Wednesday, December 19, 2012


 As Christmas continues down the path of MORE! MORE! MORE! the Elf on the Shelf has taken a beating on Facebook as the straw that is beating the cheer out of multitudes of mothers across the country.
 I'm not someone who goes all crazy on the little things and Christmas can certainly leave me feeling burnt out and exhausted, but personally, I have had a blast with the Elf. 
 Mostly because my six year old has a laugh that fills my soul all the way too bursting.  And when he finds that silly ol' elf, he laughs and laughs and laughs. 
It was no surprise that it didn't even take a week before the elf didn't move one night.  Luckily the Caboose was able to leave some food for him and he perked right back up.  Phew!
 With everything that has happened in the world this December, it has done ME good to see the giant smile on face of my little boy.
Love that silly ol' elf!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Turkey Day

This Thanksgiving Diamond talked me into running the local Turkey Trot.  This was a serious accomplishment for him because running the Turkey Trot involved:
(1) Running-  I don't like to run.  I will run at the gym because it's good exercise, but I'm counting down the minutes as soon as I step on the treadmill.
(2) Waking Up Early-  I can barely tolerate waking up for school.  On a holiday?  I consider it my God given right to sleep in.  The Turkey Trot had us lining up at 7:45.  Whaaa?
(3) It's a 5K-  Although I have been working out on the treadmill regularly, it's more of a run/walk, with the run being only for about a mile and a half - so a 5K was a stretch for me.  I just knew I would look like an idiot when I had to slow to a walk.  (Which I did.  More than once.)  Several children outran me.  Good times.
(4) It was cold.  I don't do cold - especially in the morning.  On a holiday.
Overall, it was fine enough.  It was a good workout on a day that I ate A LOT.  But, no, I don't see a future of this kind of thing.  Nice try Diamond.

The good news was that all there was a super delicious meal for me later that day.  The better news was that my mom cooked the majority of it.  And she's a good cook.  Like, a really, really good cook. 
After dinner the kids got the idea to perform a Thanksgiving play.  It was, um, creative - and seriously entertaining.  Totally worth the price of admission. 
This Thanksgiving?  I'm particularly thankful for Diamond's job.  With the conservative party voted in last year, there were cuts being made at the federal level and we weren't sure how that would play out in our lives.  I'm also very thankful for the great year the boys have had.  It seems as if BB#1 has really come into his own this last year - it's been so fabulous to watch that.  BB#2 has been finding success in a lot of different arenas and the Caboose has really taken off in his learning.  It's been a great year and I truly feel blessed beyond measure. 

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


A long time ago we started a tradition in our family of taking the boys with us to vote.  It started when Big Boy #1 was very small, and I didn't have many other options, but has evolved into something we all look forward to. 
 I take only one boy each election so we have to rotate years.  After voting we always go get some kind of treat to celebrate.  I let them push the buttons (of course I tell them which buttons to push!) and I try to work in a conversation about civic responsibility, sacrifice and political awareness. 
Normally Diamond doesn't get to take a boy with him - with his work schedule he is usually fighting to just get it done.  But this election Big Boy #1 actually opted to wake up early and go vote with his dad.  How great is that?  A fourteen year old boy who will wake up to vote with his dad. 
I truly feel blessed to live in a country where I can vote, where that voting happens in a safe environment and where I know my vote will count.  It is a blessing and a privilege and I pray my boys will honor that right as much as I do.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

Four years ago I struggled to know who to vote for.  I am a fiscal conservative and a social liberal who stands left of most of my church friends and right of my educational colleagues.  Last time around I opted for a third party candidate since I couldn't, with good conscience, vote for either Obama or McCain.  This time around is a different story.  I am thoroughly convinced of who I want to vote for: Mitt Romney.
I opted against Obama four years ago largely because Obama was an unproven leader.  I have been appalled at the fiscal irresponsibility of the Obama administration.  I fully acknowledge that Obama inherited a mess, but that doesn't give him a pass on what has happened during his term as president.  Obama's crippling debt has the potential to damage the US in lasting and devastating ways and I can't imagine four more years of this kind of spending.  Simultaneously, I am impressed with how Romney has a proven record of fixing financial train wrecks.  He's run effective and efficient businesses and that experience in the "real world" will be a great foundation for the nation.  I am under no illusions that Romney will solve all of our problems, but if anyone can back us away from the financial cliff we are running toward it will be Romney. 
My whole life I have been interested in the political system, but I had never been to a political rally until this past weekend when my dad and I took the two older boys to a Romney rally.  It proved to be both interesting and entertaining.  All the "throw him out!" and "fire Obama" outbursts were amusing to me.  My big motivating drive was that I wanted my boys to see the political process up close.  And maybe there was a little part of me that wanted them to see a dedicated Mormon man succeeding in the political world.  While his faith has nothing to do with my vote, there is definitely a part of me that stands amazed at the prospect of a Mormon president.  I could have never fathomed this as a teenager growing up in New York, where most people though Mormons were some strange cross breed of the Amish and Waco. 
Tomorrow I will take Big Boy #2 with me to the voting booth.  (I LOVE voting, and I always take one of the boys with me on election day - no early voting for me!  Plus, I have to get my sticker - right???)  There certainly are other issues in this election, but the state of the economy and the national debt are at the top of my list, which is why I will be voting Mitt Romney for president.

No matter who wins, I will happily return to Target and Best Buy commercials, a phone that doesn't ring off the hook with political calls, and Sunday dinners where I don't argue with my mom.  (She likes Romney too - but apparently questioning anti-Obama/pro-Romney hype doesn't go over so well).  God bless the USA!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Old is Too Old?

Here's the real question; how old is too old to trick or treat?  My parents didn't particularly like trick or treating to begin with but they were good sports and let us trick or treat until we were twelve.  Although Diamond's parents were more on board with the tradition, they didn't let their kids trick or treat past twelve either.  We decided to make that our rule.  Who really wants the kid trick or treating to be bigger than the person handing them the candy anyway?  Right?

Luckily, Big Boy #2 is eleven and less than 60 inches, so he was clear to go.  He went as "Glow Stick Man", which is basically the easiest costume ever.  Nothing to it but taping glow sticks to his clothes.  Awesome. 
Of course the Caboose has plenty of years left.  Which is good considering all his ideas for costumes.  The Caboose changed his mind a million times before the big day, but eventually settled on doggie.  Not too bad to do this one either.  Just stitched on some white felt to a black sweatsuit.  Add a collar from the dollar store and voila!
Cutest doggie EVER!
The Caboose was 'helping' with his face makeup, smearing it all over.  We went from cute little puppy to hung over old dog.  Not much better than a 5'10 teenager on your porch.  We ended up washing his face and starting from scratch. 
Although his little brothers were happily prepping for a night full of nougat and nuts, Big Boy #1 was staring down a long, empty night.  It can be hard to be the oldest and outgrow fun things years before your siblings.  He had hoped to have some friends over.  It didn't work out.  BB#1 was thoroughly bummed.  When our neighbors came to the house trick or treating I asked their mom her opinion.  She told me she lets her kids out until high school and suggested that BB#1 join with her thirteen year old son.  I caved.  I told him to quickly pull on his referee shirt for his Replacement Ref costume and go. 
It was the right thing to do.  His despondency cleared right up and he had great evening.  I didn't get any pictures of BB#1 in his costume.  Oh well.  I can always take some pictures when he's trick or treating in college...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Eagle Project: Assembly Day

Saturday was the big assembly day for Big Boy #1's Eagle project.  He began this whole process back in May and it was awesome (and a huge relief!) to finally see those benches come to fruition. 
BB#1 spent quite a bit of time preparing for the big day.  He pre-cut all the pieces, printed out pictures and wrote directions for what needed to be done for each step. 
When BB#1 first sent out the email asking people to come help, the first seven or eight responses were no.  A lot of people were out of town for fall break, and there were several other events going on that day.  I started to really panic, thinking no one would come out - the terrible scenario for someone trying to show leadership, with no one to actually lead.  I called Vern and my sister Ginger all stressed out and they both offered to come help.  What a relief!  Although turn out ended up far exceeding expectations, it was such a comfort to know that they had our back. 
 Our worries about low turn out were unfounded.  We actually had 23 people come help!  Yea!
 Our scout troop doesn't have many boys BB#1s age, but there are several boys BB#2s age, and many of those kids came out to support the project.

 Look how everyone is working!  BB#1 really did a great job of organizing all the workers.

 Of course my dad was the hero of the day, really of the whole thing.  My dad worked with BB#1 from the very beginning, helping him design the project, price out supplies, deal with logistics and everything in between.  He was the on site construction engineer and his knowledge and expertise were beyond helpful.  (It's like the Pine Wood Derby on steroids!)

Here is Diamond working with our friend Sean.  Sean served in scouting for the bulk of the last two years, encouraging and developing BB#1.  There are very few people who I think of as highly as Sean.  I have seen how BB#1 just blossomed under his supervision.  When I was feeling overwhelmed and burned out with all the responsibilities our family has been asked to bear, thinking of the whole thing as a swap for my kid to spend time with Sean made it all feel worthwhile. 
BB#1's new friend also joined in and helped out.  Turns out this kid is pretty high quality.  He worked hard, found ways to improve the project and was kind and well mannered throughout.  I will say that BB#1 knows how to pick outstanding people for friends.  (A true answer to my prayers.)
Here is Diamond, my dad, and our friend and home teacher Dave.  Another fabulous man.  Dave has been a great presence in our home and is an example to our family of service and hard work.  I am so blessed to have all these amazing people as a force for good in the life of my son. 
BB#1 planned the assembly to be about three hours, figuring we would finish up what didn't get done after everyone left.  However, with such a great turn out and so many hard workers, all six benches were finished up in just over two hours.  It was a huge success!
Once everything was totally completed we surprised BB#1 with a little commemorative plaque to put on one of the benches.  He was pretty jazzed about it. 
Great job kid!

Donut Delivery

Big Boy #1 selected his eagle project back in May.  He wanted to build benches for his middle school's athletic field.  The only problem was that building benches takes supplies and supplies cost money.
To earn the money for his project, BB#1 came up with the brilliant idea of having families order donuts and chocolate milk or OJ to be delivered to their homes on a Saturday. (No surprise he thought of donuts and chocolate milk - it's his very favorite Saturday morning treat!)  BB#1 sold the idea by saying that "it's kinda like room service!" 
51 dozen donuts can really fill up the back of a Pilot!  Look how thrilled BB#1 is to be surrounded by such yumminess!
One of BB#1's good friends joined our scout troop last year.  He was kind enough to came early and help organize everything for the big day.  Here you can see them loading up the outside fridge with all the chocolate milk and orange juice.
BB#2 was excited to get in on the action and helped tape little thank you notes to the boxes.
BB#1 spent a lot of time organizing routes and times and then had members of the troop deliver the donuts.  Of course there were a couple hiccups (one house was delivered to three times - twice with the wrong order! A couple other families got their donuts two hours late - oops!)  The good news is that the families all know BB#1 and were trying to support him as he learned what is involved in organizing and leading.  I can totally see how the Scouting program is a great place to learn - within the safety of a network that wants to see you succeed.
As a mother it was very satisfying to see my boy work through all of the details and truly show leadership.  Here is BB#1 explaining the route and donut order to one of the boys (OK, to his dad, while the boy ate a donut...)
Turns out that delivering donuts was quite popular.  Although his goal was to raise enough for two benches, BB#1 made enough money to build SIX benches, with money left over to donate some extra directly to the school.  The fund raiser was  huge success and left me feeling incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from the members of our troop and ward.  But for BB#1?  I'm thinking this was the best part:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park

 Last week the boys all had a day off from school.  Diamond opted to take the day off himself and we drove up to enjoy the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. 
Beautiful colors!
We were able to go on a couple hikes, each hike ended at a waterfall.  Stunning!

 It was the middle of elk mating season and we were lucky enough to come across a huge group of elk.  We heard them bugling, saw them running (right by the car!) and were amazed at what we saw.
We also chanced across this mama bear with her baby.  So cool!
It was the perfect day!  Great weather, God's majesty on display and a day with family.  Truly filled me up!