Saturday, September 23, 2006


This was written by dear daughter McKelle awhile back.

M - Mother
I - Intelligent
C - Crafty
H - Homemaker
E - Excellent cook
L - Laughs a lot
L - Loves to read
E - Embarrassed easily

Mother, well....yeah! Six kids and all. Even before the children came along, I was always motherly. Perhaps a bit too motherly, my younger siblings might say. I have to watch myself so I don't mother Michael. But mostly, I am motherly in a good way. Children tend to collect wherever I house is Grand Central most of the time. Being a mother...that's a good thing!

I like to think I am intelligent. I wonder, though, that McKelle actually wrote that. She seems to question almost everything I say lately.

My IQ is pretty high; I always got great grades. Did all the honors and advanced classes...gifted program as well. But I have discovered at my advanced old age of 37 that even more important than intelligence is wisdom. Wisdom to use that intelligence for good. I would hope that if dear daughter did an acrostic of my last name that wisdom or wise would be used for one of the 'W's!

Michael lovingly refers to my hideout as the "Crap room." And it is full of crafty crap. Lots (and lots and lots) of paper, stickers, ribbon. Punches, a Sizzix, paper trimmers galore. A sewing machine and cupboards full of material and sewing notions. Paints, two glue guns and a wide assortment of other crafty paraphenalia. If I'm not crafty, I certainly need to move out of that room.

I am a homemaker. I don't work outside the home, so that is the little box I mark when I do surveys. At least...most of the time, I don't have to mark "unemployed." Thinking about a homemaker, I truly hope that is what I do. Make my house a home. A safe haven from the world for my family. That soft place to fall.

I love to cook. And bake. And I do make a darn good chocolate trifle. McKelle probably wrote this shortly after having trifle or her all-time favorite, beef stroganoff. If I ignore the pumpkin pie made last year without sugar and forget about the baking powder biscuits made with baking soda, I think I do live up to this quality pretty well.

I do love to laugh. I laugh easily and often. And not just because I'm ticklish, either. Cackleberry was my childhood nickname, given to me by my dad's youngest sisters. I stayed with them quite often and they loved to get me laughing so hard, I couldn't stop. Still happens, on occasion.

The library is my friend! Books, books and more books. I go weekly at least, and more often if I can swing it. I always have a book or two in progress. And I love to read everything. Fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, science fiction, classics, best sellers....I'm even a big Stephen King fan. I read in the bathroom, in the bath, while nursing. I read at the table, much to Michael's chagrin. I even read while cooking and watching TV. Oh yes, I LOVE to read!

I inherited pale, freckled, red-head skin from my Grandma Jones. And with that skin, I blush easily and quite often. My kids (and dear husband) think it is funny, so they love to do thing that embarrass me. I'm used to it by now, but it doesn't mean I won't blush!

McKelle knows me pretty well. I just hope she remembers some of the nice things she said as she enters the teen years~

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you when the world stopped turning?


I had just arrived home after dropping Matthew and McKelle off at St. James school. It was about 8:30...the little boys were with me. I flipped on the TV, as was my habit, to watch the end of the Today show flipping back and forth with Good Morning America. And suddenly, there is breaking news coverage. A plane has hit the World Trade Center. One of the towers has been hit. Within a minute or two, Michael called from the hospital telling me to turn on the news. I was already glued to the TV.

I watched, live, as the second plane hit the other tower. "Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh!" I'm yelling at the TV. The most stunning pictures I have ever seen. Prayers fill my heart and mind for those on the plane...those in the towers. But I have no clue how bad it is going to be. As I listen to the reporting, the tears start to fall. And fall hard. Then, without warning, behind Dan Rather, the tower starts to crumble and I am screaming at him because he is still commentating. Noone has informed him of what is happening behind him. His ignorance lasted only seconds, but it seems so long in my memory. I watch in horror as the second tower falls as well.

Hearing reports about a plane hitting the Pentagon. And then Pennsylvania. Oh my gosh, PENNSYLVANIA! Is Philadelphia a target? The kids are the school. Are they safe? My sister is in Seattle. A potential target? Who do I know in New York? In DC?

I rush back to the school, radio blasting continuous news coverage, and take my babies home. I'm not sure about safe, but they are with me. Michael is still at the hospital. There's a call for doctors to go to New York. Students? A possibility.

I watch, and watch. Unable to tear myself away from the tragic scenes on television. Stuck in my mind is a beautiful blond woman who appears with Katie Couric, pictures of her fiance in hand. "Has anyone seen him? Our wedding is only weeks away. Please...please. Has anyone seen the love of my life?"

Hour after hour, day after day, replay on the television. The images are seared into my brain. So many lost, but not so many as once feared. Terror in America.

I will remember. I will NOT forget. I will teach my children what it means to have freedom. I will tell them of the many heroes who died that day. 9/11/01

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Countdown - another Scrapshare challenge

10 Things I Wanna Do Before I Die
1. Build our dreamhouse - a log home with lots of acreage, trees, on a lake
2. Travel to Europe - Paris, Germany, Scotland, England, Switzerland, Italy, etc.
3. Parasail, parachute and bungee jump
4. Snow ski in Whistler, Banff and the Alps
5. Travel to Australia and New Zealand
6. Surprise DH with a trip to Venezuela (he served his church mission there) and hop over to Aruba while we're down there
7. Watch all of my children marry in an LDS temple
8. Run a marathon or compete in a triathlon...maybe both
9. Learn to play the guitar (acoustic style)
10. Host a family reunion for all our siblings

9 Places I Last Spent Money
1. Farmer Jack (double $ coupon day yesterday. Bill totaled $159 - paid $57 after coupons )
2. OfficeMax (more school supplies)
3. PTO - class party fees for Micah and Mitchell
4. D.H. Day Campground - campsite for four nights...last fling of summer
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes Campground - for showers, since our campground didn't have any and Lake Michigan was FRIGID!
6. Tom's Market - a really nice grocery store in Traverse City, for ice, milk and various other camping needs that DH forgot
7. Wendy's - lunch for McKelle, Max and I on our way to the campground
8. BP - gas for our trip
9. Target - a second cooler for our camping trip and flashlight batteries

8 Sounds I Routinely Hear Around My House
1. "Na na na na boo boo" - that would be Max
2. Theme from Star Wars, from the boys' Playstation game (but only on the weekends now that school has started)
3. DH's pager and/or cell phone when he is on call
4. Kids laughing
5. Mason's sweet baby noises
6. My stereo playing Sara Brightman, Josh Groban, Lorenna McKennit
7. The washer and dryer - laundry NEVER ends for a family of 8!
8. The piano as kids (and I) practice and McKelle's flute

7 Real Restaurants Where I Last Ate Out
1. Wendy's
2. TGI Fridays - took McKelle and her best friend out for lunch before friend moved to Virginia
3. TGI Fridays - to use gift certificates kids got during the summer reading program at the library
4. Maggiano's - Italian place for our 15th anniversary
5. Dave & Busters - for Matthew's birthday
6. Papa Vino's - for DH's birthday
7. Olive Garden - took MIL out for her birthday when she was here to help out with Mason's birth

6 Things I Scratched Off my To-Do List Recently
1. Bought patterns for Halloween costumes (they want to do Star Wars this year)
2. Updated, typed and printed out Christmas card labels (I'm following the Holiday Grand Plan)
3. Cleaned the porch and the living room (also part of the HGP)
4. Made zucchini muffins, brownies, and 10 loaves of bread to freeze
5. Started my Christmas shopping
6. Started my new exercise program (walking 5K everyday, plus a Pilates video 3x a week)

5 People I Don't Know who I'd Like to Hang Out With
1. A whole bunch of SSers...on the porch at Cowtown's, in Baltimore with Diana so she can teach me to do Donna's braids, at Weezie's with her Wishblade, in Australia with V, M and all our other Aussie friends...and many, many more
2. Stephen Covey
3. Louisa May Alcott (since we're dreaming, they don't have to be alive, right? )
4. Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet and president of the LDS church
5. Yo Yo Ma, just to sit and listen to him play

4 Songs That Make Me Happy
1. I Am A Child Of God, sung by my children
2. You Are My Sunshine, sung in harmony with my mom and sisters
3. You Raise Me Up
4. Pachabel's Canon in D

3 Things I Hate To Do
1. Laundry!
2. Spend money on my too-small, lemon of a van
3. Clip Mason's fingernails - I'm afraid I'll clip his fingers instead

2 Things I'm Really Good At
1. Making chocolate trifle - everyone always asks me to bring it when there's a potluck
2. making Halloween costumes

1 Really Bad Habit
1. Playing on the computer when I should be doing....laundry!

Friday, September 08, 2006

City of Brotherly Love

This week's challenge is titled Angels Among Us. I believe we all have the potential to be angels for and in behalf of our Heavenly Father. I believe strongly that through us, he does his work on this earth. Here is my story of four such angels who were ready, willing and able to go above and beyond the call of duty:

In 1996, Michael was accepted into a Masters of Biomedical Science program at PCOM in Philadelphia. We received notice of his acceptance at the end of July. He was to start classes on the 26th of August! We didn't really have the time, nor did we have the money for either of us to make the trip to Philly to find a place to live before moving out there.

So, we packed our two kids and as many of the necessities of life as we could into our little red Honda Civic and accompanying roof carrier and set off for Philadelphia. After 30 hours of driving, we entered that great city. But where was it? It wasn't like the West, where you could see a Motel 6 or Super 8 off every exit. In fact, we couldn't even tell we were in the city at all, there were so many trees. We had no idea where we were going, where we were going to stay and the day just kept getting worse.

I was driving and I decided to get off at a certain exit, so we could try and find a motel. We figured we had enough money to stay a few nights and we would be able to find an apartment or something to rent near the school. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a very scary neighborhood, going the wrong way down a one-way street (oh-so very common in Philadelphia.) After some big tears of frustration on my part (I had never driven in a big city before) Michael got out of the car right in the middle of the street and took over driving (I do have an excuse as I was several months pregnant at the time!)

He figured his way out of the neighborhood (which we later learned was one of the more dangerous parts of Philly) and navigated his way to the medical school. There were several hotels near the school, but they were NICE hotels, charging several hundred dollars a night more than we could afford. It was getting dark and the kids were tired and hungry, tired of being in the car for two whole days.

I pulled out the phone number of a family and told Michael we should call them. Our bishop in Canada had phoned the bishop in Philadelphia, and he had given us the name and number of this couple. The man was a medical student at the school Michael would be attending. That's all we knew. They were members of our church and he went to PCOM. So we found a payphone in the parking lot of ACME and called Brian and Patrice Clements. They immediately invited us to their house, never having even met us and had us stay with them for a few nights. They fed us, they housed us, they helped us find a place to live. They became some of our dearest friends ever and still are.

But the story doesn't end there, and our lives were touched by even more angels. The house that we found to rent wouldn't be available for a month. We couldn't really stay with Brian and Patrice that long, even though they offered. They had two children as well, and there just wasn't enough room for all eight of us. But they had some friends (also members of our church) who had a house nearby. These friends were out in Utah, visiting family, until mid-September, when Wharton's PhD program would start again. Brian called and Taylor and Janet Randall immediately agreed that we could stay in their house until our housing was available.

We were going to move into this family's house, with all their stuff there. They don't know us from Adam, and yet, they were totally willing to let us to stay in their home. And Janet and Taylor also became the dearest of friends. Lifelong, best-of-the-best, angels-in-disguise, friends.

Matthew 25:37-40
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee asick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have adone it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

That's good, that's bad

Written in the style of "That's Good! That's Bad!" by Margery Cuyler

My daughter was invited by her dear friend Kayla to an End-of-Summer party. McKelle was quite excited to go. Lots of fun games and activities were planned, with lots of pre-teen girlish giggling.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

Michael was finally able to take off a day from the hospital, after a summer of watching over newbies, and planned a camping trip THE SAME WEEKEND as the party.

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

Michael was able to take the three older boys to the campsite early. They would have some male bonding time and then McKelle and I would follow them up on Saturday with the little boys, after she had attended her party.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

Mason was up til 3am the night before I was to leave, and when I finally got him to sleep, Max woke up and wanted to come into bed with me. After being kicked and whined at the rest of the short night, I was dead tired for the 5 hour drive and I had never been to the campsite before.

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

By taking two vehicles, we were able to bring Michael's and the kids' bikes and they had a lot of fun on the trails around the campsite. There were lots of other families camping...with kids...and bikes. Lots of fun for everyone.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

I forgot the stroller, so I couldn't go on the trails with Max and Mason.

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

We went to the beach instead. The shores of Lake Michigan were beautiful...clean sand, very blue water and beautiful tree-lined bluffs just back from the shore. We saw a cormorant swimming and catching fish. We found some petoskey stones. And we even got to see the International Space Station cross the sky on Sunday night. We brought our bathing suits so we could swim and body surf in the waves.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

The temperature never got above 75 and the water was only about 50! It was waaaaay too cold to swim. Just dipping our toes in caused great shock to the body!

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

Since it wasn't too hot, we were able to enjoy climbing Sleeping Bear Dunes. The hike up was quite exhausting, but the kids did it several times and ran pell-mell down the hill. Micah was the champion dune climber! We were also able to climb up to a lookout point that had a gorgeous view of the whole area.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

Although I had the front carrier for Mason, I forgot the backpack carrier for Max and he got really cranky on the mile and a half hike. He wouldn't let anyone carry him but me...all. the. way. down! He fell asleep sitting on my shoulders so I had to carry him in my arms for fear he would fall backwards.

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

He was wiped out and had a great night's sleep, unlike the previous night where he climbed onto the full size mattress with Michael and me. He stayed asleep all night long. AND SO DID MASON!

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

The boys slept, but the raccoons did not! Our campsite was invaded by a pack of about 10 very clever raccoons, despite packing everything in Rubbermaid tubs and locking coolers. The 'coons were able to knock the tubs over and get into our food. So much for my yummy zucchini brownies....

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

It was our last morning, and they did NOT get the cooler open, so we were able to eat breakfast and then pack up to go. We hit the road to home about 11am.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's bad!

Everybody else in the state of Michigan hit the road home at the same time. It took us over eight hours to travel 200 miles home. We have now experienced the I-75 Labor Day Crawl!

Oh, that's bad!

No, that's good!

McKelle and I had a great time on our long ride home, telling jokes, laughing, trying to drive right beside Michael and the boys. She thinks I'm weird because I sing along with Sara Brightman. Loudly.

Despite some sibling rivalry, raccoon invasions, a bit of sunburn and very sore arms/shoulders, we made some great memories as a family.

Oh, that's good!

No, that's GREAT!

What's in your wallet?

Yet another challenge from my ScrapShare friends - and yet again I am late, but I have a good excuse. See next entry for why my post is so late....

What is in my purse? What are the contents of that little brown bag I carry around?

A few state quarters (Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee) - I'm trying to collect a set for each of the kids, but I'm missing soooo many. Hopefully, my dad will have all those that I need in his big collection of coins.

Blistex, a wint-o-green lifesaver (from my giganto Costco bag), a tin of CoolMint Ice Breaker mints, a cinnamon Listerine PocketPak. A set of nail clippers and a roll of postage stamps (bought as part of my Holiday Grand Plan tasks - getting ready for Christmas early!)

A business card for the piano tuner (gotta call and schedule that - piano lessons start again next week), a list of book club books that my CMC/dear friend Becky recommended and an old OB/GYN appointment card from Mason's pregnancy (note to self: remember to put that in his scrapbook file.)

My PINK razr phone - just got it and finally moved into the modern age of cell phones. DH thought it was high time I had one. Text messaging sure takes a long time....

Insurance cards, library cards, Costco membership cards, LSS store-reward cards, grocery store reward cards, debit card, Kohl's card, a few already-used gift cards (why the heck are they still in there?) and various receipts.

My favorite item in my purse right now, though, besides my new PINK phone is the two very, very long receipts from Kroger and Farmer Jack. Both grocery stores recently had double $1 coupon days and I pride myself on some good couponing ability. It was a necessity while DH was in med school and we had no income except for a pittance of student loans to live on. But that Kroger receipt has to reflect one of the best shopping trips EVAH! I saved over $320 with my coupons that day and only spent $278. Groceries for several weeks for our family of 8, 7 packs of diapers, laundry detergent to last a couple of months (and that's saying ALOT for our family!) and toothpaste to last for a year or more. The Farmer Jack receipt isn't nearly as good - only $75 in savings and a total bill of $90, but still, all-in-all, quite a good month for the Coupon Queen.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mr. Smarty Pants

Max and I were cuddled up on the couch this morning, reading one of his animal books. In one section of the book, there are pictures of baby animals with a momma or daddy animal. As I pointed these out, "Mamma lion - baby lion", etc., he was repeating them after me. Then he got a big grin on his face and said "Mamma lion - Mason lion...Mamma giraffe - Mason giraffe." (Mason is his BABY brother.)

Now, if I could only get him to eat...