Seasonal

I screw up. You screw up.

Change starts with one person at a time. Steve Harvey did a fantastic job of owning his mistake and apologizing recently at the Miss Universe pageant. He even made millions of people laugh when he showed he can laugh at himself.  And his wife did a great job of showing her unconditional support. If the ripple effect takes control, then before you know it, we can all live in a better world where we support each other instead of killing each other emotionally.

steve

On Christmas he posted this pic with the caption “Merry Easter y’all”  on his facebook and twitter. Class act!

Steve Harvey screws up. I screw up. You screw up. Everyone screws up. The screw up doesn’t matter as much as if we are able to identify it, apologize, and better ourselves.

The following is my Christmas story this year.

Here’s a screw up of mine at FedEx a few weeks back.

school of ex

You see, the clerk didn’t have the best customer service skills, and I reacted harshly when she told me I was forced to pay $5 for a shipping box because the one I brought didn’t have the FedEx logo on it. I was trying to ship back a textbook I had rented, and there was no way I was paying $5 for a box when mine would work perfectly fine. I insolently told her how I felt: I would go to UPS because I wasn’t paying $5 for a box!  Then I stormed out.

I drove home to print the shipping label as I realized after-the-initial-trip that with the preprinted label the textbook company would foot for the shipping cost. As I drove home with full intentions of taking my business to UPS I evaluated my impatience and realized what I needed to do to make it right. Maybe because I was so abrupt I didn’t allow her to explain correctly? Maybe it would actually cost $5 for the box and the shipping? I printed the label and stopped at Chickfila and bought a $5 giftcard.

When I got back to FedEx the original clerk was busy with another customer. Another employee came to help. I showed him the box and the label. He explained that FedEx could ship my shoebox, but it couldn’t guarantee its safe arrival. It did indeed cost $5 to buy the box and have it packaged by them for total assurance. I explained I didn’t want to spend $5 on a box and we evaluated my other options. I decided to go home and get a box other than a shoebox. But, yes, the first clerk had been wrong about the FedEx logo necessity. Maybe if I would have let her properly explain I would have saved myself a trip. Or maybe not because she seemed to be learning this for the first time as I did.

Before I left I went up to the original clerk and apologized explaining, “I was rude to you, I’m sorry. I got this for you, so you will know of my remorse for acting impolitely.” She said, “It was fine.” I continued, “It wasn’t fine. I jumped to conclusions and was aggressive and these are things I am trying to work on personally, so I thought if I bought you lunch it would help me remember how I should act next time.” She took the giftcard and thanked me. All three Fedex employees were staring at me in disbelief.

I went home for the right kind of box, and returned to FedEx towing along for the third time my 37 pound one-year-old who was now ready for a nap. I grabbed a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups at home for the second customer service rep. that was truly helpful, and thanked him profusely for his patience and competance as I handed him the candy and the correctly packaged book with the shipping label. While he handed me back my tracking information I realized that it had taken me all morning, but I ended up not spending a dime at FedEx.

Unless, of course, you count the gallon of gas, the $5 giftcard, and the bag of Reese’s Cups.

Lesson learned. I laughed at myself the remainder of the day, and when my husband got home from work and I told him of my whole morning spent going back and forth to FedEx he laughed too.

The thing is this….we’ve learned a lot in therapy. He gets what I was trying to do. Be a better person. He  knows that I’ve learned that I am aggressive. I’ve learned that I am abrupt, and that those behaviors are keeping me from having the relationships I want with others. I am actively trying to change my bad behaviors.  It’s hard to do. Old dogs like old bones, not new tricks.

However, we both understand, also, that no one is perfect. All we can hope for is improvement. All we can give is effort. We should be patient with ourselves and others. When we openly work on our stuff (like I did at FedEx) other people might be inspired to openly work on theirs. They may not work on their stuff because “working on stuff” has never been demonstrated. They may have never “worked  on their stuff” because everyone around them is either in denial of their own stuff or critical and not allowing room for work.

So, even though I have a great desire for altruistic behavior all of the time, my actions fall short. Often. I am no saint. But, I still can be someone else’s inspiration when I say I’m sorry. I screwed up. And so can you.

And change is a beautiful message to ponder this Christmas season.

What screw up are you ready and willing to fix?

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Egg-xactly. That tradition is so Egregious!

Egregious adj. – Conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible

So, you mean to tell me that every year you oblige your kids in the traditional Easter egg hunt? And you don’t feel completely insane while at it?  Personally, I feel outrageously bad and reprehensible before, after, and during participation.
eggxactly

Why? I’ll tell you why.

First, let’s review the steps of easter egg huntery:

1- Gather your very large bin of plastic eggs you store for annual insanity. (If you aren’t as prepared, you will be forced to your local Walmart where you’ll fork over a minimum of $20.)

2- Prepare the candy. (We do that by taking our twelve bags of variety and dumping them into a pile and mixing them together on the living room floor.)

3- Fill the eggs.

4- Hide the eggs.

5- Find the eggs.

Now, this is where it really starts to get to you. You must sit patiently with a smile on your face, as to not ruin the tradition’s fun for your children. Just look happy as you watch the kids do #’s 1-3 in reverse order.

6- Dump out all candy from the eggs, back to a pile on the floor.

7- Reorganize the candy back into it’s original sorting so that you can literally place it back in the bags from where it came.

8- Take the refilled storage bin of empty Easter eggs back down to the basement for next year.

I’ve been obliging my family for fifteen years with Easter egg witchery. I’ve implemented every way around the frustration. I started with saving the eggs from year to year so I didn’t have to purchase them over and over again. (You’re welcome Mother Earth.) I advanced to requiring the children to do the work….more every year. Fifteen years ago they just had to do the finding. A decade ago, I started making them fill. (I kindly informed them there would be no finding without filling.) Five years later, they had to start hiding the eggs too. This year all I hoped to do was buy the candy. I tried to get them to do the whole thing without me, but they guilted me into believing that a mom’s participation is essential for the fun.

I snapped.  I’m so ashamed. I started screaming, “WHY? WHY do we do this every year? Just eat the candy! Just eat the candy!” Tears started streaming down my face. My maniacal laughter must have startled them, but children…they just can’t see the error. It’s like their corneas have been rainbowed over with egg-dye and bunny candy poop. They were in a trance just going through the motions like an Energizer bunny with faulty programming. I tried waving my hand in front of their eyes, they just held their arms out stiff in front at 90 degrees and mumbled, “We must get Easter candy.”

This is my plea to the American public. We must find an immunization for this nonsense. And we must do it before next Easter. Please help me! We can’t all convert to Judaism, even though they are obviously the most sensible of the religions.

Maybe my parent’s solution can help you start thinking outside the egg. They just opened the bags of candy and threw them around the house and called it good bucking the eggs all together. Easter morning, their seven children would scramble like starving field-working immigrant children experiencing their first pinata. We never even knew to complain, we didn’t know any different. I think by keeping the plastic eggs out of the house they saved us from the trance all together. My only regret is that even though we lived in Southern California with perfect Easter weather, we only celebrated outdoors once. You see, we all learned the hard way that this method didn’t really work outside. When attempted, the morning dew sogged up every last piece (especially the chocolate) leaving me traumatized for life.

Although, I’m telling you, I would take eternally sogged up candy over one more year of the dark side. We must stop the madness. I’m afraid next year I might need a straight jacket. Maybe I can just start sporting one so my kids will see that my hands are tied?

My only consolence is at least I don’t live in Germany where I would be expected to hang 10,000 eggs from a tree.

Just say no to mom jousting.

I recently read this blog post
after it was shared several times
by my friends on facebook.
Rage Against the minivan wrote it.
Can I rage against the minivan too
even if I drive one?

This is my two cents today.
Parents don’t have to tell other parents
what to do or not to do.
Parents have to grow a backbone
and tell their kids to NOT expect something
just because other kids have it.
This is the problem with our society in general.
Parents are all competing
instead of supporting each other.

Sometimes (actually all the time)
we just need to check out of the
Mormon mommy blogger culture.

“Oh, you throw huge themed parties for your kids,
well my kids must have that too.”

You read 10 books every night.
You always have ironed clothes.
You have sterile bathrooms.
All your clothes are from Matilda Jane.
You have an elf on the shelf.
You have a 5 course meal every night?
Your kids are each in a music lesson, a sport, and a cultural extra-curricular…
and you have 10 boys and 5 girls?
You have a leprechaun that shows up for Christmas?

Do you see how it can become a really huge problem
when you try to do everything like everyone else?

No. No. No.
That’s all it takes.

And guess what?
Your kids don’t care.

Or they may care
and then when you say no
they’ll figure it out for themselves.

Case in point.

This is Bella
pretending to be
a leprechaun
for Saint Patrick’s Day.
She thought that
Caroline deserved some fun
that we didn’t want to provide.

Bend Out of Shape

I have this great friend 
Lynnae Boyer Weller.
She owns a little business called
Savannah Balloons.
You can learn more about her through her 
Her balloon skills are awesome.
Here is her version of
Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I love it when people
can make our world
a better place
with their
amazing
artistic
abilities.
I wish I had more artistic abilities.
I plan to read
to explore
if there is something
I have been missing.

Remember I blogged about Lynnae’s mom here.
I miss her mom,
she always made me smile.
I hope you all have a great green weekend.
I plan to make some shamrock
clean house,
squeeze in a date with my hubby,
and enjoy
every last minute
or our last lazy Saturday
before Spring sports begin.
I wish you all the
luck of the Irish.
And just so you know
if you google
funny + st patricks day
you are going to
see a lot of stuff about beer
and even some naked redheads.

Romance for Poor People

LBJ and LadyBird courted over 90 love letters
and we can read them online here.
I know what I will be doing all afternoon:
reading real romance for free.
The love letters are
living proof
that you can have romance
at the price of a few stamps.

LG and I have an honorary membership in
America’s newest poor class.

The middle class is taking some serious hits.
Add in four kids to the mix,
and it was time for a frugal
Valentine’s Day.
LG and I started a new Valentine’s tradition.
We each got $10 to spend on each other
at our favorite local Dollar Tree.
I made up a package called “Dreams come true” for LG.
I used some of his favorite things
and added in some dream hearts explaining.
– He loves lemon juice in his water. 
   (I wish I could make all your lemons into lemonade)
– A toy stuff basketball 
  (I wish I was always your soft place to land)
– Toy airplanes
   (I wish I could take you on a getaway)
– His favorite gel pens 
  (I wish I could do all your work for you)
– Sugar-free candy for the diabetic 
  (I wish you could eat as much sugar as you wanted)
– A McDonald’s giftcard for the man 
  who loves breakfast 
  and is married to a lazy breakfast chef.
  (I wish I could hire you a breakfast fairy)
LG wasn’t quite as cutesy, of course,
but it was still so fun to see what he picked out.
He knows me well.
And isn’t that what Valentine’s is about?
thinking of each other
and showing that you know one another
better than anyone else.
I feel loved
just knowing
that LG knows me.

I’m a huge believer that gifts don’t have to cost a lot of money.

My dad talked at my Grandma Dorothy’s funeral
about how she would always pick up little things
here and there and the five and dime to show
that she loved you.
One of his favorite gifts:
a portable toothpick holder.
That is one of the things he remembered
most at her funeral.

I love Valentine’s Day. It may be my favorite.
I also love the love language of gift-giving.
I look forward to all of our future
Dollar Tree romances.

And for the record,
last night we got a tray of
chicken nuggets from
Chik-fil-a
wrote off all the evening
activities
and sat home as a family
and watched
Pirates of the Caribbean.
It was pure bliss.

Utah style Sugar Cookies

Here is my Valentine’s gift
to the rest of you
that I don’t sleep with.
I wish I could send you a warm cookie
through my Ethernet cable,
but since we haven’t figured that one out yet,
I’ll give you my recipe.

I call these 
Loralee’s Sugar Cookies
(I got the recipe from my boss
twenty years ago
Her name was Loralee.
Go figure.)
This recipe makes about 60 medium size cookies
so be sure you have some plates ready to share
with neighbors
or make them on the day you are running a marathon.
1 1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
6 tsp. baking powder
Cream together the shortening and sugar.
Add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
Sift in the flour, salt, and baking powder at the same time
Mix.
The real trick with these is to let them be a little sticky.
Don’t think you need to add more flour.
Refrigerate the dough for about an hour.
Then the next trick is to roll them out thin.
No more than 1/4″ thick,
like pie dough.
They will puff up a bit
in the oven.
Bake at 350 degrees
on the middle rack.
for 8-10 minutes.
In my current oven 9 minutes 
was the magic number.
Let cool.
Frost with 
Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter – partially melted
4 – 5 cups powdered sugar
2.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons of milk or cream
(for you cheapos out there
like my mom,
you have to buy the real vanilla
and the real butter
it makes all the difference
I get mine at Costco)

Enjoy.

2CUL Craft

Somehow I always get stuck
with doing the crafts for
the kids’ school parties.
All the other moms are
too afraid.
So here is what we are
doing for Valentines
this year.
And this crafty-challenged
lady
has made a tutorial
for you and yours
with all my V-day love.
1 – Use graph paper
to make block letter
2- Cut out

3 – Apply glue on graph side.

3- Stick onto sandpaper
from right to left.
Remember it will iron on
like a mirror image.
(That’s why you glue on the right side)

4 – Outline well with crayon.

5 – Color in rest of sandpaper.
(I plan to actually have hearts
but this was the scrap I used
today for the prototype)

6 – Heat up iron to cotton/dry setting.

7 – Cut out a square of an old white sheet.
(600 threadcount egyptian cotton
 is optional but soooo soft)
I happened to have a perfectly great
topsheet leftover
from our tragic “ruined by talon toes”
sheet set
shown here on instagram.
7 – Sew up the 2 cut sides.
I will use the already folded over side
for the yarn-tie.
(Use a sewing machine if you want)

8 – This is what I did to make it go faster
(I hear you screaming you seamstress people)
I actually may just use fabric glue at school.

9 – Safety pin your yarn.
10 – Lead it through the fold.

11 – Tie big knots on each end.
(So they won’t ravel or go back into fold)

12 – Place sandpaper on finished bag
that I turned inside out from stitching.
(Hopefully you guys are smart enough 
to understand that part)

13 – Turn sandpaper crayon side
 onto the fabric.
Cover with parchment paper or a tea towel.
14 – Iron (moving iron in circles)
for about 30 seconds.

Wa-la
Inspiration for this craft
came from alphamom.
Like I said above,
I plan to make them actual hearts
and either pre-make the bags
or have the kids glue them
(because of school time limits)
or do t-shirts
or just make the
sandpaper cut-outs
and send
iron on instructions home with kids.
Happy V-day
crafting all you cupid moms
who like me
 are suckers for love.
Feel free to leave
all your suggestions for betterment
below in the comments.
I have til Thursday to fine-tune.
Or just tell me how cool I am
because moms need
to love other moms.
And you’re so welcome.
I couldn’t find a single
thing good enough
on my beloved forthekids 
pinterest board
so I had to tweak.
I’m thrilled
with  my mom 
abilities
today.
As you should be too.

Almost Monochromatic

It’s been snowing for
what seems like months.
Today is the second blue sky in
about four weeks.
True story.
Every other day has just been
white everywhere you look.
How my soul loves
the beauty
of a the blue sky
among the
black and white earth.

Winter white.
Everywhere
the eye can see.
The earth
seems
black
under
blanket
after blanket
of
snow.
Dead.
Yet
piercingly
beautiful.
The white
touches the white
part of my soul.
And the black
touches the black.
The complexity
of my emotions
seems to find
a balance
among the
monochromatic
landscape.
The only
colors
that surround
are
black,white, and brown.
And then the clouds lift
and
blue shines through.
Like a breath
of fresh air.
Or water
to the thirsty
Sahara traveler
who reached
her oasis.
There is blue
in my soul too.
And red,
and yellow.
The colors release
to find the sky
and remind me
of my beauty
amidst
the wintery white.

New Year

In Utah,
we’ve had some record colds
for the past week.
I’ve loved all the snow.
I don’t think Olive has though.
Check out her water
frozen over.

We’ve all been enjoying our
Christmas gifts.
Caroline is up to her same antics.
But like her shirt says,
she is the best present ever
so it’s o.k. that
she’s spoiled rotten.
Right?
Notice that Santa
did bring the girl
all she wanted.
Make-up and nail polish.
Sophia finally got a fijit (she’s wanted it for 2 years
and Santa found it on sale at Target for $15.)
Caroline with her make-up case.
 She has carried it around the house with all her treasures.
Bella with her FurReal Pets.
Abigail with her combat boots. Katniss style.
My favorite gift you ask?
It is a 50/50 toss up between
my pizelle maker
that I asked for on pinterest
and
the diamond earrings
that LG
picked out
all by myself.
But my favorite of all was this purse.
I’ve been looking for the perfect purse for 3 years.
LG and I spotted this at TJMaxx a week after Christmas
but it was $100 so I put it back.
LG went back to the store
on his own accord and
surprised me with it for no reason at all
on New Year’s Eve.
He said it is my
“the party is over” purse.
That means I’ll have it to enjoy
when I go back to living on a
non-Christmas bonus budget.
It makes me so happy every time I see it.

I love this photo from Christmas.
Abigail thought that Bella’s present was awesome.
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is
taking the girls to the Dollar Tree and letting them shop.
It always proves to be entertaining.
I justify the expense by only letting them shop
for a select few and by
not doing stockings.

Oh yeah, this post was supposed to be about New Year.
Well, we had a great New Year.
We got to be reunited with our good friends
The Varnon Family
from Knoxville TN.
They were bringing Jordan out
for his first semester of college
and stayed with us a few days.
That’s Jordan.
The kid figured out that he can dominate
at Just Dance4 by only moving his arm.

Yeah, our family room is not made for 13 people,
but cozy is how we prefer to do things around here.
I suck at dancing.
But man I’m looking fit,
even with that layered looking
hanging all out.
Isn’t Caroline the cutest?
She’s a great dancer.
So are all these girls.

Of course we took the obligatory outoftowners
sightseeing trip to
Temple Square.
Here are two of my favorite photos.
I wish I had more time to play with  my camera.

Here are the Varnon’s
in front of the historical
Salt Lake Temple.
And here they are
in the Conference Center.

We stopped in at the church’s
Historical Museum.
They have a pretty great kids’ wing.
LG was pretty sick that day.
What a trooper.

I’m always amazed at how
some of my favorite pictures
are the spontaneous ones.
I sure love these kids.
Oh yeah,
we have rung in the New Year
 with the Varnon’s
every year but 2011 for about 10 years.
We missed our other
partners in crime
The Ryan family.
I am pretty certain
this year was the best.
The photo says it all.

We did some other fun stuff
while the Varnon’s were here.
We went up to see
Bridal Veil Falls.
We saw a funny movie.
(Highly recommend Here Comes the Boom).
We went to BYU.
We checked out Deseret Industries.
And last but certainly not least,
we went sledding.

If you made it this far in the post,
you are our true friends
and you are invited
to come and crash at our house
past the 3 day
fish and family stink
rule
any time.
Happy New Year y’all.
We love you Varnon family.
Hope you still love us
after spending that much time at our house.

All I want for Christmas is books.

I just guest blogged my 2102 Bookbuyer’s guide
here for a great friend, Donna.
(What a great idea! I’ve never done one before.
I do believe Donna started a tradition)

I decided to add my own twist.
I’m adding in a contest here
to compliment the post.
Make sure you enter to win
by matching the books with their categories below.

First a bit about Donna.
You all remember her birthstory here, right?
How could you forget.
Donna has a great new blog called Donna’s Dish.
She is one of the most hilarious people that I know.
I love her dearly.
Serious. I want her for my neighbor in the next life.
We would just laugh through eternity.

Donna is a foodie.
She is pretty good at a lot of stuff.
Fashion, decorating, shoes,
pop-culture, handbags, food, parenting, yoga.
She lives in NEW YORK.
Someday I am going to see her.
Hopefully sooner rather than later.
She WILL take me to every place worth
mentioning to eat as many calories as possible.

She’s not a lame Mormon mommy blogger
who only shows picture of her uber gorgeous kids
or scrapbooking pages.
She’s real and interesting and FUNNY!
I want to be like her when I grow up.
She also will tell you really funny stuff about what
it’s like to be a Mormon and black
and she always references The Cosby’s.
Like I said, you will love her.

For some reason, Donna has come to me to be her book expert.
Head over for my expert opinion. (chuckle chuckle)

I based my list by who you gotta buy for
cause we all know that’s how we do our Christmas shopping.

Before you head over see if you can match the categories with their books.
Match at least three correctly below in the comments and I will enter you to win a free book.
That’s right I will mail it directly to you (if you are my winner) next month.
Contest ends on Christmas.

She Friend (two picks)
Little Girl
Big Girl
Teenage Boy
He Friend
Grandma
Little Boy
Big Boy
Him 
Teenage Girl
Her
Grandpa
The Whole Family


Merry Christmas y’all.
Happy Book giving.