Monday, November 11, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 11

I know today is Veteran's Day, and many people are expressing their thanks for those who have served our country.  I am definitely thankful for them, but this post today needs to be devoted to something, or, rather, someone else.

Chris's Grandma Ebert is my favorite person in the world.  The first time I met her was when Chris took me to a family Christmas party soon after we began dating.  She scared me to death because she announced to pretty much the entire extended family that she liked me.  We hadn't even kissed yet, so I was not ready for the grandma to become attached.  Six months later, when he was getting ready to leave for his two-year mission for our church, she said, "Maybe he should just stay home so we can get you while you're still available!", which also scared me to death, because, come on, the missionary's grandmother is not supposed to say things like that!

When we told her we were getting married, her response was a jubilant "Yipee!", complete with an arm thrown in the air for emphasis.  It's nice to have Grandma's approval.

Ellie's full name is Elizabeth, and she is named to honor her great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth VanDam Ebert.  Interestingly, the daughter we chose to name after her also happens to be the one who inherited her personality.

I could relate so many more stories about this amazing woman - her wicked sense of humor, her fierce independence, her undying devotion to her husband through his declining years, her quick wit, and her wonderful stories about growing up as one of 14 children - but I'll share just one more.  Today, November 11, is her 92nd birthday.  She likes to tells us how, when she was little, her family would go to the Veteran's Day parade in downtown Salt Lake City, and she thought it was so wonderful that the whole city was throwing a birthday parade just for her.

So, today I'm thankful for Grandma Betty, a beautiful and delightful woman whom I am privileged to know and love.  And I'm thankful that one day I will get to carry the title of Grandma Ebert, which I will forever associate with her.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 10

It's no surprise to anyone who's read my blog for the past year that there are some things about my church that make me uncomfortable.  I have been going through a faith transition of sorts lately, perhaps something that is long overdue, really, considering that I was born and raised Mormon and have never strayed from the church.  Mormons are prone to saying "I know" when talking about their beliefs regarding the church, and for many years that has made me uncomfortable.  There are not a lot of things that I can say I know for sure - I may believe them, but I don't know them - but the one things I feel I can say that I do know is that God loves me.  And today I'm thankful for the faith I have that allows me to know that.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 9

I spent all day today learning the ins and outs of being a dance mom.  Lexi joined her middle school dance team this year, and today they performed at their very first competition.  They were the only middle school team, so their performance was just an exhibition, meaning they weren't judged, but it gave them a chance to practice in front of a larger audience than just their coaches and a handful of parents.  There are only 9 girls on the team, but they got up there in front of all those high schoolers and the packed audience and brought their very best, and I'm proud to say they rocked it!

I heard several people comment on how sassy Lexi was (she's the last one to take her place - you be the judge).  She was definitely in her element.  She loves performing, and today I'm so thankful that she has the chance to express herself, and to be a part of a team while doing something she loves.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 8

About three years ago my friend Rachel and I decided that it wasn't enough to share books with each other, so we started a book club with other women in our neighborhood.  Since then, I have read all kinds of books that I never would have chosen on my own.  Some of them I have discovered that I love (like this month's book, The Sisters Brothers), and some I'll be happy if I never see it again (To the Lighthouse, unfortunately, and also anything written or edited by Tom Perotta), but either way, I love that not only am I trying out books and genres I might never have opened otherwise, but I'm also getting the chance to discuss them with a group of women I have grown to love.  Today, I am thankful for my book club.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 7

Thirteen years ago I became a mother.  And now this little cutie:

Has turned into this beautiful young woman:

Vicki came into this world friendly, optimistic, and cheerful, and nothing has changed.  She is always finding the positive in things, and her sense of humor is fantastic.  I'm so proud to be her mother, and I'm happy to be her friend.

I'm thankful for all my girls, but today, on the day she becomes a teenager, I'm especially thankful for Vicki.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Days 5 & 6

Day 5
I live in Portland, so I'm no stranger to rain.  But we had a dry summer and an absolutely gorgeous beginning to fall.  And now it's raining, which I find depressing.  But today, I've decided to be thankful for rain, because without the cold rainy days I wouldn't be able to enjoy the beautiful sunny days as much.

Day 6
We've lived in the same house for eight years - the longest I've lived anywhere since I was 13.  Over the years we've made connections and grown friendships with people in our neighborhood, a group of people who I have come to think of as my village.  I blogged about them two and a half years ago, and I still love them all just as much now, possibly more.  Tonight each of the girls had somewhere different to be, all at the same time, and I relied on friends to help make sure everyone was where they needed to be when they needed to be there.  I love being a part of this village, and I'm so thankful I have them.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 4

This morning I drove Chris to the MAX station so he could catch a train for work.  Normally he rides his bike, but right now spokes keep falling off of it, so it's in the shop (again) for some more TLC.  While I was driving home, I was thinking about how I really didn't want to be anywhere but my bed right then.  Did I mention it was 6:30am?  And that I am, in no way, shape or form, a morning person?  Now, there is a bus that runs a few blocks from our house, and Chris could have walked those few blocks and then caught the bus, but it only runs every half hour, so if he happened to miss it, that's a long time to be standing in the rain.  So instead, I drive him to MAX, which takes about 15 minutes round trip.

What does this have to do with gratitude, you ask?  Well, today I'm thankful that Chris has a job for me to drive him to at 6:30 in the morning.  We've been really fortunate the last eight and a half years.  He's had the same job, despite downsizing at his office, and I've been able to stay home with our girls while they were young.  I'm well aware of how blessed we are, and I'm very grateful for it.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Day 3

Just after I turned 13, my family moved from Oklahoma to England, where we lived for five years.  During that time, I became quite adept at traveling.  So far, I have been to 21 different states, and 13 foreign countries.  I have seen the sun set over the temple of Poseidon and I have attended a service in St. Paul's Cathedral.  I lit a candle inside Notre Dame and danced around Stonehenge.  I watched ice break off a glacier in Alaska and I rafted down the Snake River.  I have climbed the steps of El Castillo at Chichen Itza and I have stood beneath the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  I have camped at the beach and in the mountains, and I have looked down on the Matterhorn and on Mt. Hood from inside an airplane.  I have skied in the Swiss Alps and in the Rocky Mountains, and I have gone swimming in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

It has been my privilege to see all of these amazing and beautiful sights, and today I am thankful for the beauty of the earth.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Month of Gratitude, Days 1 & 2

It seems as though the trend on Facebook each November is for people to post something they're grateful for each day.  Being one who generally digs her heels in against anything "trendy", I've avoided this the past couple of years.  But I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately, and today I read this quote: "The more you are thankful, the more you attract things to be thankful for."  It really resonated with me, and because of that I've decided to take up the challenge, and share something each day this month that I'm thankful for.  And because this poor little blog has been neglected for so long, I decided to do it here, rather than on Facebook.   Of course, I'm a day late, but better late than never!  So, without further ado...

Gratitude, Day 1
I'm thankful that when I tell my daughters they're awesome, their reply is inevitably, "I know!"  We've tried hard to make sure that they have confidence - that they know that they're smart and important, and that they have worth in this world, and that they're capable of doing and being anything they want to, if only they put their minds to it - and it feels like that has payed off.  I hope they'll always be able to answer "I know!"

Gratitude, Day 2
I'm thankful for friends, old and new.  I have lived a somewhat transient life, and I'm blessed to have friends in many places.  I'm thankful for friends who know me and love me anyway, friends who have lived with me and love me anyway, and friends who disagree with most of my opinions and love me anyway.  I'm grateful to know that there are always people who will stand by me when I need it most, and friends who won't notice when three hours have passed because we're enjoying the time so much.  I would be lost without my friends.

So, friends, what are you thankful for?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Honesty is the Best Policy

An actual conversation I had this afternoon with Ellie in the bathroom at Jamba Juice (I was not the one using the bathroom):

Ellie: Mom, for some reason it looks like your butt’s really big.
Me: Um…okay.  Thanks for your honesty. *examines backside in the mirror*
E: Mom!  Stop looking at your butt!
M: Well, you said it looked big.
E: It’s not that big.
M: Oh, well, that’s better.
E: Besides, why are we even having this conversation about butts?
M: Um, because you started it?
E: Uh, no.  Your butt started it.  By being big.

I'm definitely doing something right.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday

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I love being able to borrow library books on my Kindle.  I don't love it when the loan expires before I've finished the book.  But at least there's no fear of overdue fees!

I wrote a poem today.

After next week I will have an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 2nd grader.  Only one left at elementary - how crazy is that?

Lexi & I started a Couch to 5K program last week.  So far I haven't died.

Tabs currently open on my browser: Gmail, Blogger (x2), Facebook, (campground reservation website) (x3), Google Maps,, Google search results (x3), local exterminators (x6).  Multi-tasking much?

I am in the slow process of updating my photo blog.  I'm devastated that I missed a day in April and didn't realize it until this weekend.

However, I did manage to take at least one picture every freaking day for over two years, so, really, that's kinda impressive.

The girls discovered this new game that's honestly kind of stupid, but also very addictive.  I don't understand why, but it is.  It's called Little Alchemy.  Check it out.  And if you get more than 200 elements, let me know what they are.

I didn't get into any of the nursing programs that I applied to, so Plan B is now taking shape.  I think I'm going to retake a couple of classes to try and turn B's into A's and then reapply with a shiny upgraded GPA.

We're planning a camping trip with some good friends.  It's going to be awesome.

I wish I could think of things to blog about anymore.

I will be trying these soon.  Possibly tonight.  Heaven help my waistline if they turn out.

Your turn!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday (evening edition)

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It's a miracle!  I blogged!  (did you miss me?)

Did you know Wait Wait Don't Tell Me has a Tumblr?  I laughed.  I laughed so hard.

Then I discovered that Radiolab has one, too.  It's entirely possible that I spent WAY too much time on the internet that day.

An excerpt from a "happy birthday" exchange with my brother a few weeks ago (he's the one speaking): "Thanks! Sunshine received. Still waiting on puppies. Pop-Tarts arrived, were homicidal after all. Situation mostly under control; may have internal bleeding, odd rash."

My family is awesome.

Vicki is mad that we won't let her watch Dr. Who without us.  But if she watches it without us, we'll miss out!  We are raising a house full of nerds and it makes me so proud.

I have been made aware of the very best place to seek refuge in the event of a zombie apocalypse: Costco.  Think about it - there's food, clothes, cases upon cases of bottled water, TVs, no windows, heavy doors...what more could you need to stay safe from the walking dead?  Consider yourselves informed.

Lately I've been getting up about 45 minutes earlier than I used to.  It's amazing what a difference that makes in how our mornings go.

I finally sold my old desk!  Of course, I had to drop my price by $40 in order to do it, but it's finally out of my garage!

This seems like a very boring post.  But at least I posted!

Your turn!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Teaching My Children to Lie, and Other Mother's Day Gifts

(I have four posts in my drafts folder right now.  Only one of them is not a Random Thoughts Thursday post.  I don't know what's wrong with me that I can't complete a single blog post these days.  It's been over a month.  I think I'm just burned out from too much sitting in front of the computer while I was taking classes.  Or, at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  But, so help me, I am determined to actually hit the "publish" button before the day is done.  I don't even care any more what the post looks like.  So, you know, heads up :) )

Today is Mother's Day.  It's also my birthday.  I'm...old.  Okay, I'm not really that old.  In fact, I'm younger than most of my friends these days.  But I'm older than I've ever been, and while I think I'm handling it fairly well, it's still kind of a big number.  Chris and I have a kind of mutual agreement that we don't need to make a big deal of each other's birthdays.  Mostly we just don't have the energy, but when your birthdays fall a day apart, the celebrating just gets to be too much.  So we typically don't do a whole lot, and that's understood without needing to be said, and we're both okay with it.

Even with all that, though, I woke up this morning feeling a little bit bummed - knowing that it was two big days in one, and not much was going to be done to celebrate them.  And knowing that I couldn't complain, because that's just how we roll around here, and because Chris's birthday is tomorrow and I still have no idea what we're giving him (love you, honey!)

We do have one Mother's Day tradition, however, which is that Chris & the girls always make me breakfast in bed.  So even though I generally wake up when Chris gets up, I stay in bed and pretend to be asleep so they can "surprise" me.  I love it.  And that's what happened this morning.  They came in with a tray, two cards, and - what's this? - a great big box.  They made me read the cards first, then an extra card taped to the top of the box, and then I took a closer look at the plate my breakfast was on, and I slowly realized something.

Our plates don't have words on them...

And realization came stronger and stronger as they unpacked the box.  For Mother's Day, for my birthday, they made me a set of plates, each one depicting a different illustration from a children's book, hand-painted by the girls, Chris, and our good friend.  For weeks, my children and my husband, and, as it turns out, several of my friends, have been lying to me.  While I thought they were having playdates and providing free child labor for our friend, they were painting, glazing, and, in Vicki's case, driving all over the place getting these plates ready to surprise me today.

The backs all have something special on them, too, but I was in a
hurry and didn't get a picture

They're beautiful.  They're amazing.  They make me smile and cry and smile again.  They are, quite possibly, the best present I have ever received.  And I refuse to think about the number of lies I was told in order to make it happen.  They were definitely lies for a good cause, and I will cherish the knowledge of them just as much as I will cherish these plates.  They make me happy, and they're a reminder that my family knows what I love and are willing to work hard to surprise me with something they know I'll treasure.

Now I'm just sorry I don't have something equally as epic for Chris's birthday tomorrow.  I guess there's always Father's Day...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Open Letter to Those Who Do Not Understand Mormon Femnists

For many people, the phrase “Mormon feminist” is an oxymoron.  For others, it’s akin to heresy.  For me, it’s an identity.  It’s part of who I am.  Because so many people do not understand how it is possible to be both, and because I have read so many blog posts and Facebook comments recently expressing disdain and distaste for women who identify as Mormon feminists, I would like to explain what it means to me to be one.

First of all, let me say that my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not based on whether or not a woman prays in General Conference, or on what I wear to church, or on whether I will ever see my daughters pass the Sacrament.  Rather, my testimony is based on my understanding of the teachings of Christ and on the love I feel from Him in my life.  There are many things about which I feel comfortable saying “I believe”, but there are not many things about which I feel comfortable saying “I know”.  However, one thing I do know is that my Savior loves me.  I know He knows me personally, and I know He sees not only who I am now, but who I want to be.  When I am at my lowest He is there to lift me up and He gives me strength when I am weak.  Because I know He loves me, I also know that God loves me.

Many people who are opposed to feminism in the Church assume that what feminists are seeking is equal power – that all we want is the Priesthood.  It is true that there are women agitating for the opportunity to hold the Priesthood.  But this is only a small part of what feminists want, and it is not something that is wanted by all who identify as feminists.

Instead, what feminists want are equal rights.  We want to be acknowledged as important, and not just for our ability to give birth and to nurture children.  Yes, these are important qualities that women possess, but not all women will become mothers.  What, then, is their role in the Church?  What of the women who do not wish to be placed on pedestals and told that they are better than men, or more spiritual, or more righteous?  These are tokens, and they feel like a condescending pat on the head.  I do not wish to be better than any man, or any woman.  I only wish to be equal.

On April 6, a woman made history in the Church, and all she did was offer a prayer.  Of course, women pray all the time, even in public.  But this particular prayer closed the first session of the 183rd annual General Conference of the Church.  And until that moment, no woman had ever been invited to offer a prayer in a general session of General Conference.  Why not?  No one really knows.  There is no clear reason, except that women had never prayed in Conference before.  Tradition.  A group joined together and wrote letters, requesting that a break in tradition be considered.  Amid outcry from members who did not understand why anyone cared, the letters were sent to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.  According to the official Church spokesman, the decision regarding who would pray was made months before General Conference, so it seems likely that women (a woman prayed to open the concluding session of Conference on April 7) were already slated to pray before the letter-writing campaign even began.  However, I firmly believe that, regardless of when the decision was made, God heard the prayers of the people advocating for change and He answered them, in His own way and in His own time.

When Joseph Smith was a boy, God did not just appear to him and tell him to start a new church.  Even though I’d like to think that this was in His plans all along, it wasn’t until Joseph went to God in prayer and ASKED Him which church to join that God gave him the answer that he should not join any, but that God had a work for him to do.  In the scriptures we are told, over and over, to ask for help.  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” -James 1:5.  “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”  -Matthew 21:22.  “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” -3 Nephi 14:7.  And over and over and over.  God is pretty clear that He keeps the lines of communication open.  He welcomes our questions, and we are told that He will answer us.

Why, then, if we believe these words so strongly, and if we believe that God listened to the prayers of a 14-year-old farmboy, do we find it so hard to believe that God will listen to and answer the prayers of hundreds of women?  President Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet and President of the Church from 1995-2008, was asked in an interview if he thought women could ever be given the Priesthood in the Church, if the current policies could ever change, and he answered, “Yes.  But there’s no agitation for that.”  That was in 1997, and perhaps there was no agitation then, but now, in 2013, there is.  I don’t think it’s such a leap to believe that it’s possible that things could change.  Who are we to claim to know and understand God’s plans?

I participated in the now infamous “Wear Pants to Church Day”.  I did this for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I felt it was important to stand up for those women who feel marginalized in the Church.  And whether or not anyone else THINKS women should feel that way does not change the fact that there are women who DO feel that way.  After Sacrament Meeting was over that day, I had a woman give me a hug and thank me for wearing pants.  I didn’t know before then that she felt that, but she needed someone to wear pants for her, and I’m glad I followed my heart and chose to do so.

It is wrong to tell others how to feel.  We are human; we cannot always control our emotions and our experiences.  We all come from different places in life, and things touch us in different ways.  What feels right to me will not feel right to everyone else.  There are many Mormon women who are perfectly comfortable with the way things are in the Church, and I applaud and genuinely congratulate them.  But there are also many Mormon women who do not.  For one reason or another, or for many reasons put together, we do not feel represented, understood, heard, or respected in the Church.  This is certainly not to say that we do not feel these things from God, but rather from the men who run the Church here on earth.  And this is why we have chosen to speak up and speak out.

I do not know whether women will ever hold the Priesthood in the LDS church.  I don’t even know if this matters to me or not – I haven’t figured that out yet.  But what does matter to me is that women have a place in the Church where they feel safe, loved, and understood.  Where they feel represented and respected.  Where they can share in worship and love without worrying that they will be turned away by other Church members for questioning tradition.  Because if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about love, then why are those of us who do not fit into the traditional Mormon mold being shown so little love from our fellow Church members?

Please show us, your sisters, some love and respect.  Please make an effort to understand where we are coming from.  Please stop belittling us for feeling the way we do, even if you do not understand how or why we could feel that way.  Please do not make it harder for us to stay in the Church.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, even if His followers are not.  He welcomes our questions.  All we can ask is that, as His people, you do the same.  We need your love; please don’t turn us away.

Random Thoughts Thursday

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Yesterday morning I did a google search for "daisy girl scout petal ideas" and stumbled onto some random person's Pinterest.  While scrolling through her pins, I noticed a picture that looked awfully familiar.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was actually my picture.  I do not have a Pinterest account, so it's a little surreal that something of mine has now been repinned 53 times.

I really, really hate confrontation.  But I made a commitment to  myself to stand up for what I think is right.  Sometimes that makes things a little challenging.  Especially on Facebook.

Vicki and her friend Kate were coming up with a list of the best words to use for hangman.  On their list: antidisestablishmentarianism, supercalifragilisticexpealidocious, and pneumonomicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.  Don't play hangman with Vicki and Kate.

I have a student who was trying to sound out the word "far" and couldn't do it (the -ar words are hard to sound out).  But as soon as I added a "t" to the end, she had no problem.  Go figure.

It's kind of fun to be a soccer mom.

If a genie granted me three wishes, I'd wish for my house to always magically clean itself, my children to get along, and everyone to approach new ideas with an open mind and a desire to learn from differences.

Your turn!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Joke is on Me

There used to be a commercial, years and years ago, that made me laugh with derision every time I saw it.  I don't remember what it was for (KFC, maybe?) but it started with the phrase, "A home-cooked dinner on a weeknight?" and implied that there was no time for that (but that their food was the next best thing.)  Oh, how I laughed.  Of course there was time for home-cooked meals on weeknights!  It was the weekends that were for takeout.  I felt so superior to the mom in that commercial.  And so self-righteous: I would never be so lazy and irresponsible as her!  Of course I would always make the time to fix a home-cooked meal, regardless of the day of the week!

Let’s think about this for a minute, here.  At that time, I only had two kids, and they were both under the age of five.  I was working part-time (very, VERY part-time) and Chris was a full-time student.  We lived in the married student housing on the university campus and we were surrounded by other young families in the very same boat as us.  All of our family lived within a 20-minute drive from our apartment.

Fast forward eight years: I have three children OVER the age of five, old enough to have their own interests.   Chris works full-time and then some.  I’m still working part time, but with a weird split schedule that was unintentional but unavoidable, and I volunteer with the schools and with Girl Scouts.

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays I'm at work from 9:00-12:00.  I go home for lunch and then back to work at 2:00 and stay until I pick the girls up at 3:10.  Ellie has soccer practice on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Lexi has practice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Lexi has dance class right after school on Tuesdays.  Wednesday mornings I volunteer for crosswalk duty at the elementary school.  Wednesday is also early release day, and we always have a Girl Scout meeting right after school, with Ellie's dance class immediately following that.  Vicki has church youth group every Wednesday evening and Lexi has hers every other Wednesday evening.  If we're lucky, they meet at the same building.  Thursdays afternoons Vicki has piano lessons.  And every week I thank the Good Lord for Fridays, when no one has extracurricular activities and all I have to do is show up at the school for 15 minutes in the morning to make sure kids are in uniform.

A home-cooked meal on a weeknight sure would be nice.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

He is Risen!

He is risen! He is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice.
He has burst his three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered; man is free.
Christ has won the victory.

Come with high and holy hymning;
Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay.
Not one darksome cloud is dimming
Yonder glorious morning ray,
Breaking o’er the purple east,
Symbol of our Easter feast.

He is risen! He is risen!
He hath opened heaven’s gate.
We are free from sin’s dark prison,
Risen to a holier state.
And a brighter Easter beam
On our longing eyes shall stream.

                                                    -Cecil Francis Alexander

Friday, March 8, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday (Friday Edition)

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**I actually had this written yesterday, but I forgot to post it.  That still counts, right?**

The other night we had our first "I'm running away" experience.  Apparently someone isn't getting enough attention.  *sigh*  I will be so happy when this term is over and I have a break from school.  It's hard on my family.

She packed a bag with a change of clothes, but forgot underwear.

I am so ready for a few months with all three girls in school and me not.  I realized this morning that I actually haven't really had that, since I started school as soon as Ellie did, and have been going straight through since then.  Of course, I'll still be working, but at least I'll have time to clean my house, and maybe read a few books just for fun.

Even though I haven't finished this month's book, I'm still going to my book club meeting.  I can't give up my favorite "me" time.

Between all the girls, we sold 831 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  Not bad.

I'm so glad that's over with for another year.  So, so glad.

The ants are coming back.  The other night, I dreamed that they were each an inch long.  Ugh.

I love that I can check out library books on my Kindle without even leaving my house.  Now, if only the selection was bigger...

Tonight we have Parent/Teacher Conferences for Lexi and Ellie.  It's nice that I've never had to dread those. I get to look forward to them and be excited to hear how awesome my kids are.

I really need to update my picture blog.  I don't think I've missed a day yet, but I haven't posted since the middle of January.

Your turn!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday

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Is it wrong that I'm a little sad I don't have kids at home during the day anymore because it means I have no excuses for eating Kraft mac & cheese for lunch?

I got all my homework done before the kids got home from school today.  This is a major accomplishment.  Now I only have a quiz and I'm done with school for the day.  Yay for getting to enjoy an evening for once!

Although I'll probably enjoy it by going to bed early.  Such is my life.

Probabilities are fun.  Did you know that if you take a quiz with 20 multiple-choice questions and guess on all of them, the probability of passing is only 0.0000039?  Study, folks.

Only two more weekends of cookie booth sales.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

I wish I had a maid.  But if I did have a maid, I'd be too embarrassed to have her come in my house, because it's such a mess.

It's really kind of embarrassing that I can't spell "embarrassed" right, even though it was on my high school English teacher's "No Excuse 50" list.  Sorry, Mr. Daniels.

After we finished our semester abroad, three of my friends and I agreed that one day we'd all take a European vacation together.  This summer we're spending a weekend at Bear Lake in Utah.  That's kind of the same thing, right?

Your turn!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday

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I slacked last week.  On blogging.  But I did a heck of a whole lot else, so we'll call it good.

Maybe I should start calling this "Random Thoughts Every-other Thursday".  That's a little long.  How about "Thoughts on a Random Thursday"?  No, that sounds like the title to a bad poem.  Maybe we'll just stick with it, and once April rolls around and I'm done with school for a little while the blogging will pick back up again.  One can hope.

Being sick is no fun.  Being sick and a student is excruciating.  Despite having the flu, I've had countless homework assignments, three quizzes, and two exams all due this week.  I don't think my grades are going to be what they should be for these units.  Bummer.

I want to write something that's not whiney, but I can't think of anything.

Here, enjoy these communist dictator Valentines (we'll pretend they were all dictators):


I've been giggling over Leon Trotsky all day.

Your turn!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday

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Why is it that if one of the girls gets a stomach virus, it usually only affects that one girl and leaves the rest of us alone, but if someone gets it while we're on vacation, the whole family gets sick?  Mind you, I'm not complaining about only one person getting sick, but it seems really strange that it works that way.

So many people are sick right now.  The hypochondriac in me wants to lock myself up with a bottle of hand sanitizer and hide until everyone's better.

Good thing I work in an elementary school, huh?

Look!  Sweater ponies!

I'm bummed that I didn't blog at all last week.

I know I've said this before, but I love, love, LOVE that my girls' favorite music is showtunes.

How does blogger not recognize "showtunes" as a word?  There's something really wrong with that.

I have to watch a video of a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery for my A&P class.  After the knee surgery video and the heart valve repair video, I'm learning to not be grossed out by stuff like that.

I finally took down my Christmas decorations.  But my neighbor still has a Halloween cat on her front door.

Do you have any idea how awesome it is that my kids will choose programming a robot over watching TV?

And that all three of them can quote The Princess Bride at the drop of a hat?

Face it, my family is cooler than yours.

Your turn!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday

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Every time I start feeling bad that our Christmas decorations are still up, I look at my neighbor's front door and realize that she still has Halloween decorations up.  I guess when she takes the black cat down, I'll know it really is beyond time to take down the tree.

In Tic-tac-toe, why is it called a cat's game?  Where's the cat?

I have decided that I'm getting old.  I don't know how else to explain my increasing hatred for being cold.  It just seems like I can't get warm, no matter how many layers I put on.

I do think I need some more hoodies, just so it doesn't look like I'm wearing the same few shirts day in and day out.  I promise I'm wearing a different shirt underneath the hoodie each day, okay?

I think it was Mark Twain who said something about "Lies, damned lies, and statistics."  I think of this quote whenever I sit down to study for my statistics class.

I finally manged to take pictures for an entire year!

Aaaaand, I guess I'm out of random for today.

Your turn!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday

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(The "Hey, it's actually Thursday!" edition)

I'm not even a full week into this term and I'm already stressed.  I need a vacation.

I've submitted one application to nursing school and have at least three more underway.  Fingers crossed that I get in somewhere!

I'm learning the implications of what it will mean to be in the health care field: people feel comfortable telling you about their bowel movements.

I got knives for Christmas, and it only took me three days of using them to discover just how sharp they are. Ouch.

We discovered over the break that Vicki is only about an inch shorter than my sister.

And next year Lexi will be in middle school.

I'm getting old.

When I was in middle school we wrote out our assignments.  On paper.  In one of her classes, Vicki has a blog. (Granted, it's a technology class, but still...  My "technology" class used Apple II computers, and that was in high school.)

Lexi did a report on her family for school.  My favorite line: "My dad's side is very, very rowdy."

Your turn!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Random Thoughts Thursday (Friday Edition)

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You'd think that being on vacation would give me more time to blog on Thursdays.  Not so much.  Of course, I'd have had more time if I hadn't slept until 9:00, read for three hours, showered at noon, gone sledding, and taken Ellie for a playdate at her cousins' house.  Pity me for my busy day.

I was informed yesterday in no uncertain terms that it's not a playdate if I stay.  I stayed anyway.  Talking with my sister-in-law is a playdate for me.

While we were sledding, Ellie dubbed herself The Sledding Master. The she said, in all seriousness, "I don't know how I got so good at sledding.  I wonder if any of my ancestors were professional sledders?"

Having a Kindle is dangerous.  It doesn't feel like I'm spending money if I don't actually have the paper book in my hand.

When I showed Vicki how to check out library books using the Kindle app on her new tablet, it was like she'd died and gone to heaven.  "Are you serious?  I have the whole library at my fingertips!"  All she needed was an evil laugh.

A few days ago Ellie spilled chili on the ceiling.

Chris and I watched the movie Sleepwalk With Me.  It wasn't quite what I expected.  It was funny, but also kind of depressing.

I need a new profile picture.  But I'm always the one behind the camera.

I left my phone with Lexi for a little while and when I got it back, it was full of pictures like this:

Your turn!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to Get Crayon Out of Washed and Dried Clothes

...Because I'm helpful like that.

We're still on vacation, but fortunately we're staying at a fabulous 5-star location (my in-laws' house) that has full laundry services at no extra cost.  After being here over a week, I finally gathered up all the girls' clothes yesterday, separated them into two loads (though I didn't bother to sort - I just put half in the first load and half in the second) and threw them into the wash.  And when I pulled the first load out of the dryer, I was horrified to discover that everything was covered in brilliant purple crayon splotches.

You'd think after the iPod incident (which, now that I mention it, I don't think I ever blogged about - rice is the key there.  Rice and not turning it on right away) I'd have learned to check pockets before washing the girls' things, but, alas.

I may or may not have said a few choice words.  After all, this is the second major screw-up of this trip, and there were a lot of brand new clothes in that load.  Really cute brand new clothes.  But then I turned to my best friend, Google.  Seriously, what did people in these situations do before the internet?  There were several helpful results, but the one I was most interested in trying was the one that required the least amount of work.  I figured before I started dousing things in WD-40 or scraping every single stain (and there were a LOT) with a toothbrush, I'd try the easy solution.  This blog post was very encouraging, especially with the number of comments after it that all claimed success.  And, bonus, I only had to buy vinegar (and only because my mother-in-law had just run out), as opposed to some other options that had you adding all kinds of crazy stuff to the wash.

So, here's what you do:
  1. Put the clothes in the washer, and set the water to hot.
  2. Add your laundry detergent, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 4-6 Tbsp of dishwasher liquid.
  3. Let the clothes soak for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Let the wash run normal.

My mother-in-law has a front-loading washing machine, so I wasn't entirely sure how to go about the soaking part, and she uses powdered detergent, so figuring out how to add that and the liquids was a little challenging, but I managed to figure it out.  Here are my variations (some on purpose and some on accident, but it all worked out):  I used a full scoop of the powdered detergent, 1 cup of vinegar - but only because I'd read so many different "recipes" that I'd gotten confused as to what the actual measurement was supposed to be - and 5 Tbsp of liquid dishwasher detergent.  I mixed it all together in a measuring cup, thinking that the powder would dissolve in the vinegar and then I could just pour it into the liquid portion of the detergent drawer, but apparently detergents react with vinegar, so that was kind of a volcanic experience.  I got it all in there eventually, though I don't know how much vinegar actually made it into the washer and how much I had to clean up off the counter.  I set the washer on hot and used the autosoak setting along with the heavy duty cycle, so the whole thing took about 2 hours.

It was quite the production when I opened up the washer - my mother-in-law and Vicki were both there, curious to see if it worked (I'll be honest, we all had our doubts - it sounded way too good to be true, especially considering the plethora of other solutions).  I pulled out the bright green sweatshirt that had originally held the crayon in its pocket and was relieved to see that ALL the purple stains and clumps of wax were gone.  In fact, all but two items were completely purple free!

So there you have it.  Should you ever find yourself in this same situation, have no fear!  The clothes can be saved.

Now, too bad I don't have a whole host of household stress relievers to post about.  I could start a series.  Of course, all I need to do is a few more loads of laundry and I'm sure I'll have some other disaster to share. That's just how I operate.
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