My 3 Monsters: November 2008

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Fa La La La La, La La La Laaaaaaa!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly . . .
This is how I spent my weekend. My entire weekend. But it is beautiful (in my humble opinion) and now, save for two or three gifts left to buy and Christmas cards, I can just sit back and enjoy the season. All is calm, all is bright.
Have a holly, jolly Christmas. I surrendered control for a moment and let the kids help hang ornaments. I usually do all the decorating while they are at school to avoid this kind of mish-mash of ornamental chaos. I think they appreciated and enjoyed the gesture.

This is all me, back in control again. No one does the wrapping but me in this house. It's my most favorite part of Christmas. The kids have spent hours already speculating about what could possibly be in all those presents. I'm giddy listening to them. These are a few of my favorite things.

I try to pick up one new nice decoration for the house every year. Maybe by the time we have grand kids my house will really look as beautiful as it does in my Christmas dreams. This year I got this cool stocking rack since we have to put a couch in front of our fireplace in order to get the tree in. I love it. Now that we're all ready, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! (It won't, but we can wish.)
Merry Christmas one and all!

Can you tell we spent the weekend listening to 99.9 KEZ's non-stop holiday music?!


Need a Good Laugh?

Oh my goodness. What a fantastic day. Tammy and I got up at 3:00 a.m. and went Christmas shopping. I'm almost done!!! THEN I checked my lovely friends' blogs and found this. I am still giddy. Everyone should have such a happy day. Seriously. Click the link.


Oh Schicks, That was Good!

We spent our Thanksgiving today with our fabulous friends, Greg and Tammy and their kids. Tammy is a wonderful cook who pulled out all the stops for this feast. I did some baking, but Tammy and Greg did the heavy culinary lifting today. Hello, two turkeys!?! One smoked, one roasted. It was delicious. And it made me so very grateful for friends who have become like an extended family to us here in Arizona. We don't get to travel as much as we would like, so being with real, actual family is a bit of a novelty and there are lots of long, lonely spaces in between those joyous reunions. We've been blessed enough to find a group of people here who fill all those gaps. I've been thinking of this famous quote all day -- "That man is most truly blessed who has his friends." Or maybe it said family. I can't remember. I can't find it online. Blast! Well, I say, "That man is most truly blessed who has good friends and family." And that's us. Happy Thanksgiving!


Trot Out the Turkeys

Today was the annual Turkey Trot at the kids' school. Brent had to work so I got to run with all three of my little monsters. In the rain. You'd think the school would cancel it, but you'd be wrong. I offered to keep the kids home from school and take them out to breakfast, but they weren't having it. We grow 'em tough out here in the desert. First I ran with Riley after warming up to the "Chicken Dance". It was the medium length course. He did fantastic. And we took this picture:

We got done just in time for me to line up and do the chicken dance warm-up with Sis's class. Hers was the long course. She did fantastic. I just barely hung on. Then we took this picture.

I finished with her just in time to line up with D. Another chicken dance and we were off on the short course which didn't really feel very short at the time. He did fantastic and we took this picture.

Then I checked my kids out of school early and we met Brent for lunch. Fun, fun, fun! You gotta' love traditions.


What Do You Do

with a kid who behaves so badly he has to be removed from Family Night and sent to bed? Who then proceeds to sit in the hall at the top of the stairs and throw things down to disrupt the Family Night that is still happening in spite of him, gosh darn it? Who breaks the window next to the front door with one of said projectiles? Deep breath. The tiny little window that we didn't have replaced with the rest of the windows because it was going to cost too much. The tiny little window which will now, right before Christmas, have to be replaced regardless of the expense. What do you do with a kid like that?! Seriously, I'm asking!! We can't make him "pay for it" by doing extra chores. He is already working off the $129 he owes us for breaking Riley's Nintendo DS several months ago. At the rate he's going he should have that debt payed by the time he's my age. And, let's be honest, at some point I'd like him to be able to save up some money and move out of my house. So things stop getting broken.
Serenity now!


Opinions, please. . .

Is this top cute or no? Am I weird for liking it? I got it to wear for our impending family photograph (obviously layered over a baby tee or under a little sweater or both), but Brent HATES it. He usually likes the way I dress and I value his opinion highly because I know he's honest with me. But I can't help thinking he's wrong about this one. Like he's wrong about not liking women with flowers in their hair. (I LOVE that -- I DO that often.) Chime in if you want. I'm keeping it. I'll more than likely wear it in the photo . . . maybe with my pretty black flower hair clip. Oooh! That would be cute.


My turn, my turn!

This is pressure. Amy writes very well. We all know that. Now it is my turn. I would like to show her my Christmas wish list. So without further ado here it is.

Yes I still have a lot of Canadian in me so let's go Blue Jays, let's go. (

And what is a Christmas without a few movies to sit back, relax and enjoy? Well for me it would not be a Christmas. So honey, here are a few that make my top list.

I only have 2369 songs on my iPod. Not enough. Need more, want more. So this can help.

Now for the practical side of me. I need new dress shoes for work and of course church. Plus since I play basketball every Wednesday night, I need the top of the line Kobe Bryant shoes to not only make me look good but help me play well. Really they do, have you seen Kobe play lately? I rest my case.

Well there you have it. I think this is the one. Pretty good list. Thanks for listening and now before Amy catches me doing this, Bernie out.

A Special message to Aryn:

Because I'm such a delightfully tactful friend I'm posting this little query on my own blog, not yours. Did you totally make out with Nolan while he was there?!?! I only remember meeting him once at BYU, but, honey, the years have been kind to that boy! He is as handsome as the day is long now! If you didn't get a little (mostly innocent) action out of that weekend I'm going to be so disappointed. I thought maybe you had granted him access to your beloved blog, but he certainly won't be reading mine. Fell free to respond candidly. You have my rapt attention.



Will Wonders Never Cease?

I have found that when it rains in life, it pours. I've learned this lesson the hard way -- through a few barrages of (thankfully, fairly minor) trials and challenges. This week has proven that the same principle holds true for the blessings in life, too.

I sent in an invoice this week to get paid for my mural job. In the end, I had worked about half again as long on it as I had originally quoted them for. Hey, I'm a beginner. I'll know better next time. My invoice was for the amount I originally quoted. It's only fair, right? So, the next day I got an e-mail stating that they were so pleased with my work and they understood this was my first big project and that I maybe had not quoted as high as I should have. Bottom line, they are giving me a "bonus" of half again as much as I had invoiced them for. Tell me the Lord's hand was not in that!

THEN, (and I'm just as excited about this as the other) Dylan has decided to eat the food that I cook! He almost always eats a super huge snack at 4:30 so that he will not have to eat whatever I have planned for dinner. He picks at his food and takes a token bite or two before running off to play again. It is sooo frustrating! On Tuesday I made this Pineapple Sweet & Sour Chicken and he gobbled it up. AND asked for seconds. Next night: different dish, same thing. True all week. Huh.

I've pondered my good fortune over the past few days and wondered why it has to be all one or the other. Torrential rain or none whatsoever. Why can't the good times just be peppered here and there with a few trials. I've come to the conclusion that life is probably a pretty good mix of good and bad MOST of the time. I just think that right now I am actively looking for the good things. I'm focusing on the sunshine, not the clouds. Or maybe I'm just lucky. Or maybe I'm just not strong enough for one of those grand scale, life altering trials right now. Whatever. I'm grateful for a few days of sunshine.



Sometimes I feel good for nothing. Weak. And if my children are any indication, inaudible. Not necessarily feeling that today. In fact, quite the opposite! I am powerful. I can make things happen just by speaking. Boo yah! Brent has grown a goatee. I'm not opposed to facial hair. I quite like the looks of it on him. But last night as he tenderly leaned over my shoulder and kissed my collar bone as I sat typing at this very computer, it felt more like he was scrubbing me with sandpaper. Sad, because that little shoulder kiss is one of the things that gets me through this crazy life. I told him as much, and, guess what. Within hours the goatee had magically disappeared. Huh.

I don't want to be the kind of wife who tells my husband what to do. His facial hair is his business, really. As are the clothes he wears, the food he eats and how often he showers. He's a man and has earned the right to do what he wants. Within reason. He can wear stinky Eternity cologne if he wants. I prefer Aqua di Gio, but whatever. His choice. I felt a little bad about the missing goatee and asked him why he did it. He sweetly told me that if it came down to a choice between having facial hair or kissing my collar bone, he would choose the kiss every time. Aaahhh. I told him he could still kiss my collar bone -- gently. And so began goatee #2.



I've been busy (shhh . . . working on Christmas gifts!) for the past few days and haven't been blogging. I am duly ashamed. Sad thing is, this week has not been without it's adventures. What a time to stop writing! Here's a quick wrap of my week for all my devoted friends:

* 911. What's your emergency?*

Yeah, Dylan dialed 911. During Family Night. At Mitch and Sheila's house. Could this BE anymore embarrassing? Probably not. When the police officer showed up at the house as they are obligated to do, we made Dylan (and all the other kids) line up and get a talking to. I don't think I've ever seen my child so humbled. He won't be doing that again soon. But IF he does, at least they have Mitch and Shiela's address on file, not ours. It's like a free pass. Kind of.

*How can I miss you if you won't go away?*

So, I guess I'm irresistible. That gym up in Carefree can't live without me. They e-mailed this week and gave me another job painting their "Stretch" logo. Yep, just the word stretch. That's some easy money if you ask me. After a frustrating beginning (no one knows where the blue paint is or, for that matter, where the stretch area is . . . whatever) it turned out well.

*Unexpected Vaccination*

I show up at my doctor's appointment Tuesday morning expecting a check up. How's your med working? Fine. Fine. Etc . . . It being November, I should have been expecting them to corner me about getting a flu shot. But I wasn't. Fine, I consent. The good news is they were out of flu vaccine!!! The bad news? I also need a tetanus shot and they have plenty of those. Boo.

*Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Cell phones in church have got to go!*

I'm feeling kind of strongly about this lately. I wrote about it on our Young Women's blog. I brought it up in Presidency meeting. I addressed it directly with the young women. And anyone else who will listen. As I pointed out, we all have 165 hours a week to spend as we please. Can we not go 3 hours without texting?! Don't get me wrong. I recently discovered texting and I love it, but come on. If you are a church meeting texter/ football score checker shame on you! Next week it probably won't be such an issue for me, but I'm all fired up right now. Whatever.

That's probably about all you missed. Now we're all back up to date. You're welcome.


To My Loving Husband, For Your Gift Giving Convenience:

Remember how we talked about simplifying things this holiday season? Here are a few things I would like to recieve. Any of them. Pick from this list and you will not go wrong. Simple.
You're Welcome.
Crown Tote $20

My blog published into a book. About $45

White Chocolates $priceless

Bumerang Hangers $3.95

Sassy Black Apron (on sale now for $28)
(Yes, Kristen, I want to be just like you! Does the apron come with the skills to back it up?!)

Enough About Me. Here's My Pride and Joy:

Many of you who have been to our home know how much I adore my children's art. I have it framed and hung on the focal wall of my living room. I. Love. It. This week (thanks to the generosity of Miss Oprah Winfrey) I went online and made a coffee table book of all my very most favorite pieces. I've been wanting to do it FOREVER, but I am really too cheap to pay the $29.99 plus shipping to have it done. This week Oprah provided a free book to all of her viewers so all I had to pay was the "plus shipping". That's what I'm talking about! I'm not a regular viewer, but Sydney is (she's such a better Mormon woman than me) and I'm all about taking advantage of Oprah in any way possible. Here are some of the highlights:

"Self Portrait"
April 2006
(This is one out of the Cool Riley series drawn while he was in the hospital after his diabetes diagnosis. It holds a special place in my heart.)

"Self Portrait with Flower"
"Self Portrait"
"Mother's Day"
May 2007
"Lion, Giraffe, and Duck"
February 2006


Mural Painting: The End.

And I forgot my camera. Oh well. You get the gist. You've seen all the other photos. I'm over it.

Now I can move on to bigger and better (OK, just other) things. Cleaning my home, for example. Figuring out what happened to all my kids' socks. Restocking my refrigerator. And meeting with mural client #2 in the morning. So, I spent some time designing this business card last night. The old ones (of which I have 4 boxes) have the wrong e-mail on them now. Whoops. What do you think? Be kind.


Mural Painting: Day 11

The logo: done! I didn't design this logo. (Ssshhh. Don't tell, but I think it's really weird.) It came out cute. An almost perfect replica of the one they e-mailed me.

A close up. I'm a poor photographer.

I'm still not done. AAAARRRGGGHHH! The patched drywall was not ready to be painted yet. I even asked if it would be done if I just hung out for several hours. Anything to save another drive. No luck. I probably have about an hour's worth of work left to do. I'll be driving two hours to do it. So wrong. The good news is I HAVE to be finished tomorrow because Saturday is the grand opening. I don't know how that's going to work out since I'm not the only one cutting it down to the wire up there. These things have a way of working out, I guess. Not my problem.
Looking back I have to say that this project has been a success for me, all things considered. Things look nice -- portfolio builder. I lined up three more jobs with people I met while working and I got some really good advice about pricing my services from the painting contractor. That's a lot of the reason why I was stressing out the other night. This one time big project could turn into a steady stream of projects if I want it to. I feel like I'll just take things one project at a time and figure it all out as I go.


Sweet & Spicy Chili

I'm really proud of myself for making up my own chili recipe today. It was born out of procrastination and a lack of desire to run to the store. I needed to bring chili to the YW/YM square dance & chili dinner tonight and had to make it on the fly this afternoon. All of my recipes required odd ingredients that I don't just keep around so I scrounged in my pantry to see what I could dump in my crock pot. It is super easy and super yummy so I decided to share.

Amy's Very Own Sweet & Spicy Chili

  • 2.5 lb. ground beef
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed, grated, diced -- whatever you do with garlic
  • 3 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes (You can use the mild if you don't like spicy. I use regular.)
  • 3 cans chili beans (not just kidney beans -- the can says "Chili Beans')
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar

Brown ground beef with onions and garlic in large pan. Drain fat and dump in crock pot. Add Ro-Tel, chili beans and brown sugar . Stir and cook on low all day or on high for a couple hours if, like me, you forget to turn on your crock pot in the morning. Always. You could also just heat it up on the stove. Serves 10-12.

My family loved it. The youth will eat anything. Good times.

Thank You, Kind Stranger.

To the kind man in the truck in front of me at the McDonald's drive-thru on Thunderbird at 6:00 a.m. today:

Thank you for paying for my breakfast. Did you decide when you woke up that you wanted to be especially nice today or was it just a whim? Maybe you do neat things like that all the time. Surely when you decided to provide such an act of charity today you could not have known that I was driving an hour away from home to paint for the tenth time. You could not have known that I was going on 4 hours of sleep and not thrilled about the day I was facing. You could never have known that 20 minutes later I was going to arrive at my job site to find a big old hole cut in one of the murals I had painstakingly painted and would now have to fix -- whenever the audio/visual installers got around to patching it up. (Not today.) It was just a little thing you did. I mean, I was good for the $2.59 for the Egg McMuffin and Coke (don't judge me . . . ). But to this girl, on this day you made a big difference. I was a kinder person today because of you. So, thank you. Thank you very much.
The tired girl in the silver van.


Mural Painting: Day 9 -OR- Indulge Me for a Moment

Sooo, I am almost finished. Supposed to BE finished, but the boss man thought my stencil for the logo I'm supposed to paint was too small. It's 6 feet long. They want it twice as big. At least. Right. Also, they were hanging the plasma TV in the theatre room so I spent a lot of time today waiting for my turn to touch the wall. (I suspected as much and was supposed to be painting the logo.) I would have gone home, but I had already spent an hour driving up there, traumatized my children and inconvenienced my friend. I needed results. So, as the title says, indulge me. Here are a slew of photos of what I have completed. If I had Photoshop I would paste all these photos together so you could get a full view of this map. There are still some things I don't like, but it is stunning in real life. (If I do say so myself.)

Here are a couple of detail shots. I'm not loving the monkeys. Something is weird, but I'm trying not to care. Everyone else likes them. Whatever.

These are the almost-finished curtains.

And these are the finished ones. I think I like the almost-finished ones better, but do you know how long it would take me to paint over those gold ropes and start over? Not gonna happen. It's hard to get a good shot of this room what with the glare from the window. I wonder how that bodes for children being able to watch TV in here. . .

Pictures of my logo tomorrow.


To Be, or Not To Be . . .

. . . a career woman. That is the question. I am exhausted. I did the tally tonight. 61.5 hours painting, 16 hours travelling. But I thought the toll was only being taken on me. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping things balanced and toeing the line here at home. I thought. Tonight I tucked my sweet children in bed. Brent is in his own personal heaven attending the Monday Night Cardinals/49ers Football game so it was just me and the kids having family prayer and stuff. We reviewed the events of the day and talked of our plans for tomorrow. When I told them that they would be spending the day at the Wells' house tomorrow so I could go finish painting, both boys broke down into tears. (I should say here that our kids LOVE the Wells'. Going to their house is quite a treat. Most days.) I asked what was wrong and both boys just cried. No words. " Has mommy been gone too much lately?" I asked. Riley said, "I don't know," probably fearing my response if he told the truth. Dylan grabbed me and held on to my neck for dear life. Sydney just kissed my cheek and went off to bed. Stoic, that one. We wiped tears, prayed for some divine emotional intervention and got everyone tucked into bed. Hours later here I sit, waiting for Brent to come home and wondering if it's all really worth it. Wondering what I missed out on in those 76.5 hours and if my time was really spent in the best possible way. Can I do this work up to my personal standards and still be the kind of mom I want to be? And what would my Heavenly Father want me to do? *sigh*


The Knack

Lately I have a knack for waking up 5 minutes before the alarm goes off. Annoying! What am I supposed to do with those 5 minutes? Get up? I don't think so. Go back to sleep? Not possible because as soon as I see what time it is I immediately start kicking myself in the subconscious teeth for waking me up early. So I just lay there stewing about the day that's ahead until the alarm goes off and Brent kicks me in the corporeal butt to force me out of bed. 5:00 is coming earlier and earlier, folks.
And, me + 4:55 = not pretty.


Mural Painting: Day 7

I fixed it! Much happier now.

A good start?

I took a short day today and came home at 1:00. I was just too achy and tired after yesterday's marathon of painting. And I was just in the way of the electricians and A/V installers. They were very gracious and kind, but I could tell. I'm thinking I'll be able to finish up on Saturday. Knock on wood. I still have all the outlining to do on the treasure map and the curtains. I decided to go with a more cartoony look on the curtains. That will save me about 15 hours of tedious shading and such. AND, it's FOR KIDS, right?! They also asked me to paint a logo above the door to the room with the graffiti. That should be a quick one and then I'll be done. Let me say that again and roll around in the words a bit . . . then I'll be done! That felt good. I can't wait to be able to sleep in til 6:15 again and catch up on my grocery shopping and laundry. Who'd a thunk it?!


Mural Painting: Day 6

Twelve more hours painting. I'm so tired and sore that I can hardly move. But I'm almost finished. There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. This mural just needs to be outlined and have a few details added with the paint pen that I forgot to go buy tonight. Oops. The criss-crossed palm trees were a last minute add-in. It used to be a compass rose that just didn't work for whatever reason.

I'm still not really happy with "Monster Mountain". It's not working either. Not sure why, but I'll figure it out.

Just decided today to add this on. I think it's cute. Whatever.

Start of mural #3. By tomorrow afternoon this will look like red velvet curtains. Eventually, a 50" plasma TV will hang in the center. Fancy, schmancy.
Also, some random thoughts I had today:
  • The construction manager sound exactly like Tom Brokaw. It kind of freaks me out.
  • Electricians are the hardest working people, maybe, in the world. This guy came in at 3:00 a.m. and was still busily working when I left at 6:45. Yikes.
  • Men are equal parts crude and easily impressed.
  • I hope they want these same murals in the other clubs because I think I figured out a better, faster way to do, ohhhhh, everything. By doing EVERYTHING wrong on this one. It has all come together nicely, but not without some effort.

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