Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big and little

One of the things I love about the age span in our family (almost 15 down to almost 18 months) is when big kids play with little ones. Here are some pictures I snapped the last couple of days.
Jacob playing legos with Jeffrey.
And Jacob reading to Anna. So sweet.
Align Center

Monday, January 26, 2009

An uninvited guest

Does anyone know how to get rid of a skunk?

We met some skunks this summer on our camping trip. We forgot to get rid of the garbage bag before dark the first night of our trip, and that was all they needed to invite themselves over every evening about 10 pm. You can't miss that smell. We were happy to bid them farewell at the end of our trip.

Last night, when I went out to close the garage side door and turn off the light, I saw a flash of black accompanied by a high pitched screech speed out the door. So that explains the skunk smell we have noticed in there from time to time. I would include a picture but it didn't stop to pose and I didn't either! By the way, Rich closed the door and shut off the light.

We don't want a pet skunk coming around. Any tips?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I won't miss

Rich went back to work today. To be honest, I wasn't as lonely as I thought I was going to be (but the dog was sure acting up, and Adam broke into tears last night at just the thought of Dad being gone all day.) I think we did more separately than I realized with him in the office watching the stock market and me trying to homeschool three different grade levels. However, last night as I was pondering life without Rich around all the time, I decided to make a list of the things I am not going to miss about him being home to boost my mood when I do feel a little lonely. I could only come up with five.

Rich did most of the grocery shopping for the last eleven months. I loved that! What I didn't love was sending him to the store with a list that included apples, and having him come home with only 6 or 8 in a partially full bag. We have a family of 10 apple-eaters, so you can see the problem. Well, it is only a problem if you don't want to go the grocery store every day. They do that in France, so they wouldn't mind it there. I must admit he has gotten better. He used to bring home 4 apples at a time. When I did the shopping this week, I got a bag of apples full to the brim. Now we might each get one. Another thing I won't miss is having Rich take the messages when I am out. He tries to remember, but with so much on his mind, he rarely passes them along. When he does relay the message, he doesn't always get it right. For instance, when I showed up for my hair appointment last week and the hair dresser was out of town, I found out later that she had called to cancel. Just as I had been ready to head out the door, I had asked if she had called. He looked puzzled, thought a minute while glancing at the computer and then said confidently, "I am pretty sure she said the appointment is a go." He paused, glanced again at the computer screen and then declared, "Yes, she said you are on." I also won't miss having Rich be my alarm clock because, almost every day, he would look at me and decided I needed more sleep. I will miss the sleep but not the lack of schedule! I also won't miss the daily question of who will take Beth to school. Since my "alarm" didn't go off, I was often in my pjs at 9 am. Since Rich was working at home, so was he! Now it will be my choice to be dressed on time or go in my pjs! Finally, I will not miss the emotional ups and downs of following the fickle market. There are very, very few things that make Rich stressed. Losing money is one of them.

I agree, those are a bit of a stretch. And if we suddenly come into money one of these days and Rich can retire early, I will put up with every one of them again! I won't list the things I am going to miss because that gets too mushy. But I will say that I am very grateful that Rich is coming home tonight and tomorrow night and every night next week. For nine years before he left Yahoo, he traveled every week. I sure won't miss that!!

So if you are reading this, Rich, we love you and hope you are having a a great day! See you tonight!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Anna Banana-what a cutie!

First, Anna used Katie's lotion to "wash" her hair. Then she pulled out some of Jeffrey's clothes for Rich to put on her. The following pictures document what she looked like when she was done.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Celebration Dinner

We went out to dinner as a family on Saturday night to celebrate the new job. I was only joking about the good news/bad news thing. We will all miss being together so much and it has been a great year, but we are so happy and grateful that Rich has a new job!!! So we decided to celebrate!
The waitress took this picture. You might notice that my teenagers don't look all that excited to have our family picture taken in IHOP. They might have refused to be in the picture except we had her take it before we had eaten so they didn't really have much choice.
I snuck in a few more pictures--Katie and Anna eating ice; Dad, Anna and Katie; Daniel looking clever--notice all the little children were gone by this point on a bathroom run! The waitress did comment on how well-behaved our children were, but that was also before we had eaten.

So Rich and I were talking the other night about the many blessings that have come this past year because of or related to Rich's job loss. There have been more than I can list here (and probably more than you want to read!) We thought of three more.

1) We learned about not counseling the Lord. Last summer I spent my time declaring that we needed this job or that and announcing that things had to happen this way or that. I would have been pretty discouraged if I would have known ahead of time it would be almost a year before Rich got a job. And yet things have turned out absolutely better than we could have planned. The Lord knew better than we did what was best, and we are now better at saying "Thy will be done."

2) We reigned in our spending. Our life is simpler, we are happy with less, and we have been more accountable this year than ever about our money.

3) We experienced the impatient child syndrome. The impatient child tugs on the mom's shirt saying, "I want this, I want this, I want this, now!" The mom says, "I'm getting there. Please wait." The child is unhappy and frustrated until he gets distracted by something or decides to wait patiently. Suddenly he is more cheerful and when the mom gets to what he wanted, he is happily playing someplace else. Time passes a lot faster when we are happily, patiently waiting for the Father to answer our prayers. Easy to say, much harder to do, but very much a true principle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good news/bad news

Well, we have some good news and we have some bad news. The good news is that Rich found out today he officially has a new job! The bad news is that Rich officially has a new job! ( If you don't know what I am talking about or want more details, see the below post of FAQs.) How on earth am I supposed to go back to life without Dad home to help?! ; )

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FAQs about Rich's employment status

I have had some people ask about Rich's job (or lack thereof). So here is a list of frequently asked questions:

What job did Rich lose exactly?
Way back when we lived on So. Cal, Rich's company was bought by Yahoo. Suddenly, his job was eliminated, so he took a position in international finance. For about seven years, Rich was either traveling all over the world or commuting weekly to the Bay Area. After we moved, he promised me that, at the beginning of 2007 when his stock options became worth less money, he would leave Yahoo and get a job in Sacramento. This proved harder to do than it sounded. First, how do you look for a job in one city when you are rarely there? Also, why leave a great job that pays well?

When did Rich lose his job?
Last February, Rich was laid off. My first reaction was "Yes!" Rich was a little less enthusiastic but we both felt like Heavenly Father was mercifully forcing Rich's hand and allowing him some time to look for a job while he still had a salary. In July, he was hired to a contract position with the DMV, right up until that project was eliminated at the last minute. So he technically lost his job twice in one year. In retrospect, I am sure glad the State of California is not in charge of our paycheck!

Why did Rich lose his job?

A new boss came in that didn't like Rich. So he took advantage of a lay-off to "eliminate his position". Rich likes to think the department has never recovered from the loss. I keep thinking I should send a thank you note.

What has Rich been doing since then?
He has been trading full-time in the stock market, with interviews whenever something interesting comes his way. In addition, he has been acting as part-time Mommy's helper, doing the seminary driving, changing diapers, making lunches, and generally being available whenever I need it. (It's been a great year!)

Hasn't this been stressful?
I would have thought that too, and it has been stressful sometimes. However, our savings, the Yahoo stock options, and stock market earnings have made it so that we miraculously did not have to worry about money. Of course the uncertainty is stressful in and of itself. In February, the first thing we did was read everything we could think of about faith. Those teachings carried us through the most stressful times. Family and friends have fasted and prayed with us, and I know that our faith combined with theirs is why we have been so blessed during this time. Plus, who can really complain when you have Dad home all the time? Sometimes I have worried about when the real trial was going to begin.

Why not just keep day trading?
Well, let's just say that the fall was more lucrative than December and January. We think it is another heavenly push in the direction of getting a full-time job. Rich says maybe he isn't quite as smart as he likes to think!

So what is the new job?
It is for a company called Resources Global (which sounds like more travel, I know, but I have been assured you only travel if you want to. He better not want to!) It is finance related project work for different clients in the Sacramento area. It comes with good benefits and the promise of mild hours. We'll see!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Triumph on Goal #4

Well, we did it! We got to church early enough to get our favorite spot. We even got new shoes for Adam so he didn't have to wear a pair of tennis shoes 1/2 size too big! (Thanks for the reminder emails, Tami!) Just thought I would record our success. One week down, 51 to go!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

On Monday night, we asked the children what they thought we should set as family goals for 2009. Here is what they suggested, on their own:

1. Have another baby (Beth says a girl)
2. Dad get a job
3. Stop fighting so much
4. Get to church earlier on Sunday so we get a soft bench instead of hard chairs

I would like to comment on each of these goals just a bit.

1. Have another baby I am not making any announcements (or promises to the family) here. It just warmed my heart that they would be willing to go through another "mom is sick and all she does is lay around and we do a lot more work" time in order to have another baby. I told them I am enjoying my second month of feeling good and having some energy since weaning Anna and am not ready to give that up. So Jacob said it would be okay if we wait until the beginning of 2010 to have another baby since we don't have any January or February birthdays anyway. Beth said she only wants another baby if it's a girl because boys annoy her.

2. Dad get a job I don't care about the job so much as getting some insurance. Then we can stop paying cash for things such as the $60 it cost to have the doctor re-check the baby's ear infection.

3. Stop fighting so much They set the goal to stop fighting and promptly began a fight. This is like setting a goal to eat less sugar and then pulling out the box of See's Candy!!

4. Get to church earlier Our ward is very crowded. Lately, we arrive for church right on time or a couple of minutes early. Since you can't squeeze 10 people in just anywhere, we end up on the very back row of the breeze-way on the hard chairs. If we could just shave 5 or 10 minutes off our leaving time, we could get there early enough to find a better spot. The big kids each agreed to find a specific little child's shoes on Saturday night, something that will certainly save us at least that much time. I like a goal that we can actually accomplish! So if anyone is reading this, will you please email me on Saturday sometime to remind me to remind the big kids to put out the shoes they were assigned? Then I think it will be a go!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Beth gets Mom and Dad all to herself

After several days of undiagnosed pain, we discovered on New Year's Eve that Beth had an abscessed tooth. She woke up looking like a chipmunk storing up nuts for the winter on one side. This picture is after the swelling had come down quite a bit. Katie and I had to wait for an hour and a half at Walmart to get the right prescription. When we finally made it home, Beth began screaming. She did not want to take any medicine. She meant it, too. We determined pretty quickly that you can't force a six year old to swallow. So we changed strategies, and thus began the long hours of persuasion that have had to take place three times a day to get her to take the medicine. One time yesterday, she finally took the medicine after 48 minutes of coaxing (including two prayers, many snuggles and bribes, and one cup of chocolate milk.) I took all the ornaments off the Christmas tree in the time it took Rich and Katie to convince Beth to take the medicine. Did I mention that each dose of medicine is only one teaspoon? Today has been better. She is taking it in under 3 minutes now. We think the chocolate milk has been the key. Thank goodness for chocolate milk!!

If I am being reflective, times like these are kind of nice in family life. (Rich is wondering what on earth I am talking about at this point?! This has not been nice. This has been painful and tiring for all. But nice? Wait, just hear me out...) It has been nice because we have been able to spend some time giving Beth our undivided attention. Everyone has been more patient and kind to her, and they have left us alone to just give her some special time (possibly because they were worrying we might make them take medicine?) I know for sure she knows that we love her and that she matters to us and that we are here for her when she is having a hard time. Plus, I will tell you what, we have all sure learned a little more patience.

So the lessons in the school of life just keep on coming, even on New Year's Eve. Happy 2009 to all!

Anna Banana strikes again!

There's someone new taking over as family mess-maker. Anna found the Christmas markers that Santa left for some of the children.