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.