Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve...Part Deux!

Paella aside, the second half of our evening was just as enjoyable...and even more thought-provoking. We just finished watching The Great Debaters. Denzel Washington, once again fabulous in the role of a coach and mentor. Just as in Remember the Titans he is able to lead and inspire people to rise above their limitations and focus on their strengths. This movie has a strong message from history that needs to be remembered, not forgotten. In light of the fact that the first black man in the history of America is about to become the President of the United States, we must always remember how important it is to go forward...relying on the strengths and people from history who make us who and what we are today. Remember, "We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do."

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

We are making paella. When Whitney was in London, she tried it for the very first time and LOVED it. She has been dreaming about it ever since. As a special treat, we decided to make it for our New Year's Eve Feast. Cook a little shrimp, saute' some sausage, peppers, onion, and garlic. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and rice. A pinch, or two, or three, of the special (and pricey!) Saffron...(Yes, we're just mad about it!) and BAM! You're making paella. Thirty minutes from start to finish, with frozen peas added in at the end! Garnish with lemon and serve in a festive holiday dish! Emeril would be proud!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Post-Holiday Reading Suggestion...

Even though the holidays are now over, I have a recommendation for a great read. Check out A Red Bird Christmas by Fannie Flagg. I read it every year. I love it! It makes me happy. It makes me laugh and it makes me cry. It has inspired me to change my blog background for the long winter ahead. I actually just ordered me a brand new copy from Barnes and Noble and I am anxiously awaiting it's arrival. The minute it is here I will be dropping everything to re-read and re-visit one of my holiday traditions. I'm thinking hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream and some mint milanos to keep me company while I read!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the third day after Christmas... true love reminded me..."Joy, you didn't do much blogging during the holidays." I'm not quite sure why that is, actually, since I had every intention of sharing favorite movies, music, and memories. I guess I just got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the 'busy sidewalks, city sidewalks, dressed in holiday style.' In the air is no longer the feeling of Christmas. So, for those of you who are is my version of the Twelve Days of Christmas...after the fact!

On the first day of Christmas...we put up the family tree...(See only December holiday blog). Now aforementioned tree is shedding dead pine needles all over the floor. It still looks lovely, but the scent is gone, and it's days are numbered. Oh, well, Christmas tree...oh, well!

On the second day of Christmas I sat down and made a list. And another one. And even another one. On the day BEFORE December 25th, I actually checked the last thing off of the least the last thing that was absolutely necessary. If we didn't have it by then, we didn't need it.

On the third day of Christmas, we attended Phillip's office party. The food was good, the company was good, the punch was GREAT, and it was the first year it wasn't at our house, which made it THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR for me, since I wasn't ready for all the 'parties' I should be hosting!

On the fourth day of Christmas, I watched a Christmas movie on the LIFETIME network. Usually LIFETIME movies involve women getting hurt by men, getting strong, killing those men, and then getting new lives. This particular movie, though, is one of my all time sappy holiday favorites. Borrowed Hearts stars the ever beautiful Roma Downey (She's an 'angel sent from God') and a bad hair day and non-gay Eric McCormack (Will and Grace). If you get a chance, take 1 1/2 hours and view it. It's worth your time, if nothing else for mindless entertainment purposes. Over the next few weeks I also watch other classics, "White Christmas", "I'll Be Home for Christmas", and "The Preacher's Wife". Whitney Houston sings a rockin' hot version of JOY TO THE WORLD and Denzel Washington is the most handsome angel in a gray suit I have ever encountered. He can flash those pearly whites at me anytime!

On the fifth day of Christmas, I did get to host one of those holiday parties...for 140 of my closest friends...the ThayerWood Ward Breakfast. This year's menu was a breakfast biscuit bar...I had my doubts at first, but it worked out fabulously...biscuits with canadian bacon and cheese, or the best country gravy ever! ($1.00 a package at Walmart) Fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, and milk...nothing left over except 4 pieces of Canadian bacon, and two dozen biscuits. (We started wtih 240!)

On the sixth day of Christmas, I watched the First Presidency's Christmas Program. The music by the tabernacle choir was wonderful, and the messages inspirational. I was especially touched by a story President Monson shared about visiting a nursing home. He asked the question, "Is there someone who is awaiting your visit?" I hope that I followed those promptings this season and made a visit to someone who was waiting for me. I know someone visited me who I was awaiting to see. Ahh...the blessings of being loved!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my son received a letter from Santa. It stated that he had been a good boy for MOST of the year, but needed to spend a little bit more time respecting his parents and sister, or there would only be COAL on Christmas morning. This is the day OPERATION COAL COLLECTION began. More on this later! The receipt of Eli's letter reminds me that I have yet to compose our family Christmas letter, so my mind is a jumble for the rest of the day. Around midnight it is completed, except of course for the stuffing, stamping, and mailing of the envelopes. Blogging kind of removes the need for a family letter, but it's something I love to do, so I do it anyway!

On the eighth day of Christmas my shopping marathon began...nothing too complicated this year, just a few items for each member of the family that were easy to acquire, and even easier to hide...until the aforementioned family member who needed to work on respect went seeking 'gifts from afar'. Thus began his first experience with 'keeping Christmas secrets from sisters'. I have to say, he passed this test with flying colors.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my musical gift arrived. Cassidy sang in her last high school Christmas concert ever. It was lovely and inspiring. Combined with the school orchestra, they sang favorite carols, and ended with selections from The Messiah. From the first strains of the overture, to declarations of "For Unto Us A Child Is Born", and the promise of "And the Glory of the Lord" my heart swelled with gratitude for the knowledge of the birth of that tiny babe in a manger. As we stood for the "Hallelujah Chorus" tears flowed freely down my face. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that He is "Wonderful. Marvelous. Counselor. The Mighty God. The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace." Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

On the tenth day of Christmas, my house was now decorated, the gifts were all bought, the radio was playing "Sleigh Ride", and I was still collecting coal, due to the fact that my son was testing Santa to see if he would come through with that promise. After his bath, he came into my room and pointed to his head, now missing a LARGE chunk of hair. "Look what happened? How did this happen?" I asked him if he cut his hair. "No." "Is there a man upstairs giving haircuts?" "No." "Is there a lady upstairs giving haircuts." "No." "How about a hair-cutting ghost?" "No! No! No! I don't know how it happened!" Mom now reminds aforementioned son that at our house, you get in a lot less trouble for telling the truth than for lying. Twenty minutes pass. The son now admits, "I guess I did cut my hair. I didn't mean to. It just happened." Honesty is the best policy...even when hair cutting is concerned. I just hope Santa understands.

The next day is our church Christmas program. I will be playing the piano for the choir to sing approximately 5 numbers. My son with the newly coiffed hair will be front and center when the Primary sings, "Said Samuel, within five years, the night will be as day, and baby Jesus will be born in a land far, far away." I hope his hair cut doesn't distract from the spirit. It's kind of hard not to start laughing when you see it. And yet, I will make him wear it for a few days as a reminder of why we DON'T cut our own hair. TOUGH LOVE PARENTING! I'm all for it!

On the eleventh day of Christmas the family is all home and happy. It's almost time for our annual Nukaya Christmas Eve party. The snow is still falling and the wind is still blowing, but inside all is warm and well. Our friends and their four sons (one is on a mission making an even five boys in that household) come to enjoy the night before Christmas. This is our 10th year of the tradition. We have coldcuts and sandwiches. Irene brings spinach dip. We drink pop and eggnog. Gifts are exchanged and puzzles (500 piece this year) are put together. Ben brings his stuffed squirrel collection. Dusty and Cassidy spend the night trying to beat each other at games. After the company leaves, it's time for the Christmas story, read by Eli. Then we open the obligatory Christmas jammies. This year, Eli gets a robe in his box, guessing it before he even opens it, proving the theory from Day #8 that his sisters gifts were not the only one's he discovered. Unfortunately for me, the only part of the season I was unprepared for involved wrapping and wrapping and stuffing and tagging until 2:00 a.m. Next year I WILL NOT procrastinate on this project!

On the twelth day of Christmas we awoke at 7:30. Each year we seem to get up later and later and later. Everyone comes down and looks for the gifts from Santa. All Eli has is a big blue Rubbermaid tub, full of various types of coal and a book entitled, FUN WITH MANNERS WITH DICK AND JANE. He takes one look at the can of coal, opens it, pulls out the coal and says, "A LUMP OF COAL?" and proceeds to throw it at Whitney! Can of coal...$1.98. Coal bubblegum...$1.98. Book about manners...$3.95. Reaction from Eli...priceless.

Luckily for Eli, Santa also left a note that his real presents were in the living room. It may have seemed a bit harsh for the 2 minutes that it lasted, but it was a memorable moment in our holiday that we will talk about for years to come. Santa was good to everyone...Whitney got a watch and movies and clothes and cd's...Cassidy got scriptures and a camera and clothes...Eli got Legos and DS games...I got a new camera, (which is way cool and way complicated, thus the lack of more photos in this blog :) Phillip got a new camping cot and cold weather gear for winter camping with the scouts. We had our festive buffet...shrimp, hot wings, meatballs, cherry jello, killer potato salad, my dad's famous clam dip, divine punch, and Kimberly's hot wassail and Black Forest Cake. We played Buzz Word and Catch Phrase--the Music Version. We relished in watching Max enjoy Christmas. It's never more magical than when you are two.

That's our holiday in a nutshell. Nothing spectacular. Nothing over the top. Just everything we love to do, with all the people we love to do it with. It really is, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The new's all 'relative'

A few days ago while we were waiting for Cassidy, Eli told me that he had to take a math test on the computer to determine his accelerated math level. I asked him what was on the test. Our conversation follows:

Eli: "Well, first it asked us to identify math plus signs, minus sign, multiplication and division signs, and those dots called 'decimal points.' Then we had to do some easy adding and subtracting stuff.

Joy: "So, how do you think you did?"
Eli: "Okay, I guess, except one of the problems was kind of different. It said to write a hard math problem."
Joy: "Really? What hard math problem did you write?" ( I'm thinking some imaginary 2,0000 + 17 -45 = ir something like that)

Eli: "I wrote e=mc2." Joy: (gasping) "You wrote e=mc2? What did the computer say?"
Eli: "It told me that one was too hard and to try again, so I did. I wrote 10 divided by 10 equals one. Then it let me finish the test."

What AM I going to do with this boy?

(Photo courtesy of Phillip and my cousin Weston...they climbed on Einstein's head while we were in D.C. I wonder if Eli's head will ever be a statue for tourists to climb on?)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree...

Once again, the family tree has been trimmed. The lights are all on, courtesty of Cody, a six-foot-plus adopted son. I think we will keep him around for just this purpose. I was thinking a lot about the 'tree' last week, actually dreading the acquiring of, and then the decorating that comes after and seems to take forever. I was feeling a little out of sorts, observing all the beautiful and perfect trees that I was seeing in my midst. Cassidy works for a design firm and I am reminded everytime I pick her up just how beautiful professionally decorated trees are. However, last night, after the First Presidency Devotional, Eli's enthusiasm overtook me, and we decided to do the tree deed. As I pulled out all of the ornaments from over 25 years of life together, I was reminded that beautiful trees LOOK good, but trees like ours FEEL good. It is full of wonderful memories, each one invoking a smile or a laugh, or even a tear or two. The tree in all of it's glory. Yes, it's real, and yes it does smell wonderful. Phillip got rid of our fake trees years ago, citing the case, "We are denying our children one of the best scents of the season." I have to say I have a tendency to agree. An evergreen candle just doesn't cut it!

One of our most cherished wedding presents...a 'first Christmas together' ornament. It's usually the first one to to up, and the last one to come off.
I like this one of the Martin Handcart Company. It is a stark reminder of how blessed we are at this time of year (and all year round) to have a warm house and a bed to sleep in and more to eat than 4 ounces of flour. I like to reflect on that first Christmas the remaining handcart company members spent after being rescued and how it must have felt to be safe and alive. It kind of puts things in perspective for me.

One of Whitney's first ornaments. When she was little she looked just like this...curly blonde hair, yellow footie pajamas, and a bear that went to bed with her every night. I melt every time I hang this one up, remembering my precious little girl. She still has curly hair, although it's darker now. I doubt she takes a bear to bed and I know she doesn't wear footie pajamas. But I still melt whenever I see her, because she will always be my precious girl.

What can I say about this one? Cassidy was born on an April morning in the middle of the worst blizzard of the year. A lady I worked with at the radio station gave us this little snow baby ornament to remind us of that winter day when another beautiful daughter came to stay. She keeps our hearts warm and our lives bright!

My dear friend and fellow radio station employee, Wayne Richards, passed away unexpectedly this fall. These bumper stickers were circulating around town after his death. "Drive safely" was his way of saying to listeners and friends, "Be careful. I love you." I felt it very appropriate to find a place on our tree this year for a remembrance of a friend. May you and yours also, "Drive Safely" this holiday season.

No tree of mine would be complete without a touch of Mary Englebreit. Thanks to Miss Peg, each year a new "Mary" treasure is added to be enjoyed and loved. This one is my favorite!

Eli loves penguins. He wishes we could own one. We've taken him to Penguin Daycamp at the Zoo, and bought him every penguin book imaginable. Last year, we found this ornament and he just knew he had to have it. Until he gets that degree in Oceanography and Marine Biology and secures a job as penguin-keeper at Sea World, this is the closest he is coming to having a penguin as a pet!

When I was growing up my brother and I had a dog. J.J. the poodle. J for Joy and J for John. She was THE BEST DOG EVER for almost 14 years of my life. The day we had to put her to sleep was the first time I ever felt a loss of a pet. I've felt it several times since, but never as strongly. Now that John is gone, this ornament is just a little reminder of those fun days we had together, sister, brother, and dog.

Speaking of pets, we have a cat and her name is Gracie. She's really Princess Grace, but we shortened it down for convenience in calling her name when she is lost, which is quite frequently. We got her on a farm in Lehi when Cassidy was about 3, so we've almost had her 15 years. Most people don't see Gracie; she has a phobia for strangers. If you are at our house and you do catch aglimpse of her, count yourself lucky. It means she thinks you are safe, or you are in the way of her food. So, to celebrate her existence (or non-existence) we have some gray cat ornaments on the tree just for her. Sidenote: Our Gracie the cat doesn't wear clothes. We aren't THAT eccentric!
So, while the tree isn't up to Martha's's our tree, it's about us, and it's just the way we like it. Come over for some cookie and cocoa and I'll share a few more tree memories...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving...

Aaahhh...the holidays. At our house, we have a few traditions that can't go unmentioned. On the Eve of the Day of Eating...we always watch HOME ALONE! We dress up in our pajamas and quote lines from beginning to end. Some of our favorites: "Buzz, your girlfriend, WOOF!" and "Santy don't visit no funeral homes, little buddy!" We may be crazy, but it just makes us happy! We can't start Thanksgiving until Kevin has slapped his cheeks and screamed AAAAAAHHHH into the camera! Of course, Thanksgiving morning starts bright and early with my dad cooking and the rest of us watching the parades. I still get excited for the Broadway show numbers, the Rockettes, and of course, the giant Snoopy and Charlie Brown balloons. Once we are all seated around the table, everyone takes a moment to express what they are thankful for, and we offer a prayer of gratitude. This year, more than ever, I have much to be grateful for. Health, employment, food, friends, a home, opportunities to serve, opportunities to learn, opportunities to love. We dine on the regular fare...turkey, yams, my dad's potatoes and gravy (my absolute favorite!), corn, rolls, spinach salad, stuffing, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, and once in awhile, my mother makes carrot pudding, (absolutely NOT my favorite!) It comes complete with lemon sauce, which I took home accidentally one year as a leftover and poured a generous amount over my potatoes before realizing it wasn't my dad's gravy. Imagine a mouthful of lemon-sauce covered potatoes...not a pleasant memory. The rest of the day is spent taking walks, taking naps, playing APPLES TO APPLES, ROOK, and doing a new 750 or 1000 piece puzzle. Later we enjoy leftovers, the men enjoy a little football, and we watch another movie. I'm counting the minutes until it begins, and getting giddy with excitement for the moment when I watch Kevin's mom walk through the door to find her son, the one she left home alone, safe and happy and so glad to see her. It gives me goosebumps, and always makes me shed a tear or two. It's what the holidays are all about...being home, not alone, but with the ones you love. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

One blood donation can save up to 3 lives...

Until recently I had never donated blood. I have a fear of needles. But when I received a phone call asking if I would donate, I decided to give it a try. The first test they did told me I was too anemic, but they pricked a different finger with a different needle and the second time I passed. To quote a famous slogan, "That was easy!" and before I knew it, I was enjoying the free cookies and punch. So easy, in fact, that I will probably do it again. And again. And again. It's free, it doesn't take much time, and it can be used to help someone in need. The best ending to this story comes now: I've never known my blood type until I received my donor card in the mail today. I'm not sure if you can see it or not. I'm "B Positive" Enough said. Maybe it is a sign from above. Or maybe just a reminder to live up to my name. So, whatever you do today and wherever you go, think of my blood type and "B Positive".

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You have got to be kidding me!

I just stopped at Walmart to buy a loaf of bread, some bananas, and a few bottles of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider. One to celebrate (or commiserate) the election outcome; one to give as an opening night gift for a play. As I'm waiting for the clerk to ring it up, I realize he is looking at me a little weirdly. Soon enough, I find out why. "Ma'am...since this is non-alcoholic, I won't have to card you. Otherwise, I would need to see some id." WHAAAAAATT???? He thinks I don't look old enough to buy non-alcoholic cider? I should've been flattered, but I think it just made me wonder...where do they find these Walmart workers?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween...Part Three.

This is the last one. I promise. It's starting to look like I'm a little blog-deprived. Eli just read me a comic from last week's paper. He's laughing so hard he might lose another tooth. It's from FOR BETTER OR WORSE. The little boy wants to be Batman, but his brother tells him he is already going to be Batman, so he will have to settle for Robin. In the course of the conversation, the little brother comes up with alternate 'man' heroes that he can, "Fart-Man" and "Burp-Man" and "Toot-Man". I am proud to say this is right up my son's alley! As Charlie Brown would say, right before the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch and burps in his face, "AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!" (If you look closely, you'll notice Linus is trying to teach Sally how to arm fart. That boy really knows how to impress a girl!)

Halloween...Part Two.

Trick or treating is over. Eli has arrived home with a bucket full of candy. The weather was beautiful. I sat on my porch and handed out treats without even wearing a coat. It was the kind of fall evening that you wish would never end. And before the night was through, it did, indeed, feel like the night that WOULD never end. Since Phillip was gone, and Cassidy was at a party, I had grand plans of turning off all of the lights when we ran out of candy, and watching a movie in the basement while Eli invoked on his 'sugar-high' adventure. Sadly, he didn't quite grasp the concept of, "We are OUT OF CANDY! DO NOT (Yoda reference) answer that door!" Whatever. He found that when people rang the bell, it was great fun to open the door, yell "BOO!" and slam the door again. I spent another 45 minutes coming upstairs every 5 minutes to apologize for his holiday rudeness. By the time that settled down, I was SO READY for an evening with my boys from OCEAN'S ELEVEN. ( I know, not scary, but such a fine guilty pleasure. Besides, Whitney is in Vegas right now at a writing conference and had just visited the lovely Bellagio fountains the night before so it was kind of a channeling/bonding moment with her!) George Clooney has barely left the joint to meet up with Brad Pitt when Eli starts crying..."My tooth, my tooth. It's jabbing into my gums. Ow! Ow! Ow!" You get the picture. Well, sure enough, his dead tooth which he practically knocked out on the Winco floor five years ago had finally become loose and gained feeling in the nerves. For the next 30 minutes, he alternated with wiggling it with his tongue, and screaming, "Ow! Ow! Ow!" (He is my son...low tolerance for pain!) Eventually, about the time Brad and the boys were trying to knock out the power all over Vegas, he pulled the tooth! Hooray. Our evening can quiet down now and I can finish this show. Except, I was so tired by now, that I fell asleep. I might have stayed in that blissful state, except that my phone started singing the Indiana Jones theme. Just one of Cassidy's friends, calling me from Walmart to tell me they had wii-fit. (Note to friend: If you really loved me like I think you do, you would've just bought it for me! JK!) Luckily, the phone call came right as the men were basking in the beauty of the fountains while Claire de Lune played in the background, so I was able to see my favorite part of the movie. Thanks, Cody! About this time Cassidy texts from her party to say the movie is running late, can she stay past curfew? Sure. Just be home soon, and drive safely. By the time I hit 'send' on my text reply, Eli is again screaming bloody murder, "I'm shocked! I'm shocked!" Apparently he had tried to plug in the charger for his DS and got a little jolt of electricity, which I had to spend the next 45 minutes explaining to him the difference between a small jolt and death by electrocution. By the way he was screaming, you would have thought he experienced the latter, not the sooner. He was only asleep about 5 minutes when Cassidy came zipping through the door. We talked for awhile and then she went to bed. I stayed up a little longer, going over the day and reminding myself (thank goodness!) that Halloween comes but once a year, and even with all the weirdness it brings, I would miss it if it wasn't here!

Halloween...Part One!

Searching for a costume this year was not a priority for me. Usually we think of something simple that can be pulled together without much effort, and yet, comes off looking fabulous. Eli wanted to be Darth Vader, but when we went looking for a costume, the force was not with us. I tried to follow Yoda's advice. "Try. Try Not? Do. Or do not. There is no try." Well, I tried. I tried really hard, but every store in town was cleared out of Star Wars anything. While sorting through the racks at Walmart, everyone's favorite Halloween headquarters, he came across this pseudo-leather jacket, reminiscent of Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeauf) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Krystal Skull. It became his number one choice, partly because it didn't require much effort to put on, and as Eli reasoned, "Of course, I'll need the cool Mutt Williams sword and switchblade accessories to make it just right." I caved, and moments later, my son became a sword and switchblade wielding movie-hero-wannabe from the summer's biggest blockbuster. (Okay, that would've been THE DARK KNIGHT but we have already done the Batman thing in years past) Here comes the part that clinched it for me. Without skipping a beat, he also commented, "Too bad dad isn't here for trick-or-treating." (Wood Badge Scout training for a week!) "If he was, he would go as Indiana Jones and I would be Mutt Williams. Just like in the movie. Indiana Jones was the dad and Mutt was the son." I thought about wearing Phillip's Indiana Jones hat and jacket and trying to play substitute dad, but knew it wouldn't be the same. Not to mention, the hat is with the husband at Wood Badge. So rather than do, I decided to do not. Sorry, Yoda!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"I am." I said.

To no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair. Slight reference to a Neil Diamond song that usually cracks me up for that very line. However, today "I am" takes on a whole new meaning. I'm stealing this from someone else's blog. Not a tag, but you're welcome to steal it from me and put it on your blog. I think it will be fun, interesting, mind-stimulating, and very personality revealing:

I am: Woman, Hear me roar! (Except today, when I totally sound like a man because of my sore throat. Someone told me it was 'sexy'...I think it's embarassing! Think Mary Carillos...announcer from the Beijing Olympics!)

I want: To go away to a quiet island where I can read a book and listen to the ocean.

I have: Too many things to do, and not enough time to do them.

I dislike: Whining and whiners

I miss: My brother. More now than three months ago, probably not as much as I will in December

I fear: Losing my illness, to accidents, and yes, even to bizarre stalkers and kidnappers

I feel: Paralyzed

I hear: Duncan Sheik singing the FINDING NEMO version of "Beyond The Sea" off my i-tunes account. I really need to get to a beach, and fast!

I smell: Nothing. I'm sick, dang it! However, if I had a choice, it would definitely be something baking...something yummy like pumpkin pie, or homemade bread, or lasagna. MMMMM!

I cry: Way too much lately

I usually: Try to be funny. I like to hear people laugh. Sometimes, the pressure to be a stand-up comedian 24/7 is a little too much. Maybe I should seek my serious side.

I search for: Lost papers in my endless piles. One day I WILL get organized and that will be an entirely different blog.

I wonder: If I wished upon a star...would the wish really come true?

I regret: Getting so involved in so many things that need to be wrapped up in the next few weeks. I'm missing my favorite season sitting inside at the computer.

I love: Phillip, of course...Whitney, Cassidy, Eli...friends...good books...warm summer evenings and beautiful fall evenings...and truffles! (The chocolate kind!)

I care: What others think. I know I shouldn't, but I do. Desperately.

I always: Remember to say, 'please', and 'thank you', and especially, 'I love you' before I hang up the phone with Phillip or the kids.

I am not: Ready for winter to come. I wish it could stay fall for months and months and months!

I remember: People's names, what they are interested mindless trivia...and when I thought 75 cents a gallon for gas was out of this world!

I believe: In a Father in Heaven who loves me and knows what is best for me and for my loved ones. I also know His timetable is not my timetable. This has been a very hard lesson for me to learn in life.

I dance: All the time...especially when no one is looking, or when I am public with my children so I can embarass them. Actually, I really am a good dancer, and proud of it!

I sing: Along with every song I every hear, and usually know all of the words. Songs make me happy; singing them makes me happier. Too bad I wasn't blessed with the best voice, but in a car, no one really cares!

I don't always: Take compliments very well. I usually have an excuse of why what someone comliments me on isn't true. I should work on this. So, if you see me, compliment me on something, and I will take it with simple gratitude.

I argue: Rarely. "Peacemaker" is my middle name. But I do like to argue with stupid people on tv...probably since they won't fight back!

I write: Because I love it...not because I'm good at it. I just love to do it!

I win: At cards. Sometimes by luck, sometimes by cheating.

I lose: Weight rarely. But I must be the same size as the average American woman, because when I go shopping, she has already purchased everything decent and good in my size.

I wish: Everyone in my life was as happy as they could possibly be, and that all of their dreams would come true. Maybe I will tell them to wish upon a star!

I listen: To all kinds of music. Depending on my mood, there's something out there to fit it, and I can probably find a copy of it to listen to.

I don't understand: The stock market. That's why I have Phillip around. Truthfully, right now, I'm glad I don't have to understand it. If I have questions my husband can't answer, (Which, by the way, is NEVER!) I can always find what I'm looking for from Suze Orman.

I can usually be found: Doing something for the family...or at the computer...or in the car...or, weather permitting, on my porch!

I need: My throat to stop hurting!

I forget: Confrontations. I am very quick to forgive, and not very easily offended.

I feel happy: Most always...after all, my name is Joy. This blog isn't long enough for everything that makes me happy. Just know that I am...and it's probably partly because of YOU!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lucky Number 7...

Thursday was Eli's 7th birthday. He has been counting down the days on the calendar since about last January. Not just because '7' sounds like a lucky number, but because he knew this was the year for a 'friend' birthday. Before I proceed, may I just state, that, for the record, 'friend' birthday years really STRESS me out. I can't just invite a few kids over for cake and ice cream and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. It always has to be big and clever and out of this world. Once, when Whitney turned '7' we had a huge surprise party at McDonalds. And when Cassidy turned 4 we had 17 kids from the 'hood over for egg dying, egg hunting, and a pinata, all held in the basement due to a last minute April snow storm. Last time Eli had a 'friend' birthday it was a Scooby Doo mystery event, complete with mummy wrapping, bat-catching, and the great gummy worm jello grab! Do you get the picture? The word SIMPLIFY does not belong in my vocabulary when it comes to birthdays. But I'm getting older, so I figure it's time to get a little wiser. This year, we decided to invite six friends, plus Eli, making it an even 'lucky number 7' in the guest department. We loaded up the car after school and headed to KUNG FU PANDA. Everyone got popcorn, candy, and a drink. We had the theater to ourselves. (I told Cassidy it was every girl's be all alone in a movie theater surrounded by boys! Maybe just not boys in the 'ten and under' age group.) We told jokes out loud before it started, and danced along with the pre-show music. It's great to let loose in a theater when no one else is watching. For me the movie was just FINDING NEMO, but not as bad as SPIRITED AWAY. Of course, the boys LOVED IT. All the way home I was the single female in a car full of male testosterone...arm farting, karate chopping, belching, and the YUSHI finger hold...something from the movie that causes great pain on the part of the receiver. My mind flashed back to days gone by when my parties involved manicures and crafting cute frames with rhinestones and lots of pink fluffy things. I guess I have entered a new dimension in life..."THE SECRET WORLD OF BOYS". It's going to take some getting used to since I'm not quite sure about the body-function noises and the pain-infliction rites of passage. However, knowing how much I enjoy the teenage boys that are frequently guests in my house, I really do have something to look forward to. The other day I used one of them as an example and said, "Eli, Cassidy's friends never burp when they are at our house. They have respect for women." Cassidy's friend smiled at me and said, "Hey, Sister Sorensen, I'm glad to know that at least you've never heard me burp." Then he winked at Eli for a little male-to-male bonding. I'm also pretty sure they both burped when I left the room!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

He Still Sends Me Flowers...

I'm officially a "Silver Anniversary' woman. On October 7th, Phillip and I celebrated 25 years of marriage. I had grand plans of a beautifully written, romantic and praise-worthy salute to my husband, but life just got away from me that week. Luckily, I have a husband who thinks of me even when I'm not at my best. He surprised me with a leisurely lunch at Olive Garden, where we split my favorite...a decadent slice of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. He really does know a way to a woman's heart! When I arrived home, I was greeted by a beautiful bouquet of roses in my favorite shades of fall colors. They made me smile every minute of every day for the rest of the week. The anniversary celebration didn't stop there. Friday we went out to dinner with some good friends where we enjoyed calamari, shrimp cocktails, and almond-crusted halibut. I had needed a few moments away from the hustle and bustle that is my life, and he squeezed them in at just the right times. So, I guess instead of all the beautifully written and romantics praises I had planned, I'll just sum it up like this. He has been steady and sure for 25 years, and I know he will be steady and sure for an eternity more. We balance each other. He's the intellectual; I'm the mindless trivia expert. I remember the names of everyone I've ever met; he keeps me around to remind him of the names of all the people we've ever met. He sits through chick flicks with me; I'll watch sports wtih him. He makes me laugh. And laugh. And laugh. He holds my hand when I'm sick, tucks the covers around me when it's cold, and always kisses me goodnight. We've had a few disagreements over the years, and I'll admit he's usually right, but he still tells everyone I'm the best thing that ever happened to him, and of course, he's right again about that! Together, we have been blessed with the 3 most amazing children on the planet. They have their dad's intellect, their mother's ability to remember names and mindless trivia, and again, their dad's gift of tenderness and compassion. Someone asked me if the 25 years was from more than one marriage. I was proud to tell them that all 25 years had been spent with just one man, my man, my Mr. Phil, the heart of my heart.

To him I say, "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."

Back to bloggin'

I have been SOOO busy lately that I have fallen behind, but tonight I'm going to play catch-up on my blog instead of catch-up on laundry. I hope this doesn't cause too much of a commotion on Monday morning when we're all looking for something to wear...

Monday, October 6, 2008

It was 21 years ago today...

...that something lovely and wonderful entered our lives. We spent many years (impatiently!) awaiting her arrival, and from the moment we first held her in our arms we have been blessed every day by her presence. Happy Birthday Whitney. Here are just 21 reason why we love you! 1. Sisters, Sisters...there were never more devoted sisters. Two girls--different in so many good ways, alike in even better ways. Cassidy has looked up to you with admiration and love for 17 years now, and it has been a beautiful journey to watch the mentor guide her student so gracefully. And don't forget, "Go Go Girls Tip Number #1: Never wear white after Labor Day, unless it is in a pair of Nancy Sinatra boots!'

2. You LOVE to laugh. Your laugh is contagious. It's infectious. If I close my eyes right now, I can hear it ringing through my heart, and it makes me happy!

3. You are the best big sister a brother ever had. From the moment you put out your hand to Eli and he curved his fingers around yours, you have been joined hand and heart. To quote Eli, "I like Whitney because she does things with me, like board games. We eat ice cream together and read the comics. She plays with me and we do Charlie Brown dancing! Good grief! She helps me with stuff, too!"
3. You are the queen of vocab--the word nerd--indeed, the Grammar Goddess and Queen of English. We knew early on that words would be an important part of your life. Afterall, you were only 2 1/2 when you told the neighbors, "I'll have a ham and cheese sandwich, but without the cholesterol, please!" WOW! You're still dazzling us with your command of the English launguage!
4. You are a loyal friend. Never jealous of anyone else's accomplishments, always complimentary, always willing to be there for whoever, whenever, whatever. I notice that you have a special gift of making everyone around you feel like they are the most important person in your life, especially if that someone is an underdog, and needs a little extra TLC!
5. You are a lover of the finer things in life...lilacs in the spring, leaves in the fall, reading Anne of Green Gables on the front porch. Watching the waves crash to the shore, and building a sandcastle on the beach. It's the simple things that make you happy!

6. We share a fear of clowns. Not to sound like a 'circus freak' but we don't like clowns. We think they are creepy. Even though on your 8th birthday you were a guest ringmaster at the Barnum and Bailey Circus with a nice clown, all other clowns are taboo to be around. (Maybe that's why you also don't like mascots at baseball games!)
7. Speaking of are the worlds greatest spectator, and the Olympics most loyal fan. If Michael Phelps had a dollar for every time you thought about him, he wouldn't need that billion dollar endorsement deal he is getting. You also love baseball (the Cubs!), basketball, (March Madness with dad), lacrosse (Johns Hopkins) and of course, tennis (Roger Federer!)

8. You LOVE to learn. I never knew what is was like to raise a genius until you came along. Once you learned to read (Ted and Sally with grandmother) you have absorbed and inhaled everything and anything around you. I think you are a mensa, just like your dad, with a photographic memory. I'm pretty sure you would've been good with the Jeopardy buzzer as well. Only time will tell!

9. You are a well-seasoned world traveler. London, Dublin, Hawaii, St. Louis, Connecticut. I'm pretty sure the next destination you head towards will be one chosen 'especially for you', if you get my drift. I can't wait to watch you open that envelope!

10. You are spiritually wise beyond your years. So many experiences in your short life have helped you to learn to rely on the Lord. You are also very good at learning lessons from the spirit. Your testimony has been strong for years, and you work very hard to strengthen it daily. You have graciously received and served in callings, and will have many more to come in your life time. Thank you for tutoring me in spiritual ways. As I observe the life you live, it makes each of us want to try a little harder to do a little better.
11. Lover of all good books...what can I say? If we start a list now, it will be like the song that never ends. Just know that if there is a good book out there, you have either read it, or will read it, or better yet, write it in a few years. Enough said.
12. Lover of all good music...what can I say? It has been a wonderful 21 years tutoring YOU of all things good in the land of rock-and-roll. When you were little I would sing "Here Comes the Sandman" and "Teddy Bear Picnic" to lull you to sleep. Dad would dance you around the room singing "My Girl" and you would gaze up at him with those big green eyes! Soon we moved onto primary songs, your favorite was "Adam was a Prophet." But the fun really started when you learned all about the Beatles, and the Beach Boys, and the Osmonds, of course! Later still, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. I still think that you and I are the best radio car singers on the only to, best makers of Sonic Car commercials!
13. Lover of all good movies...what can I say? The first movie dad and I ever took you to was GHOSTBUSTERS 2, which may explain the next paragraph, but after that we stuck with Disney Shows for a few years and they never steered us wrong. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Mulan...later Cool Runnings, Remember the Titans and The Rookie. You are a romantic at heart...Return to Me, Sleepless in Seattle, and While You Were Sleeping. You love anything to do with history...Amazing Grace and Glory Road and Miracle and To Kill a Mockingbird. Anything that makes you feel good...That Thing You Do, On the Line, What's Up Doc. Anything old and classic...That Touch of Mink, Charade, High Society, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window. Anything involving superheroes...Batman Begins and Superman Returns. Anything that makes you cry...The Ultimate Gift and Anne of Green Gables. I guess I could keep going, but I won't. You get the picture!
14. Lover of all good foods...what can I say? Popcorn is your absolute favorite, followed closely by shrimp, zuchinni, paella, mushrooms, sausage, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and once in a while, a drink from Sonic to indulge your mother.
15. You can turn the world on with your smile. You can take a nothing day and certainly make it all seem worthwhile!
16. You are brave, like Sheila Rae! It may have only take 17 years to get you on "The Haunted Mansion" ride at Disneyland, but since then your courage has been tested in many ways. Rides at Lagoon, going to college, leaving the country, taking a train ride in Ireland unsupervised, going in a CAVE! When ever you are scared, just put one foot in front of the other and say, "I think I can, I think I can, and you will!"
17. Just like that famous pig, you are H-U-M-B-L-E. You have had many wonderful accomplishments over the years, and they are not mine to brag about, but let me just say, you don't brag about them, either, and that is very admirable. I think you have been blessed because you are humble, and with so many great things in your future, the practice will come in handy! S-A-L-U-T-A-T-I-O-N-S!
18. From Dad: "Reliable, honorable, a person with great integrity." He went on to say that as an employee, there has never been anyone as concientious and accurate at balancing as you. I'm sure if I polled your employers at Gameworld they would state, "If Whitney's working for you, you don't have to worry about sanitation issues or shoplifters!"
19. Great shoe sense--at least in the sneakers category. If there is a pair cool sneakers to be had, you will certainly have them.
20. You were rightly named, because you are, the 'wittiest' person I know. Never in a hurtful or inappropriate manner, but always clever and always funny. We can count on you for humor during car trips, humor during rock-picking and sod-laying, humor during breakfast and humor during dinner. We miss your 'wit' when we don't have it on a daily basis; perhaps it could be bottled into something over-the-counter. I'm sure it would make the world a happier place!
21. WOW! Here we are at 21 and I could keep going for 21 more. But I won't. I will conclude this salute to you by saying, YOU ARE WONDER WOMAN! We have never wondered what you were up to; you were always up to something productive and good. You make us wonder how we could be so lucky to have had the priviledge of raising such an amazing, wonderful, beautiful and brainy girl. No matter what experiences life throws your way, just swing that golden lasso and get busy! We love you and want you to know that we think you are a WONDER-ful WOMAN! May this day be your best yet, and may there be many more just like it over the next 21 years.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blog Stalking...

...not normally a habit of mine, but I did want to HIGHLY recommend a blog I happened upon quite randomly. Addictively, I keep returning, never to be disappointed. It is listed on my sidebar under "Something to Blog About" as 'Normal Mormon Husband'. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a normal mormon husband, or just plain normal husband for that matter, but whoever he is, wherever he is, he is hilarious. Scroll down to his video on the TWILIGHT series, and don't miss his comments on 'The Palin Love Affair". I promise you will be rolling on the floor with laughter. It makes my day, and I hope it makes yours, too!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Politically speaking...

...I just spent the night with Mitt Romney. He was in town for a political rally and I was only 4 rows away from touching him. Almost as close as I was to Three Dog Night, but not quite. Close enough, though, for some sweet photo ops...In the first one, he is pointing right at me and saying, "Joy Sorensen, I wish I had a son for your daughter Whitney to marry." I have titled the second photo, "Mitt's Back" in honor of his pre-announcing that there is a strong possibility he will BE BACK (say it like Arnold) for another political run after the next 4-8 years to come. The third photo...just a nice picture of a very nice man. His smile could melt your heart. I still wish he was going to be my president!

He is so handsome...almost as handsome as my husband, who was right by my side, taking just as many photos on his cell phone. We are like a crazy political stalking duo!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So you think you can dance?

The birthday gift arrived Monday night...and it has been active ever since. Considering I have a minor in dance and was once a member of a college dance team, this has really taken me back to the good old days when I could jump and jive with the best of them. I'm just getting the hang of it, but I have to say, it makes for a fun work out. I'll keep you posted of my progress. Don't be too jealous that I spend my days dancing to "I Want Candy", "Umbrella-ella-ella" and "Don't You Forget About Me". It beats the heck out of laundry, and reminds me that my thighs can still burn with the best of them. Once my leg warmers and leotard arrive I'll make a video for my blog! Now that's something to look forward to! P.S. That bright light on the girl's chest is how my heart feels after I "Bust A Move"...kind of hot and kind of flashy! Take that for what it's worth!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Day the Music Died...

I lost a good friend last night. Wayne Richards, local d.j. and voice of the Melaleuca Freedom Festival Fireworks, passed away in Hawaii. He was snorkeling with his son-in-law and didn't come to the surface. They pulled him to shore, performed cpr, and sent him to the hospital. Unfortunately, they had to put him on life support and last night made the decision to take him off. My heart aches for his family. I hope that is a choice I never have to make. My day has been spent listening to the many tributes that are being paid to him over the airwaves. I can't bring myself to call in...the emotions are too close to the surface. Every song that comes on brings up another memory of Wayne. He was my best friend in the office...we quoted movies to each other, challenged each other to lyric contests, pulled plenty of pranks on co-workers, and went on endless junk food runs. He used my girls in radio ads, and taught me the art of music-mixing. He kept me laughing, and made me feel like I was the most indispensable member of the team. He was a mighty man among many, and will be sorely missed. To his wife, his son, two daughters, two son-laws, and two granddaughters, I send my prayers. He lived his life to the fullest, and we are blessed to have know him.

Dancing Queen...

...Young and sweet, only 17...The dress for Homecoming...we both felt inspi(red) after the dress had been acqui(red) was perfect for Cassidy and fit her like a dream.
The date for Homecoming...also a dream. Cassidy and Jace have been good friends for a long time, and have dated several times, but it was her dream to go to a dance with him, so of course she was on cloud nine. In case you are wondering about the white tux, apparently they are 'tight', 'da bomb' and what 'everyone who is anyone' is wearing to formal dances these days. When I first heard he was wearing a white tux two thoughts came to mind: One was 'temple worker'; the other was 'pimp'. Not to worry, it looked great! Whitney's only comment was, "John Travolta called. He wants his suit back!" We all had a good laugh over that one!
It had been raining all day on their picnic, so I was inspi(red) at the last moment to send an umbrella to the dance. But first, a perfect photo op! This is one of my all-time favorites!

Her corsage was so pretty...not just your standard roses, but a lovely Calla lily. Sweet!

My favorite part of dances is when she comes home and we stay up all night (morning) talking! Imagine looking so bright-eyed at 1:30 in the morning. It must come from being young and sweet and only 17! "She can dance, she can jive, havin' the time of her life."

Happy Birthday to Me...

...46 candles and counting...I think Eli is more excited than I am...he told me "Happy Early Birthday" last night before bed...and "Happy Birthday, Mom" about twenty more times this morning before school...I'm pretty sure he has a clue as what my gift is, and I'm guessing 'wii' will all be happy to have it in our home!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you when the world stopped turning...

...on that September day? Each September 11th for the last 7 years I have taken a few moments to reflect back upon what I was doing the moment those planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Today will be no different. I will still remember what happened that day, and how it has affected me and my family.

I had just sent the girls out the door to catch their buses, and I was sitting down to watch Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. They say no news is good news, but that morning the news they were reporting was anything but good. Images of a building being hit by a plane are still fresh in my mind. It seemed like a freak accident, freakier still when it happened again. Suddenly, everything I knew to be safe and free was being threatened by an unknown and evil force. I didn't want to keep watching, but I knew I couldn't stop. I wondered if my girls would find out about it at school, and I was fearful for their reactions. Would they be frightened like I was, or were they too young to fully understand what I didn't even understand myself. The next moment that I will relive again and again in years to come was Katie Couric on the air with someone in the Pentagon when it was attacked. It was then I knew that this terrible thing was not going away. I felt cold fear in my heart for a future where our freedoms would be tested. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, joyfully anticipating the birth of a son, one who would now be coming into a world where peace had been taken away. I quietly turned off the tv, and said a silent prayer to the one person who I knew could take away my fears. Would I someday have to send this unborn boy off to fight for the freedoms that he didn't even know about? Could I do it? Could he? I have had uncles and cousins and friends and father-in-laws go to war. Some of them came back; some didn't. Was this the life my son was coming into the world for? I can't answer that question yet; but I do know that on that day a calm assurance came to me that my son would be protected, and that he would be prepared in life to do whatever he was asked to do. Perhaps he will have to serve his country; I'm preparing him to serve his God. From the moment he was born I have instilled in him a love for this country and the precious freedoms that belong to us. I hope he will always remember what a privilege it is to live here, in the land of the free and the brave. I have never been prouder to fly my flag than on that day. Today, as I drove to work there were flags everywhere, symbolizing that we haven't forgotten that not-so- long ago day. Images of mothers who lost husbands, and children who lost fathers, and husbands who lost wives, and parents who lost children will be forever embedded in my heart. I still have a bad habit now of turning on the tv each morning to make sure my world is safe. I hope I never have to see something like that happening again. I salute all those who lost loved ones on 9-11, and subsequently in any and all conflicts which have been fought to preserve this country for me and my posterity. Take a minute today and reflect upon your blessings from living in America. It's well worth your time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

I have a new assignment in my stake. Once every 14 months I am in charge of cooking and supervising the soup kitchen in our city. I have volunteered at the soup kitchen since we moved here 10 years ago, and I love working there, so I have been excited for September to come. On Tuesday we served chili dogs, salad, and cake to 120 people. Today, we made a beef vegetable soup, with fruit cocktail and a roll on the side, plus cake for those who wanted it. At the end of the day, the number of patrons who walked through our door was 97, including several children. In the past we have usually served about 60 people, and since it is the first part of the month that number often goes down by about 20 people. I think it is a sign of the times of how bad our economy is getting when the number of people we feed doubles. Sadly, today, I fed 2 sisters who I knew from my hometown. They didn't recognize me, but it made my heart skip a beat as I realized hunger and homelessness can affect anyone. It is hard work while we are there. After cooking all morning, I washed dishes for the entire 2 hours that we were serving food. However, lest you think I am complaining, think again. My experiences at the soup kitchen leave me feeling extremely grateful for how blessed most of us are. I always know where my next meal is coming from, even if it is only grilled cheese sandwiches. I know that my children will never go hungry, and that we will always have a roof over our heads and a warm bed to sleep in at night. I am grateful for these reminders in my life that even if the house isn't always clean, it's a house, and even though the grocery prices are steadily rising, at least I have money to buy groceries. Perhaps it is why I have one of my favorite scriptures form the Book of Mormon on my wall. It keeps things in perspective when I forget how blessed I am.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"She's Leaving Home"...

Yesterday we headed to Utah to drop Whitney's stuff off at BYU. After a whirlwind unpacking in the new apartment, and a quick hello to a few new roommates it was off to Heber for Trevor and Megan's wedding reception. The yard was beautifully decorated and everything was just lovely, including the two 'hotties' scooping ice cream. This morning we made the drive back down Provo Canyon to really leave Whitney in Provo. Two years ago when I did this, only Eli and I made the trip. I was doing great with the whole situation, or so I thought. We had an ice cream cone at The Creamery and then walked her back to her dorm. The image of Eli trying so hard to blink back his tears is forever embedded on my heart. As Whitney and I hugged just 'one more time' we agreed not to cry and not to say goodbye, but just 'I'll see you soon.' I had been praying for months for courage and strength to be able to let her go, and I can honestly say those prayers were answered for several days. I experienced a calm reassurance that she was where she wanted to be, where she was supposed to be, and where she needed to be. I was fine for about 2 days until I went into her room the first time she wasn't there. Then it hit me. She was gone. I think I stopped breathing. It felt like forever, just standing there, taking it all in. No more sound of her laughter, no more scent of Jasmine, no more 'wits from Whit', no more JEOPARDY challenges, and no more 'goodnight, mom, I love you'. The days went by quickly, and I found that taking deep breaths made it all okay. I came to look forward to her e-mails, and I could still hear the laughter in her voice when she called. Dropping her off last year was a bit easier, but Eli still blinked back those tears for a few miles after we left. This year we had the whole family, so it was a bit different. I asked Eli if he had anything to say to her before we left. "Nope. Just goodbye." No more tears this year. Maybe third time's a charm. It was a bit hard on Cassidy, their last hug was a little longer,but they left each other with a smile. Dad's hug was big and friendly, mine a little bit gentler, but again, no tears, and just an "I love you...we'll see you soon!" Some days I miss her like crazy, but on days like today, I am grateful to know that she is once again, where she wants to be, where she is supposed to be, and where she needs to be. It doesn't get much better than that!

The most 'bang' for your buck!

After having really long hair for almost 5 years, and no bangs for even longer, Whitney took the plunge a few days ago and got a 'new do.' I love the new highlights/lowlights, and the bangs really brighten up her face. All I've got to say now is, 'Girl, you look rockin' hot!' This is definitely NOT a bad hair day for her! I wish her many more good ones to come!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is Larry Boy a Cucumber?

Before you start thinking I endorse "Veggie Tales" as an interesting title for a blog, let me speak: I needed a clever way to lead into my food favorite of the day, fresh cucumbers from my garden. Today I ate 2, yes count them, 2 all by myself and I didn't even share. Next to tomatoes, cucumbers are the reason I let Phillip grow me a garden. I love them plain, with pepper and salt, sliced, chopped and combined with tomatoes and red onion for a fresh and calorie-free relish that's great on hamburgers and hot dogs, or marinated in rice wine vinegar. Here's my all-time to-die for cucumber recipe: Thinly slice about 8-10 cucumbers, (About the thickness of paper) toss with rice wine vinegar and add imitation crab flakes and sesame seeds. It's to die for!

Monday, August 25, 2008

On the first day...of the first grade...

It has finally final baby is starting first grade, my second baby is a senior, and my first baby (who I'll blog/brag about later!) is a junior in college. Eli went to bed last night at 9:00. We all followed about 10:30. By 10:35 I was fast asleep. That is until I was awakened from a deep sleep by a flashing light show in my hallway. I went to investigate. There was my wide-awake, bright-eyed boy, turning the lights on and off, on and off, on and off. "What the heck are you doing?" "Getting your attention. I can't sleep! I'm too excited!" So, on the first night before the first day of first grade, he slept on our floor. The photo speaks for itself!

Cassidy, on the other hand, went to bed late, got up at 7:00, and was still 'primping' (her dad's word, not mine!)at 8:00 when it was time to go! Finally, Whitney, who didn't have to go anywhere early this morning (college student advantage) yells, "We know your hair looks perfect, so go already!" And thus we begin another school year. I don't know what I would do without the mad rushes out the door, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the ticking of the clock wondering how they are doing and the thrill of seeing them come back through the door on their first day of school! I've loved it now for 15 years and I'm glad we will be doing it for a few more! Part of the excitement of seeing Eli come through the front door today involved him lifting up his arm to get something out of his backpack. Am I still the coolest mom on the planet? I don't think so! Note to off the tags BEFORE you send them out the door!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saying something stupid...

I have a secret addiction. I hate to admit it, but since we got satellite tv I have re-visited the life of "John and Kate Plus Eight." If you're not familiar with their reality show, she had twins, then sextuplets, and their life is utter chaos. I LOVE IT! She and her husband banter and argue and make up and fight again, the kids are normal and healthy and happy and bratty and brilliant, and it just makes me smile. (Probably because I don't have 8 children, but that's a blog for another day!) Anyway, I was watching the show for a few minutes with Whitney this morning (alright, it was a whole hour!) and I made the following remark, "I'm thinking of those 3 twins from SAVED BY THE BELL!" Whitney starts to laugh and I look at her blankly and say, "What?" She replies, "Mom, listen to this sentence. 'I'm thinking of the THREE TWINS!' What's wrong with this picture?" We both had a good laugh over my conflicting sentence. I guess I am destined to go through life knowing that my language skills will always need improvement, and that my own personal grammer goddess, the Queen of English, will be there to guide me right back to where I should be! ***Side note back to the previous blog: I think tomatoes contain lycopene, which is supposed to be really good for your health in so many ways, including preventing cancer and boosting your brain skills. So, in defense of my "Miley-like" three twins comments, I'm sure I'll sound a lot more intellectual in a few weeks when my lycopene levels are back to normal!