Saturday, May 30, 2009

What The Fritter?

While stopped at a traffic light this afternoon, I watched for several seconds as a homeless man walked along the sidewalk showing his sign to the drivers waiting at the light.  I noticed he looked a bit older, and I felt sorry for him.  As the light went green, I zeroed in on his sign.  It wasn't the usual "homeless" sign, but a "homeless veteran" sign.  That was all it took for my brain to get going.  Here's where it went.  Each thought is linked only by the "What the fritter?" theme.  They are not related to each other.  My husband sympathizes with anyone who attempts to follow this.  If he gets to the end of it himself, it will only be because he's had nearly 22 years of practice following my thought patterns.  Hang on for the ride...

Thought #1:  Why is there a Veteran of the United States standing on a street corner begging for money?  Shouldn't anyone who fights for our freedom in any capacity entitled to a comfortable home, food to eat and the basic necessities of life?  Couldn't this man at least have a bed??  We are a free nation because of men and women like him.  There shouldn't be one Veteran in this country without a home.  What is wrong with this picture??  Who takes care of them after war?  Especially those who have medical and extreme financial needs??

Thought #2:  What about our children?  Our school district just voted to adopt a 30:1 student ratio in grades 1 and 2.  Um, what happened to our children needing the best education we can provide?  Let's see how many little bodies and desks we can stuff in a room, and then see if they can all keep up when some still don't even know how to hold a pencil correctly.  This is so ridiculous I cannot even comment sufficiently.  It should be illegal for any member of a school board to serve if they have not already served a substantial number of hours in a classroom.In the middle of the fall.  When it's a hundred degrees and there isn't any air conditioning.  Oops. That's another thought altogether.

Thought #3:  Speaking of the value of education...How much money does a major league baseball player make in a year?  Some figure that has the word million in it if I remember correctly.  I'd like to see that figure next to that of an elementary school teacher's salary.   If teaching were viewed as the talent and skill that it is, I think the salary for a teacher would be substantially higher.  Can you just see one of us sitting down with the superintendent negotiating our salary because of our experience and skill?  Excuse me while I go have a hysterical fit of laughter.

Thought #4:  I am overwhelmed.  I want to change so many things, but I can't even get a spark of anything started on my own.  I don't want to give into "the big guy" or the force with all the power, but I see why people do.  It is exhausting to see so much wrong and try to figure out what we little people can do to change it.  My vote doesn't count.  Are you kidding me?  I go and vote because there are men and women fighting, as they have for generations, for my right to walk to a voting booth and cast a ballot.  It brings me comfort on election day to know that it is a freedom that we have.  But my vote won't count.  Where will it count?  When will it count? Maybe in a group of 7 where one vote can sway the decision?  Who knows.  I don't know if I have what it takes to be a leader.  I am a great support person, but being the leader is emotionally exhausting.

Thought #5:  What would it be like if women ran the country?  

Thought #6:  My hormones are having a fabulous party right now and wreaking havoc with my emotions.  Perhaps the bag of M&M's on my kitchen counter would come in handy at this point and stop the flood of thoughts.

Thought #7:  I should blog this mess, and I'll feel better getting this off my brain.

Thought #8:  Thanks for listening.  The M&M's are quite yummy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

So many things, so little time!

I have several choices for blog posts tonight, but because I'm just getting home at the eleven o'clock hour, all the great pics will have to wait.  

I do have one brief thought that I read again recently.  It is from the 'Study' series I've been reading and is found in the third book, Fire Study.  Yelena is responding to a comment from someone she's just been introduced to.  The person states that she's "not what I expected." I love her answer and think it to remember as I meet new people and form quick opinions about them based on appearance...

"You're easily distracted by the pattern of the cloth and can't see the quality of the threads."

Fire Study, Maria V. Snyder, pg. 48

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom

Considering that this thoughts comes from the mind of the man who created a voice for this very absent-minded bear, I'm not sure I'm buying it.
"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries."
A.A. Milne

Monday, May 25, 2009


We have made a tradition of visiting our parents' graves on Memorial Day weekend.  We bring flowers, clean and polish the headstones and then each take a turn sharing a memory about our loved one.  We can, of course, do this at any time of the year, but this is a special day for remembering.  
Grandma Carol's grave (Melissa's mom)

The cemetery where Kelly's parents are buried puts these flags out every year.  It is stunning.  There are many military buried here.  We listened to a service while we were at the graveside and heard the 21 gun salute and "Taps" being played.  It was a good moment to share with our daughters the significance of the ceremony.

Grandma and Grandpa's grave (Kelly's parents)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mission Complete

It's done.  The report is finished and the scrapbook project complete.  The lot went to school on Friday morning (hopefully never to be heard from again).  I'm not bitter.  Here are the pros and cons of a project like this:

•Mom and daughter got to spend a great day together at a beautiful historic place
•We gathered tons of photos and souvenirs to help us put the project portion together
•Heather and I both learned a bit about California history
•Heather was able to type the body of her report and use the Google search function
•Heather learned a little bit about the scope of a project like this and how much time it takes

•No nine-year-old could ever do this on their own; even if you have a smart nine-year old, there are so many details that due to their age and life experience, they are bound to miss something.
•There is no way my daughter could skim the amount of information I had to skim to pull out what we needed
•Guilt -- I didn't like feeling like it was "my" project, and I saw that had we started two weeks earlier, Heather may have been able to do more of the project assembly

The list of cons isn't that long, but kind of says it all.  Heather was very much apart of the field work and typing, but the poor girl doesn't know how to write a report.  I had to frame it for her and keep pulling information out of her.  She couldn't research on her own; there is just too much information to sift through.  A lot of my guilt came when we went to assemble the scrapbook.  I know she could have been more involved in that, but we didn't have time.  The mission visit was done on May 2, twenty days before the project was due.  The report was written bit by bit each day the week before the project was due.  That left a week to assemble the scrapbook.  My bad.  Heather missed school on Monday and had mounds of homework everyday on top of the project.  That left the scrapbook assembly literally until the day before the project was due.  

I'll know better for next time.  This was my first project as a mommy.  The teacher did want the parents involved (she told me that after the project was turned in), but I think it would have meant more to Heather to put her own scrapbook together.  She may not have done it as neatly, but she would have been proud of her work.   I couldn't wrap my brain around it all until that last week.  I will have to force myself to wrap my brain around her next project earlier so it can be more of her thing.

Well, if you've read this far, thanks for listening.  I needed to journal all of this to figure out what I need to do for next time.  I can't remember how I learned to do reports and projects, but it was probably very similar to what is going on now, so I won't beat myself up too much over this one.  I'm glad I've had this experience so that I will know how to plan next time. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Job

While sitting at the table supervising homework tonight, I looked over to the living room area and saw my vacuum cleaner sitting where I had abandoned it around two o'clock this afternoon. I reflected on all the housework I'd gotten done that morning, how much more I still had to do, and how I would have to figure out how to squeeze the rest of the cleaning in tomorrow.  The image of that vacuum cleaner, surrounded by various piles of clutter waiting to be put away, appeared to be frozen in time.  It was quite poetic really.  Here I was, sitting at the table doing my "job" while looking over at the other "job" I had had to leave undone.  What is my job?  

Although I know what my job is, the description of it has been fuzzy to the outside world.  Well, actually, even I get confused sometimes.  If one stays at home all day then shouldn't the house be sparkly, the laundry laundered, the errands completed in record time?  After all, there's no traffic at ten in the morning.  Yeah, whatever.  I often feel guilty for being at home during the day with this flexible schedule of mine.  But back to my point.  I have to remind myself that my job is the care and nurture of my children.  We non-union workers have to get a lot accomplished in a day, and I had to come to terms with the to-do list.  I decided when my babies were little that if I did nothing all day except love and hold and feed and play with my girls then it was a successful work day.  Now that they are in school, I do have to cram a lot in before 2 p.m.  But I find that there has to be some "break" time in there too.  Once those sweeties walk through the door, my job begins.  I essentially work from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m.  Okay, yes, I sleep, but if there's a bathroom emergency, a vomit episode or a really scary dream, I'm still on call.  And there really isn't any break time.  Have you ever tried to sit down and read a book when your kids are around?  *pause for laughter* Dude, I can't even use the loo without some important question coming through the door, and that's only if I remember to shut (and lock) the door.

I do have a fabulous co-worker who fills in for the extra pair of hands needed in the evenings. Somehow though, even with his wonderfulness, there is still stress on the job.  I guess that's just the way this job goes.  Even with the help, I seem to carry around some nagging in the pit of my stomach reminding me about all I didn't get done.  It causes me to be a tad grumpy sometimes because I can't work both my jobs at once.  At least not successfully.  You would think I had learned something about this in the classroom.  When my students arrived at 8:00 a.m. they were my responsibility all the way until 2:30 p.m. when they went home.  I never tried to clean desks or grade papers or run to the copy machine to get tomorrow's lesson ready while my students where present.  How preposterous.  Why do I keep thinking I can do that now?

If you've read this far, thanks for indulging me.  Sometimes I need to remind myself to chuck the guilt.  My sweet aunt told me years ago not to sweat the messes.  She said some day those messes won't be there anymore, and I'll be sad.  She's right, of course.  If I ever get this balance right, I'll be sure and share the secret.

Okay, back to work. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Neglected Post

Two great things happened that forgot to post about!  One is that Mother's Day was really exceptional.  My kids and the hub went all out.  I had a breakfast complete with handmade presents and cards, a new pair of snazzy flip flops, and my new iPhone.   It was cute to see the girls get so excited about celebrating, and it was fun to have a card from the hub.

The other fun thing is that my very first Primary Activity is over.  Yay!  I have never been in charge of one before.  As I was working out the couple of weeks prior to the activity, I kept trying to listen very closely to get some inspiration.  I had nothin' on my own.  The first idea that appeared was that we needed to write some letters to the boys serving missions in our ward.  That was the beginning of the planning.  Our activity was called, "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission", and it was a success.  We had 4 activities for the kids, and they rotated in small groups.  We had a letter writing/drawing station, a singing station where they learned the song (same as title), a "hold to the rod" station where they learned about things in life that will help us maintain balance, and a station where the sister missionaries came to talk to them.  At the end, everyone got a cookie with, yep, a sticker that had the exact title on it!  When I found those at the bookstore I wasn't surprised.  After all, this whole thing wasn't my idea.  *wink*

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Jenna on her "crazy hair day" last week is a great model for this post.  I hope never to know insanity in the literal sense, but figuratively, I know it well.  During my self-imposed sequestering at home today and tomorrow, I am going to work in my home catching up on the various neglected tasks that have been waiting for me to stop being busy long enough to pay attention.  I will also be meditating and remembering how important my job at home is.  I pulled the following quote off Kathy's blog from the other day.  I loved these words when I first heard them.  It is just the kind of spiritual snack I need today as I resist all of the good things there are out there calling to me.  I need to be at home, in my home, blessing my home so that I will have the energy to love my little monkeys and help them navigate and process their challenges.  A stressed out mom is not one that can influence their children very effectively, and this stressed out mom needs to be at home long enough to clean a toilet, gosh darn it.   Isn't it strange how a dirty toilet that you can't get to can drive you insane?  Figuratively speaking, of course. 

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Big One?

Not quite, but it was close.  Thanks to sister Michelle for being in my home via video chat.  Michelle has been here for several earthquakes since moving to NM.  I thank her for this evening's activity.  It's not quite an earthquake if Michelle can't share it with us, huh sis?  Ha, ha.  The kids were very freaked out.  Heather said a prayer while the ground was still shaking.  They are currently sleeping on an air mattress in their bedroom to avoid riding out aftershocks in the bunk bed.  Hopefully the ground settles. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gotta Celebrate The Milestones

Still have a way to go, but it's fun to see the ticker keep moving!  Thanks to all of you for your love and support!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Having trouble with balance at the moment.  Laundry is strewn everywhere, some clean, most waiting to be washed.  Toilets have reached the "unsanitary" level and the girls' bedroom has been literally taken over by stuffed animals.  You can barely see the floor.  

I am not one who needs to please.  I know how to say no.  So how do I get in these situations where I can't be home long enough to keep everything together? Yesterday afternoon was completely consumed with a PTA meeting; today will find me teaching Art Masters and attending a volunteer luncheon immediately following.  Tomorrow is my normal day to help in the classroom.  Because my home is suffering so, I will be cutting the luncheon short today.  As for tomorrow, I think I've volunteered enough this week.  If we don't look out for our schedules and draw some boundaries, no one else will do it for us.

I'm off to draw some lines in the sand.  Wish me luck.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No More Mrs. Nice Guy

Tonight's Family Home Evening was centered around the scripture found in Doctrine & Covenants 132:8, the gist of which says, "Mine house is a house of order. It is not a house of confusion." Doh.

We discussed what this meant, and the hub was so great at stepping up to guess where I was going with everything. I hadn't told him what I was doing exactly because I didn't really know. I just knew we couldn't go one more week without some order.

The girls will keep their jobs they've had with a similar reward system, but now they will have a set amount of cash available to them each week (we're starting with $3 each) that is theirs to keep as long as they don't have any "violations." Free money! Woo-hoo! Momma has been at vomit level with the reminders and nags necessary to get things accomplished. Now the girls will be responsible for their jobs. Everything is printed out and hanging on their bedroom door, and they know exactly what they need to do. In a way, we've been practicing for this crackdown. Each violation will be worth ten cents and will be deducted from the three dollars of free money they can get each week. What they will be unprepared for is that I am going to be tough. I haven't been tough enough (apparently). I expect the first week or so to find them quite poor on pay day, however, they are smart girls, and I think they'll catch on quick.

I am hoping to find more peace in the process and have more emotional energy to keep track of my own messes. Nagging and tracking takes a lot out of me. I don't want the girls to grow up only remembering that their mom was a task master. I want to play with them and have fun with them, not be worried about whose shoes I just tripped over, ya know?

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

1.  Where we live.  It is so beautiful.  Every time I think about the leaky faucets or the yucky tile in the kitchen, I remember that some people do not have homes.  It's a simple thought, but it causes extreme gratitude.  

2.  Jacaranda Street.  Once a year on this street in our neighborhood, the Jacaranda trees bloom--all at once.  It is a breathtaking sight.

3.  My better-than-Edward husband. 

4.  The joy that my little girls bring me each and every day.

5.  Wisdom.  I'm not saying I'm smart or that I've arrived anywhere, but it does come with age, and I appreciate the lessons I've learned.

6.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies.  

7.  Friends--really good ones that make you feel like you have extended family all over.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Exploring The City

The day was so beautiful, we needed to get to the library with some books, and mom needed a workout.  So, we packed up the jogger and went on an adventure.  The library was a bit of a distance, but it turned out to be a great sight-seeing tour.  We are usually so busy driving by all these places in the car that taking time to look around proved quite fun.

Construction on the new hospital building is coming along.

Freeways are really fun to walk over (if you're not pushing the jogger).  I actually had the girls get out so they could watch the cars at the top.

Oh no!  The Police station!

And here is City Hall

We stopped on the Library grounds to picnic.  There is a grassy area with a fountain adjacent to the library.  This is a cool veteran's memorial that we've never seen.  We read all the bronze plaques that were dedicated from WWI through the Freedom Mission in Iraq.  What a cool thing we didn't even know was there.

Well, so much for our second Spring Break.  We got home and had a message on the machine from the school.  The CDC has cleared our school and has recommended that everyone report back to classes tomorrow.  I'm so glad we took advantage of the great whether today and explored our city a bit on foot!  It will be too hot to do that in the summer time.

The Spring Break We Never Had

Thanks to one possible case of Swine Flu at our elementary school, we are enjoying the Spring Break we never had.  During Spring Break, our girls were terribly ill with high fevers, and Heather ended up with Bronchitis.  For all I know, the Swine Flu could have been the culprit back in April.  At any rate, our school has been closed for 7 - 14 days to hopefully put the kibosh on the virus.  We've been instructed not to congregate with each other, and a softball league in our city has banned Moiola Elem students from participating until they are allowed back to school.   There were too many viruses floating around our school so in that respect I am glad to have everyone home and recovering.  I'm not quite sure banning well children from participating in their sports leagues is the brightest idea I've ever heard.

Which brings me to my next thought.  Ignorance.  I recently read a book which, although heart breaking at times, gave an excellent account of what it might have been like to be diagnosed with Leprosy before much was known about it.  I would recommend reading this book.  It is very well written.  Although the main character is fictional, the accounts given of what happened to her on her journey all happened to real people.  Other characters are based on actual people who lived on the island of Moloka'i.  I am just happy at this point that the government has not put any large signs in front of my house announcing that we have been exposed to SWINE FLU, and that no one has come to arrest my 9 and 7-year-olds to cart them off to a facility before sending them to an isolated island for the rest of their lives where their parents will never be allowed to touch them again.  Yep, it happened.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thoughts About The STP

My friend introduced me to this acronym - Same Ten People.  You know who they are, and you're probably one of them.  These are the same people who sign up to volunteer at school, help out with projects, stay after the event to clean up; the ones who can be counted on to be responsible and not let you down.  My husband said there is a saying in business, "If you want something done right, give it to a busy person."  That busy person is an STP.

So what's my point?

Normally I like happy blog posts, but today, I'm fed up.  When do members of this elite group get to decline, go home early or go on vacation?  Never.  When do they get the relief of not worrying about how something will get done or have the luxury to 'sit this one out'?  Never. Others would say that it is their own fault for consistently being reliable, concerned or considerate.  However, these traits make up the fiber of the STP's character, and they would never consider leaving the work to only a few or letting someone else worry about it.

I'd like a day off. I'd also like to slap a few people upside the head.  As I am not a violent person, I have chosen to rant on my blog.  I just really want to know where everyone else is and why they don't feel compelled to be committed?   

I think I've said enough.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts.  I do not know anyone who reads my blog who is not an STP, so hopefully you know this was not directed at my readers.   I would not vent to anyone at whom this was directed.  Frankly, I don't think they'd care.

Thanks for listening.  Rant over.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Super Saturday

Heather and I decided to go visit the CA Mission in Santa Barbara today.  She has chosen to do a scrapbook for her 4th grade mission project, and we thought this would be a beautiful mission to visit.  She will be going to the San Juan Capistrano mission in June, and although it is a lot closer to us (30 min. vs. 2.5 hrs.), I thought it would be nice for her to get to see both.
Above, you can barely see tiny Heather at the top step; below, Heather is sitting in the mission's church.  It was very beautiful.

While we were away all day, Lizzy, our guinea pig, decided to have some babies.  We knew she was pregnant, but didn't know how many babies there would actually be.  The lady who we got them from said the first litter was usually just one baby; we got three.
The girls have named them LJ for Linny Jr. (brown/black), Charlotte (black/tan), and...
ML for Mini Lizzy (tan/black).  The names will stick, I guess, until we find out the sex of each.
And no, we don't know what we're going to do with them all just yet.