Thursday, May 28, 2009

One thing I have saved

I have been cleaning out the storage room and finally came across something I wanted and knew was in there somewhere. It really is a crazy box filled with stuff that I just can't let go. Every thing in the box reminds me of what I am capable of. For example -- I saved all of my physics notes, homework, and tests. I thought physics was fun -- really, really hard, but fun. I love to look at it all and remember how hard I worked solving all those problems -- They were hard classes and I keep that stuff because I want to remember how hard I worked for those A's.

But the thing I have been looking for were these. My homemade flashcards from a Botany class -- At one point in my life I knew and could identify 200+ different trees and shrubs -- I knew their common names, scientific names, their families, and the key to identifying them all. And I could. I could see nearly any tree or plant and tell you the name of it -- and if I didn't know the name, I knew what family it belonged to.

And I loved doing it. Trent hated going on walks with me while I took this class. "Can't we just walk without having to identify everything????"

The sad thing is, we moved here and I knew that at some point in my life I could have figured out what all the plants were in our yard, but I just couldn't remember. I finally had the nature center come out and do it for me. (the boringest blog post ever) I was really bugged that I couldn't find the cards and do it myself.

But I found them. And the craziest thing . . . the more I looked at them, the more it all came back to me. . . like I was rediscovering this crazy place in my brain that I had forgotten was even there. And so I am back on my way to being a plant nerd.

I wouldn't recommend going on walks with me for a while.

Memorial Day Parade

Merwin Meadow

Last Sunday evening the weather was so nice so we went and checked out this little park close to our home. Enjoy the pictures -- the kids had a great time!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Re-doing the bathroom

This was our powder bathroom. Pretty wild wallpaper. Without the aid of the camera's flash, the room is actually quite dark. I did not like it. So a few weeks ago while the owner was here he asked what I thought about the bathroom and commented that he did not care for it.

I sure hope he meant it -- because as soon as he said that I knew that the wall paper would be gone SOON~! I spent the week stripping the wallpaper -- (I should say right now, that I am not a huge fan of wallpaper -- it seems that it is so easily dated and very hard to update and refresh without major work. )

Underneath the wallpaper were lots of holes in the wall and this lovely paint color -- apparently this color must have been a favorite!

And here it is now!!!! We went with the same plain khaki color and swapped out the 80's polished brass light fixtures. (One funny thing -- when I got back from Sherwin Williams, Madelyn asked me if I got the paint. I said, yes and then she said, "did you get purple?" I laughed and said no -- she cried and asked what color I got? I said Khaki -- and she replied, "Khaki is so BORING!" But she likes it now, she has told me it is her favorite bathroom now!)
I am still looking for more wall art and a few more accessories, but this is so much better to work with!
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Running again

See my new little gadgets on the right!

I am back to running again. It had been almost a year since my last run. It is amazing how time flies when you are avoiding exercising.

The thing is -- I had really gotten into a good routine -- my friend Amy and I would run at 5:15 a.m. for 3 miles. When we couldn't run in the morning (if one of our husband's was out of town or something) we would watch each other's kids and take turns getting our runs in. I was getting faster (I had done a couple miles at a pace of 8:30-- which for me is really good!) and I was even enjoying it -- a little. But the thing I enjoyed the most was just knowing that I was taking good care of me. It also gave me the "stress relief" I needed as we had just found out we would be moving for Trent's job in New York City. That was definitely not the kind of news we had been expecting. Especially when we had just built a house and moved in and just decided to have another baby.

And then one morning, I finished a run and came inside to find I was spotting just a little. I was worried. It was like deja vu. I had miscarried at 9 weeks, 3 years earlier (between Catherine and Madelyn) and it had been the same thing - I had just a little spotting. But I assumed I was in the "safe" zone as I was a little over 18 weeks pregnant -- I even had a Dr's appt that day for the ultrasound to see if we were having a boy or a girl, but the baby had no heartbeat.

So I stopped running -- I delivered 2 days later and then had to recover. Then school was out and we were packing and moving. Then we went on vacation. Then we arrived in CT. Weeks of unpacking and settling and not being able to get anywhere without a GPS and all the new schedules and then just when I thought I should start running again it was WINTER.

I got a treadmill (a hand me down from someone who never used theirs) with good intentions but it didn't amount to any exercise. It was dark and cold and different.

But spring can do all sorts of things to you. I always like to clean house, do projects and exercise. Before I knew it, I was actually using the treadmill. And now my stamina is enough that I can do the hills. Saturday, I ran for 40 minutes up and down hills and felt great!

I also have some added motivation -- I am signed up to run the New Haven, CT to Boston, MA relay Sept 11 and 12 with 11 of my friends. It is 180 miles with each runner running 3 of 36 legs (each person runs around 15 miles). Wish me luck -- I have a lot more running to do before then!

Since I was running on the treadmill I haven't been using my Nike Plus, but since I started running outside I have been using it again. I love it! It is so great -- it works with my IPOD and is so easy to use! Plus, now it will post all the new runs right here!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I heart Google Maps Pedometer

One of my favorite tools on the internet is the google maps pedometer.

You mark your starting point and your route and it will tell you how far you have gone, how many calories you will burn, and my new favorite thing -- it will tell you the changes in elevation. The routes can be for runners or cyclists and you can even zoom in enough to mark the sidewalk you are using so that you have the most accurate route.

Each route can be saved. I like to think of it as a "free" GPS runner's watch. With this to mark your routes all you have to do is time yourself (which even the cheapest watch is capable of doing).

So I have started biking again. I put the 2 kids in the bike trailer (just like I used to) and then I bike (just like I used to) -- BUT, these roads around here are not like I am used to. Let me explain . . .

Here is the elevation change graph of a very frequent route I did in TX all the time. (X axis is miles traveled, Y axis is feet above sea level)

The absolute value of change in elevation is only 15 feet -- so even though it looks like I went up and down a lot, there really is not much change the whole time.

Here is the elevation change graph for the route I attempted yesterday here in CT. Our playgroup was going to a little park with a pond and beach area and the weather was stunning and it was only 5.5 miles round trip from our house. So I loaded up the kids in the trailer and headed out. (notice the absolute value of change in elevation now is 300 feet)

It took me less than 20 minutes to get there -- and boy was it a fun ride! But WOW, the way home was a different story. I knew it would be hard. So when my friend offered to take Madelyn home in her car I gladly gave up her 47 pounds of additional cargo. Right at the 4 mile mark, I had to walk my bike, and then somewhere around 4.5 miles, my friend came by and picked up Adam (30 more cargo pounds) and the whole bike trailer (30 more pounds). I made it the rest of the way easy -- what a difference 60 pounds makes.

So if you are ever in need of a good workout I can reccommend a few routes and loan you a couple kids and a bike trailer. According to the google maps calorie counter -- that whole ride by myself (not towing 110 extra pounds) burns 660 calories. And in towing the kids -- 1100 calories!

Too bad I celebrated my surviving the bike ride with a 1000 calorie chocolate milkshake!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A different kind of exercise

So . . . I can hear Julianne's temper rising upstairs-- the huffing, the "Aaaaagh", the stomping of her feet.

Finally, I ask, "Julianne-- what is the problem up there?"

She hollers back, "Mom, I am very, very mad. I am cleaning up my room and my silly putty is gone. Do you hear me??? Gone, Gone, gone, GONE, GGGGOOOOOOOOONNNNEEEE! You don't understand, I had it right here and it is gone, I tell you gone!!!!!!!! I am so mad at Catherine or Madelyn or Adam or AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGHHHHHHH!"

I am just about to reply with some ideas on where to look when she chipperly states, "Oh, wait, here it is -- oh, I remember when I put it there!"

Now she seems fine.

This girl is all over the map. One moment she is mad, the next sad, the next cheery, the next giggly, the next furious, the next silly, the next helpful, the next defiant, the next pouty, the next tender --

I get exhausted watching her exercise all her emotions every 15 minutes or so.

Please tell me this is normal behavior for girls.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not quite what I had in mind

Today after lunch my two sweet little ones (Madelyn & Adam) proceeded to dump 8 wooden puzzles, 5 floor puzzles (each about 24-30 large pieces), and 3 150 piece puzzles into a big pile. Trying hard to maintain my good humor in the situation, I called them over and explained that when we make big messes we have to do lots of cleanup. So we started the sorting. 30 minutes later we were finally finished. Madelyn exclaimed, "That was so fun, let's do it again!"

I have talked her out of it for now, but I won't be surprised if I walk into the room again and find the puzzles all mixed. Sorting is at least a good skill, right?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm an organ donor, Are you?

This past weekend, after a four year wait, my 21 year old cousin was the recipient of a new kidney. It was such a great relief for him and his family -- after the years of dialysis and the years of being so sick.

Kyler (my cousin) had previously recieved a kidney from his mother when he was about 1 year old. That kidney started to fail 4 years ago and he has been waiting for a kidney for a long time.

The reason I am blogging about this, is that the donor of his kidney was a 33 year old woman. We do not know any other details about her life or death, but it is certainly a tragedy when someone this young dies. It especially hit home for me as I am a 33 year old woman. I am grateful to the family of this 33 year old woman who was able to honor her wishes to donate her organs even in a time of such despair. I don't know how many other families were blessed to be recipients, but I am sure many, many families have been given the gift of life for one of their loved ones.

I am sure there are many of you who if you were to befall some tragedy would be willing to be an organ donor but you just have never made it official on your driver's license or notified your family of your wishes. I am hoping that you will change that. Unfortunately, none of us know the timing of our life.

Be aware that even if your driver's license indicates you are a donor, most hospitals will honor the wishes of the family even if it is not what the individual would have wanted. So have the discussion with your loved ones today and let them know what you want to have happen should something go terribly wrong.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How many ways to change a light bulb?

I googled "light bulb changing jokes" (because isn't that why google was invented? to find out really irrelevant information?). Did you know there are whole web pages devoted to these kind of jokes? I read a number of them and some were quite funny. Here were two of my favorites

Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One, but the light bulb really has to want to change.

Q: How many believable, competent, ``just-right-for-the-job'' presidential candidates does it take to change a light bulb?

A: It's going to be a dark 4 years, isn't it?

What it really comes down to is this. We all know that changing a light bulb is a simple task. And yet, twice now I have come face to face with a light bulb that defies changing.

The first time was in our home in First Colony. We had a light bulb about 25 feet high in the middle of a staircase with walls on both sides. On one side about 16 feet up there was a large window with about a 2 inch window sill. Trent and I tried everything. We are lucky to still be alive. We tried putting the ladder on the stairs (using textbooks and phonebooks to level the stairs) and I would hold the textbooks and Trent would climb the ladder. At one point, I remember that Trent had one foot on the top of the ladder and one foot on the windowsill and I could just see him falling, landing on the stairs, rolling down and taking me and the ladder with him. It was after that vision that I put an end to our ridiculous ways. I was 8 months pregnant with Adam and did not want him to lose his father before he was even born.
Several nights later, we were playing games with some good friends, Andy and Laura, and we were retelling our feeble efforts. Andy asked to look at it and the next thing I knew, Trent had hoisted him so that his fingers could reach the window sill. Andy did a pull up (with just his fingertips) and managed to stand on the window sill (with out going through the window) and then putting one foot on the other wall did this crazy spider man thing and got the bulb changed. (I think Laura and I were both having heart attacks). But in the end, Andy made it down in one piece and we sold that house so we would never again have to change the light bulb (well, that was just one reason). Trent and I still laugh about it; In our mind Andy will always be "spider man."

So with this memory fresh in our mind, we noticed a couple of months ago that one of two flood lights high on the exterior of our house had gone out. Naturally, within a few weeks the other one went out. We were trying to come up with how to go about changing it when Trent suggested that the next time I talk to Peter (the owner of our house) that I should ask him how (if ever) he had changed those light bulbs. When I asked him about it, he volunteered to change them. (and I was not about to argue otherwise) So, yesterday was the day. Peter had bought one of those telescoping light bulb changing poles that reaches 11 feet. (the box even assures that "You too, can change a light bulb in minutes!" )

The first bulb went relatively well, It only required hanging halfway out a 2nd story window, 20 minutes, and my saying "please, don't fall out the window" 10 times.

But the second one was a little more problematic. The angle was all wrong for being able to get to it from the window. So we tried a 7 foot painters ladder, in an uneven flower bed with a birch tree right in the way. As Peter climbed the ladder, it would start to lean, so I grabbed the ladder, and he grabbed the tree. If he stood on the very top (which the ladder explicitly states in one of its bright red labels that you should not do) and put one foot in the tree, with one arm holding the tree, and the other arm holding the pole, he could reach it. I actually thought for a moment that this was not so bad after all.

But then the new light bulb would not fit because there was a fitting ring that was stuck in the socket. He tried to knock it out using the other end of the pole at which point he commented that it probably was not the best idea to jam a metal pole into a live socket. It was then that I noticed another warning sticker on the ladder that stated "This Ladder conducts electricity."

After much trying, and even with Peter and the tree becoming very, very close and personal. The new light bulb just would not go in. It serves me right for buying the "green" fluorescent bulbs that use less electricity, because as it turns out, they are shaped just slightly different than the traditional light bulb.

Peter was going to head to the store to get another light bulb, when I asked him about one other light bulb that I was unsure how to change (this time buried in the garden). He commented that he had just changed that light bulb and was surprised that it was already burned out. And in a funny turn of events, we determined that the whole socket was bad and perhaps even that light bulb still worked. We checked it, and it did. And IT was the same kind he would have gone to the store for. So he climbed back up the ladder, made a little more love to the tree and . . .

Let there be light! I think we were just as happy as God was on the first day!

Only the happiness was for two things . . . the light and the fact that no one was harmed in the changing of this light bulb.

A silly argument

Adam (age 2) is really coming into his own when it comes to communicating with everyone. It really makes him seem so grown up.

Yesterday, while I was in the shower, Madelyn and Adam were standing outside the bathroom door not so patiently waiting for me to finish. This is the conversation/argument I overheard.

Madelyn : "Adam, you are the littlest so get behind me. I am the biggest."

Adam : "No, Mommy is the biggest."

Madelyn : "No, Daddy is the biggest."

Adam : "No, Mommy is the biggest!"

(I am thinking, No I am not!!!! Is this how you see me?????)

Madelyn : "No, Daddy is the biggest!"

(I am thinking, Thank you Madelyn for defending my size!)

Adam : "No, Mommy is the biggest!"

Madelyn : "No, Daddy is the biggest in our family!"

Adam : "but Daddy is on the choo choo, mommy is the biggest here!"

I started laughing. They were both right, they were just looking at different parameters. I was glad that Adam recognized that I was not bigger than Daddy. And I was glad he had the verbal skills to defend his position. Then I laughed, because isn't that how most arguments really are. Both people are right -- from their perspective.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To the Mothers in my Life

My Mom-- I don't know where I would be today without you, but I know it wouldn't be where I am now. You have taught me everything. I often get asked, "How do you know how to do that?" And the answer is always, "My mom taught me." So here are some of the things you have taught me. . .
  • to make freezer jam (and lots and lots of it)
  • to can salsa (or better yet, watch you can it and take some home afterward for me)
  • to sew
  • to crochet
  • to cook
  • to organize recipes
  • to plan meals
  • to get dinner ready (all things at the same time)
  • to eat my vegetables
  • to teach my children to eat their vegetables
  • to tape important instructions on the cupboards
  • to swim
  • to teach swimming
  • to read (and to love reading)
  • to paint
  • to play the piano (I still am amazed at how much piano I knew, when we did not even have a piano!) (and for encouraging me all those long years when practicing wasn't my favorite thing and for paying for lessons even when you knew I had not practiced)
  • to dive
  • to play games (Rook, Pinochle, hearts, mormon bridge, mousetrap-- or whatever you call that game where we make our own mouse out of a napkin and string and roll the dice)
  • to do homework (which resulted ultimately in several degrees)
  • to do homework by myself (you were never the Mom who would do our work for us-- I always felt jipped, but now I know I really won and that the lessons I learned way back then often are the difference between me and others.)
  • to always make time for myself (not necessarily by myself, but always for my own interests -- You were always tole painting when we were little and we were always around -- I think this taught me that it was important for a mom to have her own interests, but they did not always mean you were away from your family -- I loved watching you develop your talents)
  • to use Dad's wood working tools (I may not be great at using them -- the drill press, the scroll saw, the table saw, the sander -- but I spent a lot of time with you finishing up projects using them)
  • to love children and to relish the opportunity to be a mother (I always knew you loved being our mom and I love knowing that even when much later in life than you thought you found yourself expecting again that you wholeheartedly returned to full time mothering)
  • to go without -- I know how much you went without (new clothes, new shoes, nice cars) so that we could have so much --
  • to be patient -- i don't know how you managed to be patient with me so much of the time, when looking back I know how really rotten I was to you -- but don't worry -- I have a child just like me -- what goes around really does come around
  • to try new things
  • to never say no to doing, learning, and trying new things
  • to serve and plan to serve
  • to be scheduled and organized
  • to not be so organized that you can't be spontaneous
  • to never let a beautiful day go by unappreciated
  • to love your husband (even if sometimes the things he does drives you crazy)
  • to not be idle -- you are the busiest person I know
  • to be kind
  • to make do with what you have
  • to be happy

I love you Mommy!

My Mother-in-law-- She hates the term "in law" but for organization sake I have to use it -- maybe I should start calling her, "My mother, who I did not have until I got married" or "My Mom, who was also coincidentally Trent's mom, and "no, I am not from Arkansas!"

I have learned so much from you also, here are some of them

  • how to truly, keep a busy house full of children (she had 7) clean . . . all the time
  • how to eat Sunday dinner on china
  • how important it is to be ready and willing to go back to work full time if the circumstances need it
  • how to quilt -- my mom taught me to sew, but only when you started making all the wedding quilts did I ever learn to piece a quilt top.
  • how to cook -- lots and lots of food -- Over the years I watched as the Sunday dinner blossomed from 9 each week to well over 20 and you kept up with it all
  • how to make frog eye salad, one of my personal favorites
  • how to love children's literature
  • how to treasure heirlooms -- I was probably the only one sad when you got a new temple dress -- I loved seeing you in your wedding dress. I would always close my eyes and try to imagine what you must have looked like way back then (but not too "way back when" since you are only 21 years old)
  • how to love your husband (even if sometimes the things he does drives you crazy)
  • to not be idle (you are tied for the busiest person I know)
  • to love your children even when they are hard to love

Between these 2 women-- they have 12 children (5 and 7 respectively), 11 high school diplomas, 11 bachelor's degrees, 6 graduate degrees, 10 marriages, 16 grandchildren (so far), and so much more (and one still in Junior high).

They are proof that being a responsible, nurturing, caring mother can change the world far more than any single career move or occupation.

My Baba (my Dad's mother) -- who I love to talk to on the phone who inspires me to read more, learn more, learn about politics, get involved locally, learn new things (how many 80+ year old women can skype, email, and serve a family history mission helping people learn new technology)
My Granny (my Mom's mother) -- I miss you. I loved how you entertained. I loved that you were always so beautiful. I loved that you bowled and played golf and shot guns. You were always so much fun to be around. I loved your cooking and I loved hearing about your life. I loved Rancho veyo.
Grandma White (Trent's mother's mother) -- I have loved getting to know you through the years. I love hearing about the books you are reading. I love looking through your scrapbooks with you and hearing about your travels. I love the influence you have had on my husband's life.
My Sisters-- I learn so much each day as we are journeying through life together. I love being with you both. I love seeing and hearing about all Carrie is up to and I love watching Amber become a mom. You are always there to support and help me! Thanks! I love you!
My Sisters in law -- I have loved watching as each of you have grown up, graduated, gotten married or not, and had kids, or not. I love seeing your homes all decorated and watching you raise your families. I learn so much from each of you and your examples.
My Friends -- I miss so many of you and appreciate all the influence you have been on me. I love all my new friends. I love having peers who are going through the same trials and challenges and who remember how truly challenging the day to day grind can be. I hope I can be there for each of you like you have been for me!