"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Scariest Experience Part Two

Read the first part here, if you missed it.

Okay...where was I? Oh yes, shaking with tremendous nervousness...

Before I get too far into the story, here's one other thing you should know about me: I hate door-to-door solicitations. I have three reasons 1) I've been scammed twice 2) I have a really hard time saying no to anything and 3) I am so completely paranoid of anyone I don't know. I used to have a "No Solicitors" sign by the front door but it was removed and hidden in the bushes, by a salesman, I'm guessing. And anyone with small children will tell you just how hard it is to not answer the door, once the kids have heard it. They going running to the door, yelling for me at the top of their lungs, and will frequently hold conversations with the visitor through the door.

It was a typical evening, not at all dark and stormy, though it was rather chilly. I'm getting dinner ready and the doorbell rings.

*Groan*

It's prime time for solicitors. Sure enough, standing on the front step is a young man wearing a jacket with the name of our phone company. But he doesn't want to sell me anything, no ma'am. He just wants to make sure we are getting the most benefits with our current package. I play the "naive lil' housewife" card and say I know nothing about our phone but if he'd like to talk to my husband, I expect him home shortly. He promises to return and leaves. I think nothing of it and head back to the kitchen.

Two hours later, doorbell. I was in the middle of making dessert so the Man answers. It's the phone company rep again. The Man goes outside to talk to him and I get back to making my caloric overload. It's been nearly half an hour when the Man comes back inside. He's going to make some changes to the phone. I insist that he invite the guy in because it's nearly freezing outside. He does and soon we are all seated at the kitchen table with plates of warm cinnamon braid and milk. As he reworks our phone plan, he casually makes remarks about how he likes the idea of Family Home Evening (our FHE assignment board hangs right there) and asks what we do during them. We chat a little about family and such. He is a long way from home (a Texan, no less!) and too young to have a family of his own.

The phone changes are made, paperwork is signed and yet, he stays. Maybe it was my cinnamon braid or maybe it was the falling temperature outside or maybe it was the constant flow of questions he had about the Church, families, Jesus Christ and prophets. I tried to answer without preaching, just stating our beliefs. Of course, I'm getting nervous, so I'm stammering and shaking a little, the Man fills in as necessary. Why am I getting nervous? It's just a conversation! But I know why...because there's a warm spot growing in my gut. I can feel the Spirit in the room. Even the kids are behaving. And I can't get the thought of that lonely Book of Mormon out of my head.

At one point, after answering questions about the Book of Mormon's origins, I ask if he has read it. He says no, he doesn't have one.

"Would you like one?" and there it is...the moment of truth.

"Yes," he replies with a smile.

A moment later, I hand him the copy from the dresser. He smiles and thanks me. He holds it for a little longer, looking at the cover, then he puts it away and asks how he can find a chapel closest to where he lives.

After he leaves, I begin to doubt. Was it real? Was he sincere? Is it some contest he and his roommate are having, see how many Books of Mormon they can get while here in Utah? But he was the one asking the questions, not me. He continued the conversation after dessert was finished. And I cannot deny that the Spirit was present.

I wish I had a happy ending. I wish I could tell you that we just received his baptism announcement or have seen him at church. But the truth is, we never heard from him again. I don't know if he is back in Texas, if he read the Book or if he even remembers our discussion. So I keep him in my prayers and continue making my cinnamon braid, whether or not it converts strangers.

One Book down. One to go...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Scariest Experience

It was a dark and stormy night...

Just kidding. It's not that kind of scary. It's the kind where your soul is nervous; not where you fear for your mortality but for the eternity of someone else.

I don't think I would have made a good missionary. In fact, I am pretty sure I would have been awful. But my papers were ready to go. All I needed was the dentist to sign off on my teeth (I don't have my lower wisdom teeth so there was nothing to be extracted). Still, I hesitated. Then I met the Man and my paperwork was forgotten. Sometimes I still wish I had been a missionary, to have lived the gospel and the scriptures every day for 18 months. I know I have a testimony but I think I wanted the devotion.

I've gotta explain something here: When I get nervous, I shake. If I'm nervous enough, it's like I'm having convulsions. I feel sorry for the anesthesiologist whenever I'm about to have surgery. And if I am really nervous, I start to cry. And we all knows what happens when I start crying...no one can understand a word I am saying. Yeah...so there's the background. I'll just say that I have never, ever been so nervous as when I am trying to tell someone about the Church, trying to tell a little of what I know to be true.

I have tried to share the gospel before. It's something that is so precious to me, how could I not want to share? I tried telling my best friend about it when we were freshmen in high school. Her response was to invite me to her youth group where her church leaders proceeded to explain to everyone why Mormons have it all wrong. We didn't stay friends much longer (but that could also be because she stole my boyfriend...). Then in college, I tried again with a best friend. She met with the missionaries, asked a few questions but that was it. I felt like a failure. At least we are still close. I went to see her and another good friend a little while ago. Before the trip, I bought a Book of Mormon to give for each of them. I prayed about it, thought about it the entire trip but in the end, I just didn't feel right about giving those books at that time. I couldn't. Completely chickened out. I packed the books back into my luggage and hid them in my dresser when I got home.

But still, I found myself wanting to give them to someone...seemed so lonely hiding there, without anyone reading through, finding the scriptures that spoke to them, no one to say "Yes! This is what I have felt all along! Finally!" So I prayed again...hoping to find the books a good home.

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

FHE: The Scriptures Teach About Jesus Christ

I'm still taking advantage of the fact that I substituted in Primary. There was a really great Sharing Time lesson so I copied it for our lesson tonight. (Oh, and still haven't gotten the dinner he promised me...I think I'm going to start hiding his socks until he makes good on his promise.)

Opening Song: Twinkle Little Star (I could probably skip this part of the recounting, since it's the same every week, let we suffer the wrath of the Boy.)

Opening Prayer: The Man.

Lesson: I made the kids a little booklet (just like the one from Sharing Time). Each page was titled with a different book of scriptures. I talked about each book first and how it taught us about Jesus along with a word or two word that defined those teaching. Then the kids got to draw a picture that went along with a theme word.
  • Old Testament: Isaiah prophesied about the coming of a Christ, that Jesus would be our Savior. The theme was birth of Christ. Da Boo drew a little cocoon baby. The Boy scribbled.
  • New Testament: Here is the recounting of Christ's ministry and all that he accomplished for us. One of those things was his baptism, the theme. Da Boo drew two ghost-shaped figures standing in a circle, representing Jesus and John the Baptist in the river. The Boy scribbled some and then drew circles on the other pages.
  • Book of Mormon: In this book, we read about Christ's teachings among the people on the American continent, how he wanted them to serve one another. The theme was serving others. Da Boo drew herself walking someone's dog. The Boy didn't really color but did enjoy pretending to be a dog.
  • Doctrine and Covenants: The Prophet Joseph Smith received important revelations and those were written here. Among them were things about how families can be together forever. Da Boo drew a stick figure family (with the Boy crying...don't ask me why). The Boy drew a series of circles...and if the biggest circle - the one that encompassed another page - turns out to be me, he is sooooo not getting a treat tonight.
  • Pearl of Great Price: The scriptures here tell of the creation of our world and the part that Jesus Christ played in that. I asked them to draw something that they liked about our earth. Da Boo drew the earth itself, proclaiming a large wedge to be Utah. The Boy drew a circle and then stabbed it with his crayon several times.
  • Modern-Day Prophets: We are trying to help the kids understand that Thomas S. Monson is now the Prophet. I told them how, when he talks to us in General Conference (which the kids know as "church you get to watch on tv in your jammies"), he tells stories about the kind things that people can do for others. They were supposed to draw something nice they can do for someone else. Da Boo drew a cat eating from a dish. The Boy drew a series of circles and scribbled on them.
Closing Song: Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam

Closing Prayer: Da Boo. She prayed that Daddy would give a good lesson. Huh?

Treats: I made a cake earlier that day. There were trimmings from the cake and lots of frosting leftover. I let the kids have their own little circles (apparently the Boy's theme tonight) of cake and I used frosting to write whatever they wanted. Da Boo asked for her name. The Boy asked for - I kid you not - "stinky," which you can make out a little on the parts he hadn't eaten yet.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Product Review: Chicago Cupcakes Tray Two

Shall we skip the intro and get to it? In order as they appear in the tray...

Tray Two:


Cherry Almond



This was the Co-ed's first choice and consequently, the first cupcake we tried. It smelled heavenly! The cake was vanilla and the frosting was cherry almond flavored, of course. These cupcakes were not very tall at all, around 1 1/2 inches, and were topped with a good 2-3 inches of frosting.
Co-ed: Frosting tastes like ice cream. 6
Aunt D: Lots of frosting. The Boy was happy to assist her with any she was unable to finish. 7
Me: I thought the cake tasted a lot like shortbread but was a little disappointed that there wasn't more flavor. 6

PBJ


Peanut butter cake with raspberry jelly frosting! There was also a chocolate-dipped potato chip on top. Rather clever!
Co-ed: Tastes just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! 8
Aunt D: Really liked the frosting. 7
Me: I thought the peanut butter cake was really good. 8

Classic Yellow

Don't hate us but we couldn't do it...we couldn't dig our forks into another cupcake. So we awarded this one immune and called it a night. The Co-ed took one of these home and told me today that it was really good. Also, da Boo declared these her favorite because they looked just like the cupcakes described in one of her Junie B. Jones books: fluffy white frosting with rainbow sprinkles.

Malt Ball


Aunt Denise selected this one to try. She got to eat the malt ball on top. And sadly, this was a nice chocolate cupcake with plain vanilla frosting. The only thing malt about it was the candy decoration on top.
Co-ed: Tastes like a regular cupcake. 4
Aunt D: Expected a malt flavor, disappointed. 5
Me: Has a name like Malt Ball but with vanilla frosting? Doesn't make sense. 5

And that's it! Those are the cupcakes! There were more than a dozen leftover, even after I sent the Co-ed and Aunt Denise home with some. I took the rest to a dinner party tonight where we had a mini taste test. Double Chocolate is the clear winner. PBJ and Red Velvet were well liked, too. The Chocolate Chip Cheesecake and Malt Ball got the lowest scores, although the cheesecake one was a favorite tonight. (Read about Tray One here.)

Thank you to Molly for hosting the contest where I won these cupcakes. It was a lot of fun to try them out. They were so beautiful to look at and rather tasty, too. And I have a new cake posted.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Product Review: Chicago Cupcakes Tray One

Since the Man was not home Friday night, I invited over Aunt Denise and the Co-ed for a Girl's Night. We had Costa Vida for dinner and after watching a little Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth version), we returned to the table for the cupcakes.

I have to tell you, I was so very excited about these cupcakes. Not only were these a prize, but they were just sooooo pretty. There were 24 cupcakes from Chicago Cupcakes, eight different flavors with three of each kind. Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "Worse than licking the bottom of my foot" and 10 being "So wonderful that my tastebuds have been translated and now live with Baby Jesus." We cut one cupcake into four pieces, one for each adult and one for the kids to share/fight over.

Ready? Here goes: Tray One (being the top tray in the box).


Chocolate Merlot


As I licked my fingers after removing this cupcake from the tray, I thought it was rather tasty, very raspberry/grape-ish. The cupcake was a nice chocolate but ordinary. The Boy particularly enjoyed picking off the chocolate curls.
Co-ed: First bite was the best. Started as 10, dropped to a 7
Aunt D: The aftertaste is not good. 5
Me: Mmmmm...except for the afterburn. Merlot is a kind of wine and the icing tastes like it. 7

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake


Da Boo loved this one. She insisted on eating all the chips that we didn't eat. The cake was white with only a few chocolate chip on the bottom. Frosting was cream cheese.
Co-ed: The cake part was nothing special. 4
Aunt D: Average. 5
Me: Cream cheese frosting was pretty good but a little disappointed with the promise of "chocolate." 5

Red Velvet



This was my first choice! I thought it was so pretty and I haven't had red velvet cake in ages. Aunt Denise had never heard of Red Velvet so this was a learning experience for her. Cake was, of course, red velvet and the frosting was same cream cheese as the cheesecake.
Co-ed: Frosting kinda over-powers the cake flavor. 6
Aunt D: Good frosting! 7
Me: I really like this cream cheese frosting and would like to know their secret on how they got it so light and fluffy. 8

Double Chocolate


Oooooh, baby! Couldn't wait to get my fork into this one! This was the Boy's first choice. He kept calling it a spooky cupcake. Not sure where he got that but it was sure funny to hear him say "oh, dat's spooky!" and then pretend to be scared. Cake was chocolate and so was the frosting. Surprising, no?
Co-ed: Frosting tastes like ice cream! (This was the only one out of all eight flavors where the Co-ed actually ate all the frosting...) 9
Aunt D: Chocolate! ('nuf said!) 9
Me: First of all, I am a chocolate snob. Yes, it was good but maybe I was expecting...more. 8.5

And that's it for the top tray. Look back tomorrow for Tray Two. Remember, we did try these in one sitting and it's taken a bit to recover from the sugar overload.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oh my...

As I mentioned yesterday, I won two contests. The second one was a Valentine's Day contest to win cupcakes from a designer Chicago bakery. I entered, thinking that cupcakes sounded rather tasty just then. Mine was the last entry and I won!

This morning the doorbell woke me up. I won't tell you what time it was because you'll hate me. Besides, most of you know my kids are late sleepers. So I stumble downstairs and open the door. No one is there.

But there was this:


Oooooo...


And then the angels began singing as I uncovered these:

AND these:


Oh my...and you would not believe the flavors!

I think I need to call in reinforcements. The Co-ed and Aunt Denise will be coming for dinner. We'll make it a taste test. Anyone else available?

And there was dry ice to help keep the cupcakes frozen so of course I had to show the kids how cool that stuff looks in water. Yes, I used tongs and no, the kids were not allowed to touch the dry ice. And yes, I giggled like I was six years old again and making pop bottle bombs in the front yard.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Meet Sven

Last week was my week. I had an awesome Valentine's Day, won not one but two contests and lost three pounds!

I won this contest with this video. If you haven't watched it yet, save it for when you are feeling impossibly grouchy and need reassurance that there is still good left in the world. For my prize, I got to pick anything I wanted from this Etsy store. It was a difficult choice but ultimately, I settled on Sven. Hollywood creates these fantastic personalities to go along with her stuffed creatures. You have to read his story to really understand him. He is so incredibly soft, I might just take him to bed with me, since the Man is out of town tonight.


Sven arrived this afternoon. While thrilled to see the snow banked around our house, he also took note of my non-swimmer's physique. He tried for 17 minutes to convince me that I needed to swim the English Channel, to make a name for myself. I showed him my metal shoulder. He suggested my Bionic-ness might add to my media appeal. I gave him a dirty look. Before he could "encourage" me further, he was snatched away by da Boo and spent the rest of the afternoon watching a Barbie movie and hugging a horse.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FHE: Choose the Right

As if you didn't already know...I can totally be bought. But I ain't cheap.

Case in point: the Man came home from work on Monday, completely exhausted. Try as he might, he just could not think of a lesson for FHE. I am pretty merciless when it comes to his turn to teach, considering I teach 3 out of 4 lessons. Instead of being the loving wife and offering to take over that evening, I was a ruthless mercenary and told him my price. He has to take me to dinner at Tucanos, a local restaurant that we usually only go to when my father-in-law is visiting. He agreed.

It just so happened that I had substituted in Primary on Sunday (again) so I had a mini-lesson all ready to go by just picking a section from there. The main lesson was on how the Holy Ghost helps us to choose between right and wrong.

Opening Song: Twinkle Little Star (what? Surely you know the drill by now!)

Opening Prayer: da Boo (well, it supposed to be da Boo helping the Boy but he stopped talking about the first sentence so she carried on.)

Lesson: I asked the kids how they feel when they help Mommy carry clothes to the laundry room, if they get a good feeling or a sad feeling. Answer: Good. Then I asked how they feel when they are fighting with each other, if it's a good feeling or a sad feeling. Answer: Sad (although the Boy said he felt hungry).

I had some pictures to show them of little kids like them doing things. I wanted them to show me with their faces if these kids would feel happy inside or might be feeling sad. So big smiles or frowns. (By this point, we lost the Boy...he was chasing a ball around.) I found the pictures here.

  • Boy carrying trash can outside: Smile.
  • Little boy with a cigarette: Frown (and a lecture on how smoking is bad for you).
  • Girl giving her bishop a tithing envelope: Smile (although I had to explain this one a little more).
  • Big brother with arm around crying little brother: Smile.
  • Little boy taking cars that belong to his friend:Frown.
  • Two older boys being mean to a little boy: Frown.
  • Little girl holding out a plate of cookies: Smile.

Then I asked da Boo where those happy and sad feelings inside came from. She wasn't sure, so I explained. Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to choose the right and be happy so they sent their special friend the Holy Ghost to whisper those feelings into our hearts. The Holy Ghost helps us feel all warm and squishy inside when we choose good and he nudges us with sadness when we don't make such a good choice.

It's very basic. I was losing their attention. We'll cover more of the Holy Ghost another time. And hey! I didn't show them a movie this time!

Closing Song: Listen, Listen (The Man didn't know this one...I guess he needs to sub in Primary, now that he's been released from the bishopric!)

Closing Prayer: The Man.

Treats: A small piece of strawberry cake and a few M&Ms...because the kids couldn't decide which one they would rather have.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's All About ME

The whole premise of this blog was so I could talk about me. Me is my favorite subject. What could possibly be more interesting than ME? To prove this point, I am accepting a tag from Amanda. Besides, I have to make up for talking about someone else on my blog. Trust me...this is going to be fascinating.

10 years ago--
I received an upgrade as the Bionic Woman. Actually, I got a spiffy new metal shoulder. Replaced the half metal/half donor bone I had before. I now set off metal detectors at the airport but sadly, no magnets stick to me. Now I could officially say I had artificial humor. (See? Fascinating!)
And I was stupidly waiting for a missionary...yeah, that was a waste of two good dating years! But that's another post for another day...maybe.

5 Things on my to do list today were:
1. Decorate cake
2. Deliver cake along with da Boo and birthday present
3. Go to mall and herd children for Build-A-Bear party
4. Try not to sit at my computer, eating chocolate all afternoon after said party
5. Go to Plan B for dinner tonight because I don't feel like going to the store (supposed to have rotisserie chicken so I can make BBQ chicken pizza later in the week but it's gonna be spaghetti and meatballs instead!)

Snacks I enjoy----
Chocolate. My current favorite are those orange jelly sticks covered in dark chocolate. Also a few sips of Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper. I also have these 100 calorie packets of microwave kettle corn and those are quite enjoyable.

Things I would do if I were suddenly a Billionaire:
GET A DOG! Because this will be my money, right? It doesn't belong to the Man so he doesn't get to pick, right?
Hire a housekeeper for once a week...someone to clean the bathrooms, mop the floors...stuff I really hate to do.
Pay off our house and van.
Pay off my parents' "house"
Get serious about publishing my book.
Take the entire extended family on a vacation to Devil's Tower so we could run around it, clapping out hands together and pretending to ride horses...again.
Give a lot of money to charitable organizations that I believe are doing some real good.

3 of my bad habits---
1. Utter lack of "won't" power.
2. Extremely opinionated.
3. Tendency to get lost blog-hopping instead of doing the laundry (kinda like right now).

Jobs I've had:
Babysitter (I wasn't very good)
Cookie store at the mall (sold those giant cookie cakes, grew to hate the smell of coffee and the taste of macadamia nuts)
Telemarketing (sold credit cards...please don't hate me!)
Market Research (paid people to take taste tests, try out products, etc., which was really fun unless it was the weeks we were testing diapers...)
Mervyn's (still trying to block the memories)
Receptionist at aloe vera product company (routinely hit on by the illegal aliens working in the warehouse)
Product Line Manager at same aloe vera company (here's a tip: we made our money in the shipping fees!)
Volunteer Recording Program (read textbooks onto tape for blind students and possibly my most favorite paid job)
Assistant to financial adviser (was so not suited for that job but I stayed for nearly 3 years because apparently I am a masochist)
Momma (hardest work I've ever done but also the best)

5 Things people don't know about me----
1. I once hit a car in a restaurant parking lot and then drove away! (that's probably my darkest secret...so glad to get that off my chest! And before you start throwing stones, I was only 17 and scared! And stupid!)
2. I once got out of a ticket by crying.
3. I really like reading the Junie B. Jones books to da Boo. They make me laugh!
4. There are a total of 7 scars on my body from surgeries.
5. While I am a friendly person and talk to a lot of people, I really don't have that many friends, and by friends, I mean the people you can call at 5 in the morning to come watch your kids while you go to the emergency room, the people who surprise you with plates of cookies for no reason other than they wanted to do that, the people who don't treat me differently because I cannot raise my right arm to the square. Those are my friends. And you know who you are.

And now my turn to tag...Brooke, Suzanne, Wendiloo, and the other Brooke.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Meet The Co-ed!

This is the Man's little sister, the Co-ed. She's cute, isn't she? And she's really fun. And she listens to me when I talk forever about random things. And she laughs at most of my jokes.

The Co-ed is an Aries, freshman at a major university, a Dietetics major and totally single. She is taller than me (but who isn't?) and much thinner (again...who isn't?). Also? She is a better dresser. I get her input on fashion choices. She is a really great aunt and the kids adore her. Da Boo loves how she sings her to sleep when she babysits.

While an excellent saxophone player, she was also on her high school's golf team. She cooks, she clean, she sews. Aside from her irrational fear of pickles, she is the perfect woman. But if you ever want to make her gag, just leave strands of your hair in the sink.

The Man and I got married when she was seven. His family had never seen him with a girl, never holding a girl's hand, let alone kissing a girl. She found the whole situation awkward. To compensate, she began counting how many times we kissed. Yeah...remember how often you kissed your husband on your wedding day? We really tested her counting abilities!

Update on the story: the boy did not join us for dinner. I cannot tell you more. She has threatened to not babysit if I reveal all the details. I will say that some boys, who are return missionaries, are just a little more into the idea of a committed relationship than some girls, who are brand-new to the whole college experience. That's all I can tell you! Don't ask for more! (Unless, of course, you offer to buy me lunch...you know how indulging in Chinese food tends to loosen my lips...)

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Heart Dinner Parties!

For Valentine's Day, we had our traditional heart-shaped dinner. Now, last year, I made a heart pizza. I wanted to try something different this year but was vetoed by the Man, who happens to be addicted to my homemade pizza (See? He didn't just marry me for my good looks). The Co-ed quickly sided with the Man so I was out-voted. Our guests included Aunt Denise, the Co-ed and one of her roommates.

The Main course:


Made two because there were more people this year:



And the heart pears:


Drinks were in my new goblets, Sprite with cranberry ice cubes (got the tray from Ikea) As they melted, they turned the soda a really pretty pink color. The Boy spilled his after 2 minutes, which is why the kids got plastic cups. Here is how they looked at first:


For dessert, the kids had Cupid Cups. Mine did not turn out nearly as cute as the ones on the Kraft Foods website...dang chocolate hearts:


And the adults had this for dessert:


And no, those flowers are not rising from the top of the fountain...

We went between snacking on melty chocolate to playing on the Wii, to making the Co-ed feel uncomfortable...but I'd getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

After dinner, we exchanged cards and small gifts. Then the kids got into jammies and we had family prayer. While I was getting the kids in bed, the Co-ed's phone rang. It was a boy she has been "just hanging out" with for a couple weeks. While she's trying to explain to him where she is at the moment, we're all shouting out that she should invite him over (so we could check him out, of course). She invites him. He accepts. Directions are given and the giggling commences. He arrives. We crank up the chocolate fountain and hand him a Wii remote. While the Co-ed and this poor guy play tennis, the rest of us are giggling at the table. Eventually, we change positions and everyone gets a chance to play (for the record, I totally smeared the Co-ed at bowling). After most of the goodies are gone, I turn off the chocolate fountain. With chocolate no longer freely flowing, our guests gather their coats and cards. Being a gentleman, he drives the Co-ed and her roommate home. But there's more...he may be back here with her for dinner on Sunday! Stay tuned!

**Edit...
I will have to ask the Co-ed's permission to post a picture.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Day!

Today has been pretty dang good! I will recount for you the many reasons why this day rocks:
  1. Made a cinnamon braid for breakfast. Those are just really tasty.
  2. Delicious breakfast puts everyone in a good mood so the kids don't fight (much) until lunchtime. Because pb&j just isn't as good.
  3. So far, the Man has given me flowers last night, a cool silicone oven mitt at breakfast (just in time to use !), a set of goblets at lunch, and a box of chocolates after dinner. I just love having gifts spread out all day! And he's hinting at gifts still to come...
  4. It is very unusual for the Man to give me anything for Valentine's Day so being showered with gifts is really amazing. Our first Valentine's Day, we were dating but on the verge of becoming engaged. In fact, we had a camping trip planned with some good friends to Zion's National Park for the weekend. He was going to propose to me on top of Angel's Landing on Valentine's Day. How romantic, right? Well...long story short, he didn't get the ring in time and instead did absolutely nothing for me. Yeah. I cried. Then the next year, as newlyweds but still in college, he took a test until 9 pm that night. And he wondered why I locked myself in the spare bedroom and wouldn't talk to him! He's gotten better over the last 10 years. And this year? The best one so far!
  5. Went shopping. That's always fun, even if I don't get anything.
  6. I almost got a nap. I was exhausted, laid down, and just as I drifted off, the doorbell rang. So I felt better and then had other people in the house to keep me on task for getting dinner ready.
  7. I found out I won a prize! I never win anything! This is very exciting...
  8. One year ago today, I started this lovely blog. Back then, three people read it. Now, I can say that I think as many as eight might stop by on occasion...if they are looking for poems about ducks.
We make Valentine's a family affair, with handmade cards and small gifts to exchange. Like we talked about earlier in the week, this holiday is for showing our family how much we love them. I showed my kids some love by constantly slipping them pieces of chocolate. Because I'm cool.

It is our tradition to have a heart-shaped dinner. So dinner tonight was all hearts and lots of fun. We invited Aunt Denise, the Co-ed, her roommates and a "special friend." I must say, we had a lovely time embarrassing the Co-ed to no end. I shall have to give details tomorrow, along with pictures from dinner. But seriously? I'd be surprised if she ever talks to us again. hehehehehehe...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This Stinks

Scene after dinner.

Me: Okay, kids, put your plates on the counter. You have a few minutes to play and then it's time for a bath.
Boo: Why do we have to take a bath? (said in whiniest voice possible)
Me: Because you stink.
Boo: I don't stink.
Me: You stink.
Boy: I stink!
Boo: You always stink, Boy.

Family. The entertainment never ends!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FHE: Love One Another

Since I've been slacking the last few weeks, I was determined to make this one a little better. It helped that I got a nap this afternoon (laid down "for just a minute" and woke up nearly 2 hours later!). Gotta love those pain killers.

For dinner, we had some more of the Batter Blaster. We decided we didn't much like the waffles it made last time. This time, I had fun making letters and fancy shapes. Because I am the coolest Momma ever!


Opening Song: Love at Home (the Boy threatened a meltdown when his selection of Twinkle Little Star was vetoed.)

Opening Prayer: The Man.

Lesson: I asked the kids about their bedtime routines, where we go through certain steps before we get into bed. With each child, I have a different way of saying "I love you." They remembered that part (well, the Boy did after a little coaching). Then we talked about how we love our family.

Me: Why did I make pancakes for dinner tonight?
Boo: Because we were hungry.
Boy: Mmmmm...pancakes.
Me: Do I make them every time you're hungry?
Boo: No.
Boy: Pancakes good.
Me: I made pancakes tonight because it's a special dinner and I wanted to do something nice for you. Do you know why?
Boo: Because you're a nice Momma? (she totally gets bonus points!)
Boy: Eat pancakes now, Mommy?
Me: I wanted to do something nice for you because I love you.
Boo: Ohhhhhh...right.
Boy: PANCAKES!

Then we talked about how we can be nice to each other by doing special things for the people we love. I told them that Valentine's Day was this week and we should try to find ways to help each other every day, to show our love. They got a little distracted when I mentioned we can put away our siblings' shoes for them, then they both dashed around, trying to find a pair of shoes to put away. I asked them different ways to show love. I was then attacked by both of them giving me hugs and kisses. I liked that part.

Before the song, I told them the song was from the scriptures, that Jesus loves us very much and he wants us to love each other, too.

Closing Song: Love One Another

Closing Prayer: Me (because the kids were far too excited about giving and getting Valentines to sit still.)

Activity: Put together Valentines for their classmates. I got the ones that come with tattoos because they're fun and the kids are going to get lots of candy any way. Did the same thing with Halloween treats - I gave glow bracelets instead of candy. Means all the more candy for me!

Treat: We had Wendy's for lunch today so they got to eat their Frosty.

We will have the traditional heart-shaped dinner this year. Last year, I made pizza so I wanted to do something else this time. I was out-voted. Pizza, again. At least the dessert will be new.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stairs for Dummies

Apparently, I have a problem. I cannot handle stairs. You'd think this was a skill I should have picked up while still in diapers. I guess not.

A while ago, I fell down the stairs. A few days later, I did it again. But my klutzhood is not limited to the episodes in our fair country. Oh, of course not. I even blogged about a most spectacular fall I took while touring London. This utter lack of coordination took place at the British Library while attending an exhibit. And so I wrote about it because I have no shame. Time passed, I forgot all about it - which is probably why I continue to attempt stairs, because I forget I keep falling.

Then I installed Google Analytics. I noticed an interesting source of traffic to my site and looked in to it. Turns out that someone over at the British Library regularly searches the Internet for references to their collections and exhibits, then features a little snippet of the posts on their site. They found my self-effacing blog post. The description of my display of stair-bungling is a few paragraphs down into the recounting of the visit. But the British Library thought it significant enough to use those few sentences as the blog "cutting" featured on their site for all visitors to read and laugh themselves out of their chairs. "Those stupid, clumsy Americans!"

So yesterday, I did it again but in an amazingly spectacular gravity-defying feat: I fell up the stairs. And I caught myself with my right shoulder. Yeah, that's the shoulder that's metal. And out of socket. And a great source of embarrassment whenever I am forced to go through airport security. It hurt. I mean it really hurt. The Man had to send da Boo to the other room so she wouldn't freak out because I was crying. But I sucked it up and decorated a cake for a party that I went to that night (pictures coming!). Then this morning...oh the agony! I cannot describe how it felt without using Daddy Words. But still, I can handle a little pain, right? No big deal! I've dealt with this almost half my life. So I got the kids ready and we went to church. The Man is very astute and knew right away that I was hurting. He drove me home after sacrament, gave me some lovely drugs and sent me to bed with an ice pack.

Drugs make me loopy. They give me weird dreams about yelling at people. If you called me this morning, I apologize for anything I might have said. Please call me back and I promise to behave. I am fine now. Well, still hurting but fine.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My New Love

Change is good. Sometimes, you get stuck in a rut day after day. Ruts are safe, happy places for some and we dare not venture out. But I was coldly plucked from my happy little rut and forced to guzzle a whole new concept. And now? I am in love!

It started at Christmas. We spent the holiday with my brother's family. Had a great time. Got some great gifts. But what I also got was a bad case of the love bug.

Nearly moments after we arrived, my brother offered us a bevy of beverage choices. I would have happily reached for the Dr Pepper and been content with my happy rut but no! My brother puts another can in my hand. Perhaps because he is older, wiser and used to beat the living snot out of me as a child, I obeyed his direction and took a sip.

This is what he gave me:


And this is how it tastes:


Yeah. It's that good. Now I am thoroughly addicted! I like Diet Dr Pepper. It's good. But this tastes like Diet Dr Pepper with a cordial cherry dissolved in it. Not too cherry-ish and not too fake-chocolately. Very nice. And it's a pretty color.

When we got back home, I added Diet Dr Pepper Cherry Chocolate to list of essential items, right up there with diapers and milk. Imagine my horror when my normal grocery store didn't carry it! I had to go to Wal-Mart and even then, no love. Luckily for me, my local grocery store will special order things. When we first moved here, I had them special order Nutella and now it's a regular item on the shelf. Because I am a trend setter, baby. So I asked them to get the new Limited Edition lovin'. And they did! And I bought several 12 packs! And I'm almost out...I hope they have more because I am going grocery shopping tomorrow. Might get me some more Nutella, too.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Let's See Whatcha Got!

The lovely and wonderful Robyn tagged me. I have to show you, my dear Internet, the contents of my purse. My neighbor buddy did this, too, and I have to say that they have far more interesting purses than I do...


Look familiar?


Nothing interesting...except maybe for the fact that I could only find ONE dollar! I think I need a raise. Also, my favorite color is blue and just look at how much blue stuff has accumulated in my purse...kinda eerie how nearly everything has some blue on it.

Looking inside other people' purses is kinda fun! Reminds me of that odd blog I found where people show inside their fridges. Out of morbid curiosity, I am tagging Amanda, Kristie, Debi, Heather, Lyn, Jen and Amber P. Let me know when you have your pictures up, girls!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

FHE: The Safe Side

After all the blog and real-life comments from people who read my FHE posts, I am feeling a little nervous. What if my FHEs get boring? What if we start repeating the same lessons? What if you won't hold my hand on the third date? Oh wait...that's a different kind of nervous.

Monday began with a call to the doctor's office. The Boy was sporting a brand new case of the croup. After nearly 2 1/2 hours spent traveling to, waiting (sometimes while sitting on the floor), going back to room, waiting some more (but with fruit snacks this time!), holding a squirming Boy as he is poked and prodded, then holding a writhing Boy as he gets a shot, trying to console poor injured Boy, hauling very heavy and crying Boy back to car, and driving home with the constant ebb and flow of sobbing, I was tired. And then the Boy wouldn't take a nap. Of course. So yesterday? Not a good day. And that doesn't even include the tales I could share about da Boo's regressing and having accidents daily! For FHE last night, I kinda copped out.

At the library, I found a movie that teaches kids about being safe around people they don't know. We've checked it out a couple times because the kids love it. And if you don't grin like an idiot when the Boy says "Safe Side Super Chick," then you, my friend, have a heart of stone. It was da Boo's turn to teach the lesson so I whispered my plan in her ear and she was on board.

Opening Song: Twinkle Little Star (because the Man made the mistake of asking for suggestions.)

Opening Prayer: The Boy - and he thanked God for stars.

Lesson: Da Boo and I visited the Safe Side website and looked through their teaching guides. Using this, I read a Hot Tip and da Boo explained why we should do this. There is some lingo involved so she carefully explained these terms to the Man, who hasn't yet had the thrill of watching that movie three times in a row.

Don't Know - someone you don't know. I like this term because you can remind your kids to be a little more careful in public without offending anyone who doesn't consider themselves a "stranger."
Kinda Know - someone you know a little bit but not all that well, like older siblings friends, other teachers at school, some neighbors, etc. Also a useful term.
Safe Side Super Chick - The hostess of the movie, a superhero that changes the color of her shirt depending on the danger of each situation: green for safe, yellow for be careful and red for DANGER!
Safety Circle - your personal space. Don't allow don't knows to get too close.
Safe Side Super Adult - people you can trust your child with. These include teachers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. These should be adults who help your child feel comfortable, that they can ask for help if there's a problem.

We reviewed the Hot Tips about being safe with running commentary from da Boo. We asked her a few questions, gave her scenarios and such. She did wonderfully. Her brother, on the other hand, dissolved into a puddle of whining goo about halfway through.

Closing Song: I Am A Child Of God.

Closing Prayer: The Man.

Treats: Adcoma cake. I made this for a neighbor who had recently done something very nice for me but when I went to deliver it, she wasn't home! She wasn't home the two other times I tried to take it over so...we ate it. If you did something nice for me recently...well, sorry about your cake. But it was delicious!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Who can it be now?

Sing along with me, folks! "Who can it be knocking at my door? Go away! Don't come 'round here no more. Can't you see that its late at night? I'm very tired and I am not feeling right."

So, I am paranoid. We all know this. Also, I am pretty nosy. Nothing new there. And I am married to a computer geek. Scene is set, let's see what happens:

Around Christmas, I was staring at my blog (as I frequently do when avoiding laundry, dishes or small children) and I wondered who actually looks at it. Sure, I know some of my good buddies read it but...who else? (And I forgot to mention before that I am also pretty vain and believe everyone should think I'm wonderful...'cuz I am!) When the Man was trying to go to sleep that night, I kept talking, mentioning random things that happened during the day; typical stuff like who pushed who and the daily poop tally. The usual for an SAHM. I also wondered out loud about my blog readers. Possibly in an effort to shut me up about it, the Man promises to load something on my blog that will track visitors.

Me: You can do that?
Man: (slightly annoyed that I doubt his genius, ignores me a pretends to sleep.)
Me: Can you do it tomorrow?
Man: ZzzzzzZZzzzzz...
Me: Okay, so tomorrow, then.

About three weeks later ('cuz we must include the Man factor, which causes everything to take exponentially longer than first thought), he puts a script on my blog. You can't see it. It's like a ninja script, tracking anyone who comes to my blog, how they got here, watching what they look at, timing how long they're here, and chucking throwing stars at people who leave without commenting. Just kidding...maybe. Better leave a comment to be sure you don't get one in the back.

And the obsession begins! The script is from Google Analytics. I can check daily/hourly/whateverly and see who is looking at my blog. Here are some cool facts:
  • Since I started tracking on Jan. 5th, duckduckcow has had 1,671 visitors.
  • Average visitor spends 2 minutes on my blog.
  • The current favorite page is the archive for my London visits.
  • Approximately 58% of visitors come from referring sites. These are basically sites that linked to duckduckcow and people click on the link. This also includes people clicking on my site through comments I've left (got an interesting spike in visits when I commented on a mega blog - that was fun!).
  • You can also get to my blog through search engines. Currently "duck poems" is the most popular search keywords...although I am not entirely sure why it comes to me...there's only been one or two poems - neither of them about ducks. Various FHE searches are also big hitters.
  • While less than half of the visitors are here for the first time, I have some loyal fans, 12% of which have come here 26-50 times since I started tracking.
  • My fans (if I can call them that) hail mostly from Utah and Texas - no surprise - but what is very surprising is the number of visitors coming from Washington. I know one family in Washington. They don't have 56 members, either.
  • I've never had a visitor from Maine or North Dakota. If you know anyone in those states, send them the link, okay? It would sure help my visitor map look prettier.
Pretty cool, huh? It's easy to get started, if you are interested in knowing or are just as obsessive as I am! But I warn you...you'll start imaging all kinds of random things about your visitors, like why Washingtonians like poems about ducks.

Also? There's some new cakes on The Cake Cow, if you haven't been there lately. And I got an email from a lady wanting to know what it would cost to ship a teddy bear cake to Arizona...yeah, that was interesting...

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's Only Fair...

He got the television...so I got this:

The talented and lovely Dana made it for me. Looks so pretty that I haven't been able to focus on anything else all day. Why, yes, I am vain and shallow (don't forget spoiled!)...why do you ask?

The Boy tried to taste it. Have to admit that I was half-tempted to do the same!

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