Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where do all the Good Samaritans live?

The saga of the dying van battery continues...Yesterday, when Rich went to check the battery for warranty info, before driving over to buy a new one, he yanked out the hood release. Oops! Then, today when we went to Rancho Cordova to buy Sees Candy, he forgot the lights were on because of the fog. So we ended up with a dead battery again (but fortunately no annoying and unstoppable alarm! Of course, now we also have no power locks, but that's a story for another post.) So there we sat with no way to open the hood and a dead battery. Thankfully, the hood had popped just slightly and we could get it up. Within about 30 seconds, a nice man driving something like an '85 Corolla offered to give us a jump. We were out of there in about 5 minutes. Rancho is on the "bad side" of the tracks around here. Yet the comparison was pretty significant to me. In Folsom, Rich and I sat there for at least 45 minutes last week before we could find someone to give us a jump (and we were loudly, obviously in need of some help, let me tell you!) Despite this, no one noticed and offered. We had to ask around. Yet in Rancho, just about the first guy walking by offered to help. Maybe it's because that guy knew about having a dead battery? In Folsom, everyone drives new cars! Anyway, it's food for thought.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm lovin' this!

Who said that? Do you recognize the movie quote that I used as my title? I will put the answer at the bottom of this post. What I am loving is vacation! Christmas is over and now we get to have some fun without so much work!!

Last night, Rich and I went on a double date to the temple with some friends. After doing an endowment, we did a few sealings (we got to finish up the name we hadn't been able to do the last time, completing the work for my great-grandmother's family.) When we stopped in the office to pick up the names, the temple president's office door was open. He and his wife attend our ward when they are in town. He knows our friends pretty well, so he invited us in to visit. We got to spend 45 minutes in his office.

After we laughed over some fun family memories, he asked us if there was anything we wanted to know about the temple. What would you ask? I thought of some great questions...as I was laying in bed at about 1:30 am! At the time, I just listened as he shared memories of his time as a General Authority. Did you know that President Packer starts all his meetings 15 to 30 minutes early?! We stayed and visited until they were locking the temple doors.

After that, we went back to our friends' house for snacks and visiting. At about 12:20 am, Katie texted Rich. "Did you forget you have children? Eight of them?" Rich texted back, "Who is this?" We finally made our way home at 1 am. That was a 7 hour date--and the babysitting was free!! I won't mention what the house looked like when we got home, but at least some children were asleep.

There are no basketball practices or games. No Tae Kwon Do. No service projects or cleaning the building. We don't have any talks in Primary tomorrow. This morning, we slept in until almost 9 am. We lazed around, finally getting a few chores done after noon. I am only going to do the absolute essential laundry necessary for church.

I like this time off!! I am sure it will be nice to get back to a routine (and some order) after next week, but this vacationing thing isn't so bad if you ignore the mess and just do what you want (like everyone else in the family.)

The quote is Cronk from the Emperor's New Groove.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas memories

Well, Christmas Day is behind us. Here a picture of the living room after most of the wrapping paper was cleaned up. I think this was our best Christmas ever. That's what Beth said, anyway. No one complained or cried or said we got the wrong thing! Jacob, Katie and Daniel each sacrificed some of their own funds (including precious EFY savings) to buy some special things for Rich and I, including a homemade apron for me and pillow case for Rich, soft mint balls and money for a box of Sees Candy. There were dinner leftovers from Christmas Eve. I got new slippers and my own box of Andes mints. What could be better than that?! I just wanted to jot down some Christmas 2008 memories that really make me laugh. If you don't feel like reading them all, at least read #4. It is the funniest and just about our most embarrassing moment ever.

1) I don't know what happened but we really struggled with our Christmas lights this year. I am sure that the neighbors wondered what happened, too. Whenever it would rain, something would short out and half of the lights would turn off. It has been raining a lot, so I think half of our lights were off 75% of the time. When we would go outside and fix the problem by resetting the blown fuse, usually in the middle of the next day, the timer would still be set for the night before. So the rest of the time, those half lights would be on during the day. The other problem is that the wind kept blowing out bits of lights, so that even when it wasn't raining and they were all on, little portions were out here and there, as is visible in the picture below. In addition, we had this rogue strand on the Christmas tree, just along the bottom, that was blinking without a blinker. We could only get it to stop by unplugging the lights (which Anna did over and over anyway just for fun.) I think this is symbolic of our life.
2) Children are very good at guessing gifts at our house. One year, Jacob guessed every single one of his presents. I like surprises, so after that we started a tradition of putting the names of different candy bars rather than children on the presents so they don't know which gifts are for which person. Then, on Christmas morning, the children find out which presents are theirs by which candy bar is in their stocking. This year, Daniel had the candy bars matched up to people by the first day, but we kept telling little Christmas "white lies" to keep him guessing. We really had him curious. One time, we found him laying next to our bed in the dark as we were talking in bed. He said he was waiting to sneak out and look at the presents after we were asleep, but I think it also served as a chance to gather information. We also found a present partly unwrapped. Daniel says he didn't do it. Another time, we found him trying to peek in the wrapping of a new present. You know, typical 12 year old boy stuff. So on Christmas Eve, as we were just ready to head to bed after getting things all set, we hear a noise and find Daniel hiding at the top of the stairs, waiting to take a look at everything after we go to bed. At that point, I laughingly sent him back downstairs, declaring that he better not come back up until morning. But I didn't want to chance it. So we set up a barricade to block the two entrances to the living room. I have recreated them and am including a picture below. They were gone when we got up, but I am not sure if he removed them at night or in the morning. It helped me to sleep a little better, anyway!
3) iPods have been a big item in our home lately and each of the three big kids got iPod accessory items for Christmas. Thanks to this, we opened presents while listening to David Archuleta.

4) Our dishwasher broke just a couple of days before Christmas. Christmas Eve, when we had large group for dinner, we used paper plates but also had quite an assembly line. We washed all of the big dishes in about 15 minutes. I have been threatening not to replace the dishwasher in order to provide more work for our children. They don't like that idea. Here is a picture of Katie washing dishes and Daniel rinsing. You can only Katie's hands and Daniel's head because none of the older children wanted to be caught on camera in their pajamas. We get a new dishwasher on Monday!
4) On December 23, we were out running errands in the Christmas shopping mayhem. We had taken the 15 passenger van with Anna's carseat so that we could bring her along, hoping she would fall asleep. Sure enough, she drifted off within about 15 minutes. At the next stop, Rich waited out in the van, listening to music, while I ran in to the store. What should have been 2 or 3 minutes became 10 or 15 minutes because of the holiday rush. When I came back out, the van battery was dead. The car battery charger in the back was also dead. I didn't have my purse, and Anna had taken Rich's AAA card out of his wallet and lost it. We did not have the AC cord for the plug on the battery charger, so we couldn't take advantage of the outside outlet right near us. Rich's cell phone was dead, but I had mine. So I waited in the warm van and called home for the AAA number as Rich began to look for a shopping Good Samaritan with jumper cables. As I opened the door to give him the number, the van alarm, supposedly disconnected long ago, went off. This alarm sounds like a siren and a video arcade combined. Every time I opened the door, it went off. It must have been triggered 10 times before a kind McDonald's employee came out to give us a jump. Unfortunately, once the battery was recharged, the alarm got new life and began going off over and over. It scared the poor McDonald's employee to death. Rich couldn't find any way to turn it off, and the fuses are extremely hard to reach without tools, so we were forced to drive all the way across town to our car place with the alarm going non-stop. This took about 15 minutes in the holiday traffic. I am sure people wondered what the emergency was. We both kept saying we just needed some lights on top and people would pull over for us. When we arrived at the car shop, the manager greeted us with, "Rich, are you trying to steal that van?" Rich replied, "Just make it stop!" Fortunately, our kind repair man was able to completely disconnect the unit, promising it would never go off again. Anna slept through the whole thing!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Natural Consequences

I love it when natural consequences do my job for me (see my other blog for a confession about my inability to follow through with consequences.) Tonight, we had one such situation. Jacob was about to take a shower when Beth came to the bathroom to ask for her toothbrush. Beth is very feisty, so the boys pay her back by teasing her relentlessly, which really isn't fair since who do you think made her so feisty? But anyway, Jacob had the bathroom door locked and refused, REFUSED, to let her in before he showered. I was in my bedtime exhausted stupor (also see other blog), wanting to shout "Please just let her in! Please just protect my sanity and let her in!" Too tired to even do that, I just sat there and listened as the water turned on for the shower. I sighed. Did I mention that Beth is feisty? Beth didn't sigh. Beth went to find a tool to wiggle the screw just enough to unlock the door! She let herself in three times before she had everything she needed, with Jacob protesting loudly all the while. I love it! That is the epitome of natural consequences, and I didn't have to say one thing. And I bet the next time, Jacob will let Beth in before he gets in the shower!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tree Hunting

Here is a short clip of our family looking for a Christmas tree. I like it because it shows things the way they really are--CRAZY! But, you know, I am so grateful that I get to spend my life taking care of this boisterous, fun crew!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Boys and the nativity

We went to get our Christmas tree this week. I love Christmas trees! We also set up Christmas decorations around the house. Here are some pictures getting the tree. Adam was cold, but we really did have a good time, despite how grumpy some people look.
Here is a picture of the finished living room. Notice two important things. First, there are very few ornaments remaining on the bottom third of the tree. That is because we have a toddler. She takes off anything within her reach, and we put it back up above her head. She also spends a lot of time going behind the tree to plug and unplug the lights.Second, here is a picture of how I found our little children's nativity when I walked in the room the other day. The rocking horse was pulled up to the mantle. Notice the saber-toothed tiger standing over the top of baby Jesus. I assumed Jeffrey had been using Mary, Joseph, the shepherd and the angel as action figures, which he had done before. However, upon investigation, Jacob admitted that he was the guilty party! Of course! Only a testosterone-filled 14 year old boy thinks like this!

Monday, December 8, 2008

'Tis the season

We finally got our Christmas lights up! We were supposed to go get a Christmas tree, but with the Christmas lights still only part-way done and several other projects going (broken two-paned window, new bark for the backyard in the driveway, family coming to plant the front this week, compost needing to be mixed in, etc, etc, etc) we just couldn't begin another project that we couldn't finish. So instead of going out, we stayed in to finish the lights. Katie and Rich were a team in getting this done. I love Christmas lights!

>After getting the lights done, and cleaning up the Christmas-decoration rummaging done by the little children, we ate a quick dinner and proceeded to attempt a family home evening. We decided to read a couple of Christmas stories from this month's Ensign. Unfortunately, after all the "shhhh"ing, Rich and Daniel had to leave for basketball practice in the middle of the first story. (Rich is Daniel's basketball coach this season.) I attempted to read with the rest of the family. These are wonderful real-life accounts about people serving other people during the holidays. The first one is at the end of the December First Presidency Message by President Monson called A Gift of Christmas (you can read it here). You can read the second one, How Could I Help?, here. Anyway, I was thinking we could figure out some way to serve others too. I tried to discuss it as a family. "Can anyone think of something we could do for another family or someone in need?" Silence. One child was busy looking at his brand-new Ipod. "Could we maybe give some gifts to a family in need?" "I'm not giving away any of my gifts!" was the response of one child. Well, I guess we'll work on that.

On Saturday night, we attended the Ward Christmas Party. Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance. We had a yummy ham dinner, and the kids made reindeer crafts with clothespins. Here are some pictures.

Jeffrey wants Star Wars legos from Santa. He helped as we decorated for the party earlier in the day and was especially excited to set up Santa's chair and tree. He was pretty enthusiastic about sitting on Santa's lap this year. Anna, on the other hand, was not so sure.
Josh and Adam are both Santa pros now. In fact, Josh told me he was going to skip the whole talking to Santa thing, but I noticed he made his way up there anyway. Maybe he didn't want to miss out on the candy canes?

This is Katie singing with the Young Women. We had three musical numbers. In addition, Katie had signed Jacob up to perform "Angels We Have Heard on High" with her as a piano/violin duet. When he heard about it, Jacob made it clear that he would not, absolutely, under any circumstances perform at the Ward Party. So that number got cancelled. Maybe next year.

Here is Beth with Santa and preparing to sing in the musical number with the Primary children.
Here are the boys "cleaning up." And Jacob got especially into the reindeer craft.
Finally, here's Anna hiding under the table. Why was she hiding? Maybe she was scared of Jacob's reindeer craft!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I want to go to tithing

This morning, Jeffrey came running in to see me just as I was getting ready to take a shower. He was naked from the waist down. He usually takes off most of his clothes when he goes to the bathroom. So he ran in, obviously coming just from the potty, and shouted, "I want to go to tithing!"

Jeffrey learned about tithing yesterday. I paid the boys to rake up the leaves in the backyard. Jeffrey earned 50 cents. He wanted lots of coins, so he ended up with three dimes, three nickels, and five pennies. Then we explained about tithing and told him he could give his tithing to the Bishop when we go to tithing settlement in a few days. He was not excited to give some of his hard-earned money to the Bishop. This morning, though, Jeffrey had changed his tune. His money had increased to 90 cents, probably by gathering loose change around the house. He was okay with sharing a little money with the Bishop, especially since it was only one dime. Adam pointed out that he only has to pay nine cents, but it's a lot easier to give up one dime instead of a nickel and four pennies when you are three. Now he can't wait to go to "tithing" and see the Bishop. I think we will have him put some clothes on first.

As for the picture, here he is in the clothes he chose to put on while I was showering. These are his swim trunks. Today is a foggy December day. I'll tell you, three is cute!!