Dec 25, 2012

Christmas 2012 - Year of the Kayak

Doug and I had a lot of discussions about Christmas this year.  What do we want to get the kids?  What do we want Santa to get the kids?  (Parents can make special requests, ya know?!?)  We thought about it, and decided it would be awesome to have kayaks.  We've used them over the years and had lots of fun with them, but never had our own.  In Rhode Island we borrowed them from a neighbor and in Japan we could rent them easily and cheaply at Outdoor Rec on base.  Here, we don't have easy or cheap access.

So after the boys sent their letters to Santa, we sent one too--via
Christmas morning, the boys alternated waking up super early and being sent back to bed--about a million times each.  At some point, Gabe went down stairs, saw everything and came back up to report what everyone was getting.  Serves us right for not getting up at 5 a.m.!

Regardless of the spoilers from Gabe, Santa really came through and the boys had a great morning!

We figured the boys might not be as initially excited about the kayaks as us and we were right.  But it was okay.  They got excited for those later.
The boys love this awesome pirate ship/cupboard/shelf thingy.  My neighbor Lisa saw it at Costco and just KNEW the boys needed to have it and so she bought it for them.  What an awesome lady!  
They love it and play with it daily.

Doug says it's my dream come true because it's basically a boy doll house.  (It's true.  I love it.)
Other favorite gifts were lego sets, (of course) art supplies, and books.

Gabe LOVES to color with markers!!!

The kayaks got a whole lot more exciting when we took them to the pool.  The water was bitterly cold, but it was fine as long as you stayed on top of the water and not in it!
Mini Kayaks:  LOVE THEM!!!  Small, light, perfect!!!
Maxing weight capacity and hoping I don't sink into the icy water.  Brrrr!!!

Over all, it was a really fun and relaxing day!!!  Merry Christmas!!!

Dec 24, 2012

Christmas Eve with Friends

We had a great Christmas Eve.  As usual, we celebrated with a Mexican Fiesta.  This year we were joined by our awesome friends the W's.  Ruth and Scott are in our ward and have 5 kids close in age to our kids.  We used to carpool before I switched my kids to the charter school.  After a yummy dinner, the kids did the nativity.  Our neighbors Lisa and Dan came over for the performance and it was chaotic and adorable as usual.

After Tres Leches for dessert, everyone went home and we opened our Christmas Jammies.  Doug and Max found me baby blue Garfield footie jammies.  (I was a huge Garfield fan as a kid and recently found a set of vintage Garfield flannel sheets in a box my dad has been storing for 15+ years--they're currently on Sammy's bed.)
The jammies were awesome,  but a little too small so I settled for my Target ones--orange with white polka dots.

Cookies for Santa
Then it was off to bed for the boys while Mom and Dad stayed up for the next 4 hours assembling things!

To be continued...!

Dec 22, 2012

A Little Reminder from Sandy

Got this via e-mail today.  Brought back some painful memories and reminded me that I am not 100% prepared for a disaster.  (Especially if it lasts for more than a few days.)  Even after what we've lived through in Japan!  Here we are on an earthquake-prone coast again and there are still some things we really need to add to our Emergency Preparedness stash!  (First off, more fuel and propane!)

Also made me feel very grateful our power was on (though very limited) after a few days.  How horrible to think of my kids being cold longer than they were.  (So happy our current home has a wood burning fireplace!)

Anyway, this was just the reminder I needed to re-double my Emergency Preparedness efforts!
We've ordered quite a bit from if you're looking for a place to start!

Sorry for the funky formatting--this came as an e-mail forward and I don't know the authors name or the source!  (Thanks Steph D.!)

Things that I learned from Hurricane Sandy

1. The excitement and coolness wears off around Day Three
 2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water etc. Never!
 3. Yes it can happen to you.
 4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean its producing electricity.
 5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble.      a. A couple of cases of bottled water is NOT water storage
 6. Should have as much fuel as water
     a. Propane
     b. Gas
     c. Kerosene
     d. Firewood
     e. Firestarter, (kindling, paper, etc)
 7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up.. (spark plug for the generator, BBQ lighter, etc)
 8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.
 9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
    a. 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
    b. I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.
 10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing)
 11. Stored water can taste nasty.
 12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold
 13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks
 14. Kids do not like washing their faces in cold water.
 15. Your 1972 honda civic gets to the grocery store as well as your 2012 Escalade… but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, fire wood, a backup water pump, you get the idea..
 16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
 17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape: a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, etc. Stock up on those too. You will need that comfort after Day Three.
 18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power 
                    you are the guy whose master’s degree in accounting suddenly means nothing. 
 19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.
 20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.
 21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it.
 22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
 23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.
 24. Your town, no matter how small is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
              a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else you could be without for a long time.
 25. In an emergency men stock up on food, women stock up on toilet paper.
 26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity!
 27. You can never have enough matches.
 28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be Bob the guy who shares on Day Three . . . not so easy on Day 11. Just reality.
 29. Give a man a fish he eats for that day, teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.. Now I get it.
 30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.
 31. Same goes for shoes… (Love you Honey!!!!)
 32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems,
 33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not available anymore.
 34. Quote “A man with a chainsaw who knows how to use it is a thing of beauty”
 35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to Wal-Mart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That's it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of PopTarts. That will be your neighbors' supply. (especially if you live outside of Utah)
 36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.
 37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if your kids are hungry.
 38. You really do not want to be unprepared parents -- the kids turn on you pretty quick.
 39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well it seems.
 40. Most things don’t take much power to operate.
      a. Computers,
      b. Phones
      c. Radios
      d. TV
      e. lights

 41. Some things take a ton of power to operate.
      a. Fridge
      b. Toaster
      c. Freezer
      d. Hot plate
      e. Microwave

 42. When it gets dark at 4:30pm the nights are really long without power.

 43. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make you
r home the semi warm place to come home to.. not the cold prison that you are stuck in.

 44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar.

 45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time.
      a. Fuel, of all kinds
      b. Matches, lighters of any kind etc.
      c. Toilet paper
      d. Paper plates, plastic forks and knives
      e. Batteries, didn’t really see a need for them. (flashlights??? I guess)
      f. Milk
      g. Charcoal
      h. Spark plugs (generators)
      i. 2 stroke motor oil, (chainsaws)
      j. Anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house.
      k. Extension cords
      l. Medicines (Tylenol, advil, cold medicine etc)

 46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm, and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.

 There were also many things that were not learned from hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support, especially my lovely wife, that my Heavenly Father really is in charge, period, and finally that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am .. Wherever that is…
God Bless!!!

Dec 18, 2012

Ode to My Third

I used the boys bathroom tonight.  This is something I never, ever do.  The only time I even set foot in that room is to scrub it from top to bottom before guests come.

And then I'm armed with powerful cleaning agents.

But I went in tonight.  I needed to use the facilities but didn't want to disturb Doug (yet) by going in our bathroom (pun not intended, but apt nonetheless)  then leaving again then going back in again.

So anyway, I "went" in the boys bathroom.  Because I had one last thing to do before going to sleep.  I needed to climb in bed with my third boy and give him a little mid-night love and cuddle.

Gabey is 5 years old.  He is in Kindergarten.  A few days ago I went to his Parent/Teacher Conference and learned he's doing very well.  (As expected.)  The teacher's only half criticism is that sometimes in his exuberance and happiness, he disturbs his neighbor.  BUT, she assured me, it's only because he wants to be everyone's friend.  "He's ALWAYS happy and ready to learn" she said.

Just as I suspected.

For a long time, we've called Gabey-boy, among other things, our little Angel Gabriel.  And he lives up to the name.  (Most of the time, though lets face it, he can be a little stinker/punk when he feels like it.)

But really, most of the time, he's a sweet kid.
He's happy.
He's friendly.
He's creative.
He's artistic.
He's inquisitive.
He's intelligent.
And he's pretty darn cute on top of it.

And tall.  The tallest kid in his class and a full (and large) head taller than many of his class-mates.

Oh!  Have I mentioned his lips?  When Gabe is tired or sad these adorable heart-wrenching sweet pouty lips come out of nowhere and make you want to give him anything and everything he wants just so he'll turn off the puppy-dog eyes and put away the lips before your heart breaks!!!

And then there is his dancing.  His DANCING.  When the music is on, and his shirt is off, the rhythm in Gabe can't be contained!!!  The moves just COME to him and he can't keep still!  He's like Doug Hastings dancing on the roof-top in "Strictly Ballroom" (one of the greatest movies ever--thanks Kristen Landerman for introducing it to Jenny and though Jenny, me.)  It's sort of amazing for me, the least coordinated person on the planet, to watch.

As soon as I climbed in bed with Gabey, he stirred and informed me he needed to go potty.  I helped him out of bed and in to the bathroom.  He stood at the potty and said "I'm having a weally good dweam Mama."  (Cause he calls me Mama and can't say his R's and 'cause he always has good dreams.)  I asked "What about?" but he couldn't remember.  Then he sleepily put the toilet seat down, flushed, and washed his hands and dried them on a hand towel.  All while barely awake.  What a good boy!  (Seems being half asleep can accomplish something being fully awake usually doesn't.)

I steered him back to his bed.  I tucked him in and climbed in after him.  I kissed the back of his sweet head and neck and told him I loved him.  I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him.

"I love you too Mama!"

And then he was sound asleep again.
And I was happy.
I waited a few more minutes and crept out.
Leaving my little angel to sleep.
Eternally grateful that tomorrow he'll wake up to another beautiful day.
Even if it means pee all over the toilet seat!

P.S.  I'm out of space to post more pictures.  I need to suck it up and just buy more space from Blogger.  But in the mean time, check out these posts to appreciate the adorableness that is Angel Gabriel.

Dec 5, 2012

Max is 11!

My sweet little Maxer is growing up!  He's 11 going on 20 and we're very proud of the neat kid he is.

A few of Max's favorite things:

*Reading.  He goes to bed reading and wakes up early to read some more before school.  We used to have him write down all the books he read.  But that took too much effort.  Needless to say, he reads a lot.
*Lego's.  He's a great builder and keeps his closet shelves filled with cool planes and buildings.
*Sweets.  He's got a sweet tooth like his Mama.
*Food.  Max was a very picky baby, but fortunately has grown out of most of his pickiness.  Some of his favorite foods are Pizza, Crepes, and Wonton Soup.
*Scouts.  He loves it and recently got his Arrow of Light.  (Which is a big deal or something?  I dunno.)
*Water.  He loves playing at the pool and at the beach.  Thinking of getting him surf lessons this summer.
*Sports.  Basketball is his current favorite.  Though he's also great at soccer and swimming.
*Me.  I don't think it's unreasonable to assume his mother is his favorite person in the world.  Do you?

A few of my favorite things about Max.
*Humor.  He's got a pretty great sense of humor.  He actually makes me laugh a lot with his witty observations.
*Vocabulary.  All that reading has given him a great vocabulary.  Those who've known me for a long time, know I love words.  I know some people find it pretentious, but I love it when he uses big words in context.  Cracks me up.
*Helpful.  Max is a great kid.  He used to be sooooooo mischievous as a toddler that people who've known him a long time can't believe what a responsible, helpful, polite kid he's turned into.
*Sweet.  He doesn't ALWAYS show it, but he really loves his brothers and takes good care of them.
*Thoughtful.  I don't worry too much about Max's future.  He's smart and thoughtful and tries to make good choices.  I hope he'll keep that up even during surly adolescence.

Love you Maxer!

Nov 18, 2012

A Letter to the Author(s)

I've been a big reader my entire life.
And my entire life, I've been writing letters to my head.
(The letters were in my head--not the authors.)

I think of comments, criticism, and/or praise and write sheafs of imaginary letters.  But I've never bothered to put pen to paper.  Mostly because I've never really believed an author would respond, and--furthermore--may or may not even receive/read said letter.

(However, once I wrote an open letter to Brandon Sanderson and posted it here.)

Anyway, then a few weeks ago, DOUG went and wrote a letter to Brandon Sanderson and E-MAILED it.

Here is the post script he added to his "request to be added to mailing list"
(Have I mentioned we're big fans of B.S.?  The answer is yes.  Yes I have.)

When will you be finishing Alcatraz? My son doesn't like to hear your name mentioned for two reasons, 1-Because I am always recommending your books to people and 2-He is mad at you for the cliff hanger after book 4 of Alcatraz. LOL

Love all your books!

Doug W.

Yes, he wrote LOL, but we'll forgive him for that.  Moving on...
Well guess what?
Brandon Sanderson did not reply to Doug.

However Alcatraz, the title character of the Alcatraz series, responded to Max:

To your son,

I am so sorry that it's taking me such a ridiculously long time to continue my story! The Evil Librarians are relentless and it's all I can do to keep one step ahead of their nefarious plots.  (They even went so far as to convince Scholastic to only publish 4 Alcatraz books and not contract the 5th book!) I have convinced Brandon to buy the rights himself and take my books to another publisher, Tor. They will be re-releasing the first four books, with new less stoopid covers, and then at long last my 5th and final book will be released in the Hushlands!  It may take a couple of years to get it passed the Librarian defenses, but it WILL come out!

Anyway, the important thing is that you keep eating macaroni and cheese, avoid crapaflapnasti items (that shall remain nameless) and stay vigilant!  RUTABAGA, I've got to get going, a horn-rimmed librarian is looking my way!  Time to break something.



Best letter ever, right?  It inspired me to fire off my first author letter also via e-mail, and also involving cliff hanger dismay:

Hello Ms. Updale!
My husband, 10-year-old son and I recently discovered and read your Montmorency series.  We really enjoyed them and after the cliff-hanger at the end of book four, went straight to the Internet to find out when book five will be published.  Please tell me there will be a book five?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  You can't leave ___spoiler alert___ with a __none-of-your-beeswax__!  
How about a short story?  A novella?  A single chapter?  A blog post?  We'll take anything we can get!!!

Emily and Maxwell 

And amazingly, lightening struck twice and Ms. Updale wrote me back!!!

Dear Emily, thank you so much for your kind words. Like you, I wish there were more Montmorency books. You will have guessed that I always intended to take the story on. Unfortunately, there was a series of upheavals at the publisher, which resulted in the departure of everyone who loved Montmorency. It has taken ages to sort everything out, but It seems that I may be able to get the fifth episode onto the Internet quite soon. 
I won't spoil things by telling you what's going to happens next, but it won't hurt to tell you that __get the book__ survives his ordeal in __you'll have to read it__.
In the meantime, do look out for my newest books: 'Johnny Swanson', and 'The Last Minute' which comes out in January. 
Very best wishes, and thanks so much for writing,
Eleanor Updale

Sent from my phone. Please forgive fatfinger typos and strange words generated by predictive text.

Awesome right?  Two author e-mails in a matter of weeks!

I'm gonna write letters more often!!!

Nov 6, 2012


What a stressful day!  I can't take it any more.  I'm going to bed early and I'll find out the final results in the morning!

Nov 5, 2012


I had a whole thing planned for today but...
after a two-hour-long homework battle with a child who will not be named (second son), I don't have the energy or brain power.  (Or will to live.)

So I'll just leave you with this:


See you tomorrow!

Nov 4, 2012

Sunday Self Portrait

This was actually last week:

I'm not sure what made me want to take a picture of myself while waiting for Relief Society to start, but the funny part was, when I looked up a lady across the room was watching me with her eyebrows raised.

I have ADD, alright?  Give me a break!

See you tomorrow!

Nov 3, 2012

Still Throwing (Pots)

Three pots that actually made it from greenware, to bisqueware, to glazeware without collapsing, cracking, shattering, exploding or--ya know--being dropped or flung from a speeding wheel!!


(They didn't get trimmed because I missed a class and they were too dry after two weeks--but that's one less chance to wreck 'em--so good for me!)


Raku fired with 'Tutti-Fruitti glaze

Nov 2, 2012

Memories of Jim/Dad

Doug and I were newlyweds.  We were up at his parents house in Riverton.  I seem to remember being outside on the gray patio of their old house.  We were looking at (pre-marriage) pictures and I exclaimed:

"Oh!  I loved that dress!  I can't wear it anymore though; it's too short now!"*
Doug, always quick on the draw said:
"It was always too short!"**
And Dad let out an audible guffaw and chuckled.

He didn't laugh out loud very often so it was usually memorable when he did.  (Obviously!)
It was always considered a great accomplishment if you could be the one to trigger the laugh and I take partial credit for that one!

Doug's first trip to meet my parents.
And the first time we said "I Love You".
And me in short shorts a solid 25 lbs ago.
We go to this same beach on a regular basis now.
*Marriage in the L.D.S. temple necessitates some ward-robe changes that include clothes that cover your stomach, shoulders, and your legs to the knee.  Getting married meant I stopped wearing tank-tops, sleeveless sundresses, short-shorts, and--though not a requirement--bikinis.
I still manage to lead a pretty happy life despite these sacrifices though...! ;)  (And the world is happy I no longer wear bikinis...!)

**Not that he minded at the time!!

Nov 1, 2012

When I Met The Parents--And a Sister

It's NaBloPoMo.  Should I try to post daily?  YOU definitely should!

About two weeks ago Doug's dad died.
Hearing the news early in the morning felt sorta like a sucker punch in the gut.
It wasn't a total surprise.
He'd been sick.
He had Lymphoma and was receiving hospice care at home.
But still...
It was still unbelievable and terribly sad.
I really love(d) the man.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the family I married into?  Probably not.
But I do...I love my in-laws!   My SIL Laura says "We won the in-law lottery!"  And we did!  They're all great!
This fact was reinforced when we travelled to Utah for Dad's funeral.
Don't get me wrong, it was pretty darn sad.  Still seems unreal.
But being with all of Doug's family made it a bearable--and even sweet--experience.  And yes, there was even (a lot of) laughter during the visit.  Can't put that many W's into the same room without someone cracking a joke.

Now if you don't mind, (and even if you do) I'm going to reminisce a little.

May 2000

The day I met Doug's parents, was NOT supposed to be the day I met Doug's parents.  He was taking me to meet his sister Lisa and her family.  I was supposed to meet his parents the following day at Sunday dinner.

It was later in the evening--dark outside.  We pulled up in the "Maroon Marauder*" and Doug laughs.

As we walk up to the front door I ask why he's laughing.  He says, "You'll see."

What he saw was his parents car parked in the drive way.
He knew I was about to walk in to "Meet the Parents."

Here's how I remember it.

We reach the door and ring the bell.  As it's opening and we're about to walk in he says "My parents are here!" with a laugh in his voice.
I start to panic just a little.
The door opens.
We start walking in.
A little girl with blonde curls runs up to me and into my arms--Doug's niece Whitney.  I let out an "Ahhhh!" and give her a big hug.  At the time I thought she was just drawn to me by my awesomeness.  Looking back though, I'm pretty sure she thought I was Doug's ex, Ali.

We walk into the family room to meet everyone.  Doug starts to introduce me.  His mom is sweet and his dad stands up from the couch and gives me a hug.  Somehow, I find it extremely flattering that he would hug me.  I wonder what Doug had told them about me by that point...?!

I'm immediately conscious of my toe ring showing through my sandals but exceedingly glad I took out four extra earrings days previous in anticipation of this meeting.**

Without knowing Doug's dad, I know he's a man who wont respect a lot of superfluous earrings--and I'm right.  I'm right to be conscious of the toe ring too.  Before the night is out he asks in a joking voice: "Whatdaya need a ring on your toe for?!"
Mental "D'oh" and forehead slap.

It's bed time and we've arrived just in time to have scripture study and prayer with Lisa, Rich, and their  four girls.  I am in awe of this family.  Each daughter has her own Book of Mormon.  Each reads (or repeats) a verse.  It's apparent that this is a nightly ritual second nature to these kids.  I can't help but feel a little amazed and envious.  After a kneeling prayer to end the day, Doug's parents leave.  Lisa reminds her (adorable) daughters to always remember to give Grandpa lots of hugs when they see him.

That was my introduction to Doug's family.

And I've loved them ever since.

*The car Doug shared with his brother Dave.  It was large.  And maroon.  And not the least bit cool.  But it did have bench seats and we may or may not have *ahem* kissed chastely in that car a time or two.

**This was a few months before Mormon women were asked to only wear one earring in each ear.  Thanks to my respect/fear of Doug's dad, the extra earrings I'd worn every day since my teens were taken out and left out permanently.

Oct 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Sammy wanted to make a Haunted House so this is our combined effort.

We had a fun October with lots of Halloween celebrations:
School Costume Parade,
 'Brick or Treat' at Legoland, (which Doug said was sorta lame)

The ward 'Trunk or Treat',

 and our own party Halloween night with some fun neighbors, donuts, and cider. 

At least one kid ended up passed-out in a semi-sugar coma sooo...
I call that a success!

Oct 15, 2012

Best Laid Plans...

Good thing I bought the bike rack to keep our garage all organized and tidy!!!

Oct 6, 2012

Gray is Coming Out of the Closet--or--How Two-Year-Old's Dream

We moved in to this house a little over a year ago.

It has three bedrooms with a small loft that was converted into a fourth bedroom.  For the first time ever, we decided to be nice and let the three big boys have their own room.

That left Baby Gray.  We put him in our walk-in closet.

He was still in a crib at the time and needed somewhere quiet and dark to sleep.  Yes, it was a little weird having a baby in our closet, but it worked pretty well and everyone was happy.  (Of course there was no longer room to walk into the walk-in closet and it was sometimes impossible to get dressed due to sleeping baby, but whatever.)

Recently I've been wanting to change things up.  I've decided to turn Sammy's room into a dedicated guest room.  After quite a few rounds of guests, I'm getting sick of repeatedly deep cleaning and de-little-boy-odor-izing before anyone can set foot in that room.  And there was the incident of having to scrub boogers off the wall--I still have nightmares.*  (Sam was suitably lectured!)

So we stuck Sam back in Max's room (he's actually fine with it--that's where all the Lego's are) and put our Queen-sized bed in the guest room so the guests wont have to sleep on the Aerobed.

So Max and Sam are good.  The guest room is good.  That just leaves Gabe and Gray.

Well, Gabe now has two twin beds in his room so logic would dictate we just put Gray in the empty bed and call ourselves brilliant!  Unfortunately, it's not working.

Gabe claims Gray is too loud.  That he wakes him up.  That he can't sleep!

So poor Gray is back in the closet.  But he's not so in love with the closet and we have to put him to sleep on our bed, then transfer him to a crib mattress on our closet floor.

---Part 2---

The last two nights, Gray has stayed in bed with me.  Doug has this horrible never ending death-cold-flu thing so he's been sleeping in the recliner so as not to cough all night.  Instead of bothering to move Gray to the closet, we've left him alone

This is what I've discovered:
a) Gabey is perfectly justified to NOT want Gray for a roommate and
b) What 2-year-olds dream about.

Turns out, Gray talks in his sleep.  No, he YELLS in his sleep.  Two nights ago, I was jolted from peaceful slumber into upright awareness when Gray started yelling, "NO GABEY NOOOO!  MINE GABEY MIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNE!!!"  A few soothing words and some patting got him to settle down, but I'm not going to lie--it was disturbing.

Last night it was "MASS!  MY TOON!  MY TOOOOOOOON!" (=Max, my turn!)
And a few intermittent random "NOOOO's!!!!" and "MINE's" scattered throughout the night just as I was drifting off from the last outburst.

Turns out, two-year-olds have nightmares about big brothers stealing their toys.

Gabe is off the hook.  I can't in good conscience subject him to that night after night.

Also, Gray grinds his teeth.

He's going back in the closet.

*You don't want to visit anymore, do you?  Don't worry!  I sterilized the whole room and boiled my hands after!  The room is now boy and booger free!!!  I've sprayed the whole place with a mixture of Lysol and Febreze!  Also, I put chocolates on the pillow!  COME VISIT!!!

Sep 20, 2012

Pondering the Destruction of Blogs by Pinterest

Blogging is on its way out.  Have you noticed?  People who have been blogging for years have given up their blogs because, well...because no one is reading anymore.  Or because they can record/express/share the same thoughts more quickly and efficiently via Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook.  (All of which I love and usually check daily.  On my phone.)

Even my blog has taken a drastic downward turn since we moved here because...
1.  I started homeschooling.
2.  Last year sorta sucked what with starting a bleeping dental practice and all.
3.  I got an i-Phone --which allows me to do computer stuff without actually sitting down at the computer--but it is not conducive to blogging.
(At least not to a texting novice like me who was cell-phone-less for 3 years in Japan and therefore has poor thumb-muscle-tone.)
4.  And did I mention Pinterest?  Why blog when there is soooo much to be discovered on Pinterest!?!?!?  Recipes!  Dream Home Ideas!  Cool Tatoo Ideas! Super Cute Pictures of Baby Animals!!!! 

So yeah.  Where does that leave us?  With fewer blogs.

But then the other day I had an epiphany.  We were in church discussing...
Don't remember.  My mind was probably wandering.  But all of the sudden I realized that blogging is a totally worthy and worthwhile Sunday activity!!!  (Actually, I'm sure I've had this thought it wasn't much of an epiphany as epiphanies go.)  (Epiphanies?  Epiphany's?  Epiphani?)

Which led me to my next thought that, unlike so many of my other on-line activities, blogging (at least WRITING a blog post) is never, ever a waste of time.  (Even on non-Sunday's.)

I never, ever look back at my blog posts and think "Gee, I wish I hadn't taken the 20 minutes to write that.  However I OFTEN think "Gee, I wish I hadn't wasted my time watching/reading/staring-at that."

--->Afterall, I don't write in a journal except on very rare occasions.
--->I gave up Scrapbooking when Max was big enough to climb up on top of the table and destroy hours of effort.  (He was about 16 months old.)
--->Nowadays, I don't even write on a physical calendar (which I used to do religiously noting every activity our family ever did).  Now I just put everything on my phone.

Therefore, if I ever hope to have any record or memory of my life, for myself or for my kids, it will come from my blog.  This stupid blog.

And therefore, I can't give it up.  And now that three of my kids are back in school, I'm going to try to do it more.  And I'm not going to be sad that few people read and even fewer comment.  Because that's not the point.  (Even though I really, really, really like comments.)

So I'm back.
And recommitted.

I'm going to imagine all three of you cheering now.

Thanks for that.  See you again soon!

Sep 16, 2012

First Day of School and the Rest of My Life

You probably think this is just another average picture filled "Look-at-my-kids-first-day-of-school-in-their-cute-new-outfits!!!" post.  But it's a lot more than that.  Because it wasn't just my kids first day of school.  It was also the first day of the rest of my life.

Why?  Because when school started THREE, yes THREE of my children left the house and didn't come back for multiple hours.

Let's just take a look back on what my life has looked like in the past twoish years:

March 2011:  Max and Sam are both in school full time, Gabe is in preschool three days a week, giving me 9 hours a week of just me and Gray time.  Life is good.

Then the 3/11/11 earthquake happens.
Gabe's preschool is cancelled permanently due to most of the staff fleeing the country.

Max and Sam fall behind because the school stops teaching and focuses solely on treating post traumatic stress in all of the kids.  The school year ends, and we move from Japan to California.

August 2011:
Max and Sam go back to school full time, but we've just moved and we're broke so I keep Gabe at home with Gray rather than pay for preschool.  Two boys at home, two boys in school.

By October I've pulled Max out of 4th grade to homeschool him and hopefully get him caught up.
So, for those not keeping up, I have three boys home with me all day, and one at school.

June 2012, school is out, and Sam is home with me full time.  With Max, Gabe and Gray.
Four boys, home with me, all day every day.

We survive the summer, but just barely.  (JUST BARELY!!!)

August 2012, I put Max, Sam and Gabe in a local Charter school*.  They go Monday-Thursday from 8:30-2:30.  Leaving me home alone, with just Gray, for the first time in a year and a half.

And BAM!  Life is good again!

Now, don't get me wrong...I love my kids.  I love them a whole heck of a lot.  But if you've met them, you know they're a little high maintenance.  They're super cute.
They're also super hyper, loud, and messy.
And when I say hyper, loud, and messy, what I really mean is SUPER DUPER INCREDIBLY HYPER, LOUD, MESSY, AND VIOLENT!!!

Sorry to yell, but I'm trying to make a point here.  Did I mention they like to wrestle?  Well they do.  They like to jump on the couches, throw pillows and body slam each other repeatedly.  And that's WHILE watching T.V.
(Ya know that thing that usually keeps normal kids quiet and entertained for at least 20 minutes?  Yeah, not so at our house.)

They also like to tease each other.  You know that thing kids do when one kid is just sitting and reading quietly and then another kid has to just come and grab his book, lose the place, and start a really loud screaming fist fight?  Yeah, they do that a lot.

And that is why I've been breathing a big sigh of relief four days a week at 8a.m. when Aunt Laura comes to pick them up and drive them to school.

One day, I took a NAP when Gray took a nap!  (Just because I was tired!  For no other reason!)  And one day, I went to TARGET with only ONE KID and ran OTHER errands!  And then another day, I played with Gray UNINTERRUPTED and only made TWO SANDWICHES for lunch!  While listening to NO fighting!!

So yeah.  Loaded picture, isn't it?!

Life is good!

*Via Wikipedia:  Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter.[1] Charter schools are attended by choice.[2] While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where enrollment in a charter school is oversubscribed, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions systems. However, the lottery is open to all students.[3] In a 2008 survey of United States charter schools, 59% of the schools reported that they had a waiting list, averaging 198 students.[4] Some charter schools provide a curriculum that specializes in a certain field—e.g., arts, mathematics, or vocational training. Others attempt to provide a better and more cost efficient general education than nearby non-charter public schools. Charter school students take state-mandated exams.[5]

Aug 23, 2012

You're Not Going to Believe This Story...

(post edits in red)
I'll try to be succinct, but we all know that's hard for me...

Yesterday morning Doug's car was stolen while he was surfing.  He had hidden the key in one of the wheel wells and our theory was that someone saw him do it and took the car.  Evidently it's common for car thieves to target surfers because they know the car will be unattended for awhile.  (This is the first time he's ever done that.  And obviously, the last.)

Unfortunately, along with the car, he lost his i-Phone, i-Pad and wallet.  (And tennis racket, gym bag, and wet suit but for some reason I don't care about those particular items.)  SO, thanks to some helpful Facebook tips last night, we installed and remotely activated an app called "Find My iPhone".   Unfortunately, it only works if the phone is powered on and connected to the Internet, and as of last night, it wasn't.  Around 4:30 this morning, Doug got out of bed and called his phone--it still went straight to voice mail.

Then this afternoon we caught a break.  I took my kids to school for their reading assessments (school starts Monday.) and while I waited outside messing with my phone, I called Doug's number.  It rang. (instead of going straight to voicemail.)

I checked the "Find My iPhone" app and BAM, a map came up pin-pointing the location of the phone.
I pulled out the policeman's business card from the day before.  They connected me to the detective assigned to the case, and he asked me to e-mail him a screen shot of the map I had on my phone--which I did.  A few minutes later, the phone was turned off.

Two hours later, the phone was back on-line in the same place.  Doug called the detective to ask if anyone had been out to investigate.  He said local police had not been to the location yet.  And then the phone started moving.

So Doug decided to take my phone and go check it out himself.  (Because he's brave and manly and possibly a little touched in the head.)  His plan was simply to drive by and see if his car was parked on the street.  As he drove, the location of the phone changed and he went to the new location but didn't see our car.  About the same time, a police officer randomly came down the street.  Doug flagged him down and told him our story.  As they were talking, a car in a nearby alley/parking lot started pulling out.  The police officer went over and stopped it.  Within a few moments, he had pulled his gun and had three or four "very sketchy looking dudes" in cuffs.  They had Doug's phone in the car with them.

And Doug watched the whole thing from across the street and took pics and video with my phone.
Gus:  "Are you crazy?"
"I wouldn't say crazy. Maybe an eccentric who looks good in jeans."

Woah.  We ARE Shawn and Gus.
Shawn:  I'm Shawn Spenstar and this is by partner, Gus "TT" Showbiz. Gus:  The extra T is for extra talent.

No word yet on the i-Pad or our car, but I'm THRILLED we may sorta in a round-about way be responsible for some bad guys going to jail.  Actually, I'm just going to assume we single handedly toppled a huge crime syndicate and have now started the ball rolling to stop all crime in Southern California.  Go us!

Hooray for savvy Facebook friends (Christian!) and hooray for cool i-Phone apps!

*Post Edit:  

After identifying his phone and leaving it with the cops, Doug came home.  Someone at work had given him free tickets to the circus.  We decided he would take the three oldest boys and our two nieces and I would stay home with Gray.  While he was driving down town, (around 6 p.m.) a detective called him.  One of the scum bags in custody said the car had been ditched a few blocks from where it was stolen.  The detective said we could go look for it because it might take the cops awhile to get to it.  

Doug considered coming back but I told him to just go and I would look for the car.  I called my sister for a ride.  (Doug had our mini-van.) We got some sweet neighbor girls to come watch Gray and went car hunting.  At the same time, Laura told her fabulous father-in-law Larry and he very kindly started combing the neighborhood in his car.  We were getting a little frustrated but said a little prayer for help and kept looking.  We crossed a busy street and some rail road tracks and started looking farther inland.  

And we found it!  There was much squealing and cheering when we discovered it on the side of the road, in sort of a desolate area, undamaged and unlocked.
Found it!!!  And the sun is setting...

The detective told Doug that if we found it, we shouldn't touch it.  Just call the cops.  So we called the cops, didn't touch it or even open it, told Larry where we were, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally I called the dispatcher back.  I said we were in a sketchy part of town, it was getting dark, and I needed to get back to my kid.  They basically said recovering stolen cars is very low priority, that calls were backed up, and they couldn't tell us if it would be 30 minutes or 3 hours.

At that point, Laura and I decided to drive home, look for the spare key, (which, Doug told me later, doesn't exist.) and grab Baby Tired Hyper Nekkid Two-Year-Old Gray.  Thankfully, FIL Larry offered to stay with the car in case an officer showed up.  He was our Knight in Shining Armor last night!
Waiting and waiting in Aunt LaLa's car!

Right after we got back, an officer did arrive.  He got the low down and then started "processing" the car.  He was very kind and helpful.  He dusted it for finger prints and swabbed for DNA.  (Totally cool since Laura and I consider ourselves crime scene experts based on our *television viewing habits.)
Dusting for prints...

At one point the officer asked me to come look and see if The Bad Guys had left any evidence.  They had not.  (Besides all of their fingerprints--dummies.)  They DID however leave Doug's Book of Mormon on CD set, his San Diego temple schedule, his 249 empty water bottles, his stack of 700 business cards, his nail clippers and toothpicks and OH YEAH!  HIS WALLET!  
(You know that's right!)  It was in a closed cup holder in the center console.  You have to push down on the top and it pops open.  It's not terribly obvious, but it's also not exactly hidden.  Clearly, these are not the worlds brightest criminals.  Did I mention it had about $80-$100 cash in it?

His i-Pad, full water bottles, (stealing cars makes you thirsty) gym bag, (stupid expensive running shoes!) tennis racket, (it was old and he needs a new one anyway) and wet suit (it was warm so he wasn't wearing it that day) were all gone.  (Remember the cops had already recovered his i-Phone.)  

(His next wet suit will have a pocket or hook for a car key.)

Later we found out from the detective that the i-Pad had been pawned.  (And probably his tennis racket and wet suit too.)  Evidently they're going to try to track it down today.  I'm wondering if we'll have to do that too. 

So that's the whole story.  Up to this point.  (Friday morning.)

Doug is working with AAA to figure out how to get a new key to his car so we can bring it home.  (Yes, we had to lock it up and leave it last night--covered in fingerprint dust because the one key to it is gone.)

He'll be able to pick his phone up from the police after work today.
I'm sure he'll be on the phone in between every patient today calling and un-cancelling things that were cancelled.

Pretty exciting stuff!!!

I don't think I can go back to folding laundry after this exposure to the seedy underbelly of society.  I'm a changed woman.  I think I need to put my feet up and watch a few hours of Psych re-runs and see if I can hone my skills some more.  I'll let you know if I make any more startling discoveries.

P.S.  Doug says we're buying a gun.  I demand a pink one of my own with a bra holster.  Totes saw the perfect one on Pinterest.

(And thanks to a friend boy in college I already know how to shoot and I'm quite good!  Long live that "right to bare arms" amendment--whichever one that is!!!  2nd?  Clearly I'm Shawn--not Gus.)

And they all lived happily ever after!!!
("I've heard it both ways.")

*Laura loves "Border Wars" and I was a big fan of "CSI" back in the day--and am still a fan of "NCIS".  We both love "Psych" which obviously has adequately trained us to be professional detectives.

P.P.S.  Shawn Spencer: Oh, you mean my pilot's license? That's out back in the Cessna. Or perhaps you're referring to my license to kill. Revoked. Trouble at the Kazakhstan border. I could give you the details but then I'd have to kill you, which I can't do because my license to kill has been revoked.