Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Jillian!

December 19, 1989. 11:59am. After 24 hours of labor, Jillian was cut out of my body and took her first breath.
Here we are, 19 years later, at exactly 11:59am! No matter where we are, I'm with her at the exact time she was born. Last year she ducked out of her choir class to call me so when the clock struck 11:59 we would at least be on the phone together.
We went to Cafe Rio for lunch, then went to see "Tales of Desperaux." Then she blew out her candles...
This is her present. We couldn't get a good picture, but it's THREE WICKED TICKETS! May 2, 2009 at 2:00pm, us 3 girls will be there! Whoo hoo. Jill has seen it, but Grace and I haven't. Grace has had all the lyrics memorized since she was 3.
I hate to write another sappy long blog entry about another one of my kids. BUT.
She was the only one of our kids whose gender was a surprise. I wanted a girl SOOO badly. Thank goodness my sister is gifted at writing, and had the good sense to write down the events surrounding Jill's birth...apparently the first thing I said when I finally got to hold her was "hello my angel." And then, "Andrew I got my girl!!" She came home from the hospital in a Christmas Stocking!
I don't like to play favorites, but I think every mother has a special place in her heart for her firstborn. I love everything about her, and she's had her dad in the palm of her hand from the first minute he laid eyes on her.
Happy Birthday Jillian!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Student of the Week

Thank goodness the halls were empty when I did this dastardly deed. SO embarrassing! Anyway, Tyler was awarded the "Student of the Week" by his Health teacher. Here is some of what he said:
"You have always done a nice job on your work, quizzes and tests. Also, I have greatly appreciated the comments you have made in our class discussions and the answers you provide. I can tell that you are an intelligent young man who has a future in whatever field of study you pursue....you possess both qualities of a gifted mind and also work hard. You have the ability to think more in depth than a lot of your classmates, and it is evident by your work and your comments in class. Thanks for making our class a better environment..."

Way To Be, Ty.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Building a Bunny

A month ago, Grace and I got stuck at the Mall waiting for the boys to finish their Scout Pow Wow. We wound up going into the "Build A Bear" store. She wanted one! Right now! I told her that she would have to wait for her birthday.
So here she is, her dream coming true. She kissed the heart, put it in, pushed the button that stuffed it, and then gave it a bath and a blow dry.
Here she is with the stupid Hannah Montana cake that she wanted. (BTW...this was from WalMart and tasted like monkey poo. Did that stop me from eating it? NO! I would take a bite and say "Yuck! Tastes like monkey poo. And then I would take another bite. I need help.)
She said that it was the best day of her life. Hee. And to her credit, she has taken great care of her bunny so far...she dresses her in jammies every night, and gets her dressed for the day every morning. I stuck to my guns and this is the ONLY present that she got. From me anyway. Jill bought her a bag full of stuff and sweet Ryan made her a mix CD of some of her favorite songs.
One more birthday to go until the year is over. I wonder what Jillian will get for her birthday?

Friday, December 5, 2008

outtakes

Here is our attempt today to get a picture to send out with Christmas cards.
Eyes shut.
Tyler looking like he's about to do something nefarious to Ryan.
I guess you'll have to wait and see if we actually got one that was worthy to print.

Happy Birthday Grace

Seven years ago on this day, at 9:28am, Grace Ann was born! Nine long months of worry, stress and prayer and Jillian's dream of having a sister finally happens. Isn't that the happiest face you've ever seen in a photograph???
Little Gracie was completely spoiled. Between the 5 of us, she basically was held the entire first year of her life. Jillian was 12, Ty was 10 and Ryan 8 when she was born.

Despite getting pretty much everything she ever wanted, she is NOT bratty-spoiled! Her sweet, loving, happy little spirit just sparkles.
This precious gift completes our family in a way that I cannot express. Those long nine months taught us patience. Taught us to have faith against all odds while submitting our will to a loving Heavenly Father. "Nevertheless, thy will be done."
We knew by experience that not all prayers are answered in the way we wish. We knew by experience that this life is full of grief and pain and loss.
And then we were given this.
Those brown eyes sparkle with intelligence and fun. Her sweet little self is so tender, loving and generous. She never leaves a room without saying "I love you!" Usually accompanied with a kiss and a hug. I sometimes laugh and wonder, "Is she going on a long trip? Nope, just into the other room!"
She is always thinking of other people's feelings and needs. She loves to make cards and letters for everyone. She loves birthdays and will plan and execute elaborate plans to surprise those she loves. Her teacher told me how amazed she is by Grace....this 1st grader notices when her teacher has had a haircut and comments to her how beautiful she looks.
She is a true diva/princess. When she was little she hated spitting out when we brushed her teeth. She would put her hands over her eyes during the whole process until she'd rinsed out and the sink was clear! She's obsessed with shoes, lip-gloss, purses and beautiful dresses. And, yes, we've certainly pandered to her every wish where these are concerned!
She is quick to tears, but just as quick to laugh. She has recently incorporated "stomping" a little when things don't go exactly her way, but usually winds up laughing before it's over. She's just as quick to forgive and has a wonderful capacity to "go with the flow" which is important in a houseful of teenagers!
Jillian has agonized about missing Grace's birthday. It's finals week next week, and she was just here for Thanksgiving. She finally decided that she just couldn't make it happen. I broke the news to Grace a couple of days ago. She was SO sad. But she just resignedly said "I understand."
Then Jill called yesterday and said that her profs had canceled class on Friday. She's going to come home! She's going to surprise Grace in her class today. I can't wait to see her little face!

Someday I'll tell her the whole story about our lives before she was here. As for now, she knows that she was "a miracle of joy."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One More Reason to Blog

"You will have significant experiences. I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh your memory of those meaningful and significant things.

Some of them may be funny.
Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful.

Some may build one upon another until they represent a lifetime of special experience."

Gordon B. Hinckley, 2006

Monday, November 24, 2008

Singing with Grace

I bought the latest Taylor Swift CD. Grace and I have been listening to it in the car. Right away she identified the songs that she liked, and we have to listen to them over and over. "Go to number 3!" is what she usually says before I even turn the key to start the car...Here is what you would hear if you were lucky enough to be traveling with us:
(Grace and I both singing at the top of our lungs)
"We were both young na na I first saw you
I close my eyes
And the unn nn starts
I'm standing there
On a balcony in na na air

See the lights,
See the da na da da gowns
See you unn nn na na the crowd
And say hello
da na did i know

That you were romeo you were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said stay away from juliet
da da na na on the staircase
Begging you please don’t go, and i said

Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone
I’ll be waiting da da na na na na run
You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess
Its a love story baby just say yes!"

It goes on, but I won't torture you anymore. It absolutely cracks me up that she and I both can't figure out the exact same words...and wind up "da na na-ing" until we come to a word we remember.
I love her so much.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday


1. Books!
2. Twilight tickets (boys and I are going tomorrow afternoon!)
3. Diet Pepsi (I'm basically trying not to eat until Thanksgiving. And this little beverage is helping me through. I'm well on my way to being pickled in chemicals. I plan on donating my body to a medical research lab.)
4. That my piece of #$&! van passed inspection and starts up when I turn the key ( I pray over it every day)
5. my purple plaid high heels
(That's right. I said purple plaid. They're fantastic. And Andrew bought them for me which makes me love them even more :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Ryan!

Fifteen years ago today, Ryan was born. Andrew was still a student at the University of Utah while working full time. I worked the whole pregnancy at American Express (4:30am start time!) and we built our house in Lehi. We moved in when Ry was 6 weeks old.
He came into the world by C-section...and aspirated some fluid on the way out. He spent his first 24 hours of life under an oxygen box. I didn't get to hold him until he was more than a day old. It was unbearable. But he quickly turned it around and has really never been sick since!
Here are 15 things that I love about him:
1. He is brilliant and loves to learn!
2. He is a hysterical germ-o-phobe. Sadly, some of us like to torture him with germs:)
3. He doesn't mind that I can't seem to stop calling him "baby." (well he WAS my baby for 8 years until Grace came along...now they both answer to the moniker)
4. He manages his time wisely. He's great at chipping away at assignments and never is slapping things together at the last minute.
5. He has a beautiful, sensitive heart.
6. He's our go-to-guy for figuring out anything electronic.
7. He's infinitely patient with Grace (he plays Princess Monopoly and Mastermind with her every Sunday!)
8. He is always kind
9. He comes to Primary with me and "performs" his Chinese language ability
10. He loves to read
11. He loves healthy food
12. He never complains about what I fix for dinner. He just eats it :)
13. He has a savant-like memory for numbers
14. He never misses a good-night hug
15. He never misses an opportunity to say "I love you!"
Happy 15th birthday my sweet boy. I love you more every minute of every day. You are absolutely a gift and a blessing to our family. And to me in particular. You make me glad to be a mother. I can't wait to see what amazing things you will do and be in the years to come!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Flat Grace meets the Best. Friend. Ever.

Grace was given the assignment to send a "Flat Grace" to someone we know that lives outside of Utah. This person would be required to take pictures of "Flat Grace" in her new habitat, doing...whatever. Who could I call upon to do such a time-consuming project? Who do I know that could be counted on to come through? Joy, of course!
This dear woman took Flat Grace around her city, took pictures of her, and mailed them all back to Utah. They arrived today. Grace was one of 2 kids in her class of 24 that got mail today! She was beyond thrilled, and described in great detail to me all that our beloved Miss Joy sent in the envelope.
Thank you dear friend for making a small one feel so loved and important and for coming through for us! You are truly the best. I hope we can reciprocate someday soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fantastic Gift!


A lovely neighbor gave me this for my birthday. Apparently I live under a rock, 'cause I'd never heard of it. It is available as a picture book and a Documentary DVD. We watched the DVD for Family Night last night, and seriously, there are no words. Click here for more info.

Monday, November 10, 2008

41 years


It was my 41st Birthday yesterday. Here is a pic of my dad holding me. He always has this little twinkle in his eye in pictures that I love...the story goes that he actually only wanted 2 children. My mom talked him into more. Once she got him on board to have me, (4th child) they tried for a long time and nothing happened. Finally after a couple of moves, my mother joining the church and being sealed in the temple I came along. She always said that I was waiting until they were sealed before I would agree to come to earth ;)

It was a good birthday though. Jill was home, I planned ahead and got Papa Murphy's on Saturday so I wouldn't have to cook, and I got a nap. Excellent.
It was also our Sunday for the Primary Program. I'm the chorister. I hated this calling when I first started. I was terrified to the point of being physically sick every Sunday. It's the hardest calling I've ever had. It's like having to plan a full blown Sharing Time 52 weeks a year...and always struggling to come up with new, fun , exciting ways to keep their interest. But once I decided it didn't matter what I looked like, or how my voice sounded, I finally loosened up and I love it now. The kids are amazing, and it is so much fun to share my love of the gospel and music with them. I actually look forward to Sundays and being in Primary!!
I came home with a stack of handmade cards from some of the kids...my little 5 yr old Olivia who made a card with a picture of us on it and music notes floating around us! And so many other sweet messages from these kids....I love them so much!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I know that a lot of people do this subject on Thursdays, but I have been feeling so grateful for things this week for some reason. Years ago during some difficult times I jumped on the "gratitude journal" bandwagon where you tried to find 5 things to write down every day that you were grateful for. So here goes:
I am so thankful for a warm house!
I am so thankful for hot showers.
I am so thankful for a husband who work hard to support us.
I am so thankful for my soft sheets (which I am snuggling down in right now!)
I am so thankful for this:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Which Witch

We told her to tell people she was Elpheba. I didn't dare actually paint her face green after last year's debacle with the fairy glitter. Suffice it to say the girl doesn't like having glue or excessive makeup on her face, and REALLY doesn't like having to wash it off!




This is Grace at school where I helped plan and carry out the funnest Halloween Party Ever!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Family Night

Tyler of course had to fool around and try to scare Grace by being the Headless Horseman.
Grace made a kitty-cat face.
Ty went for a semi-colon smiley face.
Here is the finished product. Ryan was doing a complicated "owl" template, but got sick of it and gave up. I think they went outside and smashed his pumpkin later...why is it in boys DNA to feel the need to blow up, smash, and destroy stuff?
Then Grace couldn't rest until she tried the headless horseman thing. She was thrilled with this picture. Silly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

cReeAtiv SpElinG

I guess I spoke too soon about Grace's spelling ability. Here is a grocery list she gave me yesterday:
Groshree List
1. ciril
2. treet fore Grace
3. craons
4. Mak up
5. Nale Polish
Here is a note she gave Ryan on Sunday:
"Ryan wut shood we do towmaroe? How abaut we play printses manopaley?"

It cracks me up that she's able to read well above her grade level, but still reverts to phonetic spelling when she writes. I love her so much. Here is the other hysterical thing; the bonus spelling words for her class this week are: Mesopotamia, ancient, ruins, and haunted house. I'm not kidding. She's six. Hee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Food is Love

I've been considering creating a family cookbook for Christmas this year. Today I broke into my cookbook cupboard to begin the task of going through everything. Oh my. See the Lion House Cookbook? The back of the book is crammed with loose recipes. From everywhere. This is my system. Sad, huh?
Here is one of the loose recipes. In 1996 I asked my mom for "that stripedy jello salad Grandma Cutler used to make at Christmas." She mailed me a copy of it. I cannot bear to throw it away, even though I NEVER make this salad.
And guess what else I found in my cupboard? My mom's recipe box. I took it when we cleaned out the house after she died.
Here is the famous mint cookie recipe. Handwritten by Grandma Tussey herself! I make these cookies only at Christmas, but sometimes friends request "Tussey cookies" as they've come to be known for other special occasions.
My mom went through a period where she clipped recipes from the newspaper.
Here is "Red Flame Seasoning" known to those of you from Bountiful who love the Red Flame Restaurant. Mom used to have this on the stove at all times cause she put it in everything.
I clearly remember TYPING these recipes for her on these cards when I was 14. Yes, kids, on a genuine IBM roller-ball typewriter! The jazzy and cutting edge technology then was; if you made a mistake you could back-up and a special white ribbon would white out the goof! Wow.
Then I saw this card. A punch recipe written by my mother after she shattered all the bones in her left arm and had to write with her non-dominant right hand. I remember that we made this punch the last Christmas she was alive. I almost cannot bear to look at it. I wound up spending ten minutes sitting on my kitchen floor in breathless, stunned, weepy grief. Why doesn't it get easier?

So, ladies, what do I do? Some of these recipes are clearly family heirlooms! Part of the beauty is the form and appearance of the cards. Should I make photo-copies? Just type up the recipes? I'm sitting here wondering if Trixie has taught her kids to make her "Ulster Fry." I'm wondering what foods my kids associate with me? What recipes bring back those magical moments where they felt loved and safe and happy? Have I written them down? How should I organize them for posterity?

And now I'm worrying about Grace. The past couple of years I've been violently and wholeheartedly shunning sugar and flour. She's not going to have those warm, yummy memories that are usually wrapped up in gooey-carbness. She'll have no memories of the mom I used to be; warm chocolate chip cookies or sweet rolls ready when the kids walked through the door after school. Bready-sausage casseroles on Christmas morning...homemade bread...chocolate cake...I just don't do it anymore.
As I'm going through these recipes, I'm not seeing much that I would actually make now. What I should be doing is creating a file of the changes I've made to everything to make it healthier.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Break

Jillian came home for fall break. We went to Gardner Village on Friday to see the witches. It was fun, but SOOOO crowded!I'm shorter than both boys now. I knew it would happen eventually. Aren't they fine?

My Gracie is very used to posing for pictures. Can you tell?
My Jillian. It has been so great to have her home!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Miracle of Joy

It snowed last night. Grace was thrilled as only a 6 yr old can be about white moisture. As we were getting out of the car at church at 9:00 this morning, she had her little face raised, tongue out to catch the little white flakes. Her face was filled with bliss. She turned to me and said, " I know another reason why the day I was born was a miracle of joy!"
"Why?" I asked, most of my attention on getting my briefcase and posters out of the van.
"Because it snowed that day!"
Oh. Ok. I did stop for a second and look at her beautiful little face. Cheeks rosy with the cold, damp eyelashes framing those twinkling chocolate brown eyes, curly little ringlets spiraling around her head. She is constantly reminding me of the simple joys in life. I'm glad that she knows how loved she is, and that she is a "miracle of joy."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our Week in Music



video
Tyler and Ryan both had concerts this week. I'm trying to edit Ry's down, so hopefully I'll post it later.
But here is Tyler playing the guitar for the final song of the concert. He was in two choirs as well...it makes my heart and soul sing to watch my kids perform.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

sPeLLiNG

I got to thinking, because I was so bugged by the illiterate 9th graders at Reality Town, about spelling.
I have a file in which I keep (not every) but most little notes and cards that I've received from my kids over the years. I could never have predicted the text message culture 15+ years ago when I started saving these beautiful little hand-written notes. I love and cherish each one and each misspelled word! One of my favorites came in 1997 from Ryan (he was 3 1/2.) I was the Primary President at the time, and was on the phone when he slipped me a little 3x3 piece of paper that said "kiss me" on it. The s's are perfectly backward. I adore it. It reminded me at the time that I needed to do a better job of paying more attention to my kids instead of my calling.
Now my little Grace is writing notes...I just found one from Valentine's Day that says "Your the best mom in the hol wrld!" and "I love you bigr then the wrld!" I have notes with "saree" and "mostlee" and "I wont a snak!"
Yesterday we were doing her spelling words and "ghost" was one of them. She spelled it "goste." I've been drilling into her the silent "e" at the end of words makes the vowel say it name! So, yeah, this is how you SHOULD spell ghost, right?
Anyway. Now she's in 1st Grade, and already I can see the fruits of education blossoming in her writing ability. On her journal page yesterday, she wrote "I had a cookie for lunch." Each word spelled correctly. It's crazy that this makes me a little bit sad?
I can say I'm looking forward to the time when she has a phone like her siblings, and will be texting "I'll c u tomro...luv u!" But of course, I won't be able to save that in my file : )

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Reality

I worked the "Grocery" booth at Reality Town down to the Junior High yesterday. This is the 4th time I've done it. It is some "real" serious fun. Here is the basic idea:
Take 300 9th graders, give them a fictitious job, salary, family based on their grade performance in 7th and 8th grade. Put them all in a room and send them forth to purchase homes, insurance, groceries, clothes, day care and cars with their checkbooks. Oh my! I am an avid people watcher, and believe you me, this is a side show worthy of Ringling Brothers. 9th graders alone are a hormonal carnival ride, but put them all in a small, stuffy room and add the peer pressure of "what job do you have...how many kids...does your wife work and contribute to your income?" and let me tell you, it gets interesting.
Three things stood out.
First, can I tell you how many kids made out the check to "grocery's"? Ummm...go back to English class for awhile. We're raising a generation of kids who think "ur", "thks" and "rofl" are actual words. Not surprisingly, most of the kids who couldn't spell "groceries" also had very low income jobs; I had to send quite a few of them over to the financial counseling and supplemental income booths. Two years ago, when I worked it for Tyler, there were kids making deals in the "park", and administration had to get involved. Let's just say that the word "john" was bandied about. I guess if you're strapped for cash....
Then there were the 4.0 kids who got to choose the highest paying jobs...they had $100,000 and more a year to spend, and did just fine. Ryan was one of these of course. For these kids, Reality Town is F!U!N!
Second, I had kids who had gone to the Donation Booth and paid their tithing. First. By the time they got to me, they didn't have enough money for groceries. Yep. And I watched while they struggled with making the decision of erasing their tithing donation, or going over to get a second job or join the military for extra income. It was painful. When I told Jill about it, she practically choked on her lungs she was laughing so hard. "That's R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. for ya mom! Ha ha ha ha..." I pretty quickly clued in, and decided that if they were struggling, I would look at their check log, and if I saw a tithing donation I offered them a price break on groceries, or waived the mandatory "eating out" fee. But sometimes even this wasn't enough and they wound up at financial counseling anyway.
Third, I have GOT to stop judging people by their appearance. There were the usual suspects: the kids with stuff written in pen all over their arms, girls with so much black eyeliner on you can't even tell what color their eyes are, boys with "girl" jeans on so tight you worry they won't be able to father children someday. It was one of these boys, (who also had hair so long he practically dislocated his neck constantly swishing it out of his eyes) who I overheard telling his friend to get over to the donation booth...."Jesus is my best friend! You have to pay your tithing first!"
A few minutes later, I had to send him over to financial counseling because he didn't have enough money to buy groceries.
Reality Bites.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pumpkin Fluff


I'm obviously craving Autumny stuff. I made this last night...yum!

1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 c milk
1 small pkg. Sugar Free Butterscotch pudding (you can use vanilla, but butterscotch is better!)
1 or 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mix all together. Put in fridge for 1/2 hr. Garnish with whipped cream, and wafer thin ginger snaps.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Decorating






Listen! the wind is rising,

and the air is wild with leaves,

We have had our summer evenings,

now for October eves!

-Humbert Wolfe