Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Busy Bee

Which is busier?  A Bee, a beaver, or Accomplishment Girl?

Here is a story for starters.  I have decided that my Ward Choir needs some extra help to learn the music I have chosen for our upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas performances.  We just had a two-week hiatus for General and Stake Conferences, and I'm going to be out of town for two weeks in November.  Between that and the fact that we only get 30 minutes each week to rehearse, I'm feeling a huge time crunch to get things done.

So, I decided to make rehearsal videos for the choir and post them to youtube.  It was Spiff's idea, and I think it's brilliant!  However, making the videos is time-consuming, even though they are completely un-edited and very poor quality.  It was hard to find time to make them when the kids weren't around.  I felt like I was trying to squeeze in video-making moments for an entire week.  I finally finished them last night and emailed them out to the choir today.  Feels good to check that off the list.

The other side of that coin is that the choir needs music to practice with if they're going to practice at home.  We don't have enough copies of the music for everyone to have one, nor do I trust everyone in the choir to be able to bring all the original copies of the music back to church.  So, I need to make copies, which I will destroy after we're done using them (I do know about the whole copyright thing).  I tried using the church library copier at the church on Sunday, and the kid who is in charge of making the copies refused to help me because it's a job that "just takes so much time."  He then went back to staring at his phone.  I agree that it takes time, but I was so mad!  I may or may not have stormed out of the library, as I said (as politely as I could, in a signature high-pitched Mindy mad voice), "It's okay.  It's okay!!!"  But I was really mad.  I am trying to magnify my calling, and he was making it difficult for me to do my job.  Now I have to find some more time to get away from my kids and get the copies done during the week.  Not impossible, but difficult and frustrating.

I came home from church on Sunday feeling completely overwhelmed by all of this, and by my huge to-do list filled with large projects, not small tasks.  Projects are difficult for me because of the kids.  It's hard to start anything because I never know when or if I'll be able to finish it.  I'm proud to report that I have pulled-out my Accomplishment Girl Underoos, and I have been the Master of Projects this week!  (If I worked at a large corporation, they were give me an award for that.)  Just to prove to myself that I can get things done with my kids around, here is a short list of my accomplishments and the coincidentally super-awesome dinners we have had this week:

Sunday Evening--I picked out background music/playlists for my sister's wedding (three lists including Classical piano music, Jazz, and other easy listening songs).
Plus I made Crockpot Pork Carnitas w/ Southwest Blackbean Salad and Cilantro Lime Rice for dinner.  So good!

Monday--Took the kids to the library.  Took the time to get the kids and me to the store to buy a thumb drive, load my sister's music files onto the drive, and go back to the store to send it to her.  I also went through my bins of kids' clothes and toys, pulled out Winter clothes for the boys, put things in give-away piles.  I love getting rid of things!  It feels so good!
Dinner: Chicken Noodles.

Tuesday--Took the kids to a playdate with friends.  Then cleaned out the garage and put away Summer toys/tools so that Spiff can park in the garage over the know, since it's snowing here now.  Made Choir rehearsal videos.
Dinner: Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew (one of my all-time favorite recipes that I have had forever and can't find on the web)

Wednesday (today)--I did laundry, and I did the other side of the Winter Clothing job, which was to put away all of the Summer clothes and shoes and get out Winter Gear.  I changed out any too-small clothes in the kids' drawers to store for later.  I went through two of my own drawers and got a whole garbage bag full of things to take to Goodwill. Also got a haircut while the kids played with friends.  And I finished up the choir video/emailing-links project.
Dinner: Pork Carnitas Enchiladas

Other thoughts:
1.  Good food always makes me feel better about pretty much everything.  I'm so glad to have the chance to eat some of my favorite foods this week.
2.  The week is only halfway through.  Maybe I'll be able to tackle some of my other projects.
3.  Or maybe I'm tired now and need to take a break.  I should do something fun with the kids.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gunner's Fifth Birthday

My Gunner turned five last week.  I can't believe how fast time is flying, and just how big he is getting.  I was telling him about how I went to lunch with some good friends on my due date with him, since I wasn't in labor.  I told him how those good friends' now-six-year-olds were just babies.  I told him about how the next day, I was in labor all day long, and how our friend, Maggie, and her then-baby Charlotte came over to hang out with us.  And about how we walked and walked and walked all over our neighborhood that day.  I told him about how I called Spiff out of his evening class when I thought we needed to rush to the hospital, and about how he came right home and ate a hurried dinner before we zoomed to the hospital, only to wait and wait and wait all night long for Gunner's arrival.

How has it been five years?!  It feels like only yesterday.

But G is so excited to be five.  He feels like a big kid, and he feels so important.  Spiff and I reveled in celebrating his birthday at this perfect stage of his life, when birthdays hold some sort of magical childhood quality.  G asked for balloons on his birthday, so we got him balloons.  He asked if we could decorate, so I bought him a birthday banner.  He woke up to a festive house, and he exclaimed, "Oh, it's just what I wanted!"  I love how such small things can bring such great joy.

We had birthday cinnamon rolls in the morning with Maggie and her kids (who are still helping us celebrate G's birthdays), followed by a trip to the local zoo, a park, and a stop at the drive-through for lunch.  His friend spent the afternoon playing with him.  I made him his requested birthday dinner of pork chops and vegetables (I love that he chose that over pizza).   He opened presents, and we had friends over for cake and ice cream.

Such a perfect little birthday.

For me, the rest of last week was spent in birthday preparations, admittedly made more difficult than it had to be by yours truly.  I did cake.  And it took way too long, as it usually does because I really don't know what I'm doing.  But it was mostly fun (bonus!), and Gunner truly appreciated my effort.  He loved his Tintin Cake, and he even told me that it was better than the Thomas the Train cake at the grocery store bakery.  So, I think that's a win.

One funny cake story:
At the very end of making this cake, I was applying the pictures to the side of the cake.  I put the Yellow Plane up, and one of the little grey wing supports fell off.  Those supports were grey fondant wrapped around a toothpick.  When I looked at the plane, I couldn't see either of the two supports.  I looked and looked for the second support, but I never found it.  Eventually, I figured that it had fallen off and I had thrown it away with some other garbage, so I cut out two little grey strips to replace the other, heavier supports, and called it good.

I finished the cake, took pictures, showed it off to Gunner, posted pictures on FB, and served the cake to friends.  Then late in the evening of G's birthday, after the kids were in bed, I was in the kitchen cleaning up and taking care of cake leftovers.  I looked at the undisturbed picture of the yellow plane...and found my missing support sitting on top of the pontoons!!! 
Can you see?
It's all I can see when I look at the picture now.  I can't believe I couldn't find it until after everything was over.  So silly!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Late in the afternoon the other day, Spiff declared that he needed to take Gunner out for some Daddy/Gunner time.  They decided to go on a bike ride together around our mile & a half long trail that loops our neighborhood, a loop that's a little long for Hobbes to do with them. 

As they got ready and headed out the door on their bikes, Hobbes was so sad to be left behind.  So, I took him on a Mommy/Hobbes ride, just to appease him and avoid a Big Cry.  He got ready as fast as he could, and we followed the boys out the door, Hobbes on his little Strider.

He could see them up ahead of us, and he wanted to follow.  I let him lead the way.  We went down our sidewalk and across the street, just like Daddy & Gunner.  We went up the big hill, with our eyes on them until they hit the downhill.  Hobbes followed, climbing the hill and carefully coasting the downhill until we got to the edge of our neighborhood.  I asked him if he wanted to turn around and go home or keep going.

He looked out on the bike trail, looking for Gunner and Daddy, and said, "I want to keep going." 

So we did.  We rode the little trail, and he did such a great job.  He listened to me, slowed down when I asked, watched for traffic, and rode carefully.  And fast.  I had to run to keep up with him.

We got about 2/3 of the way and rounded a big corner.  He was so proud to get there.  But when he got around the corner, looked ahead of him, and did not see Gunner and Daddy, his face fell.  It was like watching a mud slide.  He had honestly thought that he would catch up to them, and he was so very disappointed when he realized that he couldn't, even with his greatest effort.

I got down and told him how proud I was of him, and that he was doing a great job.  And we could tell them how hard he worked when we made it home.

It perked him up okay, and we made it home, where we told Dad & Gunner all about his big accomplishment.  I have never seen such an honest display of pure determination. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gunner Funnies

Some funny things my almost-5-year-old Gunner said recently:

Spiff told Gunner that he would be On Call tomorrow.  This shows how well G knows the routine...
Gunner: So, you will work all night.  Then you will come home and sleep until lunch.

While looking at a picture of the Tetons (keep in mind that Spiff took G skiing in Utah, not at the Tetons, of course):
G (said in a matter of fact tone): When dad took me skiing in the mountains, he made me go down a Teton.  I went beeeeeewwwww, down so fast, and then I landed on my head in the snow.

During a discussion about money:
G: I have more money than you.  I have 17 pennies and 1 dime. much is a dime? Because I have one of those.

While listening to the HMS Pinafore in the car:
G: Mom, is there a Pina-three and a Pina-two and a Pina-five?

While playing Legos one day, Gunner dive bombed us with a Lego bullet from his Star Wars Plane:
Hobbes: Stop that, Gunner!
Gunner: I can't stop.  I don't really know what this thing is doing!

Last, but not least, this little story:
Gunner wrapped some green yarn around and around an area of the banister and declared that it was a spiderweb he made for Halloween.  I expressed my greatest mommy pleasure at his creation. 
He got all sad and said: I thought it would scare you.  I made so that it would be spooky.
And later:  Why didn't my spiderweb scare you?!
And later...we hung out in the kitchen for a while, ate some dinner, and then I sent him downstairs to get his jammies on.  He turned around and started down the stairs.
And he said, in all seriousness: Ahh!  I forgot my spiderweb was there, and it scared me!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hobbes Funnies

Here are some funny things my little 2 1/2 year old Hobbsie has been saying lately:

Hobbes loves motorcycles and said this after finding the new motorcycle-themed library books I brought home for him:
I dreamed this motorcycle!

While wrestling with Hobbes one day:
Me: Look at this tiny bummie you have!
H: I had a tiny bummie?  You had a big bummie, Mama.

On one of Spiff's Call Days:
Hobbes: Where's Daddy, Mama?
Me: He's at work.
H: No, he's not.  He's at home.  He's sleeping.

Once while encouraging Hobbes at the potty:
Me: Good job, Hobbsie!
H: You're Welcome.

Hobbes says to me while getting ready to go out to play:
H: Please help me my shoes, Sweetie.

H: Tank you gidding me a bandang, Mom. (Thanks for giving me a bandaid.)

While playing with Lego guys:
H: Can you make a dork, Mom?  Can you make a big dork?

Playing with Lego guys on a Lego plane:
H: They're flying outing their hats on!

Famous Phrases:
Don't go outing me!!!  (Don't go without me!)
He hadding the tiny yellow doom doom. (He has the small gray axe.)

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


The week after we met Spiff's family in St. Louis, they came to us at home.  After the funeral, we drove straight home so Spiff could go back to work.  His mom and sister toured around for a few days and eventually made their way to our house.  Hobbes did an actual leap for joy when he saw them in the driveway.  They spent the next few days making my kids very happy.  They read to them, talked to them, played with them, told jokes with them, walked with them...everything that makes them happy.  I'm sure it was quite exhausting for both CFG and Mhana because my kids didn't give them a moment's rest.  But Grandmas and Aunties are the best.

While they were here, we went to the apple orchard and then baked pies.  We ate delicious food together, although we didn't eat out.  (Eating out is only fun occasionally, and I had had enough eating out during our previous weekend in the Lou to last me a lifetime.  Or at least a month or so.)  We drove to the SPAM Museum and learned all about processed meat.  It was okay fun, and I loved that the SPAM Museum doesn't take itself too seriously.  We stayed up late talking and enjoying being around each other.  It was so so nice to have them around.  So nice to be together.

Then they had to leave, and we were all sad.  Gunner cried and cried, and I had to quickly think of a game plan to distract him.  We invited his favorite friend over to play.  Good thing he was available because that was one sad sad kid.

I love having visitors, but it's really crappy when they have to go home.  It's even worse when we don't have a definite plan for when we'll see them again.

We miss them.  We are grateful that they came and grateful for some wonderful memories.  Sooner or later, we'll either live close enough that we can see them sometimes, or someone will finally invent that Transporter Beam and distance won't be an issue any longer.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Meet Me in St. Louis

I have a confession.  I have never seen that movie, even though I lived there for four years.  There are tons of things to do in that city that I never did, including riding the tram up to the top of the Arch, going to Grant's Farm and the transportation museum, walking up to the top of Tower Grove Water Tower, running on Grant's Trail, or personally picking up food from Pappy's BBQ (yum!).  These are all fairly classic things to do in that city, and we never made the time for any of them.  Not that we didn't keep ourselves busy.  We had a list of favorite places to visit/play/run, and we used them frequently.

I had a chance to rectify some (not all) of my former mistakes a week ago when my fam and I met up with Spiff's family in STL for a weekend.  We met his mom, sister, and his uncle's family from CA for his Grammy's memorial service.  We had such a great weekend.  The weather was perfect, sunny and warm 70s.  My kids were angels.  We packed so much fun into three days that we were all completely exhausted every night.  We did visit our old favorites, including the (World's BEST) Zoo, Pappy's lunch eaten at Tower Grove Park, Grant's Farm, Dinner at the King & I, swimming at the hotel pool, the Botanical Garden, and the Arch (still didn't ride that regrets).  We saw hot air balloons in the air during the Forest Park Balloon Race (although we sadly missed the Balloon Glow because we were traveling).  We drove through our old neighborhood and past our old house.  I even met a friend for a my first run on Grant's trail.  We met our friends for dinner one night, and my kids had the time of their lives.  Gunner declared after we left that he loves their daughter and "feels like marrying her."

Man, I love that city.  I admit that there are things about it that I don't miss.  It's a pretty run down urban area with a whole lot of racial segregation.  It's also filled with a lot of grumpy people.  I also admit that it has been nice living in a different region of the country known for its nice people.  I like nice people.

But all the other stuff that I mentioned before...all that stuff...I have a deep love for it all.  It is all beautiful and fun, but mostly it reminds me of good times during Spiff's medical school, before we had kids, the years we had our babies, the years I had to get to know Grammy, the years we met so many wonderful friends...the ones who became family away from family, while we all struggled through that time together.  We lived there as a couple longer than any other city.  It became home, and part of me still feels that it is home.

Most of all, spending time with Spiff family was glorious.  They live in Oregon, and we rarely see them.  I miss them and so badly wish that my kids could have a close relationship with them.  It is great to see how Gunner interacts with them now that he's a little older.  He loved them both so very much this time.  Hobbes, too.

And Grammy's funeral was lovely and perfect.  She was in the Navy as a young woman, teaching soldiers to work machine guns.  So, she was buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  They gave her full Naval Military Honors.  My kids were completely silent and mesmerized throughout the service; they could tell how special it was.  It was impossible not to cry when the soldier knelt down in front of Spiff's Mom to present her with the folded flag.

We held an informal memorial at the grave cite where we all participated through prayers, readings, words, etc.  It was so special.  I sort of love funerals, as long as they are not over tragic circumstances.  I love how it gives me closure.  I love how they give family and friends a chance to gather together in order to celebrate the life of a loved one.  I love how I have always left a funeral feeling uplifted and peaceful after communally remembering our loved one.

That wrapped up our quick weekend in STL.  I wish we had had time to visit some other friends who still live there.  I wish for a reunion with our friends who have moved on.  But I'm filled with gratitude for a visit with family and a great reminder of a beautiful time in our little lives.