Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gratitude

This the season to post about gratitude. I may be a couple days later than the main event, but I was busy eating and shopping and sleeping (in that order).



I am always grateful for my family. But lately I've relished in that gratitude a little more than usual. On Wednesday my OB called with the results from 4 of almost a dozen blood tests I've had taken during the last week. Only 4 had come in, but they were all abnormal. We don't have all the results from all the tests yet, but three of the four received on Wednesday indicated problems. In fact, every one of the three abnormal results could individually end a pregnancy. Instead of one minor problem, like I was hoping to have, I have three possible problems. And we still have more than a handful of tests which we are waiting to hear about. All in all, it seems that the two children I already have are miracles. Certainly each child is a miracle, but apparently mine are more-so. It was tough news to hear, but we remain optimistically hopeful that things will turn out. I am so grateful for the healthy, wonderful children I do have.



I am also very grateful for my husband. Taylor was nearly perfect when I married him, but time seems to only make him better. My calling in the church has allowed me access to the life-stories and hearts of people who have experienced some very hard and trying times in their marriages. Maybe Taylor and I get along because we're extremely compatible, or because we're both non-combative, or even maybe it's because Taylor is a marriage therapist---whatever the reason, I am grateful. It means the world to me to know that regardless of  what happens all around us, whatever trial we are called to face, he is there by my side. I have been blessed to have a faithful, loving, caring, thoughtful, and hard-working husband who is committed to me and to my children. He has worked so hard and made a lot of sacrifices so that I can stay home to be with our kids. It hasn't been easy (for both of us!), but we are certain it is for the best. I have a husband who is as perfect as they come, and I consider him my greatest blessing. I chose so very well when I insisted that he marry me :)

Taylor and I are also very fortunate to have wonderful parents and grandparents and siblings. As far back as we know, our progenitors were honest, good, and faithful people. They have provided us with remarkable examples of loyalty to family and of service to God and country. We and our siblings are blessed to follow in that tradition. I know few people are able to find the love, decency, stability, safety, and home that we are able to feel from all of our parents and grandparents.

I'm so excited for the Christmas season, and for the chance we'll have to be with family even more and to make so many wonderful memories.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

17 Day Diet - My review



A lot of people have asked me about the diet I have been doing, so I thought that I'd post about it. My friend Alison mentioned that she was looking into this diet, the 17 Day Diet and had the book. She said that the husband of  a friend of ours had done it an lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. This intrigued me. I borrowed her book and thought it was worth trying. I went to the store and bought enough food to get me through five days and figured I'd go for it on a trial basis. I did make one minor adjustment: the diet wants you to drink green tea with every meal. I am a member of the LDS Church, and we follow the word of wisdom which prohibits the drinking of coffee and tea (and a few other things).  So I did a little online research. I made sure the green tea was against the Word of Wisdom. It is. But herbal tea is not, fyi.

A little more research presented me with Sassy Water.  I used that as my alternative to green tea. And I added prayer. I figured that it couldn't hurt to ask (and subsequently thank) God to help me in my diet. And with that I was off.

I started on October 25th. The first three days were pretty hard. Probably because of Halloween. Did I mention I gave up Diet Coke at the same time? So I went from a coke- and sugar-loaded diet to sassy water, salad and protein COLD TURKEY. The Coke withdrawal was practically unnoticed, but I did crave chocolate like crazy. (Maybe it's because I started the day after my son's birthday, and his chocolate birthday cake was glaring at me ALL week until I threw it out.)

After three days I was totally in to it. I lost pounds immediately. POUNDS. In the first week I lost five pounds. I could not believe how much less squishy my stomach area was. I don't know how much of that was because I gave up carbonation, but I loved it.

At 14 days I was down 8 pounds. At 17 I had lost 10.5 pounds. When I finished 17 I just decided to stay on cycle 1 (I'll  explain that in a second). As of Saturday, day 26, I've lost 12.5 pounds. Keep in mind though, I thought I was pregnant all last week. I tried to keep up the salad and veggies and yogurt, but I did enjoy quite a few carbs. And two ice cream sandwiches :) I'm back to committed tomorrow.

I love this diet. It's the first thing that I have EVER been able to commit to. EVER. There are two things I love about it:

  • 1. 17 days. I love that there is a time limit to it. Whenever I've set out to lose weight in the past it was always about a number---pounds lost---and that seemed like it would take an indefinite amount of days which translates to dieting forever. For me it really worked to know that it wouldn't be forever, just 17 days. After 17 days the book offers another cycle, with more food options. There are four total cycles, each of them are 17 days.

  • 2. I love the daily menu and recipes. In the past it's been hard for me because I try to cut back on portion size, but then I always feel deprived. If I try to "eat healthy" I just don't know where to start, and I usually quit before I begin. This book tells you what to eat for ever meal, and it includes the recipes when needed. And it's NORMAL food. GOOD food. I haven't felt deprived (unless you count how sad I am about chocolate and cookie dough).
I love that I lose a little bit of weight every day. It's like magic when I weight myself in the morning and see a lower number. I've had a few days where I've gained a bit, but I lose that and more by the next day. I have noticed a difference in how I feel. I really think I have more energy and more motivation. For a couple weeks I thought I fatigued more easily, but I'm sure that's because I was pregnant.

My favorite recipes are the chicken vegetable soup, the lettuce wraps,  and I mix dry ranch mix into  yogurt cheese (try it before you say it sounds gross). I did veggies into the dip, and thin it out with milk to use as a salad dressing. (To make yogurt cheese, apparently you just cover a strainer with a paper towel and put non-fat plain yogurt into it. Cover the yogurt and put the strainer in a bowl. Put the whole thing in the fridge overnight and use what's left in the strainer)

I'm not about to put up a before and after picture. And I'm not counting on meeting my entire weight loss goal until after the holidays (I do plan on eating holiday food occasionally). But I am thrilled to fit into a number of my old jeans and skirts. I feel a lot better, and I'm very rarely hungry. Two thumbs up (and 12 pounds down!) on this diet for me.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fertility--again

I had another miscarriage today. That's 3 this year and 6 total, if you're counting (I am). Sometimes people don't write or talk about these things. Some people don't tell even family members they have miscarried or even that they are pregnant until they are showing so much that it's become obvious to anyone. I don't know why that is. Tradition, I guess. In fact, on a lot of online pregnancy sites that follow a pregnancy week by week, they assign you a certain week (usually in the 2nd trimester) during which "you can start telling people that you are pregnant." Pregnancy loss and even infertility seem to continue to be taboo in our modern society. I understand that we shouldn't ask questions about when people will become or if people are pregnant, but it's strange that no one talks about it from a personal perspective.

We're almost 18 months into trying to add to our family. It hasn't been easy to get pregnant, it hasn't been easy to stay pregnant. I've talked about it (a lot, maybe too much) within my circle of friends from the beginning, and very recently with extended family members (whom I've seen a lot more lately because of the deaths of our grandparents). The surprising thing that I've heard from a lot of them is "Me too."

Why do we do this? Why do we keep heartache to ourselves? I understand that it's a private thing, but sharing can also be beneficial to everyone. Finding out what worked for my blood relatives may very easily help me. And even if it doesn't help, it's nice to know that I'm not alone. We share failures and tips for cooking, child-raising, and crafting, so it's funny that we keep this to ourselves. Again, I know it's a deeply personal thing, but I've been so surprised time and time again to hear how much people have struggled with fertility issues, and I never even knew.

Anyway, I'm going to share, because I know it helps me to know that other people are going through the same thing, and maybe it will help someone to read this. Skip it if you want.

I saw an OB this morning. It was shocking to me that they wanted me to come in. Every other time I've had a miscarriage the nurse has just said, "There's nothing you can do. Lie down if you want, but we can't stop it. It's not worth coming in." He saw us immediately after we got there, and after explaining my situation and that this was the 6th loss I've had, each time within ten days of getting a positive pregnancy test, he agreed that I have a problem. I've spoken to a number of doctors about this, and he was the very first one to affirm my belief that something is wrong. Every other doctor and nurse has given me the speech about how "these things happen...it's good that our bodies reject pregnancies that aren't perfect." He did an ultrasound even though there was nothing to see as I'm not even 5 weeks. He took almost 10 vials of blood to test and will take more on Monday. He said his initial guess is that I have a clotting disorder, but he'll call me Wednesday with the results. He was super nice and told me he'd make sure I knew before Thanksgiving so that I'd have answers before seeing everyone for the holiday. He seemed positive that we could find and fix the problem, and made sure we knew that we weren't technically "infertile" because I get pregnant, it's just likely a health problem preventing me from staying pregnant. It's kind of a relief, but makes me nervous to see what they find.

This year has obviously been a hard year for us. We lost a baby in January, grandma and grandpa in February, another grandpa in April, another baby in May, another grandpa in October, and now this. But we are learning a lot too. Our pain and loss has given us cause for some deep soul-searching and faith-finding. Our perspective of life and our priorities have slowly shifted and become more eternally focused. We have hopefully become more grateful, more empathetic, more compassionate, and more humble. Easy? No. Worth it? Painfully so, but Yes.

I find my mind constantly going to the quote I've seen on Pinterest lately that says, "Faith in God includes faith in His timing." I've been a huge proponent of this theory, especially when it comes to the timing of the birth of my other children, but it's hard to apply while in the situation of waiting for more children. But I'm choosing to believe in His timing. At our Regional Conference a few weeks ago Elder Jensen said something like, "We need to weigh out the reasons to believe and the reasons not to believe, then we need to choose to believe. If we do that the Holy Ghost can confirm the belief in our hearts." I'm choosing to believe because I want to believe, and because I'm clinging to that belief with all the hope I have.

In the meantime I've also learned to enjoy my kids even more. Sometimes as we go places or do things; and especially during the long, hot, fun- and roller-coaster-filled days at Lagoon during the summer and fall; I've felt the spirit whispering to me that these moments of pure joy wouldn't be happening in the exact same way if I were pregnant or if we had a newborn. I've been able to enjoy the freedom and fun of having a four- and six-year-old without having to pay attention to a baby. We are nap and diaper free. My kids feed themselves. They put their own pajamas on. They usually sleep through the night. Kyle gets me all to himself while Claire is at school. There are a lot of good things in my life right now without a baby. But still we hope.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Well-child checkup

Sometimes I think it's odd when people blog or facebook about their child's health stats. Like everyone is desperate to know their kid's ranking on the growth chart or something. I'm sure people do it for journaling. Anyway, when I sat down to blog about Kyle's well-child checkup, I had to do a little self check-up to make sure that I actually wanted to write about a boring old doctor visit, but it was a funny visit, so I figured it was worth chronicling.

Kyle had his 4-year-old well-child checkup today. It had highs and lows. It started with an vision check. He had to stand a distance away from a chart of shapes of different sizes and name them. Here is what he said: "heart, flag, moon, star, little earth." What? Little earth? Or one could call it a simple "circle." We got a big kick out of that one. On another line he referred to a circle as, "The whole moon together." Some may say he's creative and was grouping space objects, but me? I know he was probably just improvising because he always forgets the word "circle." Taylor says it's because he's left-handed, and lefties are often more creative but sometimes don't grasp "scholastic smarts" until age 7 or 9. Kyle certainly gets points for creativity though.

Next he had to put on a little tie-in-the-back robe (this was new to me, I've never had my kids in robes for check-ups, but he did look super cute). Kyle was not too sure about the robe. "I feel like my underwear is showing," he complained. "Don't they know that boys don't like nightgowns?" (I have plenty pictures of him dressed up in Claire's princess outfits to declare otherwise.)

The doctor came in and asked him to jump on one foot. He did. She requested the other foot. He started on the other, but immediately switched back to the first foot. She smiled and told him he did great. He snuck over and whispered to me that he had actually jumped on the same foot both times. Yes, Son. She has a PhD, but you sure pulled one over on her.


I told the doctor about Kyle's propensity for putting everything in his mouth and then usually to swallow the item (money, small rocks, small plastic things). She was concerned about his iron and lead levels and wanted them tested. This required a finger poke and a couple miniscule sticks were filled with his blood. This apparently was too much for Kyle. Half-way through the stick-filling he started to gag. As soon as it was over he was really gagging, and both the nurse and I thought he was going to throw up. Then he lost all color and started sweating. He had to lie down with an apple juice for ten minutes before he could sit again. This is certain evidence that Taylor is his father (not that it was in question). Taylor passed out---cold out on the floor---while watching ME get my wisdom teeth out. I was fine, by the way. These funny wimpy boys in my life :)

Our visit concluded with a flu mist inoculation (which went fine) and Kyle's three kindergarten shots (KINDERGARTEN already?!?). During the shots he screamed and cried more than he or Claire ever has during shots. I was sad and teared up a bit for him, but it was a little over-the-top. After the nurse left, Kyle yelled at me, "We shouldn't have come here! It hurts so bad! I told you we shouldn't have come here!" He stopped crying the moment we got to the token reward machine, of course.

This made me so proud of Claire. I really think she was less than 2 the last time she cried for shots. She's super tough. When I told her about Kyle and commented on how brave she is, she said, "Just like you, Mom." Indeed. She and I triumph in having made it through stuff---for her it's her shots, for me it's my two-hour surgery while awake. We made it. These big girls don't cry. Our boys, on the other hand, need a few lessons.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas MUST be accompanied by the piano


So I took an unannounced and unplanned break from blogging. School started, stuff happened, my grandpa died (that's 4 grandparents this year if you're counting), and I didn't blog. I think I was overwhelmed. Anyway, I missed writing, so here I am. And I'm jumping right to a Christmas post. Gotta love that.

Days after (okay, maybe days before) Halloween I pulled out all of my Christmas piano music and began playing it daily. My students have been working on their recital pieces for more than a month, so it was high-time I began enjoying my favorite musical time of the year.

I have stacks of Christmas sheet music. Stacks. I practice and practice Jon Schmidt (LOVE his innovative counting), I do my best with Jim Brickman, I pound out Manheim Steamroller with the best of them (except for my favorite MS book is missing---I'm wondering if a former student has it, but I can't figure out who it would be.) Most of all I go time and time again to my two Jerry Ray Christmas with Style books. I love them. To me, the music in these books IS Christmas. Every year when I begin playing I'm amazed at how easily the music flows from my fingers, just like the alphabet song flows from Claire's mouth---effortlessly and perfectly.

The first collection was printed in 1986. That's about when my mom started playing from them. Every evening in December we drifted to sleep listening to her play Silent Night and What Child is This?  In 4th grade at the age of 9 it was finally MY turn to play one of the songs from the "hard book." None of this baby skill-level stuff, I was going to take on a challenge. In my mind I played perfectly. I would like to see the video tape to verify it though. The next year I played Silent Night which to this day is my favorite arrangement in the books. I'm sure Hark! The Herald Angles Sing was up next. Last year I realized that I'd been playing What child is This? for TWENTY years! I played it at our recital and in church.

Tonight as I was playing through the books I could remember not only playing them myself, but each song is infused with memories of students whose lives I have shared. I've probably had 70-100 students over the past twelve years, and I loved every single one of them. Seeing someone once a week for years on end can do that to you. I miss so many of them. I wonder what their lives are like and if they are happy and if they still play the piano. I'm pretty sure they do for Christmas if nothing else. I'm friends with a bunch of them on facebook, and it's crazy to see them grow up and have kids of their own!

As I play I'm also reminded of all the places I've played these songs. Beyond the recitals, I've played them in church in nearly every ward we have lived in and I've been invited to play in other wards. I've played the background music at holiday parties, in libraries, and during Christmastime tours of the Utah Governor's mansion. I've played for my grandparents, for my parents, for my family, and mostly for myself.

Like I said, I've performed a lot of Christmas songs by a variety of composers in a number of venues, and it's amazing how always get more compliments on these songs than any others. Certainly other music is more technically advanced, and would be more impressive to hear, but I like the simple notes, the moving melodies, and the stillness provoked through each arrangement. I like that my students can play them at a young age and feel very accomplished (if only they would work as hard to master EVERY piece!). Most of all I love how their simplicity calls attention to the words of the song and the feeling of Christmas.

What are your favorite piano solos to play during the Christmas season?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I gave up TV. Me. Really I did.

I met my friend Marisa last summer (although it seems like I've known her family my whole life). I was editing her paperwork for a pageant. She had to list her favorite TV show; the only problem was that she didn't watch TV. "Like, ever?" I asked. "Never." Apparently she doesn't get a TV signal and they don't have cable. So she literally never watches TV. I couldn't believe it. I honestly thought the idea was a little crazy. And I may have wondered how pageant judges would react to hearing the "we don't watch TV" explanation---"Crazy Mormon from Utah" came to mind. As it was, last year at this time Taylor and I were already marking our calendars for the fall TV lineup, and we practically make chains of paper to count down until the beginning of American Idol.

While we haven't had cable since we moved to this house in 2009, we certainly have done our share of TV watching. So we started watching TV in the fall last year, 90210, American Idol, and CSI: Miami being on the top of our list---highlighted by random viewings of feel-good reality shows like Undercover Boss and Secret Millionaire. I wouldn't say we were TV obsessed, but we definitely had a schedule. Over time our interest for CSI: Miami waned (accentuated by our complete lack of a DVR or other reliable TV recording capable machine---go ahead and make fun of us now.) We watched 90210 online in spurts, and while we mostly committed to American Idol tryouts, our watching of the actual show was well below 50%---never including results shows.

And so it occurred to me early this spring that we had, in fact, given up TV entirely. Does that mean that my kids have? No. Does that meant that I can't hear PBS in the background while I type this? No. They watch TV here and there and especially during breakfast, but as for Taylor and me, we're over it.

Is this part of growing up? Part of being 30? Granted we are super busy with church callings and work and other stuff, so maybe that's part of it. And honestly I think a huge part of it is that we don't have a comfortable couch. Our couch is definitely not the type of couch that beckons you, "Come, sit! Watch TV for hours! Bring a snack!" It's one of those "maybe the floor is more comfortable" couches. I could change it, and I could get cable---but both of those definitely cost more than $10, so I guess we're stuck for a while.We do have TV in our bedroom where there is both a comfortable bed and comfortable couch, and sometimes we watch DVDs there. And once every 2-3 months I realize that Days of Our Lives is on while I'm folding laundry, so I watch a few segments to catch up on the plot. And we'll probably watch a few episodes of American Idol next winter.

We haven't thrown the TV out.We're not about to do that, but we do have a more-relaxed schedule now. (Well, I did until Pinterest came along!) We read at night, and I sew. Taylor plays video games, and I scrapbook. We have meetings 2-4 nights a week, so that keeps us busy. I love that we don't have to catch up on episodes and therefore miss sleep. I love that we don't have to hide what we watch from our kids. I love that we're not constantly worried if the VCR (yes, we're that fancy) is recording our shows or if we have blank tapes that work. Taylor doesn't love it as much as I do---he wistfully watches each Comcast van that passes our house. I guess he misses the sports that cable offers---but our friends and family have those channels, so it's not a total loss.

And I guess Marisa really isn't that crazy. Or maybe I've just joined her? Giving up TV was certainly not something I had planned on or ever even consciously tried to do---it just happened. And I'm glad. I just wish it could happen that easily with weight loss!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to School Wreath

Claire started Kindergarten today. In honor of that I made this wreath:

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The idea has been in my head for a while. I looked all over the internet and couldn’t really find a tutorial on how to make one, so I thought I’d show a quick tutorial on how I made it.

First: Sharpen a hundred pencils. Okay, not a hundred, just 75, but it felt like a hundred because I don’t have an electric sharpener. Some of them ended up way too short, and some were a really dark color, so watch that.

Second: Get your cardboard base ready (cardboard because I already had it, and it’s free when you have a huge pile of moving boxes in your garage). Trace a bowl on a piece of cardboard then cut the circle out with a razor. Then draw a circle a few inches bigger around that and cut it out.

I spray painted the cardboard white (because my door is white).

Then I traced the bowl on a piece of paper and folded the paper in half, then in half, then in half again.

Put the paper inside the bowl cut-out and use a ruler to draw where the lines would extend. This helps you evenly divide the space and make sure the pencils stay straight and don’t end up on an angle.

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Third: Glue the pencils on the cardboard. I started by gluing one pencil onto a line, making sure it was set straight on the line. I also left the bowl inside the cut-out to make sure my erasers lined up. I put down as many pencils as would fit in the section.

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Then I glued the last pencil of the section on---try to get it straight according to the line, but remember that it probably won’t lie right on top of the line. See how this one ended before the line?

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I put hot glue on the bottom of the pencil (opposite the brand name) then pressed it in place. After the first and last pencil of the section was glued on, I just worked from left to right in the section. If you space them all evenly and then carefully remove, glue, then replace the pencil, it comes out pretty evenly spaced.

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For the next section all you have to do is glue the last one of the section on, then continue around the wreath.

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It took about an hour to glue them all on (maybe less). And guess what? No burns today! A rare happening in my wreath making. I think it needs a bow, but other than that, I really like it!

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I’m nervous that the pencils are going to write on my door, so I may go over each point with clear nail polish, but I’m still thinking on that. Do you think it needs a bow?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: The comma in a list

Saw this and thought it taught the lesson very quickly:

Using the comma before "and" in a list is a personal preference. Some people say you should; some say you shouldn't and that using it is old fashioned. Whatever you do, strive to be consistent throughout the entire document. Pick one and go with it.

Me? I use it every time. I just like how it looks, and it just makes sense.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some days are harder (aka: I'm not Supermom)

My kids are super well-behaved. I see other kids out there, and I really think mine are well above average behavior. Today they were not. And I'm writing about it not to complain, or to say how awful they are, but to admit that I'm not always perfect, and sometimes we all lose our cool.

My kids and I rode Frontrunner from Ogden to Salt Lake today to spend the afternoon school shopping with my mom. We made it on the train (thanks to the help of a stranger), and actually had a really good time during the 50-minute ride. I talked with them almost the whole time. We laughed a lot and talked about how to make friends at school, and they practiced on each other. As we approached our stop I started thinking I was doing a pretty good job at this mothering stuff. (Famous last words...)

We found my mom in the parking lot pretty easy and went to lunch at the Rio Grande. Our waiter actually encouraged my mom and me to share a meal, and showed us a cheaper kids meal than what we originally ordered. What waiter does that?!? We'll definitely be going back. And he definitely got a big tip.

We did some great shopping. We were super nice to the kids. We even bought them Happy Meals (which they didn't eat at all).

We got on the train to go home, and things really started to unravel about half way home. Claire had been assigned to sit by me on the first half, so twenty minutes in I told her it was almost time to let Kyle sit by me. She freaked out and went to another row of benches on the train and sat down with a giant "HUMPH" followed by tinier humphs every twenty seconds (we have her BFF Maya to thank for teaching her to humph). Then she got up, walked over, kicked Kyle, then went back. I explained to her that she'd lost a couple privileges with that choice. She returned minutes later to sit across the aisle from us, but only to reach over and pinch Kyle. More privileges lost.

At this point she pulls the ever powerful "I need to use the bathroom." I was informed that she could not wait. We had about 20 minutes left to ride the train and 5 minutes more to get home, and she insisted. The only available restroom was two cars down. We had booster seats with us (needed them in Salt Lake), so we left those and made the trek on the moving train. I insisted that Kyle hold my hand because he's three, and we were going up and down a number of stairs while moving. He freaked out and did that "I'm just going to hang dead from one arm" thing, so I carried him screaming the whole way. Awesome. Then we got to the bathroom. Claire did her thing and exited. Then Kyle, not to be outdone by his sisters, proclaims his urgent need (although I'd just been to a disgusting park bathroom with him an hour earlier).

This is when it got tricky. The train bathroom is tiny, but I wasn't about to let him go in by himself and attempt to pee standing up on a moving train. I thought he would possibly get hurt from being jostled around, and the attendant and all following passengers would be none-too-pleased with the mess he could create. I couldn't just leave Claire by herself, so we all smashed into the restroom. He starts screaming "No! I don't want you to see my pee-pee! No!" over and over. It was awesome, and I'm sure everyone else within earshot loved that. We agreed that Claire would turn around (BTW, this has never been a problem before, he seems quite proud of his anatomy.) He did his completely unnecessary business, and we set about to wash his hands. He couldn't reach the soap and water, so I went to lift him up, but then he freaked out again (maybe he's just claustrophobic?). He didn't want me to pick him up; he didn't want me to help; he didn't want me to be in there; he didn't want claire to touch the door.

Under the pressure of a tiny, hot, moving compartment with other certainly waiting for the facilities,  I decided it wasn't necessary to wash his hands. So I told him he could choose to have help or not wash. He said he wanted to do it himself. I explained that that wasn't an option. He didn't care. So I picked him up and carried him all the way back to our seats. The whole way he was screaming "I just want to wash my hands! I just have such dirty hands!" Snot was flying. People were staring. He grabbed at every doorway and every seat and every railing and pole along the way for two whole train cars. It was awesome. [He's not OCD about hand washing. Ever. This is a boy who will pick up gum off the road and eat it, so it's not like he cared about the germs at all.]

We sat down, and he screamed for the remaining 10-15 minutes of the ride. I could do nothing to calm him. I felt about as adequate as a ten-year-old babysitter. He cried the entire walk back to the car (which was like two Walmart parking lots away). He cried the whole way home. He cried all the way up to his bathroom until he washed his "dirty, dirty hands." Well, I assume that's when it stopped. I left for a lovely trip to the grocery store while Taylor put them to bed. Then I stopped and chatted with a friend for a while. When I got home they were asleep.

My apologies go out to all who were riding the train and hoping for a peaceful night. [I really think they should have a designated Quiet Cart.] Especially to the man who was right behind us and pretended to be asleep through it all. All night I've been wondering how I could have handled that better. What was I supposed to say? Maybe: "If you guys don't stop, we're going to get off this train!" But then what? All I know is that I'm pretty sure school staring will be a good thing for my kids. They've been together 24/7 since March, and it's time for some alone time. Hopefully that will make some changes at our house.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tears – Six month later

I don’t cry a lot. I’m not known to tear up over just anything. I think Taylor is still upset that I didn’t cry when he proposed or when we got married. I used to think there was something wrong with me until I read Marjorie Pay Hinckley’s book of quotes and one of them was: "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache." I feel the exact same way! Crying gives me a headache and makes my makeup run---why would I want either of those?

As I’ve written in my blog previously, we’ve experienced a lot of death lately. Our friends and family have seemingly been called up to heaven by the handfuls since February. With each death I have shed tears, and admittedly sobbed at a couple of the funerals. I think this is to be expected. I’m sure Marjorie would approve.

The sting of death is interesting. Our friends lost a four-month-old baby, and at his funeral a speaker talked about how the pain of death doesn’t go away, it just changes. Next week will mark six months since my grandma and Taylor’s grandpa died. We miss them terribly. I cried on and off during the entire ride to Lehi on our way to Round-up Days. Grandma was always with us during that week, and I was unsure of how we would face it without her. Grandpa had planned to be at our family reunion last week, and it was so hard to look around and not find his smile across the room. Yet most days we do okay.

Some days the sharp, swift pain catches me off guard. I inherited a few things of my grandmother’s. One of which is her couch. The couch is in this picture taken on Christmas Day 2005. (Do you see how Claire spelled JOY with her ribbon? Brilliant child, even at 4 months! It was a complete accident, I found it in the picture days after it happened. Isn’t it cool? The best thing is that I’m sure somewhere there is a picture of Baby Me sitting on MY grandpa’s lap on the same couch.)

Anyway, back to the couch. It’s in our bedroom awaiting a slipcover (while I totally love the retro print, and it’s in perfect condition, it just doesn’t match my room). Sometimes I sit on it to read or put my shoes on or whatever, and sometimes the air moves in just the right way that the deep, sweet smell of Grandma wafts through the air. To me it’s a mixture of earth and lotion and dried roses and cold cream. Whatever it is, my eyes fill with tears the moment it hits my lungs. This stuff is better than onions on my tear ducts. The sting of missing her becomes new again, so sharp and sudden that it takes my breath away. Sometimes I avoid breathing it in because of the feelings it creates, but the only thought more painful than inhaling the scent is realizing that one day the couch will air out, and one day it will smell like me and not her, and that one day I won’t remember that smell. I’ll probably cry then too!

One quote we’ve relied on a lot through the last few months is, “To take the sting out of death is to take the love out of life.” (Who said that? A quick internet search turns up nothing.) And our pain is changing. With each day it become less of pain and more of longing. The love is still there, and will always be there. And we have the certainty that we’ll be together forever someday---and that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Babies

I babysat a three-month-old yesterday. I haven't been solely responsible for a baby since Kyle was born almost four years ago. I wasn't worried about it until Alison took little Paige out of her seat and handed her to me. It made me wonder how long I would have left her in the chair if given the option. As Ali walked out the door I found myself staring at Paige and asking her what I should do with her. We've never had a baby in this house, and the hard wood floor was not very welcoming to such a small creature. Well, I was already holding her, so I sat down, wondering what else to do with a baby. Where would I lay her down? Is she old enough to play with toys? How much of her bottle would she drink before she needed to be burped? Can she climb or roll out of her seat at this age? These are things I should know, after all it would appear that I have raised two babies myself. But the answers that should come as natural as breathing were not in my head.

Do we forget these things that quickly? In four years could I really have forgotten when babies get teeth, when they can eat solids, how often to feed them, how to entertain them, when they sit up, when they crawl, and a variety of other things that used to occupy my every thought? Have we moved so seamlessly into having preschool kids that I've deleted that information from my brain?

She got hungry pretty quickly, so she sat in her chair and cried a bit while I mixed her bottle up. Claire found a bib in Paige's bag, so we strapped it on and sat in the rocking chair to feed her. Kyle held the bottle for about 20 seconds. "She's taking so long to drink it all, Mom! How could it be that she is taking so long to drink it?" [Kyle has replaced every "why" in his vocabulary with "how could it be"] Claire supplied the answers to him, and both of them quickly lost interest in feeding the baby. Gratefully my body seemed to remember how to hold a baby, and I quickly found myself relaxing around her and relishing the weight and warmth of her tiny body. Her small swallowing sounds, so standard to all babies, quickly brought so many feelings to me.

As you've probably noticed, I've wanted another baby for a couple years. We've been trying to get one for a year now, with two miscarriages since January. I don't know that I'm technically infertile. I do know that this is taking much too long on my own personal timeline. Holding Paige spoke to my heart---warming feelings that I try to keep in the very recesses of my heart---feelings much too tender and dear to feel every day. It was painful and healing at the same time.

As she finished up her bottle I showed Claire how to burp a baby---pleased with the familiarity in holding her tiny chin and chest in one hand. She quickly fell asleep, and I carefully carried her up the stairs to nap in my room. When she woke up we carried her downstairs again. Holding her as we played trains and house, my confidence gaining with every activity.

It was just four hours, but we had fun. My kids are fascinated by babies, and I was fascinated and relieved at how naturally it all came back---how to hold her with one arm, how to comfort her, how to change a tiny diaper. She even spit up on Claire. I panicked because of Claire's strong aversion to vomit, but Claire just giggled, and I laughed until I cried because of how ironic it was that Claire was the lucky one to receive spit up.

And still it was strange. Strange to think that I have raised two babies, one which will start kindergarten this month. (Did I really do that? Could they really be that old? Could they really be mine?) Strange to wonder if we will ever have a full-time baby in our house again. Strange to wonder if Kyle really was the end of it. I hope not.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oops

Today I was watching my friend Taya's two kids. When they got here all of the kids started making a blanket fort. I taught them to use duct tape instead of masking tape for a better hold. Apparently the duct tape was not a sufficient hold for my ten pound cat, because he jumped on it, and much their dismay (and Harvey's utter surprise) it caved in. Three kids went on their merry way. Claire was devastated. I tried to fix it. It didn't help her. I gave them Popsicles. Kyle and the two guests went outside. Claire stayed inside and yelled at me that her popsicle was "too cold." Huh? I bet she's had 500 popsicles in her life. She had to know to expect that one. Her little friend Kayla was darling and kept trying to console her, but she carried on being mad at everything.

At this point I sent a text to Taylor. "I'm watching Taya's kids. Claire's being a peach. I'm really angry about it." He's going to have them for the evening, so I wanted him to be aware of what he was getting into (read between the lines: you may have to walk on eggshells with Claire at bedtime). Two minutes later my friend Taya replied to the text, mentioning that I probably meant for that text to go to someone else. Oops. Taylor and Taya are so alphabetically close! Kind of embarrassing---mostly funny---and I am so glad I wasn't complaining about one of her kids---that would have been so awkward. (Her kids were angels, by the way.)

I'm a repeat offender when it comes to sending texts to the wrong person. Do you do this? What's the worse thing that's happened to you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday

Here’s a little different try at my Teach Me Tuesday series. As we all know, I was an English major. I once read a quote about how great it was to major in English because you can think of sonnets and Shakespeare while you iron. To be honest I don’t iron a lot, but I do think of Shakespeare a lot, and of sonnets, and I think a whole lot about words and how they create emotion. Today I’m blogging about song lyrics. Your lesson for the day is that you should put song titles in quotation marks when you are writing. And that poetry and beautiful words are everywhere[see that incomplete sentence?]---you just have to listen for them.

I love song lyrics. I like the poetry in the really good ones. Some songs are written by true writers and poets, and their songs speak to you with flowing elements of poetry that seep into your soul without you ever once realizing that structure and word choice and alliteration have all played a spell on your mind to suck you in. Sometimes it’s the idea behind the song that gets me. Sometimes it’s a line or two that resonate in the background of my days.

Every time I hear Tim McGraw’s “Where the Green Grass Grows” my mind floats to days of my youth riding my bike on the “back roads” of Lehi. See the elements of poetry in the lyrics: Green Grass Grows (alliteration), Corn pops up in rows (forget what it’s called, but see how they were so tricky and reversed popcorn to corn pop?), Concrete growing in the city park (personification), Six lanes, taillights, red ants marching into the night (imagery). Kudos to the people who wrote that song (not Tim!). I know that not everyone loves country like I do, but the lyrics are such great poetry!

I love it when I hear one line of a song that just sticks to me. I have a great Pandora station going right now. It started with Five for Fighting’s “100 years” and is altered perfectly by giving a thumbs up to a bunch of great songs, and especially by giving a thumbs up to every single version of “Hallelujah” that comes along (love those lyrics too!). I have realize that John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting is my favorite singer-songwriter. (Okay, top five because a ton of other people just came to mind. But he did write a song about Superman, so maybe that defaults him to #1?) In his song “The Riddle” there’s a line that has been the background to this entire summer, “Batter swings and the summer flies.” Don’t you love that? It’s such a beautiful blend of images and words and so perfect yet unexpected. That has totally been our summer. We started with Claire in Tball at the end of May. It seemed like that would last forever when we got the packed game schedule, but it was over way too soon. Isn’t every summer like that? When I think back on summer growing up I can feel the sun on my back as I stand at 2nd or 1st base. I can smell the leather of my glove. I can taste the chewing gum and snow cones that always accompanied our baseball games back in the day. And it all went by so quickly. Batter swings and the summer flies. Perfect.

Also in “The Riddle” he refers to someone dying as his “heart ran out of summers.” Love that too! And that “100 Years” song? It deserves an entire post. Everything about it is gorgeous…the lyrics, the piano playing. It’s my favorite. Literally my favorite song ever.

What do you like? What songs speak to you? What lyrics do you think are absolutely perfect?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Swimming Lessons

IMG_3943 Claire

We just finished two weeks of swimming lessons. We sent the kids to a different pool this year (Lorin Farr for you local peeps). I liked it because it was cheaper ($15 cheaper per kid!) and I loved it because they pushed the kids to really do things instead of just play around. Both kids passed their classes. I wasn’t surprised with Claire, she’s fearless and tries hard. I was surprised that Kyle (who will be 4 in October) was able to listen and follow directions and actually do swimming stuff. I can’t believe that next year he’ll be doing what Claire did this year (guess we should have started her earlier).

I was amazed at how much I liked watching swimming lessons. I had planned to enjoy my 45 kid-free minutes in the sun. I brought a book to the first couple lessons and planned on taking full advantage of some “me time.” It was intoxicating to think that we are at a point in our child raising where I could sign both kids up for something and not have to keep track of someone. I also found it to be dangerous, because I had little thoughts creep up that had me wondering why I wanted more kids. If we stopped now we’d be basically home free. We don’t have diapers. Everyone sleeps through the night a couple times a week. They can feed and dress and wipe themselves. If we had no more it would be so easy. And yet, just as quickly as the thoughts enter, I realize that if we quit at two I would always feel like I cheated---this was too easy. And like I was cheated---it went by way too quickly. Obviously I can’t control what happens in that department (we’ve now been trying for a year), but my little taste of freedom, of not chasing kids every second, was intoxicating.

Anyway, I did bring a book, but I never got to it. I loved watching the kids too much. I loved seeing their faces when they tried new things are were actually able to do it. Kyle was hilarious. He is a people watcher like me. If the teacher wasn’t speaking directly to him he was looking at every other class, finding his sister through the splashes. If a leaf floated by, it became his person mission to catch the leaf. But when it was his turn he did great---probably because he’s a big flirt and had a crush on his teacher. Claire was so determined to swim to the bottom of the pool. She puffed her cheeks so big during the backstroke. She struggled with keeping her hair out of her face and was delighted when her teacher showed her how to keep it behind her. My favorite thing about Claire was how serious she took it. I appreciate that she was conscious of the danger of water and that she wanted to learn to do new things.

I was thinking about how adorable she was with how serious she took lessons, and it reminded me of a line from a book that I read a while ago. I couldn’t find the exact quote, but it was from a book called Mother Daughter Revolution. It said something to the effect of:  Whenever we look at a little girl’s world we think that everything is so little and so cute. But when a little girl looks at her world, all she sees is things that are life-size and real.

It was a good reminder for me to think about that as she begins kindergarten. Everything about her life right now is so cute and little and adorable, but it’s serious to her, and it should be serious to me. Do you remember how it felt to be little? I remember practically everything since I was 2. (I do! Ask my family---they make fun of me constantly because they think I couldn’t possibly remember, but I do.) I remember wanting so badly to learn to do things, to be older and wiser and more responsible. I just remember a strong feeling of yearning to do and be more. As she grows older and experiences so many new things this coming year, I want to be part of it, to take it seriously and not just be entertained by her. Does that make sense, or am I just weird?

Can you believe school is almost here? She’s growing up. I’m going to have to grow up too!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

mothering

 

Princess and three of her kittens (#4 is under the others) when they were hours old.

This morning I was getting ready for church and heard one of our kittens crying. I thought little of it and blow dried my hair. After I finished my hair more than ten minutes later I noticed the kitten was still crying, so I went to investigate. When I got to their room I saw that one of them had somehow escaped the box and was wandering around. The mother cat was in her box nursing the other three although she had her eye on the escapee. Upon seeing me she meowed in an abrupt manner which I interpreted to be: Help me out here! I picked up the small kitten (which in 5 weeks will belong to our friends Rebecca and John) and returned him to his box. Both he and his mother seemed grateful.

I walked away wondering why the mother hadn’t simply picked up the kitten by its neck with her mouth like all the cats I’ve ever seen can do and returned it to its box. It occurred to me that she just doesn’t know how to do it. So much for animal instinct!

We weren’t home when the kittens were born. We returned from Father’s Day dinner late one night to find an exhausted mother cat, one freaked out male (fixed and not the father) cat, three healthy kittens, one not-moving kitten, and one kitten soaking wet, freezing, and meowing loudly in the corner of the box. I don’t know if they came too fast, if there were problems, or what else, but for whatever reason, she’d only managed to clean up three of the babies and get them nursing. We let the kids peak at the kittens and promptly sent them to bed. We picked up the non-moving cat and with heavy hearts realized that it had already passed. Our attention quickly went to the forgotten kitten in the corner. I sent Taylor to Wal-mart for kitten milk and a kitten bottle and set to warming and cleaning up the freezing little guy. I warmed up a rice pack and nested him in it. I kept trying to get the mother to pay attention to him, but she refused. In desperation I even tried to get Harvey (our boy cat) to lick him (he licks everything and everyone!), but he wouldn’t.

By the time Taylor returned the kitten was ready to try the bottle. I kept the rice pack warm and tried to bottle feed him for hours. Sometime past 2am I returned him to his mother and hoped for the best. The next morning she had cleaned him up ,and he was nursing, and now he’s just fine.

It has been interesting to see Princess (formally known as Queen Princess Fiona) try to mother these kittens. She’s terribly inadequate. And I think she’s terribly reluctant at times. For the first few days we had to lock her in the room with them otherwise she’d head outside to lounge her day away in the sun. She’d try to nurse them sitting up, I’d correct her and help her lay down. It got so that every time I peaked in the room she’d lay down and roll to her side (sometimes on top of the poor little things), begrudgingly allowing them to suckle. (Can you blame the poor thing? Nursing one hungry mouth has brought ME to tears; I can’t imagine four mouths at the same time, each mouth accompanied by four sets of claws!).

And yet now, three weeks later, they thrive. They are healthy, clean, fat, and adorable. She still goes outside, but she runs back in whenever they call. She’s still honing her mothering skills---apparently some (how to pick up your kitten) she’ll never gain.

Watching her I imagine it must be that way with so many of us. Some women seem to be natural mothers. They get pregnant seemingly without effort, easily blossoming as a fertile flower in springtime. Their skin and hair radiate throughout pregnancy, and they deliver a nine pound bundle of joy with minimal effort and without medication. The baby nurses immediately, they leave the hospital in their skinny jeans, and make dinner for their family the next night.

I honestly never considered how I would be as a mother. In my later teenage years I excelled at everything---school, pageants, anything else I put my mind to. I was good at everything I wanted to be good at---beyond good---top of my class and top ten at Miss America. I probably naturally assumed I’d be an excellent mother. And I’m not. It’s disappointing sometimes. It didn’t come naturally. Sometimes I really struggle. I think Princess and I have a little bit in common.

Here’s me: It takes me a year or more of testing and temperature taking and trying before I get pregnant. Then, if I stay pregnant (I’ve lost two already this year), I throw up for twenty weeks, then blow up for the next twenty. Then sweating, and throwing up (again), and swelling from water retention---and only with help from an epidural---I deliver my (admittedly beautiful) babies. Claire probably almost died it took me so long (five days!) to figure our how to get her to latch (and even then I suffered for three months until we figured it out). Although I had read the books and babysat and talked people’s ears off about babies, I had no idea how to nurse, how to soothe, how and when to diaper, or how to feel like I was keeping my head above water at the end of the day. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing. In fact, once I handled something badly with Claire and I literally thought: Your real mother would have handled that better. Realizing too late that I was her real mother, and (sometimes too bad for her) I’m the only one she gets.

And yet, nearly six years into being a mother, my children thrive. They are healthy, clean, fat, and adorable. (By fat, I mean healthily fat. We don’t do stick-thin at our house---none of us!) I don’t know exactly how I do it, but somehow they are smart and responsible and extremely well-behaved in public (99% of the time at least). The kittens certainly haven’t made it this far on their own (do you know they can’t even poop by themselves for weeks? The mom has to make that happen for them!). And I’d like to think that my kids haven’t made it this far on their own either (they even poop by themselves now, that’s lucky!).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: There, their, it will be okay

So I've missed a couple weeks. Isn't it funny how time slips away from you? I'm back due to popular demand. (Almost three people asked about what had happened to my blog!) Today you'll review two things. First, a definition:

Homophone: a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not (so says dictionary.com).

Second, let's talk about a specific set of homophones: There, Their, They're.

Circle (in your mind, not on your screen!) which one to use:

Look!  There/Their/They're playing with there/their/they're dog over there/their/they're!

A: They're playing with their dog over there.

Why? 

They're is a contraction for (short for) they are. If you could swap out "they are" for the "there/their/they're" in the sentence, then use they're. 

Their is a possessive pronoun---a word that indicates ownership. Sometimes possessive pronouns can be used alone: That dog is theirs. Sometimes a possessive pronoun can be used modify a noun: That is their dog. [Please notice that there is NOT an apostrophe in the "That dog is theirs." The apostrophe indicating ownership only applies to nouns, not possessive pronouns.]

There simply means "that location." Notice that "here" is a part of the spelling of "there" and that they both indicate location. A trick to remembering if you should use "there" is to substitute "here"  into your sentence, "They're playing with their dog over here." Does it still make sense? It may change the meaning, but if it would still work in a sentence, use "there."

No exceptions to this rule.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: You’re verses Your (the late edition)

Did you know that yesterday was Tuesday? I didn’t. You know how when there’s a holiday on Monday, the day after Monday still feels like a Monday because you are doing your Monday things? So it didn’t occur to me to post. I’m sure you were disappointed.

Nevertheless I’ll continue on with today’s lesson. Your verses You’re. In my humble opinion, this is the most serious and obvious grievance in all of editing, and it’s the easiest to solve without having to look it up (like the lay/lie/laid/lied question I’m always turning to in my Chicago Manual of Style). 

You’re is a contraction of “you are.”

Your is a possessive pronoun (a word in place of a noun which indicates possession).

Quiz time:

I hope your/you’re bringing your/you’re camera to the game tonight.

How did you do? If you answered “you’re” then “your” you got 100%!

Stumped? What we really meant was “I hope you are bringing the camera that belongs to you to the game tonight.” So the questions to ask in this situation are: 1) do I really mean “you are,” and if not, 2) Does something belong to someone? If the answer to both questions is no, then probably you’re trying to spell “yore” as in “Days of Yore.” But maybe you were writing “Days of your life” in which case the days belong to you, and your would be correct after all! Ah, I think I’m funny sometimes late at night.

So? No more awkward moments for all of us on facebook ever again, right? (Remember the time that I mentioned this very issue on facebook and seriously got un-friended by a couple of people---good times!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: Who/Whom


Who or Whom? This one seems SO complicated, but it's actually very simple to figure out. The funny thing about this one is that people tend to toss out a "whom" just to sound fancy here and there. The sad thing is that "whom" is not interchangeable with "who." In fact, they are never interchangeable.

Here's how to do it:

Someone knocks at the door. "Who is at the door?" You yell at your kids who are looking out the window. Wait! Maybe the guy at the door is the Bishop! Maybe it's someone else important. "Whom is at the door?!" You correct yourself in a sing-song voice----all the way saying "Crap!" under your breath because now you've proven yourself a second-guessing grammar geek. Then upon arriving at the door it's only a teenager selling the newspaper. (You got up for that!?)

So which is it? Remember last week how I said you just ask yourself a question? When it comes to who/whom you ask yourself a question using actual words from the sentence in question and answer using actual words from the sentence. The key is to also answer with one of the following words: He, Him, They, or Them.

Q:    Who/whom is at the door?
A:   He is at the door.

Because your answer was "he" you will know that "who" was the right word to use in the sentence.

Let's clarify with a whom answer.
Q:   To who/whom did you say the doughnut belongs?
A:   The doughnut belongs to him.

Ah! Him! Him ends in m so you will use "whom" which also ends in m. So here's the rule: If your answer uses him or them, use whom. If your answer uses they or he, use who.

One more?
Q:  Who/whom should I give these flowers to? [I see the prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence. Do you? We'll cover why that is a no-no soon.]
A:  Give the flowers to her.


Wait! We didn't cover what to do if the answer is HER! Think, think, think.... Her and Him are used similarly, as are he and she. So if the answer is her, it would also be him---so use whom. If the answer uses she, it's the same as he---so use who. Got it?


Exceptions to this rule? I don't think so!


**One thing I don't know is how to designate specific words when I do these blogs. Sometimes I think I should put it in quotes (if the answer uses "she," it's the same as "he"----so use "who") but that looked way too busy. So I tried italics, but that was also a mess. So I left it alone. Is it confusing?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: The possessive apostrophe


I got lots of good comments (and even some requests!) last week, so I'm going to continue with this week's version of Teach Me Tuesday. Today we'll address the possessive apostrophe/when it is actually appropriate to use  's.

Maybe you're wondering about this sentence:
     Those are Jims candy bars.

Now hopefully last week you read about using s (without an apostrophe) to make things plural, so you know that "candy bars" is correct. [Sidenote: they taught me in editing school that "hopefully" is not actually a word---it should be written "with hope." That's a rule I choose to break.] Now you are wondering about putting an apostrophe in Jims.

One great trick to figuring out grammar is to turn the problem-sentence into a question. For example:
Do the candy bars belong to Jim? If the answer is yes, then use the apostrophe to indicate possession.
Correct:    Those are Jim's candy bars.

Now let's practice:
You're sending out your cute neighbor gift for Christmas. You want to sign it "Love, The Herrins."
You start to stress. You try: "Love, The Herrin's." You think about possession and convince yourself that possession is indicated because the love expressed does indeed belong to the Herrins. Yikes! That's tough! You may be tempted to even write: "Love, The Herrins's." I've seen it, folks! Well, dear Christmas card writer, your first impression was correct. When signing a letter or a card the plural is correct---no apostrophe here! You are simply indicating that more than one Herrin wishes the recipient love. Better yet, save yourself (especially if your name ends in s) and just sign it "Love, The Herrin Family."

One more:  If you were driving past my house and someone asked, "Whose house is that?" Your answer would be "It's Jackie Herrin's house."The house belongs to me, so I get the apostrophe with my name. (And you would use my first name because you really want to avoid saying "It's the Herrins's house.")

As always there is an exception to the rule. You may have seen them in the previous paragraph. Whenever the 's would indicate a word that is a contraction, then there isn't an 's. For example, "who's" could be mistaken for "who is," so "whose'" is actually a possessive word. Same with "it's" being mistaken for "it is," so "its" becomes possessive: "The dog put its foot in its bowl. It's a stupid dog."

And that's it! Not too bad, right? Stay tuned next week for the easy, easy answer to the who/whom dilemma. You'll love it---and you'll sound so smart!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday

I've decided to start a new series on my blog. Teach Me Tuesday.


Background: I graduated with a major in English and a minor in editing. My BYU class was the first to have that option. I love words, and I love grammar. I'm not always perfect here on my blog. I don't really think it is a place to require perfection, but I do try my best and give everything I write a quick once-over before I push publish. I know most of the rules---or I know how to look them up. Sometimes I choose to break the rules when I'm writing. For example: I love to start sentences with conjunctions---sometimes I just feel strongly that a sentence needs to begin with "And." I figure since I know the rules I can break the less set-in-stone rules.

And to the point: I thought it would be good review for me, and good information for whoever cares to read it, to review some basic grammar principles. First up: The Plural Apostophe

There is a trend out there where people use the apostrophe to make things plural (plural=more than one).

Here is a bad example: I saw two dog's on the side of the road.
The correct way to write that would be: I saw two dogs on the side of the road.

Whenever you want to indicate that something is plural, or more than one, just add an s. If the word ends in s, z, ch, sh, or x add es to the end. No need for an apostrophe here folks! Of course there are times where an ies is needed, or it requires another word entirely (person/people), but that's why we have spell check!

Here's the exception to the rule (there are always exceptions to every rule!):
When you want to make a specific number or letter plural, you'll need to use an apostophe:

I have two r's in my last name.
I have one number 2 and no number 3's.

Now, I can almost hear you asking, "What about my CD collection? Do I have CDs or CD's?" Here's the easy answer: You have compact discs. Whenever you're unsure, just change it up!


Stay tuned for next week where you'll learn that there actually is a time to use an apostrophe before an s!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sometimes I Judge People / Thanks, Mom!

Sometimes I judge people.

Shocker, right? Here are things that run around in my head sometimes: Why don't you know to be a more considerate driver? Why aren't you nicer to your waitress? Why don't you know that you shouldn't let your baby wander around church? Why don't you know how to be kind to animals? Why don't you have your newborn wearing a onsie under his clothes? Why isn't living the gospel more important to you? Why do you think it's okay to break little or big laws? Why do you dress like a skank (for lack of a better word)? Why don't you know that an apostrophe should almost never be used to make something plural?  WHY??!??!??

I do it. I notice things and wonder why people behave the way they do. Lately though I've started to think there might be one common answer: Their mothers did not teach them. (Or they were taught and just choose not to care. And in that case, shame on them.) But if your mother didn't teach you, how could you know how truly important some things are? Well, besides the law-breaking part. And the apostrophe. Some things you can learn other places :)

This new way of thinking has helped me be a lot less critical of people. Perhaps their mother did not teach them to be considerate to others and to animals. Perhaps their mother never taught them to be a mother or to respect their body. As I said before, I know a lot of moms do their very best. And I know a lot of people do not have mothers at all. And I am sure that my children fail in many areas because I have failed them, but my point is that I've tried to change my way of thinking to the idea that people were never really taught these basic things.


Grandma Rhoda, me, Claire, my mom---Halloween 2006

My mom has taught me so many things. I've learned of unconditional love, of respect for all of God's creations, and of respect for myself. I've learned from her example AND continued instruction of how to be a mother and how to care for children. She may not have taught me about the proper use of apostrophes, but she did teach me to go to school every single day and do my best to learn ever single thing I could while I was there.

She, like her mother before her, taught me that there is usually some (if not a lot of) good in everyone. That most people want to do good and will do good when given the opportunity. I am so grateful to her and to my grandma for giving me that positive, optimistic hope for people.

My mom taught me to live my religion---that there is no half-way or standing still when it comes to righteousness. Tough as that is to accept sometimes, it has made me a better, stronger person. I'm still working on perfecting it, but I have a lot of great women in my life who have set wonderful examples to follow. I'm sure I still have a lot to learn, but I am so grateful for them and the knowledge and practices they have passed on to me.

My mom cared enough not just to raise me, but to create a decent person, wife, and mother along the way.Thanks, Mom!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seattle Part 1

We’ve just returned from a trip to Seattle for Taylor’s Grandfather’s funeral (grandparent funeral #3 in two months for those of you who are counting). My kids were great. Better than expected---with the exception of a meltdown on the final day. Trust, me you’ll want to stick round to read that post.
The kids were excited because it was their first time to ride on an airplane. When they found out they would be going on an airplane they clapped, yelled, hugged each other and generally rejoiced. I told them I would pack their clothes and that they should pack a few things in their backpacks to play with on the plane. Kyle packed about 20 Hotwheels, his play cell phone, and every single toy airplane he owns. Claire, a bit more sensible, packed a few books, her journal, and every CD she owns (not sure why). Both packed their toothbrushes in their backpacks. We lightened their loads a bit but kept to the general theme.

We woke the kids up at 4:30 am on Friday. Just in time to catch a glimpse of the royal wedding. Claire was impressed. We got to the airport and parked by 6:00. When we got on the shuttle Kyle asked if it was the airplane. No. And it wouldn’t become and airplane. He was pretty confused, but it was super early.
We met Taylor’s parents there, Don (hereafter known as Tie Guy) and Kerry Lynn (hereafter known as Gram). The kids had strict instruction to hold someone’s hand at all times during the trip. This caused a number incidents for Kyle when his hands were full of luggage, food, or seashells and he’d start to cry. When we asked him why he was crying he’d always respond, “The problem is my hands are full and I can’t hold someone’s hand!” Here he is holding Tie Guy’s hand and Claire with T.

We got on the plane with relative ease. The girls and the boys rode together. Claire held my hands tightly for takeoff. I was really nervous she’d throw one of her infamous fits when her ears hurt because of the pressure, but we were armed with gum and she did fine. I have to say that each and every time I fly I’m a bit nervous and completely in awe of the fact that planes can actually fly. And no matter where I fly, the view is always breathtaking to me. When we were approaching Seattle Claire and I saw a circular rainbow that you can only see from planes. It was awesome. I didn’t get a picture of it, but this is pretty much what it looked like:

When we arrived in Seattle we rented a van. It took a little while. The kids had been up for hours at that time and this is how they ended up while we were waiting:

We had breakfast at The Brown Bag, a family favorite restaurant. Kyle ordered a gigantic pancake, it was at least a foot in diameter and super thick. He ate the entire thing. After that we headed to Carkeek Park on the shore of the Puget Sound. A train runs alongside the park, and we were lucky enough to see two of them. Tie Guy spent a lot of time at that park when he was a little boy, and it was a lot of fun seeing it with him.



Can you see Kyle in this picture? He kind of blended into the scenery.

Gram and her funny glasses:

Taylor was an awesome dad and dug around in the ocean for creatures. Toward the end I don’t even think he noticed when his shoes and pants were getting wet. He was able to find a bunch of crabs under a big rock. Can you see it?
 
A funny picture of Tie Guy. He doesn’t blend as well as Kyle.

Here’s a funny picture I took of a crab’s eye view…

And here’s a cool picture of Tie Guy on the beach.

There were a bunch of “crab heads” at this beach. The kids loved them. Kyle walked up to Gram and said, “Here, Gram. Why don’t you put this crab head in your pocket for me.” If you know Gram and her aversion to creeping things you would know how funny it was. Maybe you had to be there. Here is Kyle having a little roaring battle between two crabs. I know it looks like they are kissing, but trust me, it’s a fierce fight. Kyle loved the crab heads.

The next morning Taylor’s sister and her husband, Rob, had arrived. Kyle was telling them about the crabs and Rob explained to him that you eat the crabs. Kyle got a really worried look on his face then brightened up and said, “Oh, I know! It is just pretend!” Bless his little heart. Of course that night we dined at a seafood restuarant and he found out just how not-pretend it was, but we’ll get to that tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Signs that I am turning 30 soon


I turn 30 at the end of this month. On the 30th to be exact. Apparently that's a special birthday to have both numbers match up. I'll look forward to the magic.

I've been noticing a few things lately---other than the calendar---that indicate my age. The list comes with good and bad:

  • My knee hurts. I don't remember doing anything specific to cause the pain, but suddenly I'm favoring it, taking ibuprofen before bed, and waking a few times with pain during the night. I'm not particularly in shape, so this comes as no surprise.
  • Another sign of my body betraying me is that everything I eat is suddenly showing up in my waist and arms. This actually started when I turned 29, it's just taken me a year to realize that it's not a passing thing. Looks like it's here to stay, and if I want to do something about the weight I'm going to have to do more than think about it a few times. My mother said this would happen. Claire points it out to me weekly; bless her heart.
  • I like me (well, so far today I do). While I certainly have and have not had this feeling in the past, it's different now. One thing I've realized is that it's really easy to like yourself when you are easy to like. Like when I weighed 115 pounds, and I was Miss Utah, and boys were lined up all around me, and I could play the piano so effortlessly, and I spent my days speaking and serving---that was easy. Now---far past the 115 pounds, I struggle to get through my few piano performances, sometimes no one listens to me, and sometimes I fail miserably at my responsibilities of being a mother and wife. Boys still hang on me, but usually it's a three-year-old who needs his nose wiped and help going potty or a husband who still insists I'm hot, but may just be saying that because I'm his only (ethical) chance at getting any. Although I do speak (sometimes loudly) at my children and serve them all day, the tangible rewards are far different. But I'm settling into an easy flow with my life and who I am. It's comfortable. I like it
  • My long-complained-about acne problem seems to be resolving itself (knock-on-wood). Maybe it's age, maybe it's the face wash I found, but with that going away it's time to take a serious look at wrinkle cream. I've dabbled in it a bit before, but I think it's high time to preserve my skin. Suggestions? 
  • We will register Claire for kindergarten in two weeks. I know that many of my peers have children well into the education experience, and that technically I should have sent her last year, but it still freaks me out to think I have a kid in kindergarten.
  • We have time-consuming church callings. I actually love that this change is happening. We love our callings, and we love being useful. Nonetheless it's a sign of growing up. With T in the Bishopric and me in the Relief Society Presidency we have at least two nights of meetings a week and very busy Sundays. This week we both have overlapping meetings tonight and last night that we'll be passing the kids to each other and other people, and one or both of us will do visits at some other point. This is how our parents always were, and it makes us feel like we're doing something right to have our lives be so full and so blessed.
  • We have a mortgage. While this makes us feel very grown up, it also makes us very happy to have the house we've worked so hard to have. We have done some painting and arranging around the house lately. I think we've finally realized that we're here to stay and not just hang out until the next move. The yard will continue to improve this year, and hopefully we'll get a great garden in. My roses are bursting to life as we speak (even in the cold), and being responsible for our little bit of earth makes me feel grown up.
  • Our cars are almost paid off---yeah!
  • Our marriage is better than ever. Not that it has ever really struggled, ever. It just improves with time, and I love that. We are definitely half of a whole, and I love who we have become together.
  • As I've mentioned before, we are entering a stage of our lives where the people we love and admire are leaving this earth. In fact, Taylor's other grandpa is in the very end-stages of life and will likely be spending Easter with Jesus this year. This is the season of life that we are in. We've had a rushed and rough entry into this season, yet it causes us to grow, to reaffirm our testimonies, and to cherish our family a little bit more.
So I'll be 29 for a few more days. I love that I'll turn 30 in the late springtime of the year. I feel like it's symbolic of this time in my life. I'm definitely starting the summer of my life. I'm letting go of the spring, and I'm excited not to be a twenty-something. My twenties were ofttimes thrilling, life-changing, and rewarding, but the last half of the decade has been rough. I'm excited to be past that; I'm excited to be a grown-up. I know that I'm not likely to feel any different that exact day (Remember when Claire turned four? She got up, looked in the mirror and cried. "I still look like a baby! I don't look like I'm 4!"), but I know that it's something I'll grow into. And, despite the unfavorable parts listed above, I'm really looking forward to that.