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 …

The Headline: Rain!


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Goodbye shorts. Farewell flip flops. Fall has finally arrived in the Bay Area. November has come with cooler weather and forecasted rain. It promises to be an El Nino year with lots and lots of rain. Please let it be so!

Somewhere in the middle of the night Mother Nature had a good cry. Her tears steadily fell until about midday. The sun played peek-a-boo for a few hours and now the rain has returned. About an inch of rain has fallen today.

The ground has enjoyed a good soaking. Every inch of the inside of the gazebo is drenched. The sides get extra drippy but even the middle of the canvas roof couldn’t contain the extra water this morning. It’s probably about time to put away the cushions for the season. We aren’t likely to sit outside much anymore for a while.

Gwen was so excited about the rain that she danced in it this morning while she waited to go to school. She wore her rain boots to school and told me later that she was grateful for them. We need to get her a rain coat that fits. She was fine with just an umbrella today.

Here is a rainy day story she wrote last week:

“I love the rain! My mom loves the rain too! It is because we were born in the winter. My mom was born in a Utah hospital. I was born in a California hospital. One day we were driving to Washington. We were in Oregon and it was raining so hard. I had to wear my jean jacket. My brothers hated it. It was so awesome. I was very happy. Very, very, very happy. It was the best time ever. Ever!”

Halloween decorations are put away. What few Thanksgiving decorations I have are now out. I saw the Christmas tree scented air freshener and misted it all over because I could. It smells like a mixture of Christmas and warm vanilla in the house. Battery operated candles are flickering away on a table. The sun sets earlier now which invites lights inside earlier. It feels snuggly and safe. Spattering rain drops outside just add to the feeling of snuggly and safe. I think I’m going to enjoy this wet winter.

This is an improvement?

My office exploded. Heath and I have been talking about how to recreate a dining room for long enough that you would think I would be fine with the mess. I’m not.

First we cut the desk because it is an L shape and there was no other way to get rid of the L. In his defense, Heath did say that the desk would look ghetto if he cut it. Maybe I don’t remember the ghettos. Somehow I thought it wouldn’t look so bad. Somehow I thought we could hide it better. Oh my goodness I about cried it looks so bad! Ghetto doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s bad.

Here is an aerial shot. I don’t think I want to take a close up of the desk. You can see that the drawer doesn’t have a top. Anything in the front is easy access. No need to even open the drawer! Heath was concerned about the left corner of the desk needing to be supported in some way. I thought the drawers would fit perfectly in that corner. Well they don’t. This is as far back as we can push them.

The good news is we fit the table in. The dining room has been reclaimed as a dining room. We had lunch there and it was a lovely experience. No one was overcrowded. It was blissful. This is why we had to make the office explode. The table needed to move.

I just don’t know where to put everything that used to sit on or under the two tables we had in there. I folded the legs of the long card table and shoved it in the closet for now. I’m not sure exactly how we will store it but it will be my sewing table. Anytime I need to sew (which is every day now that I’m trying to make Gwen costumes for Christmas), I will pop open the table. The other table, the beast of a table that was given to us, is now our breakfast nook table. I hate it. But I have to wait until tax return time to get a real breakfast nook table and chairs. *sigh*

Most likely the plastic storage bins will flank the windows even after we get long term storage for everything else. It’s not ideal but it doesn’t look all that bad either. It could be worse. We will have to move the shelves off the wall. The boys get first dibs. The pegboard will be relocated as well. The plan is to put it inside a cupboard door. I saw that idea in a magazine and I love it.

I just hate that I don’t know where to put all the piles of stuff. I have purged some of it. Lots has been tossed in the trash or the recycling bin. I even have a donate pile of stuff. Unfortunately I have to find a place to store it until the DI trailer comes back around. The desk is jam packed with stuff. I can’t wait until we get all the cupboards to organize everything.

The gardener came by today and replaced huge sections of sprinklers. He will come by again a couple times this next week to do maintenance and start the cleanup process of taming our jungle. Yay!

I feel like Halloween was such an afterthought today. We got up and immediately decimated the office. I really wish it had walls and not just invisible ones! I need to put all this stuff somewhere and shut the door on it. We went to Chili’s for dinner. I was hoping the kids could wear their costumes. We have done that a couple times and it’s fun to have wait staff make a big deal out of things. Gwen’s tail makes things a little tricky and we weren’t ready to put on Parker’s makeup yet.

It was the perfect night for Trick or Treating. Gavin stayed home to pass out candy to nobody. Why is this circle such a ghost town on Halloween? We took Gwen and Parker around the circle. The neighbors liked their costumes. Then we went through the walkway into the other neighborhood. It was a whole other world back there. There were kids running all over. A large group of teenage boys wore Santa hats. They went door to door singing Christmas carols and offering Christmas candy.

They had the snot scared out of them at one house. They finished singing and were about to leave when a grim reaper looking decoration on a bench suddenly came to life. The boys jumped a mile. It was funny. I was nervous the guy would try to scare us too. Even though I knew it was coming I would have freaked out anyway. He didn’t move a muscle. The kids got their candy and we went on to the next house.

Halloween is such a strange holiday. The kids were literally walking door to door begging for food. Because they were dressed up people smiled and gave them handfuls of candy. So strange. It works though. Their buckets were completely full. They asked if we could go home because their haul was getting heavy! That and their beverages from dinner had gone through them. They had fun. Gwen was sweet enough to pick candy for Parker when needed. His gloves limited his dexterity.

We stopped by Ron and Margo’s house again on the way home. I was glad since Margo wasn’t out there the first time we went by. She was so impressed by the costumes. She loved all the little details. Nina and Ron got a kick out of Parker being Scott Sterling. Being a soccer family, (Nina is a coach now) they have seen the videos. Allie had some friends visiting from Australia. They carved their very first pumpkin and were such proud parents of it! They probably think Halloween is a bizarre holiday. It is. But they were having fun learning the traditions.

When I learned that they were visiting from Sydney, my first thought was our friends who lived in Australia for a few years. The kids would dress up and trick or treat even though Halloween is not recognized there. Some neighbors thought they were crazy. Most would dig through their cupboards trying to find anything worth giving away, like hot chocolate packets, marshmallows, or chocolate chips. Funny. It has been a very busy day. I just wish my house wasn’t a mess. But I am very excited for the holiday season to begin!

Not Our First Parade


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I can’t believe Halloween is here! October flew by. I put out decorations the last day of September I think and then Halloween became the furthest thing from my mind. Suddenly it was upon us and I felt surprised.

We didn’t have any makeup for Parker. Gwen and I went to Target to buy some last night while Heath and the boys helped a family move in. I also had the strangest feeling that life was going to end after Halloween. Not in a doomsday the world is ending sort of way. More like if I got through Halloween then the kids would get a summer length break from school! I don’t know where that feeling came from. And they won’t get any break. Today is a minimum day and that’s it. We’ll set the clocks back on Sunday and life resumes as normal.


Heath and I did our best to make Parker look like he had a black eye. We had the Studio C video playing in the background for inspiration. Parker just cracks me up. He is too funny when it comes to photos.

We didn’t get any extra photos of Gwen this morning. Her costume was easy to prepare. She looks like a stranger to me with her glasses and her head covered. She is an adorable book worm but she doesn’t look like my Gwen. It’s amazing how those two little tweaks will change her face so much.

Gavin got himself off to school in his non-costume that is perfect. He has a full day of school. No minimum day. Bummer.

Heath parked behind the school and we walked the kids up to their lines. By the way, Heath actually got to come with me to the parade! I love when he can come with. The kids sort of scattered when we got to the middle of the blacktop. We never said goodbye.

Heath and I walked to the grocery store for some Diet Coke and treats. It was 8:30 by the time we got back to the school and the parade was scheduled to start in five minutes. Foolishly we didn’t cut across the blacktop to the path we parked closest to. Instead we started down the other path. We were behind a glob of slow parents sauntering down the path to find a good stopping point to enjoy the parade. Heath suggested we cut across the grass to save time.

It saved time but our feet were soaked with morning dew and probably goose poop. I didn’t enjoy walking so close to the Canadian geese all over the field. I hate birds! But they didn’t eat me or peck at me or anything. They parted in front of us like Heath was Moses parting the Red Sea. We got to our van and grabbed the camera and the camping chairs, setting up in the grass. I felt like we were prepared for a long sporting event in our chairs swigging Diet Coke. Some people had chairs but not many.

A ton of people commented on how smart we were to kick back in chairs to watch the parade. “Not your first parade!” was a common saying. I have to say this was the most fun I have had at one of these school parades. The sun wasn’t in our eyes. We were comfortable and we had a perfect view of the kids parading in front of us on the sidewalk. Heath held the camera in front of him and snapped away. We could check on his photos when we got home.

Digital cameras have changed the world of photography. Heath took 176 pictures. I will show you several of my favorites.


Robot and hummingbird.


My Little Pony (Pinkie Pie?) and a garbage can. How hysterical is that?


I love how the staff always coordinate costume themes. Third grade teachers were Disney princesses. Princess Tiana was the best. She has a frog on her left glove. Kindergarten teachers were reading super heroes. I thought that was adorable. I love that Gwen’s teacher remembered us. She was waving like crazy saying hi. Princess Tiana was Gavin’s third grade teacher. I doubt she remembers us even on a non-holiday.


First grade teachers were Mario characters. Mrs. H was Princess Peach. I love that they wore little cardboard carts! Office staff was Sharks hockey players. Special needs teachers and aides were Starbucks baristas.


Fifth grade teachers were pirates. This picture cracks me up. First of all I love the panda costume. Heath and I were jealous of it before the sun started warming up. We were freezing. But Mrs. O looks like she’s about to smack the panda! What is up with that? It’s possible she’s waving to us and Heath caught her at a weird moment. She was waving and going crazy. “Say hello to the W’s in their comfy chairs!”


This was a great paired costume. There are two Claires in Parker’s class. There are also two Parkers. You would think the teachers would avoid that kind of thing when they assign the students to classes. But I do like that these girls embraced it and became Claire 1 and Claire 2. Claire 1 lives up the street from us, is in our ward, and is Avalon’s little sister.


Scott Sterling gave me five as he walked by. He looks good. I also like the leaf boy behind him.


This is Gwen’s teacher. I don’t think the Second Grade team had a theme. Mrs. O has worn the same Red Riding Hood costume for as long as I can remember. Usually they have a fairy tale theme but Mrs. E (who was Parker’s teacher) was dressed as a butterfly. Who knows?

The girl in the wheelchair is a girl in Gwen’s class who messed up her ankle. Gwen was pretty bummed when it happened because Elizabeth is less mobile. Gwen also gets jealous when other kids get to be her special helper for the day. Normally she’s on crutches but good call on the wheelchair for the parade! That was a smart move.


Gwen is holding hands with one of her best friends, Allie. I wish Gwen hadn’t left her book bag in the classroom. It sells the bookworm idea. Oh well. She’s still cute. Such a silly Little Miss.


The ice cream sandwich was creative. There is a donut walking just behind him.


The green guy looks like he’s from Meet the Robinson’s. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be but we loved how he kept his arms out in front of him the whole time. Awesome!


Indiana Jones and a dead guy. That was a fun pairing. I love the cake. Very creative.


And we’ll end our pictures with a rainbow. That was pretty adorable too. Most of the kindergartners were holding hands. I think they paired up with a buddy for the parade. It was so cute to see these little kids holding hands.

It was a fun parade. Great costumes. Lots of fun. I’m ready for a nap now.

Picture Post

There you go. Our new and improved kids bathroom.

“I will not get hit in the face!”
Parker in his gloves and shin guards (that seem to be too little).

Now I need to pull out the blue and purple eyeshadow to bruise his face up. We all know Scott Sterling is the man, the myth, the legend for living after being hit in the face repeatedly with a soccer ball. Did you know a news cast actually reported that Scott Sterling died from his injuries? I am not kidding. Why they thought the video was real is beyond me. It’s a joke people! Studio C is a sketch comedy!

The Wait is Over



A man walked across our backyard last night. Even though Heath and I only saw a glimpse of him before he disappeared behind the gazebo, we knew exactly who it was. The gardener had finally come to assess the sprinkler issues we had reported. I was so grateful that Heath was home to talk to him. I have learned that the gardeners turn on the sprinklers manually and don’t notice any problems. But if Heath is home he turns on the sprinklers from the box in the garage and that’s when the gardeners see what’s happening in real life.

We have had many solenoids changed over the years. I don’t even pretend to know what any of it means. I’m just glad that Heath is home to help the gardeners understand what really needs to be fixed. It’s anybody’s guess as to why yesterday was the magical day to have the landscaping conversation. We have been trying to ask for gardening service for a long time. The gardener said he would charge us the same as what he charged the previous landlord before they had to cancel gardening services.

The guy seemed afraid to say the price out loud. I guess that’s why Heath told me the way he did. First he said the price for cleanup. It was significantly cheaper than what I was expecting based on what other gardeners have quoted us when we were desperate to get anyone to take care of our yard. Those gardeners would tell us some outrageous number and then act like they don’t want to help us anyway. Hence no gardeners. Anyway, Heath said the cleanup price and then said, “I won’t tell you what the monthly maintenance charge is.”

I couldn’t imagine the maintenance price being worse than the cleanup charge. It isn’t. It’s high but we decided it’s worth it. Neither one of us enjoys yardwork. We’re good for mowing the lawn and that’s about it. I don’t even know what to do with the rest of our plants. The gardener did say he would tear out the dead ornamental grass in the front. Yay! That stuff has been crispy for as long as we have lived here. It gets crispier every year. It was nice for him to admit it’s dead and he will rip it out. Heath said we would put in roses in its place. The gardener seemed to like that idea. Roses are easy.

We finally heard from the handyman too. It took sending another email to the landlord for all these positives to take place. I like Heath’s passive aggressive question, “Do you want us to finish the bathroom?” The handyman emailed that he would come over today around 11:00. Heath was kind enough to work from home again because I had another two plus hour long Presidency meeting this morning. The meeting ended at 12:45. Ugh. The handyman was almost finished by the time I got home! Yay!

He didn’t fix the ceiling but he did say he would coordinate a good time with us. That’s all I need. Some communication. I can rest easy knowing he isn’t going to pop in whenever. He will arrange a time that works for us and him before he comes by to take over my kitchen. In the meantime the bathroom is finished. He did say he needs to clean out the grout by the tub. I think that’s another place the water was leaking into the ceiling. So he’ll do that when he comes for the ceiling. That works.

The bathroom is so popular I can’t even get a picture! I will tell you about it. The curtain rod is all one piece. Bliss! It’s screwed into the wall. Even better! The bathroom looks great. I like how it all looks nice with the towels, vinyl quote on the extra long mirror, shower curtain and rug. It looks like we put some thought into the room. The best part is that the boys can use their own dang bathroom in the morning and I don’t have to coordinate times with them anymore. That is worth everything.

The Waiting Game



Parker is sitting on the couch, laptop perched on the arm. It looks like a game of Whack-a-mole when his head pops up to peer out the window. Despite splitting the blinds over and over, his friend is still not out there. Sometimes I wonder what the conversation is like at school when they pre-arrange these get togethers at the park. The last time they planned a park meeting, Parker sat at the park clutching his walkie talkie for an hour. The friend never showed.

This time things ended a little more favorably. Parker got tired of passively waiting at the window. He asked if he could just go to the park to check. Lo and behold, his friend was there! They lost 30 minutes of play time but it doesn’t matter. They are both in the park at the same time.

Meanwhile the handyman never did show up. No knock on the door, no phone call. No nothing. It’s amazing how fast the landlord responds to us when we say there is a problem. After that it’s anyone’s guess. We say there is a leak and the handyman is over in a flash. As soon as he sees it’s not that big a deal we don’t see him for days. In the meantime we get to do the shower shuffle – fitting in four daily showers in one bathroom.

We expected him to finish what he started on Saturday. We timed our showers strategically so one of us was ready to let him in. He never came. He never called. I sort of expected that since he has never come over on a weekend. But he only did half the job on Friday. I’m guessing it won’t take long to finish.

He said he already bought us a screw in shower rod and a shower liner. We bought a nice shower curtain and matching bath mat after dinner on Friday. It doesn’t look like he has finished caulking and the ceiling in the kitchen is still inflated from water. Supposedly the ceiling should be a quick fix since all the water ran down a tape line. Whatever that means. It actually means nothing if the guy never comes back over!

I’m pretty irritated since I had to reschedule my visiting teachers based on a no-show handyman. I rushed around all morning trying to be ready for him to show up. All for nothing. I did cut out Gwen’s first dress and I sewed through several steps already. The nice part about having people come over is my house is spotless. The nice part about secretly sewing Gwen some costumes for Christmas is I have to clean up before she gets home. The office is looking a little tidier. Tomorrow my visiting teachers will show up because I was too eager to believe the handyman job could be finished today. He will probably come over tomorrow. It’s ok, we can sit in the gazebo to talk.

For some reason the landlord refuses to acknowledge our request for a landscaping quote. We stopped trying to ask the gardeners who used to take care of our yard. They won’t answer the question. But the landlord doesn’t seem to care either. Fine. The yard can look like a jungle then. I just wish they would at least fix the sprinklers that are not working.

It’s been a blessing to live here. Just kind of annoying when things go wrong. I can’t rearrange my life for the next couple weeks wondering when the handyman will come over to finish the job. Communication is thrown out the window and he has a tendency to show up at the most inconvenient times. I can’t do this again. I hate the waiting game. At least Parker got to play with his friend. Good things come to those who wait, but not always.

What happens in Vegas affects everything


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On Monday I took kids to school then enjoyed a Diet Coke with Heath while we watched BYU Sports Nation. It has become one of our traditions. If he is home, we have Diet Coke while BYU Sports Nation is on. If we can’t make it happen in the morning, we have to do it in the afternoon. I used to joke that I hated him for making me love that show. I totally love it! Spencer Linton and Jarom Jordan are hilarious. Jarom has a similar opinion and view of BYU sports. It’s just a fun show.

Unfortunately, that day we couldn’t see the end of the show because I had to take Heath to the BART station. He was on his way to Las Vegas for a Tableau conference. Secretly I was upset that he even had to go. He signed up to go months ago. Then the bank put a freeze on expenses like business trips. Something about the interest rates weren’t doing what they expected so money was tight, or something like that. In the quiet recesses of my heart I was pretty excited. No more trips to check on his team in Minneapolis. The Tableau Conference trip would have to be canceled. I could keep him all to myself for the foreseeable future.

Being the upstanding man he is, Heath asked if his employer would make an exception. Most of the conference had already been paid for and it was too late for a refund. I don’t know if this was a bargaining chip, but Heath hopes to present at the conference next year. He had a lot of reasons why he should go. Networking, learning opportunities, etc.

They bought it.

The trip was still on. I was sad. I know it’s important and all but I’m selfish so I pouted about it. And he still left Monday morning shortly before BYU Sports Nation ended. I came home where the emptiness of my house overwhelmed me. Heath has been working from home so much lately that he has become a permanent fixture. It used to throw off my schedule. Now it is my schedule. I’m used to having him home. To go from seeing him all the time to an entire week of not seeing him at all was somewhat painful.

I puttered around the house. The silence was deafening. I didn’t want to listen to music. I just needed noise. So I turned on the TV and cleaned. The TV has become my escape this week. When I was too stressed out or tired or simply didn’t have enough time to start anything else, I turned on daytime television.

Tuesday was supposed to be the hardest day of the week. I woke up early so I could be ready to hit the ground running after dropping off kids. On the way to taking Parker to school I got a low tire warning. Fantastic. I only had to drive somewhere every single day. If all I had to do was drive kids to school I wouldn’t have worried. But my week was full of driving. That night was Gavin’s Cross Country Awards Banquet. I was not looking forward to it. The venue was far away and I had to find it in the dark. With low tires.

You have to understand, my anxiety with driving is more than just driving. More than just driving on freeways. I don’t pump my own gas unless it’s an emergency. And I have never put air in my tires. Velma likes to give low tire warnings often. I don’t get it. We bought her new tires the last time. Here we are again months later and she still wants more air. Stupid van.

I considered crying to my friends that morning while I visited hoping someone would come with me. I decided to be a mature adult about it and not say anything. Instead I waited to pick up Gwen and Parker from school and ask them for moral support. Parker was funny. When I asked if he wanted to help me with something he got really excited. Then I told him what it was and his brows knit.

Parker: I only know how to take off the caps.
Me: Well, let’s go figure it out together!

Most people like to do things alone. They find their kids to be an extra distraction when they run errands. I have broken out of a lot of anxiety because I hauled my kids with me. It’s weird and I can’t explain why it worked for me but I can do a lot of things that I couldn’t before because my kids were with me.

Off to the gas station we drove. I put in my 75 cents. You would think air is free but apparently not. I love how Heath told me to bring extra quarters in case. Part of my fear with dealing with the low tires on my own is remembering all the times Heath has tried to take care of the problem for me and he says it doesn’t work out. The tires don’t inflate enough or the machine is on the fritz or whatever. That did not make me feel better about my situation but the desire to not drive far on low tires won over my irrational fears. Gwen and Parker followed me around the van taking off tire caps and generally loving that I would let them be out there with me. I filled three tires before the machine timed out. So it cost me another 75 cents to fill the last tire. *eye roll* At least my tires were safe again.

The kids got their homework finished quickly and were watching old Phineas and Ferb cartoons on Netflix. I stared at my phone watching the minutes tick off to 6:00. At 6:00 on the nose we left for the awards banquet. Gavin sat up front with the map and directions I had printed. He was my navigator. I was familiar enough with the directions that it wasn’t too hard to find the movie theater.

There were a few things about the evening that bothered me. I thought it was weird that it was being held at a movie theater that has two full restaurant menus to order from. The food was very pretentious and extremely pricey to be eaten in a theater. That’s how that theater works. There are tables scattered throughout the theater and you dine while enjoying the movie. Very strange if you ask me. I have never been to such a place and really couldn’t imagine how that would work.

The prices were a turn off to me. Especially since they were the theater’s prices. It’s not like we were being asked to pay outrageous prices to boost the team’s funds. The menus boasted about their alcoholic beverages but never mentioned if they even offer soft drinks or even water. Having to go through this night without Heath was extremely taxing to me. But I couldn’t be that mom that said we weren’t going. I wanted to go to see the awards Gavin had earned. He had such a great season.

I was able to arrange a ride home for Gavin. The movie would start at 8:00 pm. Um no. I don’t care that the next day is Late Start Wednesday. That’s too late for my little ones. I was certainly not interested in watching Goonies. Apparently Disney has too many rules and restrictions with their movies so the choices were already limited. The team wanted to watch Goonies. Avalon’s dad drove Gavin home. Parker and Gwen were tired when we left. The awards took longer than planned. The movie started sometime after 8:30.

I have mixed feelings about that banquet. I paid $44 for four hot dogs, four soft drinks, and two baskets of fries. It was the most normal food on the menu. There was even a tip line on the receipt. So $3 went to a tip. I felt stupid tipping for overpriced stadium food but was afraid to be a jerk and not do it. They deliver the food to your table so I guess I did the right thing. It was a crappy tip but they got something. Gavin was mentioned once – for the participation certificate he received. Seriously? I went through all that trouble for something he could have picked up at his leisure in the front office?

The slide show was fun to watch on the big screen. It was also cool to learn that the coach bought a nice championship banner for the school. The 7/8 grade girls won their race at the last meet, which was the first championship win in the last 14 years! Apparently the boys were asking last Wednesday if the girls won and cheered like crazy when it was confirmed that they did. This team is pretty awesome. I have enjoyed watching them grow closer as teammates. It has been an inspiring season. I just can’t believe that Gavin only got a participation certificate.

Wednesday worked out well enough. I went visiting teaching in the morning, shopping after that, received the football tickets, picked up kids, then took Gavin to Scouts that night. Gavin hasn’t been for a month!

Thursday was quite the day. So the kids bathroom is leaking again. Since Heath was going out of town for a week we decided the kids could get clean in our bathroom. Heath would let the landlord know about the problem later. That way I wouldn’t be stuck home alone with my kitchen ceiling ripped up. The handyman will be over sometime today. It’s getting late enough I’m wondering what he will possibly do today.

So the boys were using my shower. Gavin was struggling with the door. Periodically the door sags. It has been fine for a long time and started sagging again after Gavin took his first shower in there. I tried to tighten the screws but it wasn’t working. I told him to lift up on the door handle slightly. I kept hearing the banging of him not being able to open the door. It was driving me crazy. Eventually I heard the water come on and the final bang of the door so I figured he was showering and fine.

I told Parker to get ready for his shower. He went in there and immediately came back. He told me that there was water on the floor from the shower to the toilet. It’s a big bathroom so that is a lot of water on the floor. I was texting with my mom and emailing with the Primary President. Not really the news I needed at that moment. Sure enough there was water everywhere. I didn’t react well. I was exasperated and clearly upset. Gavin finally started talking.

Gavin: There is a problem with your drain.
Me: No there’s not! What are you talking about? What happened?
Gavin: Not the shower drain. The sink.
Me: I know it’s draining slowly but what does that have to do with anything?
Gavin: I turned on the hot water and (sheepishly) left it on while I showered.

We will stop the conversation there. It went downhill fast. I was so mad. I told the boys to turn on the shower and wait a bit before getting in because the hot water takes a minute to come in. I never said to use the sink. Years ago Heath had taught them the trick of turning on the faucet to get hot water. My absent minded professor had used that trick and not noticed the sink filling up quickly, nor did he think to shut off the water before getting in the shower. It’s not like we’re in a drought or anything!

Gwen didn’t want spaghetti for dinner. I was already thinking of going to the store to get stuff for the chicken sandwiches she wanted. I decided to buy something to unclog the sink too. Heath was planning on taking the pipes apart to fix the problem since it was getting that bad. I wasn’t concerned. I was the only one using the sink. I never would have guessed this unfortunate turn of events. I also can’t believe how often we have plumbing issues in this house. I’m just glad that we don’t have to pay for any repairs. There are some benefits to renting.

There was no rest for the weary though. I put a band aid on that problem then I got a text from the Primary President to print a bunch of forms for a newly appointed teacher. I needed the forms that night to give at a Stake special needs training. I’m not very adept at Excel and all the forms had to be updated before I could print. Heath wasn’t home to help me. I was glad he was able to text me how to fix the formatting where needed. That took up a lot of time while the kids did homework. Then I had to make dinner while finishing up laundry before rushing off to the church for the meeting.

I got there a little late and noticed I was the only representative from the ward. I kept looking around and sure enough I didn’t recognize a soul in the chapel. Five minutes later the president and first counselor showed up. It was the three of us for quite some time. We finally saw two other Primary workers had slipped into the back. Five of us. That was it. It was a training on teaching children with special needs. It was supposed to be for any leader or teacher of children under age 12. This involves Primary, Nursery, Cub Scouts, and Activity Day leaders. Five of us showed up. That was disappointing to me because seriously, I had as much reason as anybody to not go. But I trusted that my kids could watch a movie without killing each other in my absence.

The training was fantastic. I was struggling to focus but not because it wasn’t presented well. I just didn’t want to be there. I was mentally exhausted. I really wish that the teachers could have been there to have their minds open to simple tricks and techniques to reach all their students. Even I am guilty of feeling like finishing a lesson is the end of my responsibilities as a Primary teacher and I have a Special Ed degree! Love was the running theme throughout that meeting. Love all the children as God loves them. Help them learn to love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It’s that simple.

This morning I went to a two hour long Primary Presidency meeting. Ugh. I came home to blog while I waited for Heath to come home. The handyman called and that’s when I remembered why I needed to clean my house! I kept thinking that Heath wouldn’t care if he came home to a cluttered house with dishes on the counter. Oh yeah. The handyman was coming over to deal with the leaks. Good heavens. I have lived day to day and each day new things come up that make me live one event to the next. I can’t keep it straight. Right now I can’t wait for Sunday to be over so we can be done with the Primary Program Sacrament Meeting. It’s the last major event for a little bit.

The handyman is here and he is taking down the shower doors in the kids bathroom! Yay! I hate shower doors. I would so much rather have a curtain. The landlord has signed off on it so the handyman is getting us a rod. We just have to get the curtain.

My brain is full and eyes must be burning from reading this. Have a lovely weekend, I will write about smoke and desperation later. Heath and I both described Vegas that way at the same time. I’ll tell those stories later.


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