Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wedding Reception, Flat Tire and Catching the Bouquet

Tonight we drove out to Temecula to attend Judy's daughter's wedding reception. We probably would not have taken any pictures or even blogged about it, but we had some random excitement.

The first of our exciting events was having our tire blow out while driving 75 mph on I-15. Kelly was driving and got us over to the shoulder quickly. The tire was smoking.

We were fortunate that it was not raining, and that we had room enough on the wide shoulder to change the tire safely. After a prayer and a quick stop at the gas station to make sure all remaining tires had air, we made it to the reception.

The reception was beautiful and so was the bride. I told Heather she could go out with the "single ladies" on the dance floor for the bouquet toss, and this is where exciting event number two took place. She was in the back and couldn't see, so she moved to the front. The bouquet was tossed and as she and another gal reached for it, they knocked it to the ground with their fingers. Heather being her spry, speedy self, bent down quickly to pick it up. Later she asked us what it meant to catch the bouquet. She wasn't happy with the answer. Ha, ha.

We're all home safe and sound, and reconfiguring the budget to fit in purchasing new tires.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meeting Brandon Mull

Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series, The Candy Shop War and a picture book titled, Pingo, came to our Huntington Beach Barnes and Nobel to promote his new series, The Beyonders. Heather and I have both read Fablehaven and The Candy Shop War (we were actually the only two in the crowd who had read The Candy Shop War), and this was our first time attending an author signing together. We are both very excited to read this new series!

Brandon is very down-to-earth and spoke about each of his books, how he likes to reward his readers for paying attention to details, how his stories usually crescendo toward the end (the new series starts at the level of intensity where Fablehaven was in book 5), his writing history and writing habits. Heather was hooked right away when he spoke about his school years. Two things he said that were endearing to her were:

• My Middle School years were not my best years. If you're in Middle School, just wait. It gets better.

• I always had ideas and stories running through my brain. I'd be in school and the teacher would be talking and I'd be like "squirrel!" and be off on some thought.

Heather turned to me and said, "Mom! He's just like me!" During the questions we were able to ask if he had any ideas back in school that he saved and used when he was an adult writer (Yes! The Candy Shop War town, gang of kids who explored the neighborhood together, and and old fashioned candy shop in his town), and also what kind of student he was (not so great in elementary, shy and quiet in middle school and better/more focused in high school). This was wonderful for Heather to hear not only because of their similar experiences, but because she is so interested in writing a book. She's been working on her story since 5th grade, and continues to tell me how the plot unfolds in the future. I thought she'd tire of the idea, but she hasn't. I can totally see her finishing this story or re-writing it when she's older.

We were able to take a picture while he signed all our books. Since I didn't have books 1 or 2 of Fablehaven in hard cover, he signed two book plates for me to paste in them when I was able to find them. He was interested in people's individual comments about the books and after I told him that Heather and I both read them, Heather shared that she was writing a story. He asked her questions about it, and one of the B&N associates followed us away from the table with a web address for a young writer's contest. Heather was feeling pretty great.

Sheryl and Grace Mosher joined us, and we had the girls take a picture together - Friends going to author signings together just like their mommas.

After getting our books signed and some shopping, we stopped at Islands for dinner. It was so fun to see Heather with a big smile on her face all night, especially since she's been so sick all week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stuck at Home

We wish the Pickle Jar had something fabulous to post today. In place of a phenomenally inspiring post, I'll give you the short version of what we're up to.


Heather is in the middle of a bout with mild mono and is flat on the couch waiting for the fever part to go away. I'm resting a lot and doing laundry while taking an antibiotic to get rid of whatever I've had since the first of March. Kelly is recovering from his sinus issues and is still really, really tired. He's in bed by 9:00 p.m.

Jenna is well at the moment and is out there experiencing life. She had a fun field trip to the Discovery Science Center yesterday. I was scheduled to be a chaperone on the bus with her, but stayed home with Heather.

We're hoping to be bouncing off the walls soon. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saying Good-Bye to Linny

Just a few days ago, I snapped this photo of Linny while taking shots for the Ides of March post. He was talking to me and trying to get to my feet knowing me being out meant something yummy for him. I gave his head a few little scratches and got him some red pepper. Most days Linny rummages around in the grass or garden munching on yummies. When we open the back door he will start talking to us with his little squeaks from where ever he is and scurry over our way to see what yummy treat we have for him. It has been nice to have him outdoors this last year knowing he can roam, but we have been aware of the dangers (hawks, cats, possums). He has been the smartest of all our guineas, but last night, we lost our little friend. I think it was the wind making so much noise rattling the bushes that must have caused him to not hear the possum. I heard Linny for a second and recognized distress, but I couldn't find him. It was three in the morning, and I could hear the bigger critter, but the bushes were so thick. I tried rattling with a broom and calling him, but I knew what had happened. I was so sad.

This morning we told the girls after we found him and confirmed for sure that he was gone. They were pretty sad also. Our guinea pig days are over. It was a fun adventure while it lasted. I am pretty sure we'll be hearing about the next pet soon. The word "dog" was mentioned several times today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

And The Sickness Continues...

We have been passing the sick germs around our family for weeks now. Kelly was sick for a couple of weeks with sinus, fever, chest stuff. Then Heather had intestinal issues. Then Jenna had them. Then back to Heather. Now I'm down with the fever and cough stuff from Kelly. I think instead of tenting for termites we should have tented with bleach!

Fighting off germs could be why I've been so "blah" recently. Hopefully we'll be seeing the end of our illnesses soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is such a fun day for all things green: green pancakes, green shirts, green ribbons in little girl hair, green mashed potatoes with dinner. My favorite activity with my girls was our treasure hunt last year.

We will have to ride on the waves of memories for 2011 because mom didn't do squat to celebrate. What a doofus I am. I managed to get green shirts and ribbons out for the girls (and put on a green shirt myself), but that was it. I forgot about buying the bags of gold and decorating the house. The upside is that the girls didn't ask about anything, so maybe they won't notice my goof.

I better go get the Easter decorations down and get a jump on this next holiday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Softball Tournament & Speedy Pete

Wednesday was Moiola's softball tournament. We learned something about our girl, Heather, that day. She is f a s t. Since there was never a chance that Moiola was going to win anything that day, I didn't expect this really positive experience. Boy, was I surprised.

Moiola is one of 4 middle schools in the district. We are the only K - 8 school; the others are traditional middle schools, 6th - 8th grade. At the end of 5th grade, if you are a serious athlete, you will probably choose to go to one of the traditional middle schools, and most do. The downside is that Moiola never comes in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and is referred to by some as the "losing school". The upside is that every child has the opportunity to play for the team and have opportunities that many of them would never have elsewhere (the other schools go through many cuts and keep only the best athletes on the team), and our kids have a lot of fun.

So here is our girl who has never played softball before. I give her my glove and my cleats and because her dad is working late most of the days prior to the tournament, I grab his glove and become her throwing/catching partner. She was a little stunned when I pulled cleats out of my bag (why is it that kids can't ever imagine their parents moving athletically?), but she could tell I knew what I was doing. It was fun to watch her prep for the tournament. She went from no skill to a little skill with the catching and throwing (Kelly did get a session in with her which helped a lot in catching), and her batting skills were no worse than the other kids who hadn't played before.

On tournament day, I arrived an hour after everything had started, but hadn't missed too much, or so I thought. I'll explain that in a minute. I watched Heather in the outfield and at bat a couple of times. Her at bats were not spectacular, except that she proved to be a bit spectacular. The hits she got had no power, and the balls just rolled out aways from home plate, but Heather ran for first like there was no tomorrow! The other teams were good, and they were able to get her out at first, but there was something remarkable about the three different times this happened. The opposing teams were so good that they should have had the runner out before she was half way to the base, but every time they got Heather out, it was by a hair. She made it literally about half an inch from the base each time. Myself and a few other parents were crazy screaming, but when she was called out, we just kept cheering. Oh my goodness was she fast! She looked at me like we were nuts because she didn't make it to the base and we were cheering like nutters. We were not the only ones who noticed. Some of the opposing school parents noticed, and Heather's teammates started calling her "speedy".

At one point, I walked over to talk to Heather because I could see she was really bugged that she was only getting to play outfield twice each game. The coach/teacher told her it was so that the 8th graders could have a chance to play their last year, but it was a weak reason, and Heather knew it. There were a couple of 7th graders and a couple of 6th graders out each inning as well as the two 5th graders who were recruited because of their experience. I should have been bugged because of the politics, but it is what it is, and I was so proud of my girl that I had to tell her. She was bugged by not getting to play, and I told her that she'll be in 8th grade one day and be playing every inning. Then I said with pride absolutely oozing out my eyeballs, "But forget that! You are FAST! Did you hear us screaming for you?" She thought we were teasing her. I had so much pride beaming from me that I knew she could tell I wasn't just trying to make her feel better. I told her it didn't matter that she got out, and how she never should have been able to get that far as good as those teams are. She started catching on that she was doing something well. I used that momentum to pump her up about her outfield position at right field. I told her it looked like a boring spot, but every single one of those teams were good enough to hit out there and she needed to be ready. She was totally listening and although not one ball came her way, she was poised and ready every time.

After the tournament, she asked me if I saw her home run. I was there the entire time except that first part which is when I apparently did miss something. She told me it was a base hit, but she ran past first base while the ball was being thrown to first. She kept going as the team scrambled to get the ball to the base she was running for, but they just missed each time. The ball was never out of play so she just kept running. When she crossed home plate, the umpire marked the run, and her teacher told her they'd yelled at her to stay at third. She said she never heard her. I think the wind was in her ears.

I'm still not sure how that whole home run thing went down, but I can't wait for the track tournament!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ides of March

Found something fun on Dreamland this morning. Since I'm stuck at home with a sick girl and have been feeling creative, I gave this idea a try. Here are my random 15 on the 15th...

1. my stephanie fizer calendar
2. jenna at home sick
3. laundry
4. a playroom in need
5. favorite quote from the Twilight series; sits in our master bedroom
6. favorite prints from sarahjanestudios
7. to read
8. new mirror above our mantle
9. favorite wall quote
10. favorite purchase from forks, wa
11. family wall in the hallway
12. love my wood floor in the office
13. our backyard
14. our guinea pig, linny
15. growing our own oranges, mmm...

Monday, March 14, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance - LA Auditions

Angie and I attended the first ever audience taping of the So You Think You Can Dance auditions in Los Angeles. They were held at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles. This theater was built in 1926, and the architecture of the theater and surrounding buildings was stunning. Click on the link if you are interested in looking at the theaters photo gallery with its 360 degree viewing capabilities. Very fun.

We arrived early and were able to get excellent seats. Of course the ticket holders were divided--this time it was, "kids through one door and adults through the other door" which was, so far, the kindest way they've been able to say, "young, hip looking people through one door, old wrinkly people through the other door." The "kids" got to be on the side behind the dancers in the theater, but we still got to see everything. Nigel, Mary Murphy and Tyce Diorio were the judges, and there were only five or so people turned away from the group of auditions we saw. There are some excellent dancers going to Vegas, and it was really, really, fun to see them do their thing right in front of us.

Some highlights from the evening were being able to sit in the theater with some of the past seasons finalists - Legacy, Twitch, Ade, Katie, Brandon, Jakob, Comfort and last seasons winner, Lauren, were a few of the dancers there. I went up to the bathroom during a break and got in line just behind Lauren. I geeked out and told her that I voted for her. She immediately exclaimed, "Oh, thank you!", and then threw her arms around me for a hug. Very cute. We chatted for a minute about what she'd been up to (working at a dance convention, taping a Glee episode, doing a promo with Gatorade) before being ushered back to our seats.

We were all invited to stay for the choreography portion of the evening which began at 10:30 p.m. We stayed for about 30 minutes to watch Katie and Brandon teach the choreography, but needed to leave before the group dances. We had no idea we were going to be there that late and Angie had a full day of teaching and meetings the next day. So we'll be watching along with the rest of America to see who makes it through choreography when Season 8 begins, May 26.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are "The Blahs" Genetic?

This post will be all about me. Just thought I'd warn you. My husband has pointed out that many of my posts are about me and not the family. Which is strange because I feel like I upload a lot of pictures with my kids in them, but maybe the balance is off. I'll look into that.

So enough about that, let's talk about me (just kidding, but I love that line). I have the blahs. I've had them for awhile. Where does that come from? Do you all of the sudden turn 40-something and go downhill? Is that what happened? I didn't think "over the hill" happened until later, so if I'm not at the top of the hill, why the descent?

There is so much to be done in my house and in my life. I need my energy back. I have been able to make myself do some things, but it's akin to walking through mud. We have depression in the family history, and some procrastination tendencies, and I've seen snippets of these manifest in me. I just can't figure out why the steady stream at this point, nor do I know how to get out of it.

Hopefully I can post again in the near future and have some progress made in this area. It would have been more fun to have had a post here about a great new recipe or some innovative organizing trick, but it is what it is today. Here's hoping that tomorrow is a bit better in the energy department.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hippie Day

About ten minutes before I left for choir last night, the girls let me know that Friday was going to be hippie day. I'm not into last minute news, especially since all the jeans styles now are skinny, but we pulled it off. Luckily, Heather had been a hippie for Halloween a couple of years ago, and Jenna had some hand-me-down flared cords. They are kinda cute hippies, don't ya think?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekly Menu/Shopping List

Do you ever have a moment where you feel as though you are going to burst if you don't do something creative? I've been having those moments a lot lately. Last week, I decided to create a weekly menu with a shopping list. I had seen some menu/list planners on-line, but after several search attempts, I couldn't locate what I had seen. I nearly bought one from The Container Store, but then I saw the price and thought, "I can make something like this!" So I did.

After many drafts and some voting from my daughter, the design in the picture was the winner. I used it for the first time last week and loved it. I wrote my main and side dishes on the menu side, and as I listed each day's menu, I wrote the grocery items needed to put that meal together. As other grocery items popped into my head, I added those as well. The beauty of this design is that you can tear the sheet in half, hang the menu on the fridge and take the grocery list with you to the store. It was pretty sweet.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I am a list maker, but often keep the list in my head. The past year has taught me that trying to keep a list in my head is going to result in many important things being forgotten. As I've really examined what's not working lately, it was very clear to me that I have some how got to remember the essentials. I love the definition of this word as well as those in the thesaurus:

absolutely necessary; extremely important. See notes at, INHERENT and NECESSARY.

crucial, necessary, key, vital, indispensable, important, all-important, of the essence, critical imperative, mandatory, compulsory, obligatory; urgent pressing, paramount, preeminent, high-priority, nonnegotiable; basic, inherent, fundamental, quintessential, intrinsic, underlying, innate, primary, elemental; central, pivotal, vital.

In order to ground my swirling thoughts and fix myself firmly to some kind of anchor, I have made a list of some essential things that I am not concentrating on and making time for. If all I accomplished during a day could be checked on on this list (see picture above), then the day would be deemed successful. I have further set the goal to be finished with this list by 9:00 a.m. with the exception of water as it will take the day to finish.

If everyone I know made a list, it would be different. These are the items I can't live with out, and those that are essential to my spiritual and physical well-being. I'm a dork, but the word and it's definition inspire me to embrace the meaning. How often are we reminded of the "essentials", and how often do we nod our heads and walk off forgetting. I've heard many of these words from the thesaurus countless times in the scriptures, in lessons and from church leaders. I am, apparently, slow on getting my act together.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Love Language Clues

I recently taught a review of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It was the second time teaching it, and I have found many a light bulb moment in my audience members when we've covered Dr. Chapman's suggestion to listen to your child's requests to find out what his or her love language is. One woman came up to me after the last class and told me that her 16-year-old son always asks her to come in to his room and listen to what his stereo can do. She usually puts him off because she already knows what his stereo can do (along with many of the neighbors), but she realized after hearing the material in the lesson that he was asking for quality time. She determined that night that she was going to pay attention next time he asks.

It's funny how things stick out when you have an awareness. Since learning about and reading this book, I am constantly aware of the requests of my children and what they may need. One such piece of evidence is in the photo above. Last night, I made a list on our mini white board of the next day's after school events and included the dinner menu and showers. If you look at the bottom, my nine-year-old added to the list. I didn't see her do it, but when I read it, I realized that she was asking for my time. She is a Quality Time kid, and she's been feeling low the last few days. They do ask. We just have to listen and act.

If you haven't read this book or the one for children, it's a must read. He has many versions now including one for singles. The love languages are the same in each book, but the examples differ based on the demographic. I figure since our relationships are the only thing we're taking with us when we leave this life we better keep working on them, right?