My 3 Monsters: October 2008

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Mural Painting: Day 3

Another day's work. I need to finish outlining the top of the big circle and come up with something to fill in that weird space at the end. I'm tired of this one for now so I also chalked the outline of the pirate's treasure map on that green wall you can just barely see through the window. It's about 40 feet long. On the top 8 feet of a 12 foot wall. That picture wasn't much to look at yet. Check back Saturday for some eye candy of that one.

On a sadder note, my boyfriend has apparently broken up with me. I guess the double rejection yesterday was too much for him. We can't even still be friends. Yesterday he was "stoked" that we would both be working on the Gilbert club, too. Today, I guess, not so much. I wonder what he's going to do about that skate ramp now. Good thing I can come home from a long, hard day's work to my loving husband. Maybe I will get lucky with him. (I like my chances.)


Mural Painting: Day 2

Cell phone: check. Batteries for camera: check. Remember to look at my feet while moving on ladder: check. So, today was a better day.

Top one is the finished half. Bottom is what's up for tomorrow. This is how far 15 hours of painting and 4 hours of travel will get you. Not to brag, but I can't get over myself drawing those amazing circles freehand. The yellow one even wraps a corner, folks. Who designed this crap?!
Anyway, and also not to brag again, but I have a boyfriend. He's laying the tile at the gym. He came to talk to me twice yesterday and four times today. He asked me to lunch. And dinner. He wants me. To paint the skate ramp in his back yard. He even speaks English. So, yeah, I still got it. I spent way too long today trying to get those dumb flames just right. They still aren't, but whatever. When the owner dropped in and LOVED it I moved on. I'm hoping to wrap this one up in the morning and start on some red velvet curtains in the children's viewing room. Painted curtains? It's silly. Whatever. I'm getting paid.


Mural Painting: Day 1

So, today I'm thinking I need to reconsider my latest get-rich-quick scheme.

I was awakened from the most beautiful, restful slumber at 5:15 this morning by some heinous 90's hit song on the radio alarm. At that point I was still excited about the prospect of my day . . . as a PROFESSIONAL mural painter! Got up, dressed, and hit the road at 6:15. Around 7:00 a.m., and north of Glendale on I-17 I needed to pee. Could've waited, really, but remembered I was headed for a CONSTRUCTION SITE. Gag at the idea of using a port-o-potty and pull off at McDonalds. Still excited about the prospect of my day . . . and the coupon for a free breakfast value meal in my purse. I enjoyed my McGriddle as I drove, arrived in Carefree at 7:20-ish, and set to work. I eagerly set up my ladder. My very own, brand new ladder. It is beautiful (and if it's not there tomorrow someone is going to die). I pulled the box of chalk out of my purse and realized I forgot my cell phone. No big, I hope. STILL excited about the prospect of my day, I began drawing my planned design on the wall in chalk. The graffiti design (get the hard stuff over first, right?) which has a couple of large (very large) circles in it. I'm standing on the ladder trying to draw one of these circles while descending step by step to get a smooth, proportioned curve. Ridiculous. I missed a step and fell flat on my back, but not before catching myself (kind-of) with my right hand. So, now my wrist is a teeny bit sore and I'm a little less excited about the prospect of my day, but I'm grateful that no one saw me fall. I climbed back up on that big old ladder (carefully) and worked for what felt like a very short time. I listened to the carpet installers laughing and speaking in Spanish in the next room. I wish I had learned more Spanish in school. I know just enough to get the impression that, at least for a moment, they were talking about me, but I can't tell if I should be flattered or offended. I chuckle at the parade of men who, in the course of their respective projects, stop and watch me work. Unfortunately I think they are mostly admiring my graffiti, not my glutes. Oh, to be young and cute again. Back at BYU these men would have found me irresistible. The Spanish speakers usually did, but I digress. I decided to take a break at what I believed to be 11:30. Ran out to the car to grab a snack and check the time -- 1:15!!! I needed to leave by 2:00 to get home to meet my kids after school. I hurried back inside to wrap up what I was working on, set my ladder in a (hopefully) safe location and got out my camera to take a photo for the blog . . . a work in progress type thing. But the batteries were dead. Just my luck. No more exciting prospects for this day. It's not until I'm driving home and the adrenaline-fuelled working rush wears off that I realize my hand REALLY hurts. From when I fell in the morning. Remember?

And here I sit tonight exhausted, with my sprained wrist all wrapped up, wondering what joys tomorrow will bring. And wondering if this is all going to be worth it in the end. Brent and my checkbook say yes. On a positive note, my mural looks fan-freaking-tastic. I'll post pictures tomorrow.


Nanny, Nanny, Boo, Boo!

Sydney and I saw it first!!! And it was awesome. (I'm not kidding. I really liked it! Impressive choreography. And pecs. Wait, does that make me a pedophile?) Don't be hatin' cuz we roll like rock starzzz!.


I Just Keep Digging . . .

Deeper and deeper. Yesterday as I spoke to the assistant to the owner of the gym again I heard myself saying, "Why don't we do a graffiti style mural in the tween room?" That's what my mouth said. My brain was thinking,"Are white, suburban, MORMON housewives even allowed to paint FAKE graffiti?" Good news! Tom LOVES the concept. I should go with it. Oh, dear. Why do I do this to myself?


All I Want for Christmas* . . .

Oh, to be a kid again. I'd be one happy little 35 year old if Santa left this under my tree in December. Wholly impractical, but thoroughly entertaining. (*Assuming, of course, that I can't have this.)

OK, Maybe Just Older

Today I feel old. And forgetful. The Bradshaws, some of our best married college friends, were in town this week. Sarah called Thursday while I was at my meeting. I got the message, wrote down the phone number and made a mental note to have Brent call that evening because I had lost my voice. The thing about mental notes is, they're easy to lose. I found the phone number when I cleaned off my desk today. Too late. Total bummer. So, I'm asking . . . is THIS what I have to look forward to? And will you all still be my friends??? Especially you, Sarah? I'm so sorry!!!


Older and Wiser

Thanks to all involved in the fantastic birthday weekend I am just finishing up. For those of you in a hurry I will sum it up in 5 words: Taco Nights in Rodanthe. Opa! You may now be excused.

For those of you who find yourself with a little time on your hands, sit. Grab a drink. I'll explain. Our very best friends here in AZ all got together for a "Taco Night" at Mitch and Shiela's Friday night. Tammy brought the most delicious chocolate cake ever and in a few moments of reckless abandon Brent told Jamie to spank him and I told everyone to "Suck it". We're not proud of ourselves. After dinner the boys watched the kids so all us girls could go see Nights in Rodanthe. It was good -- typical Nicholas Sparks. I should have seen the tear jerker ending a mile away, but I didn't. I'm sure the book was better. Aren't they always?

Saturday morning Brent let me sleep in til 9:00. I can't remember the last time I did that, but I've been sick all week and it felt really good. He even got the kids all dressed and ready for their primary program practice and dropped them off after taking Sydney to buy a birthday gift for the party to which she had been invited. ALL ON HIS OWN, PEOPLE! Then, THEN, he spent the lion's share of the day CLEANING MY HOUSE! Because I had mentioned earlier in the week that I would appreciate that more than any other gift. Even the scanner, which will wait until Christmas. Ladies, the line to get a piece of THIS man forms behind ME. It was a typical busy Saturday, but he did take me out for dinner at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant. Delicious. He went all-in for the new experience and ate hummus (even though he hates chick-peas) and lamb souvlaki. Oh my yummy!

So, I am older. Here's the wiser part. I'm not stressing about Halloween costumes this year! Sydney wants to be Hannah Montana. Fantastic. A couple months ago I found a long blond wig on sale for $5.00. The rest can come out of her closet. Done. Dylan wants to be a storm trooper. Fantastic. Brent found a Clone Trooper costume at Target on Saturday for $10.00. Close enough. D's thrilled. I'm done. Riley was going to be the difficult one. He couldn't decide. One day a nerd, the next day a wizard. I was losing my mind. Until he found an old, used Wolf Man costume at the ward costume exchange Saturday and fell in love. Fantastic. $0. I'm done.

Most of you know me well enough to know that in my younger, less wise days I totally revolted against prepackaged costumes. I found them so very offensive. I would have spent four times as much money and several days worth of my precious time sewing a Storm Trooper costume for my son -- with a soft-sculpted helmet -- oh, don't even get me started. (My firm resolve to simplify is wavering.) And a silver lame' dress for the little pop princess. With leggings and knee-high boots -- oh dear. And they would have looked stunning. I would have talked Ri into an equally expensive and difficult to construct costume. No way any kid of mine was going to wear a hand-me-down. How ridiculous I was! (No offense to those of you who are making beautiful costumes for your kids. I'm seething with jealousy on the inside.) This year I just don't have the time. And my kids couldn't care less one way or the other. Halloween will come and go as it always has. The kids will have fun. And I'll enjoy it, too.


Amy Gregson, Mural Artist?

So . . . my meeting today with the owner of the gym was a success. Actually my little sit-down turned into a four hour jaunt up to the new club to look at the location and then lunch. It was good. And I wasn't the least bit panicked about eating in front of these people I don't know. (Thank you, Celexa.) I sealed this deal (in fact, before this meeting which would have been nice to know) and also mostly locked up another project at a new club in Gilbert early next year. Can you say cha-ching! They liked my drawings. ALL my drawings. They were supposed to just pick one theme. I'm going back to the drawing board to try and incorporate aspects of all three ideas into one. It's going to be a huge pirate's treasure map, but within the map I will put more detail in the jungle scenes. I guess. I'll post my drawings as soon as Brent buys me a scanner. (hint, hint, birthday in two days) The only negative today was that my carefully crafted, cuter-than-cute job interview outfit was wasted on everyone. Except the owner's assistant who said, "Oh. I forgot to tell you not to dress up." Oh well.


Hope for the Future

Today I have reason to hope that one day my two boys (born 18 months apart) will not be so fiercely competitive. Or maybe they always will be, but underneath it there is love. And compassion.

This morning we were changing out the insulin in Riley's pump as we have done every two days for the past . . . seems like forever. That means, ugh, another "poke" in his belly. He's brave as all get out, but he likes a hand to hold when it's going in. And guess what. Not mine. He'll holler out, "Dylan! I need you." and his little brother immediately drops what he is doing and comes to take his hand. They don't talk while it's happening. They barely acknowledge each other. Except for their little hands gripping so tightly that the knuckles are white. As soon as the insertion is done and Riley's fear subsides, he loosens his grip and Dylan goes back to whatever was going on before. Not a word spoken between the two of them. But I feel the volumes of love expressed in that little action.

I've seen this scene played out literally hundreds of times. Sometimes I'm the one "poking". Other times not. Today as I sat and watched from a distance as Brent carefully prepared the site and the boys clutched hands -- the three of them in their own little huddle -- I was touched. And I have hope.


I'm Looking Forward to the Company.

I just can't get upset about this "Economic Crisis" everyone is talking about. I try, but I feel nothing. Except maybe a little excited. See, my own personal little economic crisis started a couple of years ago. It's been kind of rough, BUT . . . you know what they say about misery. IT LOVES COMPANY!!! So, to those of you who are newly stressing and feeling the effects I say, Welcome to the clubhouse! Brent and I have even tried to spruce the place up a little. The seats are warm and comfortable once you settle in and get acquainted with the word Budget. It'll be fun. We'll trade coupons and watch each other's kids. Check your credit card and your ego at the door and let's have a little fun! Crisis, Schmisis!


Merry Christmas, Everyone! (Thanks for the idea, Tyra.)

So, I heard this week that Tyra Banks' gift to Miley Cyrus for her 16th birthday was a picture of herself when she was 16. I got to thinking . . . Christmas is indeed coming, and the economy being what it is . . . How old are each of you? And mom, I'm going to need you to send me all of my old school pictures. Thanks a million!


Today I Was a Good Mom.

Other days, well, you read this blog . . . judge for yourself. But today I did good. I had to run out to take a look at a gym up in Scottsdale that is similar to the new one they're building. I invited Sydney to come along for the ride. We chatted. It was lovely. I took her out for a quick, cheap lunch then we went to Lowes to pick up paint chips for my presentation next week. Ross is right across the street and I needed new work pants (holes in the knees -- hazard of the job). We went over and tried on a few things just for fun. Then I needed to stop at Michael's for some vellum, again for my presentation next week. How is it possible that running my errands turned out to be such a pleasant day with my daughter? Hmmmm. If Dylan didn't have a fever of 103 that made us miss a fun evening with our friends, today might have been a perfect day.


Divine, Dahling . . .

OK, one last recipe (for a while). I tried a NEW cake mix Snickerdoodle recipe today. You simply MUST try them.

Cake Mix Snickerdoodles
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 C. sour cream (or cream cheese)
  • cinnamon and sugar

Mix cake mix and sour cream to form dough. Roll heaping spoonfuls of dough in cinnamon & sugar mixture to coat. Bake at 350* for 12 - 15 minutes. (This dough is very moist/gooey if you use sour cream.) Let cool at least 5 minutes on pan before removing to cooling rack.

So delicious.


What. Have. I. Done?!

I got a phone call today. Out of the blue. From the assistant to the OWNER OF THE CHAIN OF GYMS FOR WHICH I WORK. Based on the murals I painted in my club, he (the owner) wants to hire me to design and paint ALL THE MURALS IN A NEW CLUB THEY ARE BUILDING! How have I gotten myself into this? And can you tell these are CAPS of panic and not glee? I have to work on some themes and sketches this weekend and meet with him sometime next week to discuss the project.

Two thoughts: Prayers are answered. So be very careful what you pray for. AND, I may need to double up on my anxiety meds for the next week or so.

Deep breaths.


Does This Look Like a Good Idea to You? OR Why I Will Not Be Showering For the Remainder of Fall Break

OR Thank Heaven For (divine intervention in behalf of the well being of my) Little Boys.

I heard this fantastic idea in the planning stages as I was towelling off after my shower this morning. I'm assuming that you are filling in the blanks here. (See who can jump from the highest step onto the pillows and blankets. Yep.) I hollered out that this should not be happening and went about the business of personal grooming . As if my idle threat to not take them to the emergency room in the event of an injury were some sort of implied permission to continue at their own risk, I was greeted a short while later by the sight of my six year old flying through the air (from the 7th step -- boo yah) and landing on the wood floor just shy of all the padding. But no injury. I love Fall Break. This year we made it to Wednesday morning before my heart momentarily stopped due to a shocking lack of judgement on the part of one of my children. Not bad.


I Need to Brag.

But it's a nerd brag so I can still consider myself humble, right. Many of you know that Brent and I love to do the Sunday crossword puzzles. And that we get multiple copies of the Sunday paper so we can compete and not share. (Really for the coupons, but the not sharing thing has been an unexpected blessing in our marriage.) Well, this past Sunday I completed (as in filled all the squares with real words without cheating) both the NY Times AND the LA Times in less than three hours. Boo Yah!

Don't Be Fooled . . .

. . . by my Sunday dinner confession. I do in fact know how to make a few things from fresh ingredients. In fact, my favorite dinners lately are salads. I swear I'm not just making that up. These are both recipes that I made for the lunch after Ri's baptism and they are delicious. And fresh. Cynthia, the first one is the salad I made when you were here. Enjoy!

Strawberry Spinach Salad


1 lemon
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/3 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. poppy seeds


1/4 C. sliced almonds
8 oz. fresh strawberries
1 med. cucumber
1 small red onion
1 package (6oz) baby spinach

To make dressing, zest lemon to measure 1/2 tsp. zest. Juice lemon to measure 2 Tbsp. juice. Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Toast almonds at 350* for 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Meanwhile, hull and quarter strawberries. Peel and slice cucumber and slice onion thinly. Place spinach in large serving bowl; add strawberries, cucumber and onion. Whisk dressing and pour over salad, gently tossing to coat. Sprinkle with almonds and serve immediately.

Ramen Noodle Chicken Salad

1 pk. ramen noodles, crushed
3 C. cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 head cabbage, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 C. slivered almonds
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/4 C. canola oil
dash of sesame oil
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. pepper
seasoning packet from ramen noodles

Combine cabbage, onion and chicken in large bowl. Add almonds and ramen noodles. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over salad. Mix well. Serve chilled.

Either one is delicious as a meal on its own (maybe with some yummy french bread) or as a side to something else (a grilled chicken breast?). Usually if I put this much thought into a salad it's all my family is going to get. That's how I roll. And I submit the many pictures of my lovely children on this blog as evidence that it's working for us. Have a nice day. Again.


What Should I Make Tonight???

Menu planning is not my strong suit. Actually, nothing about meal prep is especially enjoyable for me lately. I've put off grocery shopping for way too long this week (as usual). Proof: yesterday for dinner we had meatloaf made with the last pound of ground beef in the freezer and boxed mashed potatoes from the back of the pantry (made with powdered milk from our food storage) smothered in beefy onion gravy made from an ancient pack of Lipton soup mix. It was actually quite delicious. But also kind of sad, really. I should be taking better care of this family of mine. So, today I turned over a new leaf. OK, I just stopped at Wal-Mart after work and picked up a few groceries. Baby steps. But I am excited about what's for dinner tonight and, lucky you, I'm gonna' share. It's Family Night tonight so I even planned dessert!

Frito Salad

This is a recipe I inherited from my great friend, Tammy. It sounds a little weird, but don't knock it 'til you try it. It's delicious.

1 lb. ground beef, browned with a chopped onion and drained
1/2 head lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 C. shredded cheese
4 oz. Fritos
8 oz. Dorothy Lynch salad dressing

Preheat oven to 350*. Season beef with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Toss beef with other ingredients in a large bowl. Place in a casserole dish and bake for 10 min. until cheese melts. Yes, you read that right. Bake it, lettuce and all. It's delicious.

Cake Mix Cookies

1 box cake mix (I'm using yellow tonight, but Triple Chocolate Chunk is a family favorite)
1/2 C. oil
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix all ingredients to form dough. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool 5 min. on the pan before removing to cooling rack. When completely cooled, frost with your favorite frosting. (I'm using vanilla with sprinkles.) Yum!
Have a great Family Night, folks!


You Betcha (*wink*)!

Those shoes look red to me! I LOVE the photographer who, in the midst of a history making debate, took this picture. Bless you Reuters!

WILD THING, You Make MY Heart Sing!

Riley was all business once he got into character for the Third Grade production of Where the Wild Things Are on Thursday night. It was very, very cute. Ah! I love that sweet little guy!


Somebody PLEASE Tell Me What to Do!

Show of hands -- who watched the Vice Presidential debate last night? I recorded it because we had Riley's 3rd grade musical last night. (So cute. I'll post about that later.) I'm feeling even more indecisive now than I did after the first Presidential debate. Both sides made good points. Both contradicted one another's statistics enough to make me wonder if anyone ever tells the whole truth in Washington. Sarah Palin did quite a bit better than in her Katie Couric interview. (Yikes!!) I think what is bothering me is that she comes off too folksy for me. And don't get me wrong, I LIKE folksy. It makes her very attractive to me as a person. I can see that she would kick some major butt as PTA president or Relief Society president. I'd enjoy her as a neighbor, I think. Game nights? Forgetaboutit! Too fun. Listening to her talk about her own financial struggles reminded me of myself. But I don't want MYSELF as Vice President of the United States. I make poor financial choices. I get flustered and crack under pressure. I (embarrassingly) can't locate lots of world capitals on on unlabeled globe or name the leader of said country. I would make a pretty crappy VP. For some reason I don't want to be able to relate to my political leaders. I want them to be superior to me in every possible way. Do I think Obama and Biden fit that bill? Not especially either. Thus my indecision.

On a lighter note, I want that suit she wore last night. And were those RED PUMPS she was wearing?! I couldn't tell if they were red or if the red lights were reflecting off of shiny black. Believe me, I rewound and watched again a couple of times to figure it out. Either way, you go Governor Palin! She just sooo doesn't fit the mold of what we have come to expect from women in politics it's a little unsettling. At first. But the look definitely grows on you. Or me. Whatever. She looked fabulous!

Decisions, decisions!


Don't Spend It All in One Place . . .

I got home this morning from dropping Madam Vice President off at her student council meeting and decided to relish in my unearthly silent home on my one day off and sift through my stack of mail. Guess what I found. A big, fat check from the Superior Court of Arizona!!!!! And I thought jury duty was its own reward! Now I have all those happy memories and, AND, $16.02 to show for it. Soooooo . . . How shall I spend my windfall?! I could go get TWO pies. Or half of the pair of cheetah print pumps I was coveting at DSW. Or treat my sweet hunk of man-candy to lunch. Suze Orman would probably tell me to pay down debt. But she would also tell me to not make any rash decisions with it. Maybe I'll sit on it for a day or two and just enjoy my abundance. Ahhhh, I'm sittin' pretty today.


"I'm feeling AWESOME today!"

--Dylan, with a certain "thanks for asking" inflection, in response to my inquiry to Riley who had been ill the night before.

A few things struck me about this quote from my baby. First, I admire the "positivity" and exuberance. I can't remember the last time I would have used that particular word to describe the way I felt at 6:30 in the morning. More than that, though, I admire the way he just assumes everyone is talking to him. It was quite obvious that the idea of me caring about anyone else in our home had not crossed his mind. Or if it had, he surely felt like I would also want input from him. He feels secure in his value to our family and he feels . . . well . . . awesome about it. Good for him! I love to start my day with a good chuckle.

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