Yeah, I want a cookie!


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It has been a very successful couple of days. Yesterday I finally finished the one dress I wanted to make for Gwen for Christmas. She has two whole dresses to dress up in. I’m trying not to berate myself for two dresses taking me so long to complete. It has been weeks and weeks of frantically sewing for one hour at a time. I got sick of how long it took to set up and tear down the sewing machine and serger. Finally I opted for sanity and set it up in my bedroom. That way I could shut the door when it was time to pick up kids from school.

That’s all I did this last week. Sewing during the day, pick up kids in the early afternoon, then finish off the day with painting in the garage. Gwen and Parker sure loved having me paint. They rode their bikes and had scooter races out front while I painted. Gavin’s bus would drop him off across the street from our house and he would join in the outdoor festivities. I naturally reached a stopping point around 4:30 just as the sun was starting to set and the kids needed to get on with homework.

I think it’s worth noting that with all this busyness I also made dinner each night. Heck yeah I want the cookie! I deserve it after all that work. Each night I was exhausted. More mentally than physically, but exhausted nonetheless.

Heath ran off to Home Depot this morning. Again. That’s the part of home improvement projects I hate. Just when you think you have everything you need there’s always one more little thing to pick up from the store. While he was gone I rallied the troops and we cleaned the house. Our home teachers are coming to visit tomorrow and they will never know the house was ever clean. We still have remnants from the old desk lying around and lots of displaced office junk cluttering up the floor. Ugh.

Heath keeps saying that we will get a lot of forgiveness since we’re clearly in the middle of a project. Yeah, two guys aren’t going to judge me for having a messy house but still. They’re people. And I don’t have people over when my house is a cluttered mess. I’m freaking out a little. But Heath is right. It was nicer to get to this point in the project than to keep the house in pristine order. I have been working my tail off painting just so we can actually make progress. Careers sure do get in the way of home improvement!

Besides not letting anyone see my messy house, I’m a little neurotic about people helping me. Heath and I painted together the first day. I liked working with him. Then I painted on my own to help out. After that I had to do it all on my own. I just don’t trust other people to be as good at perfectionism as me. I grew a lot today. I let Parker help me paint. He is the only one of my kids I would ever trust to help with anything. He is an awesome little helper. Gwen is too young to trust and Gavin seems intent on doing a slow or poor job in order to never be asked to help again!

Parker did a great job with the painting. I had no complaints. That’s pretty big for me. He also helped put the face plate on the light switches by the front door. Heath put in timers on those lights and we finally got around to putting the face plate on. Parker is Tenacious P. He does not give up. He’s just like his mommy and daddy that way. Tell him how it’s supposed to work and he will not quit until that happens. He is such a great helper.

One More Day


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Gavin: Is this what you do all day when we’re at school?

We were watching a movie together while he was home sick. I typically don’t watch TV during the day. Today was a rare exception.

Yesterday Gavin seemed a little off. Heath checked his temperature at dinner and found Gavin had a fever. I sent him to bed before 7:00. He was so tired. He slept for over 12 hours and woke up looking much better. I made him some breakfast and took the other two to school, leaving Gavin to rot his brain in front of the TV.

I stayed to tutor this morning. When I got back I ended up chilling with Gavin. He was watching clip after clip on YouTube. That has got to be my biggest pet peeve! I convinced him to watch a show while I did the dishes. Then I got him to step away for a minute to shower. The shower seemed to help even more than the good night’s rest.

He still seemed determined to waste his day in front of the TV. It only seemed fair. I didn’t feel bad at all about calling him in sick. He deserved a day off to fully recover. But I wanted him to watch something meaningful, or at least watch something on purpose. I put in October Sky and totally got sucked into the movie myself. I don’t hang out with Gavin much so it was fun to put all my projects on hold to spend time with him.

We had leftover taco soup for lunch and then headed off to pick up Gwen and Parker. I hope Gavin appreciated me inviting him to come with me. It was good for him to get out of the house. We found out that Parker did his Turkey Trot today and was one of the top ten finishers in his class. He didn’t know what his time was but guessed it was around seven minutes for the mile. Our eyes got big and Gavin told Parker to join Cross Country. A few minutes later Parker guessed he was closer to eight minutes and he admitted he walked a lot!

Who knows what his mile time really was. I think he should try Cross Country as well. He wants to do Track but that starts in the spring. We ran into Coach Erika at the grocery store the other day. She was bummed that “All Good” wasn’t with us. She did think it would be great if Parker joined her team next year. We’ll see.

I feel so bad for Gavin that he has to go to school tomorrow. This minimum day week is crazy and exhausting and it only affects grades 1-5. Gavin wanted to sleep in yesterday because it was Late Start Wednesday. I totally forgot he still had a regular Wednesday. I woke him back up at 7:30 saying he only had 30 minutes before he had to leave for school. Poor kid couldn’t get back to sleep. I felt bad. At least he feels well enough to go back to school tomorrow. Too bad he has to.

Fun Mom


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Margo: Does your dad yell like that at home?
Gavin: No, my mom does.

Me: My A1C is coming down.
Heath: You haven’t been very sweet lately, lol!

*sigh* Don’t you love hidden meanings in what your family says?

It’s okay, today I racked up the cool mom points. Gwen and Parker have minimum days the rest of the week with no school on Friday. This is due to Parent Teacher Conferences. Heath and I met with both teachers yesterday so we’re free! Next week the kids get the whole week off for Thanksgiving. Gavin too. I have learned that this week off is much more fun if I plan it out ahead of time.

I made a hair appointment for Gwen on Monday afternoon. I could have picked a time in the morning but who are we kidding? I’m not getting up early enough on my day off to be in public by 10:00 am! I decided to take Gwen and Parker shopping when I picked them up from school today. We headed out to JoAnn’s for a gingerbread house kit. I think the kids are old enough now that I can turn them loose on the project while I do something else. I am not interested in making a gingerbread house. They are super excited though.

Years ago I planned out the whole Thanksgiving week. We did one simple little craft project each day and the boys still remember it. It didn’t take much to be a hero for the week. When I don’t have plans we all get bored and tend to yell. Margo probably thinks Gavin meant I yell at football games. That’s what she was referring to. I like to yell at other times too. That’s what Gavin was referring to. The gingerbread house will keep the peace.

I really want the kids to use their Halloween candy to decorate the house. We’ll see if that works since the kit comes with candy. The cashier spent a lot of time fondling the box after she scanned it. She said she wants a kit too. I’m such a trendsetter!

Gwen and Parker are really fun to shop with. They enjoyed looking at all the Christmas decorations. Since they were having so much fun I let them look at anything they wanted to. They’re old enough now to resist the impulse to beg for things they know I’m not going to buy for them. It makes shopping with them that much more fun. We wander around dreaming. Parker asked if we could look to see if JoAnn’s has model cars. I didn’t really think so but it gave me the idea to buy the kids some crafts.

Parker found lots of cool stuff he wanted. I told him he had to find something that Gavin would enjoy making too. Parker settled on a kit with two racing bikes. The boys can decorate them and then race them. Sounds fun enough. Gwen decided on a diary she can decorate before using. She is so excited. To the point that she keeps asking if she can open it. She is having a hard time waiting but she will have to wait.

After we got back from our shopping trip we went outside. I was prepping cabinet doors to paint while Gwen and Parker played outside. Gavin came home and joined them in their shenanigans. The UPS truck came into the circle. The faintest memory fluttered in the back of my mind. Parker was convinced we had a package coming. Sure enough the UPS guy stopped in front of our driveway. I remembered that Heath said we would get a package today.

Since I was up to my elbows in painting paraphernalia, I told Parker to get the package from the guy. We both thanked the driver and I told Parker to put the package in the house. First I looked at it. I’m not sure why because all I looked for was the label that said Heath’s name on it and that the package came from Amazon. I honestly did not see any more than the box was black.

Parker took it inside. Gavin followed. They were inside for a while. I started to panic. With a roller brush in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, I rushed inside. “Don’t go in my bedroom!” I can’t tell if Parker was lying to me or not. He claims he didn’t go in my room. I hope not. It kind of doesn’t matter since the “secret project” I was working on was Gwen’s Christmas costumes. I just don’t want him to know who the project is for or what it is. I didn’t have time to clean it up before I had to pick up kids at 12:40. I hate minimum days around the holidays! At least it’s in my bedroom where I can shut the door on it.

Parker had put the box on Gavin’s desk in the kitchen. I thought that was strange but didn’t really think much of it. Oh my poor distracted mind. Heath came home and seemed desperate to find the box. I unearthed it from Gavin’s messy desk. That’s when I noticed how the packaging left nothing to the imagination! It says Microsoft and Raspberry Pi all over it. No wonder Parker put the box on Gavin’s desk. He knows Gavin has been begging for one forever.

The only consolation is the hope that Gavin will forget. He claims he can’t remember anything. I hope he forgets this. Way to blow Christmas early! Even if he remembers he will still be excited. I just feel terrible about it. Heath said he would tell me he told me so. I remember him telling me yesterday that we would get a package today. He said he knows I don’t listen to him. Unfortunately it’s true. But he forgives me easily because he knew I was distracted. I still feel bad.

That’s when I showed him a silly mistake Parker made. My mom had our Christmas gifts delivered directly to our house. She asked if I would wrap the packages since the cost of gift wrapping was obnoxiously expensive. I agreed. Because Gwen’s package hadn’t shown up yet she was nervous that we didn’t get everything from Amazon. She wanted Parker to open the package to confirm its contents. He loved that job!

Everything was there. A couple days later Gwen’s package arrived. All was well. Except that Parker had taken all the greeting slips and the content slip out of the package before taping it back up. It’s fine because my mom asks us specifically what we want for Christmas. I already knew what she bought us. Still, it’s just funny that Parker left out the packing slips leaving nothing to the imagination. Heath said, “They have no sense of decorum do they?” No, our kids definitely don’t. Wisdom flies out the door when excitement is whetted.

Being a fun mom takes a lot of advance planning sometimes. The lessons you learn on the job! The parenting books never mentioned these secrets.

I fell off a cliff!


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It was a beautiful day to get hurt. The sun was shining. The air was warm and mild for November. Heath and I were in the garage tinkering around with our cabinet project some more. Gavin was mountain biking with his scout troop. Gwen and Parker were puttering around the circle on their bikes.

We were just about to tell the kids they were on their last lap. Parker walked his bike up to us. He said he fell off his bike and hurt his wrist. Sure enough, his left wrist was swollen. I felt both wrists to compare. All the bones felt the same but he obviously hurt himself. Heath assured both of us that the wrist was sprained and not broken. Parker couldn’t even remember exactly what happened. Just that he fell off his bike and landed with all his weight on that one wrist.

He was sent inside to watch TV while he rested his wrist with an ice pack. That boy watches way too much TV, especially on weekends. We had kept him from the TV so far that day. I guess every cloud has a silver lining.

Gavin’s scout leaders said they would return from the overnight trip around 1:30 on Saturday. It was about that time. We hadn’t heard from Gavin or any of his leaders. These things never seem to end on time so we weren’t too worried. The day moved on. Heath tried to time his trips to Home Depot to coincide with Gavin’s return. It wasn’t working out.

Finally we heard from one of Gavin’s leaders. He texted Heath saying that Gavin had fallen off his bike a few times and was a little banged up. They should be home sometime after 3:00. My mommy senses were tingling. I tried to remain calm on the outside but inside I was a flurry of worry. How hurt was he really? In typical fashion I expected Gavin to be returned home in ribbons as if he were sent through a paper shredder.

After Parker iced his wrist for a while, Heath gave him Ibuprofen and wrapped his wrist in an ace bandage. Parker asked me if I thought his fingers were purpling or if his hand was just dirty. Everything I could see sticking out of the bandage was a deep shade of throbbing purple. Clearly Heath had wrapped the bandage too tightly. I took it off but before I tried to rewrap it I remembered that I have two wrist braces. One for each wrist. I developed carpal tunnel issues in my wrists after my babies were born.

I seem to only need the braces when I have a small baby to take care of. It has been quite some time since I have used either one. I found the left one and strapped it on Parker. He liked that much better than the ace bandage because it held his wrist in place easier. I liked it better because it’s hard to overtighten it.

Gavin texted that he would be back around 5:15. Terrible timing, kid! Heath listened to the football game in his car while he went to pick Gavin up from the church building across town. Gavin was so excited about watching the football game that he dropped all his camping gear in the garage. It hasn’t moved since. I was surprised to see that he looked completely normal when he came in. I noticed a large band-aid near his elbow but that was it.

I felt relieved and a little let down all at the same time. Our home teacher is one of Gavin’s leaders and he’s the one who told us Gavin had gotten hurt. I had no way of knowing if he was over reporting the injuries or under reporting. A little road burn on his arm seemed like hardly anything worth reporting at all. Ben is our home teacher so maybe he felt extra responsibility to tell us our child was not coming home the way we sent him.

Gavin said he had fun. He was proud of the fact that he fell off his bike four times. He showed me his beat up hands. Each palm had a perfect black circle from where a small pebble punctured the skin. It wasn’t until Sunday morning that I really got a sense of his injuries. Obviously he had to take the band-aid off his arm to shower. The road rash wasn’t bad. I’ve seen much worse on my brother. Still, it actually pained me to clean it before Heath put on a gauze bandage.

Gavin announced, “I fell off a cliff.” You had to be there to hear him say it. He was so proud of himself! It made us all bust up laughing. It reminded me of my brother and all his war wounds from bike riding fails. I could also hear my brother being very disappointed in Gavin’s nearly non-existent wounds. Clearly Gavin didn’t have enough fun if that’s all he had to show for it!

Heath told mountain biking stories. Once he took his priests on a mountain biking activity in the forests north of Seattle. The boys were going down the hill too fast. Heath was too. At one point he was flying out over his handle bars but managed to reconnect his butt with the seat. The boys were not as successful. Complete with cartoon sounds the boys were launched from their bikes into the brush on either side of the trail.

At one point Gavin asked why people fall on their hands. Heath pointed out that we naturally want to stop ourselves and we do that with our hands. Gavin suggested people should fall flat on their chests. We just laughed and said he already tried that. “How did that work out for you?”

Gavin enjoyed watching YouTube videos of professional mountain bikers with Go-Pros on their helmets. He crouched slightly and held his hands out as if he were gripping handlebars as he watched the videos. I could tell he couldn’t wait to get back on his bike and try that again.

After church we went to Tithing Settlement. The Bishop wanted to hear Gavin’s bike riding adventures. I did too. I felt like I hadn’t really heard much of what happened. The Bishop started by saying he heard that Gavin fell a few times but was never afraid to get back on the bike and try again. Gavin would start to talk and his jealous little sister would interrupt. Spotlight on Gwen! She had to share her own stories of how her friends at school have crutches, broken bones, or sprains. Parker tried to say how he fell off his bike spraining his wrist. There was Gwen again with another story about another classmate.

While we didn’t get very far with Gavin’s adventures, I saw a side of him I have never seen before. He was such a guy about the experience. He loved every second of mountain biking, including falling off several times. And he was very proud of the scrapes reminding him of the fun he had.

Parker had mentioned once or twice that the brace smelled bad. He took it off when his arm was starting to itch. He laid his wrist up on a pillow to breathe. That’s when I saw his arm was red. At first I thought it was because he was rubbing it. Then I saw tiny little raised bumps developing all over. Soon his arm looked like it had a full blown rash. I put hydrocortisone on it to relieve the itching. Then I texted my mom for advice.

She had lots of good advice. I felt better when she told me not to worry about letting Parker wear a used brace. She said she would have done the same thing. Given that I received the brace when Gavin was still a baby and we were still living in Utah no less, I think the brace was gross with old bacteria. My mom thinks Parker may have had an allergic reaction to the materials in the brace. It’s possible. Parker has always been the sensitive one likely to have an allergic reaction to things. I just think the brace was old and gross. My mom suggested I burn it. I did toss it in the trash.

Gwen donated two doll pillows to help splint Parker’s wrist at bedtime. He was so funny. He kept posing like The Hulk. Or he would say he just needed an anchor drawn on his arm and he would be Popeye. Then he would sing Popeye the Sailor Man.

This morning Parker seemed to be doing much better. It hurts when he bends his hand too much or he rotates his wrist too quickly. I think it’s starting to get better. I sent him to school with a note to his teacher and PE teacher that he needed to avoid any physical activity that may re-injure his wrist. We wrapped him up in an ace bandage. I need to go shopping for a new brace but now that it’s a new day I don’t feel so insistent on it. I worry the most at night!

Heath and I will see how he’s doing when we meet with his teacher for Parent Teacher Conferences. I’m starting to think his academic success will take center stage to his tender wrist.

Dissatisfaction with Domino’s Pizza


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Dear Domino’s Pizza,

Your pizza has been a family tradition of ours for years. We look forward to it every week during football season. It takes the pressure off of dinner and, let’s face it, it tastes good. We love to over order just a smidge so we can have a special treat the next morning. Pizza for breakfast really makes the kids’ day.

The game kicked off at 4:30 pm. The plan was to order pizza online soon after. Our oldest child still hadn’t made it home from an overnight camping trip. We tried to time the pizza well with his arrival and the timing of the football game. The order went in at 5:07.

Dad went to pick up son. Mom was expecting a succulently aromatic knock on the door around 5:30. According to the online pizza tracker the pizza was still baking. Our tastebuds tingled in anticipation. Dad and son came home. Mom thought their delayed entrance into the house was due to a friendly exchange with the Pizza Dude outside. No such luck. There was no Pizza Dude.

The pizza tracker said the order had been checked for quality at 5:17. The tracker seemed to be stuck on that step. Sometime after 5:30, Mom started a square wave on her insulin pump expecting pizza any minute. There was no pizza. No knock on the door. No Pizza Dude anywhere.

Over an hour had passed since the order had been placed. No sign of our pizza. The pizza tracker had even timed out making us sign in again. Of course there was no sign of our order at that point. Dad called to find out what was happening. He was immediately put on hold for 15 minutes. He waited patiently because we were all getting quite frustrated by the situation.

Store Front Pizza Dude offered little sympathy or explanation. He just said they were busy and the Pizza Dude was on his way. We should expect him to arrive in 10-15 minutes. Over half an hour later there was still no pizza. Dad called back to ask for the order to be canceled. It took some convincing on Dad’s part, but eventually Store Front Pizza Dude agreed to void the transaction so our card wouldn’t be charged for the air and frustration we received instead of hot, cheesy pizza. By this point in the evening it had been nearly two hours since we placed the order. At least the transaction was voided but there was still no apology or sympathy.

Grocery shopping was planned for after the game. There wasn’t much to eat in the house. Hence the brilliance of the pizza delivery. Unfortunately, Domino’s failed us.

Mom started macaroni and cheese. She was smart enough to cancel the square wave bolus but her blood sugar was dropping and all she could think of was filling tummies with carbs. Then she realized we still had French bread pizza in the freezer. There were only three left and they had to be split five ways. She did the fast instructions of microwaving first then finishing in the oven. The pizza had the consistency of an old shoe heated up.

Dinner was a bust. Our team lost by four points. And Domino’s will no longer be our go-to football tradition. It’s too bad. We used to love you guys. Things started going downhill about the time our regular Pizza Dude driver had to quit for college. The next driver after him forgot our drinks and took an extraordinarily long time to come back with them. We almost gave up on him. Last night he was a complete no show.

To say we are unimpressed is an understatement. Ball’s in your court, Domino’s. Woo us back. Don’t worry though, we aren’t holding our breath.


The Piquant Storyteller

Much Ado About Nothing

One day off in the middle of the week. I always think it’s weird that Veteran’s Day is celebrated this way and not observed on a Monday or Friday. In the past I have not enjoyed the mid-week day off. This year it was like an oasis in the desert. We had to make it count.

We planned to watch the Peanuts movie in the theater and paint. The movie was really cute and we all enjoyed it. The kids were so excited to help with the cabinets. Unfortunately for them their parents have control issues. We bought two coverall suits thinking it would be fun for the kids to wear. They don’t have any paint clothes. The best we could do was have them put on old pajamas. They ran around the yard playing while Heath cut off the toe kick from the base cabinets.

The kids were eager to help us paint. Gwen and Gavin carefully dusted each cabinet with a tack cloth. Somehow Heath and I put the painting suits on. We don’t have paint clothes either. The kids patiently waited with baited breath for their turn to paint. We told them we had to get a feel for it first. Soon we had done half the job ourselves. The kids had to change back into normal clothes to go out for dinner.

The kids were disappointed that we wouldn’t let them paint. I told them it’s not because we don’t trust them. It’s just because we don’t trust them! I wish I didn’t have issues but I do. I put on the paint suit again today and did a second coat. It took me almost two hours and it was pretty tedious work. The sun’s rays were concentrated directly into the garage. I was melting in the suit. My hands were sweaty inside surgical gloves. But I got the second coat on.

I tutored this afternoon. That’s a whole story on its own. A couple weeks ago I pitched a selfish fit and told the Sound Partners person over my school that I would not be tutoring this year. I still feel a little guilty but at the same time my buttons had been pushed to their max.

The lady had asked me twice if mornings or afternoons were better for me to tutor. I told her twice that I have a second grader on the late staggered start so I cannot tutor in the morning. The second time she asked I honestly thought a different person had asked me. Several weeks had passed between questions and it seemed odd that she couldn’t keep track of my answer anyway. As it turns out it was the same woman who somehow had not remembered my scheduling conflict.

She placed me with a student in Mrs. M’s class in the morning. That was the third time I had to tell her that I cannot tutor in the morning. Feeling generous, I told her I was fairly flexible on days and could tutor a different day if that would help her out. She was very excited about that but never fully explained the consequences of my generosity. The next thing I knew I was assigned to a student in a different first grade class. Um … not what I signed up for!

Heath told me that as a volunteer they need to work with me, not the other way around. He suggested I give her an ultimatum. If she couldn’t place me with a student in Mrs. M’s class, I wasn’t going to tutor. I felt like I was being unreasonable but at the same time this was the plan all along. If I can’t work with the teacher I want, they should at least put me in my daughter’s class! That made more sense than placing me with another random first grade teacher.

It took a couple days to get an answer. Basically I was told that the criteria for qualifying students had changed slightly. They were looking for students with the greatest needs among grade levels and not individual classrooms. She asked if I wanted to continue as a tutor. I had already told her in my ultimatum that I didn’t even use the program last year. My student refused to have anything to do with the program. I said I would rather help Mrs. M any way she needed me to than stick with the program.

I was very diplomatic in my response to her point blank question. But I told her no. I have to admit I heard my roommate’s voice all over again. “As a member of the church and as a Stake Missionary, you have no business acting like that!” While those cutting words were for a completely different situation I still felt bad for not embracing an opportunity to serve now.

On Monday Mrs. M emailed me out of the blue saying she was going rogue and wondered if I could work with a student who didn’t qualify for Sound Partners under the new guidelines. Yes, yes, yes! Rogue seems to be my game when it comes to teaching. I don’t follow rules very well. I love that we can be partners in crime by serving students who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Mrs. M told me today that she has six students who don’t qualify for Sound Partners but desperately need some kind of intervention. I told her I would go in the morning next week to help this new little guy again. Next week is full of minimum days for parent teacher conferences. After Thanksgiving Break I will go in at 1:30, like I did today, to help this little guy who is on the early stagger, then stay till 3:00 so I can help a late stagger student. She was thrilled. I’m only giving her one day a week but I am willing to work with two kids.

I love Mrs. M. She has been such a blessing to all three of my kids being their first grade teacher. I love that we have become friends. She asked me how my kids were doing. Then she asked how I was doing. I told her I was fine. She asked if I was feeling better. I said yes and she said she was worried about me last year. I realized what she meant and I told her I was in a really dark place last year. She knew and was worried. That really touched me to have her care so much.

That’s what the roof rack is for!


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Two cars full of six unfinished cabinets with a separate countertop and lots of waiting.

It wasn’t supposed to be so difficult. Heath had planned it all out. He had done the math. He had measured everything. Probably even twice. It was time to execute. We told the kids we were buying the cabinets. We would come back as quickly as we could. They promised not to kill each other and we left.

I was not pleased that I had to go through with this plan. I still thought we should have Lowe’s deliver the cabinets to us. Let someone else do all the heavy lifting and the driving. Heath was insistent we could handle it. After all, we used to work out! He had it all planned. It would be easy if I would just stop my belly aching. Okay, so he didn’t say that. He just had that twinkle in his eye that I can’t so no to. Somehow I found myself in my van following him to Lowe’s.

We walked in as two people free as birds. I was very aware of how easy it was to walk through the doors and to the back of the store. We got to the row of unfinished cabinets. Our eyes fawned over the cabinets as they had many times in the past. I half expected to stop there. Up to this point that’s about all we had done. Just look, touch, and dream. This time was different. This time Heath expected me to help him transport what we needed to the front of the store.


I started looking for friends. Of the employee variety. An Asian guy in a blue sweater vest was in the back of the store walking towards us. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Heath gave me a funny look when I suggested he talk to the man. The man was close enough at that point for me to realize his sweater vest was a fashion choice and not a store issued smock. Oh. My bad.

Heath grabbed a blue metal flatbed and said, “We can just use this.” I was told to hold it steady while Heath hoisted cabinets onto it. He grabbed four cabinets – two upper cabinets and two lower cabinets. The flatbed was full. Then he walked a few feet down where across the aisle was a wall of countertops. He grabbed the dark gray one we had agreed on earlier that day. The countertop was laid on top of the cabinets.

Everything fit well enough on the flatbed. I just wondered how we were supposed to move it all to the front of the store to purchase. Why couldn’t it be like Toys R Us and their tag system? You check out the bikes and take the tag for the one you want. Then you take the tag to the register and while you’re paying for the bike an employee is paged to find the right bike in the back. He brings it up to you at the front of the store and you wheel it out from there.

Lowe’s is not Toys R Us.
And we were not finished.

We still had to get the two 85″ cabinets onto a flatbed. Yeah, good luck. I love you Heath but I’m only 66″ tall. I’m a tiny little woman (wink) and I don’t see how his is going to work. Luckily a real Lowe’s employee walked by at that point. He was wearing a red smock, not a blue sweater vest. Given that Lowe’s has a blue/gray color scheme you can see how I would think a man dressed in a blue sweater vest was a store employee!

Anyway, the man in the red smock asked if we needed help. Yes please! Heath held a different blue flatbed steady while the employee tipped and twisted the gigantic pier of a cabinet onto the flatbed. I kept backing up my full flatbed to give him room. Once both piers (as Heath calls them) were on the flatbed the guy left. We were on our own to maneuver our flatbeds to the registers. Awesome.

It was a Saturday evening at Lowe’s. Can I just say I was so grateful that everyone had chosen to eat dinner at that moment in time rather than shop for home improvement projects? The store was fairly empty of shoppers. Heath carefully led the way while not letting the piers tip over. I was able to successfully follow without maiming anyone. The flatbeds roll easily enough but it takes some effort to get the momentum up. Once that happens it is difficult to stop on a dime.

Next stop: Adventure at the Register

The cashier scanned every last barcode on the two piers first. I believe there were six in total. We thought that was very strange but assumed she knew what she was doing so we didn’t say anything. She then scanned each of the five pieces on my flatbed. That’s when she realized that seven pieces of merchandise shouldn’t equal that many entries in the computer! She started the transaction over completely.

Once everything was scanned correctly and she had a subtotal, Heath told her that we should get a 20% discount for spending more than $400. She was unaware of that perk. We told her there was a sign by the cabinets stating that fact. That’s kind of why we went with this solution to our office needs. Since the discount wasn’t coming off the total automatically she had to call to have someone check on our story.

When it was confirmed that yes, we should get a 20% discount, we had to wait some more to figure out how to get the discount. There was no barcode for her to scan to get us the discount. Then she needed a manager to sign off on it. Basically we stood at her register for a good 15-20 minutes clogging up the area for other shoppers trying to buy smaller amounts of merchandise. Finally we paid but had to wait for an employee to help us load the cabinets into our cars.

I pulled the van into the loading zone. Heath and the guy put as much as they could inside. That’s when they saw that only one pier would fit. There wasn’t enough width for the other one. Heath’s car isn’t long enough to hold the other pier. So the only solution was to strap the thing to the top of the van. I was freaking out.

I’m short and I drive with my seat much closer to the steering wheel than Heath. Which meant as much as I wanted to switch cars, it was physically impossible. I was going to be driving with a massive cabinet on top of my van. I asked if they could rearrange things inside the van so I could move the seat back. I even pushed the passenger seat all the way forward before asking again. I think the young Lowe’s employee didn’t really care so if he heard me he pretended not to. Heath just told me I would be fine driving the van and to bring his car to the loading zone.

The Lowe’s employee put the one last cabinet in the back of Heath’s car. Right behind the driver seat. He told us that if we needed more twine to tie the cabinet to the van there was some inside. Then he walked away as if he washed his hands of us and our crazy ambition.

In a last ditch effort to avoid driving a cabinet on top of my van, I made my eyes creepily large and shiny like a cartoon. I asked Heath one more time if we could rearrange the cabinets in the van so he could move the driver seat back and deal with the precarious cabinet on top. He started to tell me no again but my eyes got to him. I batted my lashes a couple times for good measure. He agreed to push the pier over if I held the countertop against the side window.

Success! There was enough space to move the seat back and I didn’t have to drive the scary van home. I just had to drive his car home with the rearview mirror almost completely blocked by a large base cabinet. His car is easy enough to drive. I just don’t like to because I’m used to mine.

We got in our cars and used a phone call as our walkie talkie. Heath planned to drive uber slow and I would stay right behind him. The hope was that other drivers would just move around us. The plan was working well until we got to the hospital and got separated. Heath apologized for not remembering to move over to the right lane sooner. He moved over and I checked my blind spot for cars. There was an ambulance next to me. I figured it would turn into the hospital and I could move over behind. He turned like I expected but there were three cars behind him and I couldn’t move over in time.

Heath had to turn right and I had to quickly think of another way home. There are always several ways home from any given street. I was thinking, “If I’m on Blah Blah Street I can turn onto this other street and get home that way.” Then I saw Mall Street and told Heath I would hook up with Almost Home Street from there. He said, “You can actually get on the street I’m on from there.” I forgot that. But it worked.

Having our cell phones on speaker was not as helpful as I had hoped. Half of anything Heath said was muffled. When we were separated briefly he said, “Mumble mumble cop car mumble mumble stop sign.” What? I was on the right street but had forgotten an entire intersection of lights was out. It was dark and I didn’t realize how close to Gavin’s school I was. The dark intersection threw me and I panicked. “Where am I?”

Then I saw a cop car with the lights on near the dark intersection. The cop lights helped illuminate the intersection and I was able to see the temporary stop sign. That’s what Heath meant! The whole conversation home was like that. I only got about every third or fourth word and had to guess the rest based on context clues.

We turned on Almost Home Street and I was happy. We had our hazard lights on as our only means of telling other drivers to not be mad that we were driving so slowly. I thought we were home free when we were the only two cars in the left turn lane for the Road to Nowhere. Just before the green arrow came up three other cars got in line behind me. Oh great. We turned and Heath said to move over to the right lane so they could pass us.

We found out the next day that Avalon was in one of those cars. She knew it was us because she could see two BYU stickers as her parents drove by on the left. She wondered what we had on top of the van and why we had hazard lights on. After all the cars passed by we were the only two cars on the road all the way home. We made it home safely but slowly and parked in the street blocking our own driveway.

I ran to the neighbor’s house to ask for help with the cabinets. Ron answered the door. I was so happy he was home because he was exactly who we needed. To make things even sweeter he said they were watching football. He disappeared inside for a second and came back out with Nina’s boyfriend and the visiting Aussie friend. It was so great to only have to watch four men carry cabinets into the garage.

There they sit until tomorrow when we begin the adventure of painting them with our children on Veteran’s Day.

All Fame but No Fortune


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Rain has been pounding down off and on all day. This morning the rain was a torrential downpour as I drove kids to school, complete with thunder and lightning. Which is not normal for the Bay Area. The skies were gray as the rain took a short break for me to drop off Parker. Mother Nature was at it again with a fury by the time I took Gwen to school. Thick, heavy drops coming down with such speed and force it was as if the weather was trying to win a contest!

Gwen could not be happier about it. That girl loves rain. I felt content that my kids were finally outfitted for the weather thanks to a little shopping trip on Friday. It was the consolation prize for not being allowed to go to the BYU vs. San Jose State game Friday night. I’m not sure Gwen and Parker felt at all compensated with that shopping trip but I felt good about things with the weather we had today.

Months ago we found out this game would have an 8:30 kickoff. As soon as I heard that I told Heath I would stay home with the kids. He was bummed and so was I. It’s not that often we get to go to BYU football games here in the Bay Area. Unfortunately the timing was simply not going to work. In the end Heath bought four tickets. One for himself, one for Gavin, and two for our neighbors who are San Jose State fans. I would stay home with the “little kids” who can’t handle late games.

By game day our van was full of game goers. As much as it made sense for Heath to carpool that many people to the game I was bummed I wouldn’t be able to drive my car that night. Heath and company took off around 4:30 pm. Parker, Gwen, and I left for the mall soon after. I was completely uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone but I did it. I tried really hard to swallow my fears and make the most of the situation with my kids.

They were excited by the Christmas decorations in Sears. We stopped and took our time looking at everything. I wanted to race through the events of the evening just to have it over with, but I forced myself to stop and allow the kids to kids to enjoy things. It ended up being really fun. We had dinner at McDonald’s mostly because it was conveniently located and a place I was willing to navigate on my own with two kids. Even though it was only 5:00 on a Friday night at the mall, the restaurant was pretty busy. We had to eat at separate tables.

After dinner we found new Sunday shoes and then went next door to JC Penney for warmer coats. Parker found a three in one jacket that is weather proof. The inside liner can zip out and be worn separately or together for a super warm coat. He wore just the outside shell today and was quite satisfied with that. I talked him into getting a few long sleeved shirts. They were perfectly Parker and he was excited.

Gwen chose a snowboarding coat and a few long sleeved shirts. When we got home she asked if she could zip out the inside of her coat too! No honey, you chose a puffy winter coat meant for snow. With the cooler temperatures and all the rain this morning I think she did well with her choice after all. It will keep her warm and dry which was the whole point.

My favorite part of the evening was when we were driving home from the mall. The kids were playing with their new Peanuts toys in the backseat while I drove. Listening to them have so much fun with simple kids meal toys put smile on my face. I did my best to make the rest of the evening fun. We popped popcorn while we looked for Heath and Gavin on BYU’s Countdown to Kickoff show. I told the kids they could stay up and watch the game with me. If they got tired they could go to bed or they could attempt to watch the whole thing with me. I was fine either way.

Heath had gotten really good seats. They were on the 50 yard line in the 14th row. He said there was a chance they could be on TV with those seats. We watched for crowd shots more than we cared about any football in the first quarter! All the crowd shots were so wide it was impossible to identify faces. When there was a little less than a minute left in the first quarter a more intimate shot of the BYU crowd came on. The people were on for a few seconds which was how we realized we recognized them. All three of us said the same thing, “That looks like … wait! It is Dad! And there’s Gavin! And Ron and Margo!” We were thrilled. I skipped back so we could see it again. Then I skipped forward to get back to live TV.

Parker kept begging me to go back and take a picture. I was thinking that we would do that on Saturday when Heath watched the game again. But Parker was in my head and I decided to do it.

I skipped back and paused when Heath was finally looking forward. Ron and Margo had cute smiles too so I figured it was a great picture. Gavin had his hand up pretty much the whole time. I texted the picture to Heath and said, “Nice jerseys.” He had called earlier saying they were having fun at the tailgate party and he bought a couple of jerseys.

Heath showed the picture around the group he was sitting with. He texted it to Ron who posted it on Facebook. I think he said something like, “Two yellows in a sea of blue.” It was reposted several times. Later in the game a lady showed the picture to Heath. It showed up in her Facebook feed. That’s how small the world is I guess. She was a BYU fan from Sacramento who found the same picture in her Facebook feed that Ron had posted earlier. They have nothing else in common! He’s a non-Mormon San Jose State fan. I love that story.

Several people noticed Heath on TV. A lady in our ward was sitting at the top of the same section. Her son had texted her, “I just saw Brother W on TV!” Saturday morning Heath woke up to an email from his Adobe account manager. He had sent a similar picture that he took from his TV when he saw Heath! He is also a BYU fan. That’s the problem with a game that kicked off at 11:30 pm Eastern Time. Unless you’re a BYU fan, there isn’t much reason to watch a game that late. This crowd showed up again in the game. I learned to look for the two yellows in the sea of blue to see if I recognized anyone.

Parker wanted me to take this picture. He was hamming it up for the camera but the jealousy was still real. He couldn’t decide if he was more jealous that Gavin got a cool jersey or that Parker wasn’t on TV because he couldn’t go to the game. He was so upset. “I can’t believe Dad and Gavin are famous!” I have to admit, I was a little jealous too. That could have been me on TV. But no, I took one for the team and stayed home.

Not long after the family’s debut on TV, Parker fell asleep. It was 9:30. This is why I stayed home. Parker has always been an early riser which means he crashes hard pretty early at night. I know how much he wanted to go to the game but this was inevitable. At halftime I made him get up and go to bed. He was not awake and it was pretty funny. He stumbled all the way upstairs dropping one toy at a time. As soon as I retrieved it for him, he would drop another. Somehow he made it into bed!

Gwen saw that Parker was sleeping in the chair so she snuggled down with her blanket too. I don’t think she was actually asleep for this picture. She kept moving around as she tried to get comfortable. I told her to just go to bed. She popped right up with no argument.

The next morning Gavin disappeared for a while. We found him in front of the TV looking like this. It is worth noting that they got home after 1:00 am and that Gavin wanted to watch more TV before going to bed. Apparently he wasn’t tired yet. Oh how that changed! He claims he wasn’t sleeping. He says he was just thinking really hard. Uh huh. He had no idea I even took this picture! Silly boy.

Watching the game wasn’t very much fun without Heath. I didn’t even see much of the fourth quarter. I did wake up to see there were 39 seconds left. Who knew? The score surprised me too. BYU won by one point. The game was supposed to be a total blowout. Heath estimated there were about 10,000 people at the stadium and that about 9,000 were BYU fans. They did say on BYU Sports Nation that there would be a lot of BYU fans. “The Bay Area knows how to represent!” Yes we do. Go Cougars!

Painful Dose of Reality


Back in my teaching days I had students who put in time and effort, and almost blood, sweat, and tears toward getting out of assignments. This baffled me. While I had to appreciate their drive and determination, I couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t just save themselves some stress by simply doing the assignment. I’m happy to report the tradition of procrastination is still alive.

We all do it. It’s not just the kids. My grandma calls it cleaning the closets. She usually does this when she has a major church assignment like teaching a lesson or giving a talk (sermon) in front of the congregation. She knows the assignment is important but suddenly she realizes how disorganized her closets are. I think there is some value in cleaning out the closets. It’s a distraction that allows the mind to work on the assignment. Even if you don’t think that’s what your mind is doing, it is. That’s why we get brilliant ideas in the shower. Our minds have been working on a solution subconsciously until voila! A brilliant idea is born.

Cleaning the closets is not what my children do though. They get an assignment with a due date weeks into the future. They understand this particular assignment will represent a huge percentage of their final grade. The teachers send home plenty of notifications that the kids are working on the assignment in class but if they are behind they should catch up at home. I ask daily how the assignment is coming along. The response is always the same: Everything is great, Mom! Can I go play?

Two days before the assignment is due I’m finally shown the final product to proofread. For a fact based brochure it reads more like a Dave Barry column. What few facts there are seem to have come directly from TV ads. Oh boy. Now I know I have BS’d my way through many an assignment. I want to believe I did a better job than that.

It’s a struggle. But every time the laptop is shoved in my face as if I will let my fingers type out something that magically resembles truth, I get upset. I’m not doing the work. Not my job. It’s not my fault that my child has wasted away all the prep time. This child was told to gather actual facts at school today while the class had time to work on the project. And this child didn’t do it. I don’t know what he/she/it was doing while everyone feverishly worked on the assignment. All I know is it isn’t my problem.

I have a friend who unfortunately only had one child. She certainly wanted more. With only one child to take care of, she can’t help but micromanage. Every time I visit with her she asks me how to deal with different situations. It all boils down to the same answer.

Take a step back and allow him to do things on his own.
If he fails, he fails. At least he’s failing now when the stakes are low.
Let him learn.
Trust that you have taught him what to do and let him choose.

I want to fix this problem my child has created. At the same time, it’s a wonderful learning opportunity. What will children learn if parents hover close enough to fix every mistake? I didn’t waste time. My kid did. The assignment is due, it’s time to pay the piper. If they fail, they fail. That’s life. Maybe next time assignments will be taken a little more seriously. Maybe next time all the little steps will be done on time so the big assignment will be easier to finish. For now we are dealing with two months of work in one night. *sigh* It’s a painful dose of reality but it may be the only way to learn. Some people have to touch the stove to know it’s hot.

Time for Your Big Kid Pants


I’m just a regular person. I put my pants on one leg at a time.

How often do you hear that? I heard it so much as a kid that I tried to put both feet in my pants at once, you know, just to see if I could put them on two legs at a time! It sort of works. The expression is just silly.

I have always been a jean person. They are comfortable and they look good. At the end of a long day, or when I stop caring in the mid-afternoon, nothing beats trading in a pair of jeans for stretchy pants. My stretchy pants are pajama pants in varying cuts and styles. They also vary in condition. My favorite pair of stretchy pants look like the pigs chewed on the bottoms. Really I have worn them so much to clean the house or just to lounge that I have walked off the excess hem like the Redneck I am!

Heath has a couple pair of stretchy pants too. His are black athletic pants that I wish he would wear to referee basketball games. Instead he found a pair of black pants without a colored stripe racing down the leg. They aren’t quite skinny pants but they are cut much the same way, including zippers at the ankles. Besides not being allowed to wear any colors, referees shouldn’t allow any unwelcome breezes to waft around the ankles. That’s what I think when I see those pants. They aren’t my favorite.

Ah but the stretchy pants! I love it when Heath comes home and one of us asks if we are going anywhere that night. The other confirms the no and we pull out the stretchy pants. I should put up a sign on the door: Please don’t call on us tonight, we are in our stretchy pants and otherwise unfit for public viewing. Sundays are the best days because I wear the stretchy pants all morning, change into a skirt for church, then immediately slip back into the stretchy pants after church. I heart stretchy pants.

All this time with stretchy pants has finally caught up with our kids. Gwen wished she had a pair of her own. I thought that was a good idea. She could use some new pajama pants. Then I could toss the pair she has that are starting to look like capri floods. That may sound like another way of saying shorts. It’s not. Her pants fall at a very awkward-way-too-short level on her legs. I made them for her when she was in kindergarten and they didn’t really fit her then.

Stretchy pants for the Little Miss. I liked the sound of that. Maybe it was time I made the kids pajama pants. As soon as the thought entered my mind I decided shopping would be easier and faster. Heath agreed. We were either being very realistic or it was the Stretchy Pants Effect. Either way, I wasn’t in the mood to make pajama pants. The feeling didn’t go away so I bought some pajama pants. One shirt/pants set for Parker and one shirt/pants set for Gwen. Then I found a pair of pants on a clearance table for $3.00! The tag called them stretch pants. I am not making that up! They are gray with colored horse heads all over a la My Little Pony. Who would wear that anywhere but to bed?

Gwen was pretty excited about her pants. She is lounging in them now. Her room is clean (the only way I would give them to her) and her homework is done. Time to relax for sure.

I also bought Gavin a couple more pair of jeans. I don’t know what to do when these pants get too short. Size 16 is the largest size the boys section carries. Even then it’s hard to find. Most of them have an H on the sticker for Husky. My kid is tall not fat. The nice part of buying pants in the boys section is I can usually find adjustable waistband pants. Again, my kid is tall and skinny as a rail. I have struggled for 12 years to find pants that look normal on him.

My brother texted my sister and me wondering what we wanted for Christmas. He said if he had some ideas then we wouldn’t end up with something crazy like a step grandfather clock or a pair of pants with a collar. It’s a reference to a bit by Bill Engvall. He was talking about factory outlet malls. “You can buy a pair of pants with a collar! But you do because they’re five bucks!” Do you remember that Saturday Night Live commercial for three legged jeans? I was watching the show alone the first time I saw it. It was late, I was loopy tired, and the idea of three legged jeans seemed like a really good idea at the time.

I love how well timed Tyson’s text was on the day of pants. I just don’t know what I want for Christmas. That step grandfather clock sounds beautiful …


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