will Smith. He was funny in his television debut as the Fresh Prince and has matured into an excellent actor who has not allowed himself to be pigeon-holed into any given character. I don't like all of his movies, but the only ones I won't watch are those with an R rating.

It took me two times watching Seven Pounds to get it all. Partly because it has a lot of subtle nuances and partly because I first tried watching it at 10 pm. I watch a lot of movies that way and not all of them get a second viewing. Some of them shouldn't have received a first viewing, but I digress.

In a nutshell, Will's character, Ben Johnson, has the ability to seriously change the lives of 7 people, but it requires him sticking to the plan. The plan starts to go somewhat awry when he becomes emotionally attached to one of the seven. Will the attachment prove to be the undoing of the plan or will Ben stick to the plan even though he will have to give up the attachment?

If you choose to watch this movie, (and I highly recommend it) make sure that you set aside a time where you won't be distracted or fall asleep.

Week Ending 8/9/09

It was the last week before school started so we tried to get everyone on a schedule. Aaron had a couple of camps to attend for high school on Monday - Thursday. He seems to be comfortable with the campus and looking forward to starting school. He's not quite as excited about starting seminary but like his mother, he's not a morning person. He spent his after-camp time with friends either here or at their homes. It's nice to know he has friends.

We pulled out school clothes for Cierra that I had bought back when Mervyn's was going out of business. She tried them on and they fit so she's got a week's worth of clothes. As often as we do laundry here, keeping a clean outfit shouldn't be a problem. The problem will probably exist as she gets picky about whether she is willing to wear the skirt or wants to wear shorts. Luckily, Nick's and Daniel's clothes still fit from last year so we should be good until one of them hits a growth spurt. And since they both have shorts, and we have short-wearing weather until at least November, we might be able to put off buying school uniforms until Christmas (because that's *exactly* what they want for Christmas).

Wednesday Nick was invited to a birthday party for a friend. It was held at an aquatics center in Scottsdale. I had been told that I could bring the other children and just pay the entrance fee for the additional people. I was going to just bring Daniel since the birthday boy has an older sibling close to Daniel's age, but after some fits of anguish from the little girls, I dragged them along as well. It turned out to be a good deal as the front desk people did not charge anything additional for the rest of the family to come in and I verified with the party-thrower that she was not going to get charged anything for us. Since she had paid in advance, she assured us that we were fine.

We had Roundtable Thursday night, Derek had his OA meeting and Aaron went to his Varsity Huddle. Daniel watched the little kids while we were gone. He is a great sitter as long as he doesn't get into a bad mood. Luckily, no bad mood on Thursday and the kids were ready for bed when we got home.

I picked up some more work with ServiceTrak so went in for training on Thursday and finished up the work Saturday evening. In addition to doing the coding and verbatim, I am also doing the QC. I was wondering how I was doing on my own entering and after seeing what others are doing, I feel so much better about my own performance. I have a few typos, but I guess having majored in English has more benefits than I realized. I always joke that the only thing I'm qualified to do is correct your grammar. Well, that's exactly what QCing is about in this job, so it's working out.

Derek had a friend come over Saturday while Aaron and Daniel both went over to friends' homes. Neil took Derek back to his mom's house so Derek could attend a friend's farewell on Sunday. He picked up Aaron on his way home, Daniel had come home already and was wanting to go see a movie. I suggested that Neil take the two boys to see a movie but Aaron chose not to go. Since I was now done with my work assignments, we left Aaron to watch the little kids while Neil, Daniel, and I went to see G-Force. We got back late - around 11, sent Daniel to bed, and popped in a movie to go to sleep to. Wrong movie. Neil and I watched the Out of Towners and then threw in The Man From Snowy River. I think we finally fell asleep somewhere in the 2:00 hour.

Of course, today was Sunday and Aaron had to speak in Sacrament Meeting. The alarm went off at 7 and I kept hitting snooze until about 7:30. Then I turned off the alarm with every intention of getting up. I got up at 8:15 and quickly scrambled to get everybody else up and ready for church. Neil commented that one of us could always take Aaron over and the other could bring the rest as soon as we were ready. Instead, everyone was ready by 8:45, in the truck by 8:50, and at church at 8:55. Proving that you can get a family of 7 up and ready for church when properly motivated. This is not a request to my bishopric counselors to extend more opportunities for our family members to speak in church.

Well, we need to go read scriptures and get kids ready for bed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bless You

Cierra (sneezes): Mom, when I sneezed, my ears said something.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Henry Poole Is Here

This was an unexpected movie. I picked it up because it stars Luke Wilson. This usually means a light-hearted comedy with some romance - perfect for a lazy Sunday evening. Well, romance was involved, but not as the main plot. Instead, Luke plays a man who is forced to deal with hope, faith, and miracles when he would much rather be left alone to die.

Henry Poole moves to a small community close to where he lived as a boy. His childhood memories are not great - parents fought a lot and made homelife miserable. But he moves back to this neighborhood after being diagnosed with a fatal disease. He buys a home in need of repair but foregoes any negotiations on the price. The stucco work is completed even though he has requested nothing be done. A bad water stain appears to contain the face of Christ. Poole's neighbors experience their own miracles when they come to visit the stain, much to Poole's chagrin. And though he is witness to the miracles, he will not acknowledge them as such, nor test the power of the stain to cure his own disease.

In the end, Poole destroys the stain, the wall, and part of his house. But out of disaster comes more miracles. Definitely worth watching regardless of your own faith in miracles.

Week Ending 8/2/09

Well we're into August and the countdown to school has begun. It is exciting to know that all the kids except Rachel will be in school. I'll have two years with just her at home so this year will be for fun, and next year I'll look at doing Joy School with her if I can find some others to join in.

This week was a vacation week for us. Moreso than most. We had Alyx and Derek with us until Thursday evening. Neil had committed to a job for a guy we know through scouts so he had the two older boys help him with that in the mornings before it got too hot, then spent the afternoon playing. He had also received a phone call on Sunday evening asking for help Monday morning with a move-in. He took all four boys with him to that and they got done rather quickly.

Wednesday we went to a Diamondbacks Baseball game against the Phillies. D-backs won which was a nice surprise. We had earned tickets through the library reading program so the seats weren't great, but it was all about the family time. Of course, the majority of my family time was running back and forth to the food stands, but that's okay. It meant Neil got to sit and watch the game (sort of). I sometimes wonder if he really wants children. He often talks about how much more he would enjoy an event if the kids weren't there.

Thursday we got up early and took the kids to the zoo. I've come to realize that the zoo just isn't that much fun anymore. The animals are basically the same each time we go and the kids would rather ride the carousel and play at the water areas than walk around looking at smelly animals. They do have a new water area with slides and waterfalls so if you do decide to go, wear a swimsuit or bring a change of clothes.

Neil took Alyx and Derek back to their mom's house later that night. I took Aaron over to a friend's house so he could go camping with them for the weekend. When Neil got back, we got all the kids in bed and took advantage of having our own pool with some night swimming.

Friday Neil went over and finished up the porch project and I got some work done here. I'm doing data entry work for a company owned by a couple in our ward. I'm really enjoying it and was honored to be called Friday evening and asked to help out with some QC. I haven't had any training on it, but it seems to be pretty standard. Basically I'm just checking over the work entered to look for spelling, grammar, and coding errors.

Saturday we had somebody come look at the house so we took the kids out for breakfast at Village Inn and then ran errands. We got back to the house around 3:00 and I took a nap. When I got up I took care of the QC stuff and then headed back to bed.

Today we woke up late but made it to church almost on time. It was Fast and Testimony meeting and I enjoyed listening to the many testimonies born. I was particularly happy to hear about the sealing of Jackson to his parents. They are leaving on Wednesday for Grenada where Dustin will be doing Medical school. They had been a little stressed because they have been trying to get all the paperwork in place prior to them having to leave. Once again, the Lord does things with his own timing and at the time that will most benefit us. Lyndzee made the comment that she knew she could never have reason to doubt that Heavenly Father lives and is watching over us. To do so would indicate that she had forgotten the blessings He had sent previously. This was a big blessing and it was truly awesome to see the effect it has had on their lives.

After Sacrament Meeting, I picked up my Visiting Teaching paperwork. Lyndzee had been my partner so I was expecting a change. I have been assigned her mother, which by coincidence is the wife of the couple for whom I work. So while I will miss Lyndzee, I will get regular updates and I still have an awesome partner in her mother.

I went down to the Primary room to see if I was needed to cover the music. Phone calls had been made but nothing was ever finalized. Music was covered but as I headed back towards the adult Sunday School class, I noticed that Aaron's class was without a teacher. So I went back to the Primary room to check with their teacher's wife as to whether or not he was at church. He wasn't so we found a manual and I subbed for that class. We had a pretty good discussion about President David O. McKay and the importance of family relationships and the examples of parents.

In Relief Society we were taught about provident living. At the end of the meeting I bore my testimony. I appreciate the opportunity to do this on Fast Sundays in Relief Socity because I often don't get up in Sacrament Meeting usually because I'm being distracted by children.

Well, I have promised the kids that I will finish this up and go swimming with them. It's after 8:30 and I want to have them in bed by 9 so I'd better get going.