Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Time To Mop

One of my pet peeves is dirty floors. I cannot stand having my shoes stick to the floor! Last year during this week between Christmas and New Year's, I cleaned up seven soda pop spills. The sugar content of soda always requires mopping and re-mopping. Soda has been banned from my house ever since. Dirt tracked in bugs me too, but I have come to accept that it is just part of family life. I chose tile that would hide dirt, but wet footprints from winter boots are still pretty obvious. Worse than a dirty floor is a dirty floor five minutes after mopping it. Tonight, I have figured out the secret to my happiness--pay attention Kent! I swept the floors after dinner while the kids watched a movie, and then mopped while the children were falling asleep. I was able to monitor the children's nighttime escapades, but more importantly...MY FLOORS WILL STAY CLEAN FOR AT LEAST ELEVEN HOURS! (while everyone sleeps). Now I can rest well!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 In A Nutshell

I love waking to new snow. Everything is still and blanketed in peace. Watching the snow fall for ten hours yesterday reminded me of the paradox of snow. It falls in flurries and is full of movement, yet there is none of the noise that would normally accompany that amount of activity. Much unlike our house! Here is some of the busy-ness that is part of life Inside the Whites' House.

This year Mary practiced her hands-on skills. At home she began planting the landscape and led the charge in redoing a bathroom, which included replacing a toilet. She also took a CERT class where she practiced administering life-saving skills that will help in a disaster-type emergency. Her favorite work was on a trip to Baja Mexico with Kent, where she learned to frame a building, turn cement into a sidewalk, and taught girls at an orphanage to make dolls and beaded jewelry.

Kid #1 has learned that fifth grade is a lot of work. Somehow she manages to stay active in the student council and school service projects while keeping up with homework, piano lessons, and her tutoring job. During school breaks she organizes her friends in her "Girls' Club" and holds meetings and elections. (She got the idea from Calvin and Hobbes, but it helps to have political blood in her too.) This picture is from her performance in Provo's "Hope of America" program where she rocked out to patriotic songs.

Kid #3 loves school, "even more than Disneyland!" (That was about the best thing her teacher has ever heard from a student.) She is constantly in motion (except when it's time to wake up). She loves to dance, hula hoop, sing, play piano, and jump rope. For her birthday yesterday, she got the one thing she had asked for: a snorkel. We added a mask and fins so she can explore the far reaches of the city pool.

Kid #4 (on the left) is very concerned about time. She loves to repeat the week's itinerary in terms of tomorrow and the next day and the next day.... She retells stories from "when I was three" or "when I was four-and-a-half, and I still am". She also likes to spell words that she has seen and has started spelling words that she can sound out. Like her sister, #2, she is good at including younger children when she plays. #2 is an all-around loving person. She lets her little brother share her bed so he won't be scared of the moon, even though it often means she also takes him on midnight trips to the toilet. He affectionately calls her "Mally Mom", which title she has earned. She keeps busy in third grade, piano lessons, and serving on the student council and as a tutor to younger kids in the neighborhood.

I love this picture of #5. He loves to play dress-up with his sisters, but we don't have any capes or construction costumes. So he lets the girls put dresses on him...and then stomps around the house or plays in the dirt! I tell myself that the smashed spaghetti and permanent marker drawings on the walls are just an indication of his creative side. He is also very gentle and loving and makes sure to hug and cuddle with anyone who is sad.

Kent continues to work for A Child's Hope Foundation, though this year he has also built web pages and dabbled in bookkeeping for a few other businesses and organizations, including his own website, I love this photo--even though he is barely even in it--because it demonstrates his role at the foundation really well. He is the support person who truly keeps everything running. Every few months he organizes a trip to orphanages in La Mision on the Baja. These trips allow volunteers to serve the Mexican children, but the volunteers always come away feeling more richly blessed. One of the foundation's goals is to enlighten the spirit within, and because of Kent's efforts, this comes about for everyone involved. We would LOVE to have any of you and your families join us for a future work project. Check out (another great website by Kent) for more information.

So that's our 2008 in a nutshell. We hope you feel the love of our Savior and His Redemption in your life. To borrow a phrase from my new sister-in-law, we love you (unless you're a stranger reading our blog - we don't love you)!

#2's baptism day in May

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Trophy Child

My baby #3 is seven years old today! She has accomplished a lot in the past year. Last year in Kindergarten, she struggled learning to sound words out. She made some progress over the summer, and then suddenly reading clicked in her brain and she skipped from a first-grade level to a fourth-grade level. She loves to stay up late reading novels to herself or out loud to her sister and brother. She is also strong in math and continues to be a great artist. When the first-grade art projects are hung up at school, I can always pick hers out because she is so careful about color and detail. At home she is constantly playing piano. I have taught her lessons consistently for only five months, but she is already able to pick out melodies on the keys by ear. When she's not at the piano, she is jumping rope. Even though I outlawed jump ropes in the house, she skips an imaginary rope from room to room! She has grown more responsible over her seventh year, and I am sure she will be ready for baptism in another year. But all those great things do not explain the trophy she is holding.

A few weeks ago, my mom gave us a trophy she had won for employee of the year. She thought it would be fun to use with the Cub Scouts. (Though I no longer serve in that calling, I don't think it would be proper to give the best Relief Society lesson instructor a trophy.) Well, #3 instantly adopted the trophy. She would take "her" flying around the house. At night, I had to tuck "her" into bed with #3. Trophy girl went to school so "she" could meet #3's class, and of course she went wrapped up in a blanket to keep "her" warm. The two of them were inseparable. Fortunately, it only lasted a few days. Now #3 simply checks on the trophy each day without feeling like she needs to devote all her time to "her". You know what I learned from this? Trophies are not built to last. It didn't take long before the bolts were loosening and a pillar fell off. They just don't make trophies like they used to. It's as if trophies were meant to be kept in a case and looked at, not touched. ;o)

Happy birthday sweetie!
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Know What I'm Getting For Christmas!

A friend sent me this video. Take a look!

It reminded me of my first Christmas being married to Kent eleven years ago. I bought Kent a $110, leather-bound set of the Ante-Nicean Fathers' writings. Not what most people would want, but it was at the top of his list. After shopping for me, he found the perfect gift and couldn't contain the surprise, so he told my family what he found that he knew I would love. They all seemed a little less encouraging and wary, but I didn't want to know anything. I was sure Kent and I were so in tune that he knew better than they what I would want.

Christmas morning I unwrapped...a Scumbuster. A hand-held, battery-operated machine that spins scrubbing pads to make cleaning showers easy. But that's not all. My gift list had included pajamas. I was even very specific about which PJs I wanted at which store and on which rack. And Kent got me the right a size 24W. He didn't realize that men's sizes don't work the same as women's. He was standing at the rack trying to find a 30 (or whatever my waist measured in inches back then), and 24 was the biggest he could see. It didn't occur to him to ask a clerk why most of the PJs were size 8 or 10.  In a state of shock after opening the gift box, all I could do was hold up the PJ bottoms and ask, "Did you look at these?"

I have since learned to pick out exactly the thing I want and just let him pay for it. The last few years, all I've wanted is to go out to a show and dinner. Tomorrow we are seeing Glenn Beck perform his "Christmas Sweater" stage show, which is being broadcast to theaters. Then we're going out for some Indian food. I'm quite excited!

I'd love to hear your "surprising" gift experiences too! I know I'm not the only one out there.

By the way, I actually did like the Scumbuster and it's proven a little useful. But I wouldn't recommend cleaning implements as gifts. They're more for "Look what I picked up at Wal-Mart that I thought would make your life easier."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yo Gabba Gabba

Kent discovered this show yesterday...and he LOVES it! He has been giddy like a little kid ever since. He came home from work a little early to download all of season one so he can watch it with the kids. We watched the first episode for a family activity last night, which includes this little song and dance. (It's about 2 min. long.)

As a result, child #5 now talks to his food. Everyone was singing the song between mouthfuls at dinner, so I thought #5 was just following prompts. But, a few hours later, when I offered him a fruit snack for keeping his pants dry, he first looked at it, then said, "Want to go to party in my tummy?", nodded his head, then chewed it up!

Apparently, the show got its roots in a song the Bat Commander of the Aquabats wrote for his preschooler to get him to eat. Kent loves anything by the Aquabats, so this show just jumped to his top five favorites list. It's reminiscent of Sesame Street back in the old days before they were so PC. I have to admit, it's just as entertaining for 30-somethings as it is for children (under 18). Enjoy the clip!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Expectations Are Being Met

That title sounds rather snooty. Sorry. It refers to my earlier post about lowering my expectations so I wouldn't be dismayed at the daily big mess that my toddler (or other children) creates. Ever since I typed that post, I've been watching for a day with no mess. It hasn't happened yet. So I thought it would at least be entertaining to record the daily mess and some day five or six years from now, I can look back and laugh about it all. In case you're wondering, adjusting my expectation has worked. I can pretty consistently just let the mess go without getting angry about it.

I chose to begin this mess diary today both because more than one of my children were involved, and because there is a theme for today.

December 6, 2008: Spaghetti Day
Today I cleaned spaghetti messes indoors and out. Kid #5 did a repeat of his spaghetti-crunching episode of a few weeks ago. I found a trail of dry pasta leading from the kitchen cupboard, through the hall, and ending at a large pile in his room. Today he must have discovered that the crunch quality increases with pasta quantity. I asked him to help me sweep it up and let him operate the dust pan...thrice. I thanked him for his help and sent him on his way after he missed the trash can all three times and re-dumped on the floor the pasta I had just swept.

After finishing with the dry pasta, I peeled wettish, saucy pasta off our sidewalk. I'm guessing a child on our street must have brought lunch with him/her when he/she decided to play with the rock mulch in our yard. Fortunately it must have been a boring endeavor, because I didn't have to replace too many rocks. Unfortunately, he/she must have been carrying the pasta bowl with one hand at a 45-degree angle, because it was strewn across several sidewalk squares. I noticed it earlier in the day and had hoped a dog would enjoy the free meal. Instead, it went in the trash with my $4 worth of dry pasta.

In an attempt to save me the hassle of trimming her hair, Child #3 today decided to do it herself. When she asked me in her sweet voice if I thought her self-inflicted mullet was cute, all I could do was try to stifle my laughs. I think my giggles would have hurt her feelings more if she weren't old enough (seven in two weeks) to know better. So she asked me to fix her cutting job, and all I could offer was a headband.

To top it off--although this one wasn't too messy--tonight Child #5 came running to me hoping to share his excitement at discovering what was beneath the paper of the presents I had wrapped not 4 1/2 hours earlier. I did lose my temper with that one, but then he and I sat and hugged and I explained that we have to wait before opening them again, and then our whole family would open them together.

Spaghetti Day is history--thank goodness!


Sunday: Not too bad! The kids pulled out toys and papers and crayons to cover the floors, and used my pillows to surf the staircase. Happily, all those things are easy to pick up...which the kids had first-hand experience with on Monday. :-)

Monday: #5 (I have a feeling a lot of entries in this "diary" will begin with "#5") thought playing with his food was better than eating it. He repeatedly dipped his hands in butternut-pumpkin soup, which has a consistency between yogurt and applesauce, and then violently shook the soup off. It ended up on his clothes, the floor and chair, and in his hair. I'm hopeful that butternut doesn't stain. When he was bored with the soup, he mashed his palms into his applesauce. It kind of reminded me of making hand prints in plaster of Paris. I don't know how I missed that he was doing this with me sitting at the same table. I guess the other four kids were distracting me!

Tuesday: No major messes except a regression in the potty training. Consequently, my laundry pile was doubled. Why do kids do great for a week, and then forget about it for a day or two?

Wednesday: Powdered Sugar Day. You would think after a decade of being a mom, I would know better than to leave the powdered sugar shaker sitting out past breakfast. #5 decided to drive that lesson home. I found him licking the sugar out of the sprinkle holes. His black pants were covered in white streaks. I don't know if he was drooling or what, but the sugar on his pants was stuck on. And of course there was powdered sugar all over the carpet, because why would he confine his mess to a tiled floor? Fortunately, I do not fear ants during the winter time, so I left his sticky pants on him until he peed in them (I knew it was coming) and left the sugar to be ground into the carpet and (hopefully) vacuumed sometime before the new year. This is the first--and I'm sure it will be the only--time that I have been grateful for off-white carpet to disguise the mess.

Thursday: This is a sad day indeed. The kids didn't do more than their usual piles of toys. (Today the bar stools were thrown in with the toys as #s 4 and 5 used them to build tables and cars.) No, the big mess today...dare I write it?...was made by me! I left a pressure cooker of black beans unattended while it was heating up and came back to find purplish-black spatters all over the stovetop, on the wall, counter, dishes, papers that were on the counter, everywhere. It didn't explode or anything; it just boiled out of the regulator cap. So be warned. While a watched pot never boils, an unwatched pot will make you wish it hadn't.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Aha! Use

One of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, has an article called "Aha! Uses", which gives readers ideas of different ways to use common household objects. For example, wrapping napkins around a paper towel tube when storing them so they don't get wrinkled. (Secure them with fabric hair elastics.)
For those of you not familiar with my Sunday cooking experiences, let me just say they must be cursed. Back when we prepared meat, I did fine most days, but on Sundays it was either raw or overcooked and tough. With beans, I can cook them all day on Sunday, and they will still be crunchy. Well this past Sunday was no different. I tried a recipe from my trusty bread maker recipe book, and the picture to the left shows what I got. I don't even know what to call it. Incidentally, I think I discovered the recipe for Grape Nuts. I double and triple checked the recipe, and yes, I had followed it, except that I also add dough enhancer. I'm pretty sure this isn't how the dough was supposed to be enhanced!
On Monday, #2 discovered a handout from her teacher that had been buried in her school bag. She was supposed to create a model of a habitat, complete with soil, animals, and plants...and it was due Wednesday. She thought a coral reef would be a fun habitat. So we started brainstorming materials she could use. I thought of tearing up and painting a sponge...and then I turned around and saw my "bread". It was perfect! She painted it with the colors of the rainbow, and it looks just like coral.
This was a really fun project for her. The picture on the bottom is kind of blurry, but the effect with the foil-lined lid on the shoebox felt very underwatery. This may be the first school project that I'm not inclined to throw away. Besides, it can double as food storage, right?

So there you go. My other aha! use for this bread was as cereal. And actually, my Grape Nuts "recipe" wasn't too bad with warm milk!

I bet my family can't wait to see the rolls I'm bringing for Thanksgiving!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Accruing My 15 Minutes

My kids think I'm famous!

This morning I tuned the radio to an FM station that I rarely listen to in hopes of waking up my kids with the upbeat, top 40s music. They were asking listeners to phone in with their favorite "bad" movie. Movies that we love in spite of the horrible reviews. I couldn't resist calling in for Kent. One of his favorite movies is Pee Wee's Big Adventure. We only own a handful of movies, and that is one of them. When I gave that title to the radio host, he just laughed a guttural laugh. I don't think he knew what to say! The conversation turned to the Tequila scene (see below if you have five minutes to waste), and I mentioned that Kent does a pretty good impression of Pee Wee with that dance. We talked for maybe 30 seconds.

Anyway, they recorded the conversation and played it on the radio a few minutes later. After my kids heard it, they were convinced that I am now famous--and so are they by inheritance I guess. It got me thinking. I've been in the newspaper once or twice, on radio twice, and on TV once. (It was a public service commercial on a very small, local TV station when I was a kid.) So how about the rest of you? Any interesting (or dull) moments in the limelight?

Now go ahead and waste five minutes. Enjoy--or not!

P.S. Did you know this is a Tim Burton movie? I'm glad he's improved through the years!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lowering My Expectations

A speaker in Sacrament Meeting today voiced an idea I've had lately, which is basically that people who expect perfection have little patience with others'--or even their own--shortcomings. I've been thinking that my expectations for my family members are too high and I would be happier if I changed those expectations. For example, if I expect that my youngest will make one mess each day that will require more than a few minutes of my time to clean up, then I won't be so upset when he pours spaghetti all over the first floor of our home and walks around on it to hear it crunch. (When he did this last week, I had to remember to be grateful that at least it was dry noodles.) And when the day comes that he doesn't make any big mess, I can be especially grateful for that! Of course there will be days like the day of the spaghetti incident when he will move from one mess to the next. That day I found him playing in the used cat litter box while I was vacuuming crushed pasta, and after I washed his hands I caught him sucking toilet water out of the bowl through a giant Pixie Stick tube. At this point I can't lower my expectations to three messes per day, and hopefully he'll lose interest in cat and people potties before I have to. But confronting the one big mess, and hoping it's the one and only mess of the day, makes it a lot easier to deal with and exercise greater patience.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Too Bad Halloween Is Over

This is hilarious! I wonder if I could get one of my kids to hold still enough to try this and then to jump or scream after two or three minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

S'up fools?

#3 picked the pumpkin for our jack-0'-lantern this year, and we all helped carve it. Thanks to Marshie the Marshmallow for the inspiration. Not familiar with Marshie? Consider yourself normal. You can check him out here and a more Halloween-themed version at

I guess I've been a bit of a Halloween Scrooge this year. I never got the decorations out because I didn't want to add to the existing clutter of our house. But the kids have taken over. They webbed our front porch and hung homemade ghosts. My Scrooginess also meant I didn't go any (let alone all) out for costumes. The school children wear one curriculum-themed costume to school, and then usually something else for trick-or-treating. #1 is a corpse; we found a novel that referenced a corpse, so that worked for the school costume too. #2 was going to be an ancient Egyptian, and then changed to a Roman at the very last second--literally; we had a little melt down trying to get her in the van for carpool. Tonight she's a witch. #3 is Little Red Riding Hood and later a devil. (We couldn't find a way to make a devil fit the curriculum--thank goodness!) #4 is a pumpkin and #5 is an elephant. Fortunately, the two youngest haven't been around long enough to be sick of our old costumes, so they still like these two options.

The kids came through for my costume too. While I was at a meeting last night, Kent took them shopping and they bought a light-up, Halloweeney shirt. So I've decided to be a teenager for Halloween--minus the teenage body! Most impressively, #s 1 and 2 spent their own hard-earned cash for my gift. They both starting tutoring younger neighborhood children last week, and they pooled their earnings. I really wish they would save some for themselves, but how can I say anything against their generosity? I've got great kids!
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Monday, October 27, 2008

We Miss You Grandpa

My Grandpa Al passed away two Thursdays ago. We attended his funeral Saturday, and it's given me time to reflect on his life and on the Plan of Salvation. I am grateful to know that his death is just the next step in his progression, and to know that he welcomed that next step, which freed him from illness. I have many childhood memories of being with Grandpa. My earliest is when I was probably three years old, and Grandpa kept sneaking fudge bars from his garage freezer for me. Through the years, he took me fishing, introduced me to liverwurst, complimented my sewing, came to my piano recitals, and always answered my phone calls with such exuberance that I felt like he was celebrating my voice: "It's Mary! How are you Mary?! It's so good to hear from you." My strongest impression of Grandpa Al is how much he loved family. He stayed involved in our lives and he organized family reunions for hundreds of relatives. When I cried at his passing, it was because I will miss him. But I am glad that he is well and with loved ones, and that I will be with him again some future day.

This picture is from last year when we visited my grandparents around Labor Day. Not a great picture of my kids, but my Grandpa is cute. He was trying to get #3 to smile.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've been tagged!

Fortunately, Charlotte gave me a choice of which tag to accept, and this one seemed simpler. I'm not passing on the tag, but feel free to comment on any of the thoughts below, or tag yourself and answer the whole list on your own blog. I like learning things about family and friends that wouldn't normally come up in conversation. Here's a little about me:

Someday: I will learn to play violin.

I usually: can’t sleep past 6:30 a.m., even when my sleep-in alarm time is set to 7:15. (It’s a curse.)

I wonder: where the regulator for my pressure cooker went. (I bought another identical pressure cooker just to have the regulator.) I’ll bet Green5 knows where it is.

I regret: not visiting or keeping in better touch with my grandparents.

I love: Dark Chocolate Cookie Crunch ice cream.

I care: about getting only positive feedback on ebay. (Is that my way of getting a pat on the back?)

I always: bite the inside of my cheeks when I’m nervous or worried.

I worry: I am too hard on my kids.

I am not: too old to skip as a mode of transportation.

I remember: number digits. Phone numbers, car wash codes, addresses…you name it. (Fortunately I can empty them from my memory when I no longer need them.)

I believe: in ghosts.

I dance: freely in front of children; hardly at all in front of adults.

I sing: in my head almost all day and when I’m awake at night. (Is this normal?)

I don’t always: practice what I preach.

I argue: for school vouchers and cutting pork spending.

I write: in my scripture journal five days a week. In my personal journal once a year (usually when I’m upset).

I win: about half the time when Kent and I play card games at night. (Two-player Settlers of Catan is a favorite.)

I lose: and gain three or four pounds on a continual basis. Don’t know why; my weight is just always fluctuating around those pounds.

I wish: I knew what the stock market would do next so I could plan and invest accordingly.

I listen: to people cry a lot. Mostly because I’m daily surrounded by people under age five.

I don't understand: how the new particle accelerator really works, but it seems cool!

I can be found: snuggled in the covers with my electric mattress pad on high when nights are cold.

I am scared: of imaginary burglars when Kent is out of town.

I need: someone to cook for me once in a while.

I forget: my…no, um…I think I forget…hmm…I don’t remember.

I am happy: in my marriage, in my home, to be LDS, and with life in general.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Key To the White House

Are you sick of my punny post titles yet? Yeah, me neither. ;o)

Well, my sister has me a little freaked out about protecting my children's identities. (The post that explains this is at So I've changed their names to their favorite colors, for the purposes of this blog. (I hope I don't have to delete any of your comments, but I may if they include real names.) Here is the key to help you decode our family:

K = Blue
M = Pink
A = Magenta
G = Purple
H = Green

I was pretty impressed that when I was asking their favorite colors, H knew what we were doing and piped up with, "Reen!"

So, can anyone figure out why I went with colors to represent our family?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Whitey Tighteys

Some were not optimistic. Some said it couldn't be done. But yes! My baby is potty trained!

The process wasn't even as painful as with a few of my other four. Yes, I did clean mess out of several pairs of training pants. Yes, there were a few puddles on the floor (but only once on carpet). Yes, I found the toilet literally overflowing with a mountain of toilet paper one morning. But it's done! NO MORE DIAPERS!*

I'm a little disappointed to discover that even though he sometimes sits on the toilet, his aim takes the stream right through the gap between the lid and the ceramic, so that I still have a puddle to clean up. But an experience tonight makes up for that fact. As we were leaving his grandparents' home, I turned to Kent and said, "Did you get the diaper bag?" In unison with synchronized sly smiles, we answered, "Noooo!"

Celebrate good times. Come on!

*True, I change diapers on some babies I tend each week. But at least it's not all day every day.

FYI: I highly recommend the book Toilet Training in Less Than A Day. I think it was published in the '70s. Most helpful if you read it before making any attempts at training, but still good if you want to improve what you're already trying.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Can't Keep My Political Mouth Shut

I've wanted to avoid politics on my blog, but since I constantly have an internal debate about the candidates going on in my mind, a little of it is going to spill out now. I'm not positive who I'll be voting for this election, but I know it won't be Barak Obama. Glenn Beck had a guest on yesterday who presented a few examples of Obama's public and political past. The conclusion I draw is that Obama is not to be trusted. You can read the transcript of the interview at
The same guest will be on the radio show in the last hour tomorrow too. (Broadcast on 570 AM at 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for those of you in Utah.) I'll admit that I don't like the way Glenn led some of the interview, but the facts still speak for themselves.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Driving Around In My Automobile

Today as I was out running errands, I saw several things I rarely or never have seen. I was struck by the fact that I saw duplicates of most of these and all of them within a total of 20 minutes of driving time.
1. I saw a car wreck almost happen right in front of me. Fortunately, both cars screeched to a stop and no other cars came into the intersection. This one is sort of typical, but along with everything else I witnessed today, I'm glad I didn't have to be a witness on a police record. Keep reading.
2. Leaving my neighborhood, I saw a Yellow Cab dropping someone off. This is the first time I remember having seen a taxi in Provo, not counting the airport shuttle van. Later, across town, I saw another Yellow Cab waiting at an intersection. Weird.
3. On my way to a store I was behind a car with a rear-window sticker that read: In memory of [a guy's name]; it included some dates and something along the lines of "We miss you". I found it interesting that someone would put an epitaph on their car. I've never seen that before. But then I saw another memorial, rear-window sticker on the way home. It read: "In memory of [John] 'The Stabmaster' [Doe]" with his birth and death dates. My thought at the second one was, "I wonder if his nickname has something to do with why he is dead?" So are these mobile epitaphs popular now? Are people hiding bodies in their trunks?
4. Here's a sight I've never seen in Provo. I was driving by a medical plaza and saw three picketers walking around with large signs. On each sign, written in huge, capital letters was "DON'T TRUST [SO AND SO'S] DENTAL!" I thought that a pretty creative way to protest bad service. Then I learned a lesson about myself. All three protesters were kindof white-trashy looking. My line of thinking was basically that their message would probably be wasted on most middle-class potential patients because of the type of people holding the signs. I was shocked to hear myself discriminating like that, but I still think it's probably true. I suppose we all learn some degree of being judgmental as part of our street-smart education. (Can someone back me up here so I don't feel like such a jerk?) :o)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Addressing the State of the White House

Now that you've seen the yard, I feel okay to fess up about the inside of the house. (This post was also inadvertently prompted by Charlotte. I was afraid she would tag me, so I'm taking a preemptive strike to just reveal my kitchen. You can imagine what the rest of the house looks like.)

This is a typical weekday (this past Wednesday, actually). Yes the three oldest were at school and I theoretically had time to clean up a bit. But if you read my previous post, you'll know I was outside and I only come in for food. So everything kindof accumulates.

Let's play "I Spy".

You'll notice the dirty dishes on the counter from breakfast and the sink full of dishes from dinner the night before...and the night before that too. The cooling rack was from Sunday's bread night. I really was going to put it away sooner, but the kids smashed Play Doh into it on Monday. One of the Play Doh containers apparently held red modeling clay, so my plan to just brush away all the Doh once it dried was foiled. I was going to have to wipe and scrub to get the clay off everything, so I had to stew about it for two days before dealing with it. (Why did I believe the six-year-old when she promised to clean up all the Play Doh mess as soon as she was done?) In the photo you can see a few Play-Doh toys that need to be cleaned...including Purple's shoes. Moving on. I have no idea why there is an Easter basket there; it's probably Green's doing. (He likes to walk around with his feet in baskets, holding on to the handles.) Finally, yes, I was attempting to make lunch in that little four-inch-square space at the bottom of the photo. I'm sure it was sanitary (i.e. Purple and Green didn't get sick).
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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cat Burps

A few weeks ago a I ran across the following post on a friend's blog: "On gardening (I hate it)". This took me by surprise. How could anyone hate gardening?! Her partial answer: "I hate sweating (which explains my related issue with exercising), I hate getting dirty, and I hate kneeling and pulling and hurting my back." Those are some of the very things I love about gardening!

All winter I spend the morning in our office/workout room getting 20 minutes of exercise while I listen to lots of ads and a little commentary on the radio. I love that as soon as the weather warms up, I can pass up that dreary routine to go outside to get my heart rate and weightlifting going while I till the ground or move rocks around for two hours. Sweating is especially rewarding when I can see the fruits of my labors all around the yard. I don't mind getting dirty, though I have to wear gloves so I don't get dirt under my fingernails--me no likey the idea of pin worms. And though it's not fun to have a sore back, it does feel good to know I've worked hard, in contrast to those days that I just sit around and eat chocolates. ;o) Truly, I actually prefer the heavy landscaping work to the wimpy weeding "work".

This year has been particularly enjoyable because we finally had some money to buy some plants. I made drawings of my dreams for the yard when we moved here five years ago. Now I am starting to see how those sketches look in 3D! For the sake of our budget, I try to restrain myself and remind myself that I have years to put everything in...but it's hard to wait! Kent keeps telling me that we have other projects that take precedence, including a mortgage that we want to pay off. So I've decided that whatever money I can raise on ebay will go towards my landscape. (If any of you want dance shoes, check out auctions listed by not_so_contrary, and watch how my garden grows!) Maybe I'll get some junk--EUC of course--cleared out and some tulips put in!

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Another favorite thing about gardening is all the observing I get to do. I get to watch the sunrise turn the clouds from gray to pink to orange. I get to see the hummingbirds and bees at work. I get to say hi to joggers and dog-walkers. Sometimes I make discoveries: did you know that cats burp? Last week I was filling a #10 can with water to drench my rose bush, and one of the cats who lives here (I still consider them strays, though they adopted our house years ago) started lapping at the stream from the hose. So I filled the can to the brim so she could reach it easily. She was thirsty! When she had lapped away 1/4 inch or so, she turned away and made two soft coughing sounds. The cat had burped! I never would have learned that while pumping iron to the beat of talk radio.
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In conclusion, gardening is good exercise and it produces a thing of beauty. Since gardening is not for everyone, let's strike a deal. After we're all resurrected and exalted, I'll take care of creation day four, Mindy and you other animal lovers can have day five, and Charlotte (mother of six) can have day six. But be warned, people who hate gardening end up like this:

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Thanks Charlotte! (Sorry I didn't ask for the photo rights.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Inside the Whine House

I don't know if my perception is off, but it seems like my kids get really whiny when Kent has been gone for a few days. It may just be that he isn't there to balance me out and my nerves get stressed more than usual. Or it may be that they miss him and they get tired of just dealing with me and not having Dad to pal around with. Either way, it's a good thing I had a class last night because I couldn't take the whining and crying anymore. I made the kids eat dinner in silence and raise their hand if they were ready to say something calmly. That was the only way I could think of to keep myself calm too.
Looking back two or three years, the first time Kent was away in Haiti for two weeks, I remember the entire second week being bad this way--and I probably didn't keep myself very calm with the kids. This time, it was only a few hours yesterday afternoon that I felt like letting the kids finish each other off while I hid under the covers. So that's improvement, right? We've really had fun together the rest of the week, and I've gotten a lot of cleaning done at night! I just have to say I am so grateful to not be a single mom. The only way I would ever be in that circumstance is if Kent died, and then at least I would have the insurance money to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch to help me out.
(I miss him!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adventure Tuesday

We normally take our Adventure Days on Saturdays, but I couldn't pass up a great deal: Thanksgiving Point was charging $2 for each of its attractions on Tuesdays in August. So with the proper motivation, my kids got their work done quickly after school and we headed up to Lehi for some farm fun. Sure we missed Kent, but he's living it up in Baja, Mexico this week, so I don't feel too bad.

We saw all sorts of farm animals and the kids--mine, not the goats--each got to ride a pony. I don't know the consensus on the favorite farm activity, but I thought the bunnies were awfully cute; the large, working horses were impressive; and the kids loved milking a real, live Jersey cow.

After seeing all the chickens, we felt inspired to head to Village Inn for some eggs. (The library's coupons for free kids' meals helped too.) There we are with an eight-page menu and at least that many options for the kids' menu, and four of the five of them all choose the exact same thing: funny face pancake with sausage and scrambled eggs. Those pancakes must have been funny because by the time we were passing around two pieces of pie for dessert, everyone was giggling and making "hilarious" kid jokes. I contributed with an easy one-liner that involved the word "bathroom" and it had Pink gasping for air, she was laughing so hard. I could easily be a stand-up comic if my audience were elementary-aged students. In keeping with the idea of Thanksgiving Point, I'm thankful that we had a great evening and that we came home with no "souvenirs" on our shoes!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Can't Be!

I'm in denial that we are reaching the end of summer. Sure it's mostly dark when I get up to work in the yard now, but I've even managed to ignore the sun's late arrival each day. I guess with the first day of school today, I better start accepting that soon I'll be shoveling snow and stressing about Christmas shopping. But before it feels like Fall, we're squeezing in all the summer fun we can.

We spent Monday afternoon at Seven Peaks water park with our friends the Spadaforas and then had a late dinner eating outside at Dairy Queen. Last night we hosted a street party BBQ in an effort to mingle the non-LDS neighbors with the rest of us who see each other at Church and in our callings all week. It didn't work. Only the active ward members on our little street showed up, so then we invited the missionaries who were riding by. We did use up a good portion of the food that was left over from Kent's work picnic last Saturday, so that part was a success, as was visiting with the friends who did come. (That was a big tangent!)

Tonight, when we should have been organizing school uniforms and packing lunches, we instead stayed out late playing with friends and finishing off a HUGE watermelon. I will not give up summer without a fight!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

National Ice Cream Month


One of the simple joys in my life is ice cream. Maybe it comes from being a Utahn. I don't know. I've just always loved ice cream, so I am happy to discover that back in the '80s, Ronald Reagan desginated July as National Ice Cream Month with the third Sunday as National Ice Cream Day. We were out of town on Sunday, so we "celebrated" tonight with ice cream served on sugar cones--my favorite.

As a small child, I loved making homemade ice cream with my family. We had a really old ice cream maker that took forever, but it was always worth it. Today, I still love homemade raspberry ice cream--if someone else wants to take the time to make it! When I was twelve, I discovered the all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae bar at JBs Big Boy restaurant. I remember impressing my friends by eating three very large sundaes in one sitting. (Hey, I had to cover all my topping combos.) As I've matured, I've become more of an ice cream snob. My very favorite ice cream was Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, which, sadly, has been discontinued. I like the new flavors that Hagen-Daaz comes up with. Up until two weeks ago, my favorite flavor was Breyers Black Raspberry Chocolate Chunk ($2.88 at Wal-Mart). My new favorite is Smith's Premium Select Double Chocolate Cookie Crunch. It has two great things going for it: good texture with crunchy cookie swirls, and a rich, dark chocolate flavor. YUM! I'd better go get some right now!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mr. President


Since we are Inside the White House, it is appropriate that we have a president living here. Kent is the new 2008-09 president of the Utah Valley Sunrise Club for Rotary International. For those of you who don't know what Rotary is--including me up until a few months ago--I'll first tell you what it's not. I thought Kent just went to these weekly meetings to hang out with his dad, have a yummy breakfast at the Marriott, do some networking, and listen to guest speakers. But I learned today that I was only partially right or completely wrong on those points. (Kent, feel free to edit, as I still don't have a full grasp on the organization.) Rotary is a service organization. The club meets for some socializing, but the focus is on doing good in the community and worldwide. They organize local service projects, support a youth exchange program (like foreign exchange students), and also donate money and efforts to eradicate polio, supply fresh water, and educate impoverished people around the globe. The members support each other's efforts and have guest speakers educate club members about the service that other citizens in our community do.

I'm glad I could join Kent this morning and see this part of his life. I sometimes think it would be very enlightening for him to switch places with me for a day or two, and realize the demands of motherhood, keeping a house, and working in my callings. But I learned today that I should turn that idea around and look at what his daily life is like. He participates in volunteer work, basically runs A Child's Hope Foundation and keeps the vision alive there while providing an income for our family, maintains strong friendships, and comes home ready to love and play with his family. I could go on and on, but the point is that I'm grateful to have Kent in my life. He is a great man. He balances me well and he is my best friend.
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Golden Birthday

At our house, we celebrate golden birthdays when the person turns the age of the numeral they were born on. Blue turned ten today, the tenth, making it her golden birthday. As such, she got to choose how to celebrate, departing from my regimented schedule of certain birthdays are to be celebrated. (Family part, friend party, party at a fun place, etc.) Blue has spent the last two months planning this birthday, which went like this: have her friend, Nicole, over to roast marshmallows and sleep outside; eat breakfast burritos on her birthday; play at the splash pool all day; go out to eat and spend the night with Grammy; go shopping with Grammy the next day; and finally, go hiking with Grammy and sisters to the Y. We also threw in a tiara, some presents, and cupcakes. Sounds golden to me!

With this birthday, Kent and I are also celebrating a decade of parenthood. Being a mom is a much tougher and more interesting job than going to work in an office, and the stakes are very high. But it's fun and we both have progressed and continue to learn how to be better parents. I am grateful for the examples of our own parents and the counsel and direction of the Holy Ghost given when we seek to follow the answers from our Heavenly Father.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

God Bless the USA!

I have had a great love for my country ever since I was a child in elementary school. Marrying Kent on July 3 has done that much more to make the beginning of July quite meaningful to me. So here's the blog of this past week. (Did you know you can click on the link of blogged pictures to see them almost full-screen? This really is like sharing my scrapbook with all of you. Maybe the experiment will be a success!)

We started this patriotic week with a great block of Church meetings followed by the patriotic service last Sunday. The music really added to the spirit there; it is always touching to see the past and present servicemen stand when the anthem is played for their branch of the military.

On the morning of Independence Day, we went to Macey's French toast breakfast. (Why have I typed the word "French" twice in my post about the USA USA USA USA USA. There!) The line was long, so we had to eat in the car to make it to our parade bleachers.

After the parade, we met with the White side of the family for a picnic. The rest of the afternoon was filled with DVDs and swimming for the girls, and napping for Green and us parents.

In the evening, we went to our first Stadium of Fire. We really enjoyed the parachuting soldiers, the dancers, Glenn Beck, the Blue Man Group (they were really good), and the fireworks. Miley Cyrus was the big feature, and we didn't enjoy her as much. We spent half of her performance watching her flip her hair around and turn her back to the audience. For her encore, she sang a few songs that the girls knew...and the middle-aged (older than me) woman behind us was singing along too! Scary! So the girls danced to her music a little, except for Purple, who didn't get a nap earlier and she fell asleep. A fun event overall. Thanks Jake and Jenni for taking care of Green.

We wrapped up the weekend by cleaning the garage. (Not exciting enough to take a photo, but Kent is excited to park his car in there again.) And we celebrated our anniversary by going on a date: dinner and a walk around BYU's campus. Again, not super exciting, but it was fun to discover BYU's terraced garden. And it was my first time in the "new" (finished after I graduated 10 1/2 years ago) library. Thanks to Mindy and David for babysitting.

Happy Birthday to the USA and to our family!

A Sick Freak

Some of you may know that I'm a pretty big fan of Glenn Beck. (Glenn has an AM radio talk show, a CNN show, and has written a few books. I agree with most of his opinions about the state of our country and its politicians, I get his sense of humor, and I love his storytelling skills. Check him out at So for me, it was fun to be able to meet and see him a few times this past week in Provo.
Last Sunday, Glenn was the keynote speaker at the Freedom Festival's patriotic service in the Marriott center. Because Steve, my father-in-law, is a county commissioner, we were invited to a reception before the service where Kent and I briefly met Glenn and Kent thanked him for the introduction to the band Muse. (I couldn't tell you what any of their songs are. I listen to AM radio, remember.)
We saw Glenn again as he rode past on parade route on July 4th. Kent got him laughing when he started shouting a fan's praises to the Becks' body guard, Adam.
And we saw him a fourth time when he hosted the Stadium of Fire. I love the patriotic spirit he contributed to that event. Thanks Beck!
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Boatin' with the Bodens

Last Monday, June 30, we accepted Nate's (my brother-in-law, married to my sister, Christy) invitation to his birthday celebration. If you know Nate, you know that celebration involved boating. We went up to East Canyon Reservoir where the water was glass because there were only two or three other boats there all day. For people who ski or wake board, those were perfect conditions. For me, I just want the water to not be too freezing, because when I am strapped to a wake board, I spend all my time under the water. (See photo five of the slide show.) The weather was perfect, except for a quick rain shower lunch. I must have gotten the kids really worried about lightning because they set up a shelter from the "storm" where they could eat.

At the end of the day, the boat's batteries died and I got a great upper-body workout helping to paddle us back to the marina. That made the adventure all the more memorable! We took the scenic route home through Heber City and topped off a perfect day with dinner and a raspberry milkshake at Granny's Drive Inn. (Not to be passed if you're on that highway.) Thanks Bodens!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Before and After

The last few weeks have been busy with projects around our home. I thought I'd share a few of the before and after photos of what we've accomplished around here.

The first are of the first haircut I've given Green using clippers (electric buzzing thing, not to be confused with shears, which are scissors). The front looks pretty good, but I did have to go back a few days later and fix some spots in the back. It's a good thing he doesn't mind holding still!

The next pictures are of the fire pit area we've built this year. This is one of those projects that has been in my head for a year and it's great to see it taking shape. We're not quite done, but I'll have to update the "after" photo when we get some gravel. I can't wait to dutch-oven cook and roast marshmallows in the backyard. You are all invited to join us!

The last project, which has been in my head for almost five years, was to give the downstairs bathroom a little makeover. The plan was to do this project while Kent was in Mexico a few weeks ago. His Father's Day present was supposed to be a finished room that he didn't need to help with. Unfortunately...after I removed the toilet from the floor so I could paint behind it, I couldn't find the right new parts to put it back. So Kent came home to a partially painted bathroom with a disconnected toilet. He reconnected the toilet, and the girls and I finished the rest. Now, two weeks after Father's Day, it looks pretty good!

Enjoy the pictures. If the captions don't come on automatically, you can turn them on in the bottom left corner. Following the slide show are some of my thoughts while working.

I've long believed that involving children in work around the house, for big projects as well as for chores, will teach them skills, provide opportunities to talk and strengthen the parent-child relationship, and give them a sense of accomplishment and positive self-worth. That philosophy is fine and dandy, but it is sometimes a struggle for a perfectionist like me--I'm not as bad as I used to be--to actually let the children participate in the real work. But I've tried to do that with these two projects. Though they couldn't physically lay blocks, we let them dig and rake the bed behind the fire pit bench, even at the peril of the sweet peas I planted there in March. Later this summer, I want to build garden boxes for each of them to plant and care for however they desire. Kind of a substitute for a pet! Maybe they can even make a little money selling their flowers or vegetables. With the bathroom, all five of the kids had fun peeling wallpaper, sanding the panel boards, and painting primer. But I had to grit my teeth and get over myself to let them work on the more permanent painting. Fortunately, when it came time to paint, they had mostly lost interest in the project since we were no longer surprising Dad by that point. But they did paint a little and I am very pleased at what a good job they did. I also found out that Purple has a good little interior designer inside her when we were replacing accessories and putting out linens to finish the room.

The other thought I kept having while I wiped paint and caulk on my work clothes is to create a uniform for moms. Painters have it so good! They wear all-white clothing with the knowledge that it is going to splattered by paint. Plus, they can wear their painter's uniform in public for everyone to see the mess that demonstrates their work. I need one of those! As a mom, I am constantly getting smudges from my kids' hands and faces, oil splatters from cooking, bleach spots from cleaning, and grass stains from gardening. Rather than going through three different stain removers trying to remove the evidence of motherhood, I would love to have a stay-home-mom uniform that I could wear in public and proudly show off the canvas of my work. Aprons are too outdated, and house dresses are too ugly. It has to be something cute but also identifiable as the Mom Uniform, not just worn-out clothes. Maybe an all-white shirt-dress. Who is with me?!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Adventure Day!

Every so often, we like to surprise the kids with what we call an Adventure Day. In the past we've seen the sights of Salt Lake City, visited the aquarium in Sandy, and played at the Treehouse Children's Museum in Ogden. Last Saturday we headed to Cascade Springs on the Alpine Loop about an hour from our home.

The freshwater springs were beautiful and clear and tasted like nothing but H2O. The kids had fun "hiking" (on boardwalks) and taking plenty of snack breaks.
To refresh their feet, we let them wade in the stream for awhile. To get home, we took a dirt road shortcut to Midway and decided to just enjoy the drive...for another three hours! We ended up in Kamas and had pizza for dinner.

On our way home (for real), we stopped in Heber City for some frozen treats. While the kids squealed and bugged each other in the car, Kent and I slowly savored some gelatto outside the car. Once they were pleasant to be around again, we drove to Provo and even made a quick stop at McDonald's for five ice cream cones. I love lazy days with my family in Utah's beauty!
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