Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shutter Happy

I'm backdating this a couple of weeks because I'm sort of OCD, and would like this on the date it happened, not when I'm finally getting around to posting it.

So, back to Melissa's birthday. It was a day of firsts. The first day of our new monthly birthday dinner with the Marshes.

And our first dinner at their new high-rise condo downtown!

Also, the first of many great photo shoots while downtown. The flower beds at Temple Square were uncharacteristically empty, ready for tulips just before conference, but we had plenty of great backdrops on the public square just below their building.

For every photo of smiling kids I have at least five with silly faces:

See? Smiling:

And silly:

And lots of silly poses too. Here's Joey, a.k.a. Percy Jackson, controlling the waters:

This got a few smiles from people passing by:

This kid is not a poser at all.

Neither is this kid.

It must be genetic.

Happy Birthday Melissa! Sorry about the toilet in your yard...

Rob is delighted about his thoughtful birthday gift for his only sister, and you can see why—who wouldn't want a lovely pink toilet (especially with a disgusting stained seat) in their front yard? I can't wait to see what the Stringhams come up with for Rob's birthday.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rob's Really Cold Ride

Luckily Melissa posted details of the 1st Annual Team Firestorm Bike Ride on her blog, since I wasn't there to take photos or retell the adventure. Firestorm is a team that was formed to support Rob's friend and fellow-cyclist, Ben Jacobsen, in his fight against cancer. Ben passed away last fall (you can read his last blog post here, but make sure you have a kleenex). Ben was an amazing person, so I guess it's no surprise that almost a hundred people were riding Emigration Canyon in his honor on Saturday, in spite of the freezing temperatures, snow and ice. Ben's widow, Allison, hosted a Pizza and Pasta party at her house the night before, and had food and drinks (including hot chocolate) at the start/finish line too. She is also amazing.

I asked Rob to pose for a photo when he got home, but had forgotten to change my camera settings from the ones I used at night, so my photo was completely overexposed by the bright snow. When I tried to tone down the highlights in iPhoto, I decided this had an Andy Warhol quality to it, so I'm posting it anyway.

I did eventually get the settings right.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You know it's March Madness...

...when we've got not one, but two games going during dinner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Doily Bones

Robbie broke a toe this morning before school. I thought it might be dislocated, because of the way it was angled, but a trip to our pediatrician's office confirmed that it was broken, and it wasn't a nice clean break. They sent us up to Primary Children's ER to have an orthopedist look at it. When Robbie told him that he had simply stubbed it on our ottoman, the orthopedist asked if we had a family history of brittle bones. I told him that I've never had a broken bone, but that Rob has had at least eight. Let's hope Robbie doesn't beat his record. Four hours and hundreds of dollars later we came home with a taped toe and an orthopedic shoe. I guess I can't complain much, this is our first broken bone, and he doesn't even need a cast.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


We had a dinner and service auction for our ward's Relief Society birthday party tonight, and I scored!!

First, this is what I took to auction off:

The Tollhouse Pie was in the contest judged by the bishopric (sort of unfair that I knew Rob's favorite) and won "best tasting" before being raffled off.

The apron was in the silent auction, along with a cooking lesson from me, with the winner keeping whatever we make. I scored here, because now I have an excuse to hang out with someone I already like and want to get to know better.

I also scored big in the live auction, when I won this:

If you can't read the small print, it's a "Romantic Weekend Away." Free babysitting for the weekend! The cute girl who gave this away is even a professional nanny. Inside the basket is a bottle of sparkling cider and two wine glasses. Time to brainstorm a fun (and romantic) getaway.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brain Dump

I'm sort of OCD when it comes to cleaning and organizing. I never live up to my own standards, but maybe because it's spring, or maybe because we just helped Ralph & Judy move 40+ years worth of stuff, I'm in de-cluttering mode. I could start with my closet, my hard drive, my photos, my pantry, my storage room...but I've decided to sort and organize some of my thoughts. Most of them are mundane, a few of them are destructive, and there might be a couple I'd like to come back and develop later.

If you make it to the end of this post it's safe to say you are:
a) insanely bored,
b) a masochist,
c) a kindred spirit, or
d) all of the above.

So here goes. This is what has been on my mind recently.

1) The best decision I ever made was to marry Rob. I love it when he does little things to make me happy, like filling up my water bottle (with water from the refrigerator, not the tap, even though he swears there's no difference). When I went to put my shoes on this morning, I found some Girl Scout Thin Mints waiting for me. He thinks he's proving that he loves me the most, but he's just giving me more reasons to love him the most.

2) Books and friends are often my "inciting incidents." In a good way. There is a long blog post waiting here. If you've read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years you'll probably get this.

3) I am tired. I am lazy. I need to lose weight. I need to be nicer to my kids. I'm clumping a lot of negative thoughts here that need to change into something productive or go away. Time to re-read The Feeling Good Book.

4) Most people are amazing. Sometimes I get this almost overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the people around me, even if I don't know them well.

5) WHY don't I do the things that I know will make me happy? I know that scripture study and exercise make my day, and that when it comes down to it, it's the things we do daily that really make a difference. How many times do I need to relearn these lessons to make them stick for good?

6) Listening to the scriptures while I'm doing the dishes or laundry really doesn't cut it. It may be better than nothing, but my thoughts always wander. On the scale of good/better/best, it is only good.

7) I love the stage of life I'm in right now. No totally dependent and high-maintenence babies, no teenagers who want to be totally independent, some time to myself, but family fun too. Sometimes I worry that this might be the peak, but I hope that I'll enjoy each stage as it comes.

8) Urgent v. Important. My to-do list is long, and most everything on it has been there for a while. Sometimes I'll get something on the list finished because I have a deadline (taxes, birthday, activity) that forces the issue. Most of them are not, so they get pushed back by the everyday need for order (dishes, laundry, dinner). I want to check off some of the things that are important. I need some inciting incidents. Also, so many of the things that are truly important (spending time with family, friends, scriptures, nature) are not even on my list. Would it help if I re-write my list? Again, why don't I do what I know?

9) Service. I need to move beyond "I want to do better at this" to a plan. Who, what, when, where, why, how... I also want to help my kids learn to love service, big or small. What are my passions, and how can I meld my service with them? Reading, photography, food, running, memories? I've done some service things with these, but need some more thinking (and action) here.

10) Disneyland. Ainsley's been sitting on my lap as I've been typing this, and we just had a conversation about all the fun things we'd be doing if we were there. There is definitely an element of "fakeness" there that made Rob and I think we would NEVER take our kids, and even if we did, we'd simply endure it for their sake. But we have loved it every time we've gone! This is probably in part because all of the urgent things disappear and some important family bonding happens. We've got $356 Disney reward dollars to spend...

11) I need to get our Washington D.C. trip planned. The plane tickets are booked but that is all. I've got some work to do.

12) I'd love to try laser hair removal, but I'm a chicken. And too cheap. Plus, I don't want to be shallow (even if I am).

13) What would I regret if I died? Or what would I do if I knew I only had a year to live? I just read The Council of Dads, written by a guy in that position. I would regret not finishing (or even starting) a scrapbook for Ainsley. I made a baby book (until age one) for Robbie and Joey, and got about half-way done with Ellie's before I quit scrapbooking. I actually prefer blogging, and the whole point for me is to leave them with memories and a sure knowledge of my love for them, so that's okay. But the comparison would always be there, and it is a tangible, made-especially-for-me-by-mom proof, and I want to get it done. I actually do have a plan to get started, which is a weekend in St. George with Melissa (and hopefully Judy) where we do nothing but scrapbook while watching chick flicks and ordering take-out. I can't wait.

14) Blogging. I have such mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I think it is a pain, a waste of time, way too exhibitionist for someone who prefers privacy and anonymity. But this line from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years sums up my reason for photo-journaling:

"[Bob] said he captures memories, because if he forgets them, it's as though they didn't happen; it's as though he hadn't lived the parts he doesn't remember."

It's kind of the philosophic question, "If a tree falls and no one hears it..." Here's my thinking. It falls, but it doesn't matter as much. My photo-journal is public only because I've been inspired and entertained by others blogs, and a few of you have been kind enough to tell me you like reading mine too.

15) Self-doubt. Hmm, should I even push the publish button? Maybe I should have left out the bolded parts? Why would I put this out there? What was I thinking? Rob is going to think this is cheesy.

16) Simplicity. I have a way of over-analyzing everything. Can you tell? I love the idea of yoga, meditation or just focusing on breathing as a way to turn off my brain, but rarely do it. Maybe it's time for that now...

So, what's on your mind? Vent with me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Most holidays = sugar overload

It's already been well-documented here that I'm barely competent as a mom, so it's no surprise that I let my kids consume nutritionally-devoid Lucky Charms and chocolate coins on St. Patrick's Day. I need to work on some non-food holiday traditions...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Intentions vs. Reality

When I went to the store today I picked up a bottle of green nail polish—I figured it'd be a fun surprise for them and some bonding time for us. But by the time we finished homework, dinner, showers and hair, it was their bedtime, and apparently past mine, because I was a grouch. I kept telling them (and not in a nice way) to "Quit wiggling," "Stop being silly" and "Don't touch anything, because I don't want to have to redo this!" Then, instead of doing something to make them smile naturally for the obligatory photo, I growled, complained and sulked: "Fine, I guess if you don't like the polish enough to look at me and smile, I won't buy any more." Poor girls. Somehow they managed to be happy about the polish in spite of their impatient, tired mom. Maybe the thought counts for something.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brandon Mull Fans

Although I went to the Fablehaven launch party with the boys last year and the year before, and I loved them, I had already made plans for tonight, so we let them go on their own. They had a great time, and even handed the camera to a nice mom sitting behind them to take a photo, per my request. Many thanks to Brandon Mull, for making reading fun, for my boys, and for me! I'm looking forward to reading Beyonders, but I'm third in line.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

So Proud

What is a mom-blog without a little bragging? Really, how can I pass up an opportunity to show the world that my son can fit an entire cupcake into his mouth?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Speaking of swimming...

Robbie's swim team has started playing water polo once a week or so and he loves it. I was hoping to pick him up from practice early enough to get some photos, but Joey had a friend over and I got there just after they finished. So instead I took the opportunity to take this rare photo of Robbie and Jonas. Rare because it may be the first time (since they were babies anyway) that Jonas has hair shorter than Robbie's. Robbie hates his hair long, and has been begging to get it cut for months, but I think it looks great. He's nearly a teenager, so maybe his rebellion can be to buzz it off. Don't tell him, but I think I can live with that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A willing sacrifice

Ainsley has been begging to swim for the past month or two, so I finally signed her up for a class and she is in heaven. Two hours before her lesson today she informed me that she was ready to go and she'd just be waiting in the car. She also told me how sorry she was that I had to be a mom instead of a swim teacher. ;)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just what the doctor ordered.

Rob tells me he misses the daily photo. And since I live to make him happy, here it is:

I've been cooped up inside WAY too long, and I'm sick to death of back/neck/shoulder injuries, not to mention cold weather. So when I woke up to 18 inches of new snow today, my immediate reaction was definitely the half-empty perspective. Thank goodness for an invitation to go snowshoeing from my eternally optimistic and outgoing friend. I enjoyed the blue skies, sunshine, fresh air, conversation and fun of watching two cute girls and one cute puppy practically swimming in the deep snow (even better since it wasn't my puppy). Mental health day. :)