Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to School Wreath

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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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!

IMG_4492 IMG_4495         IMG_4490 IMG_4489

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


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.