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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Contest Winners!

Hey, remember that little contest thingy? Yeah, it's over so I had better announce the winners, right? Surprised I didn't get any "gentle" reminders to get on with it. I used Random.org to find the winners (because my kids were already in bed.)

Winner of the Cruise in a Box: The Garretts

Winner of the Target Gift Card: Amanda

Winner of the Dozen Cupcakes: Annette Lyon

All of the winning comments had to fulfil one of the requirements (odd thing, follower, blog post). So the quarter billion comments made by my sister don't all count. Oh, and Dru's comments because it was just criticism regarding stuff I said/didn't say, and there's nothing odd about that. See? I tried to make it fair.

Congratulations to the winners! And thank you everyone who commented! I just love it when my post gets comments in the double digits.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Morning Glory

I have some terrible news.

It's about Baby.

Are you sitting down? This is kinda heart-breaking.

See, there's something different about Baby. I noticed it a few months ago but just chalked it up to her "baby-ness" and figured she would grow out of it. But she hasn't. In fact, it's getting worse. Pretty soon, people are going to start to notice, maybe talk a little, might even have a complete stranger point it out to me in public. So I thought I'd better come clean on my blog so there wouldn't be a lot of questions and speculation later on.

It's difficult to explain so I'll show you a picture from the other morning, before she had breakfast:


It's obvious, isn't it? I don't know how this could have happened! Really, there's no preparing yourself for something like this. I mean, I heard about from others but never thought it would happen to me.


I don't know what to do. I feel like I've failed.

Baby is a Morning Person.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bug Bites

I was bitten by the crafty bug yesterday. It's been a while since this guy has gotten close enough to sink his teeth in...

There was something I've been wanting to make something for Boo. I've seen similar items at craft shows and such but they always seem pretty pricey for what you're getting. Yesterday's craftiness cost me nothing, except for a little time. I had all the items around the house, leftover from previous craft bug infestations.

I made this:


You might be whispering to your neighbor "What is that? I think Jessica G. has finally plummeted off the deep-end, being so proud of that contraption..."

If you don't have a little girl, then you are probably pretty confused. But even if you do, this version is much plainer than others I've seen. So broke out the glue gun and dug through my supplies once more...


There! Much prettier! Even Boo was getting excited now.

Still don't know what it is? Well, here's the finished product, already put to work:


A hair bow organizer! Boo has soooo many clips and such. They're all just jammed in her dresser drawer. Half the time we can't find the one we want or one that goes with her outfit. Now, we have a solution! I'm hanging it on the side of her dresser.

Someone please take away my glue gun before I coat the whole thing in glitter...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

500

Hooray! I made it to 500 posts, each a new experience, peppered with the thrill of cake, the wonder of parenting, and the dorkiness that is me. And now, I will ramble on with 500 things about me!

Just kidding. I think you'd be bored after 12. But if you really want to know more, you could always read my 100th post. Make sure you have someone to wake you up, in case you doze off. So to celebrate my 500th post, I am going to make you read seven (or fewer) odd things about me. And to reward you for your diligence, I'm having a contest! Woohooo!! FREE STUFF!!!

But first, you have to prove to me that you want this prize...

1. I am one of those people who gets all uptight about how the toilet paper is placed in the roll. Over the top, people! Come on, it just makes sense! I'll even adjust it if the Man has put it in wrong. And while I'm tempted to do this at other people's houses, I won't. Unless I think you wouldn't notice. Or if I spend a large amount of time in your bathroom.

2. Baking is my stress relief. That's not so odd, I guess. But have you ever whipped up a batch of brownies at midnight because you're concerned about a family member? And if you happen to drive by my house late one night and my kitchen light is on, knock on the door. I may invite you in for ADCOMA cake or seven layer bars.

3. I have found a way to contain my paranoia: I make up stories - usually happy ones - about random people I pass. I'd list an example but they tend to be rather detailed. I find that if I am actively using my imagination, then it can't run wild and make me go all wacko-a-doodle.

4. I love to drive. No, really. I love it! When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was pretending to drive, using my mom's car keys and a wooden helicopter as the steering wheel (sorry about the lost keys, Mom!). And even though I've been driving for half my life, I still think it's fun! I wish the Man would let me drive more on the long-distance trip.

5. While at the University of North Texas, I had one of those professors that wants everyone to think that they are awesome. He liked me so I always got really good grades on my assignments. Once, about halfway through the semester, I was starting my homework, which consisted of reading several articles and then answering five or so questions with mini-essays. On question #3, the first sentence began to answer the question but the rest consisted of me saying that I didn't think he was really reading my answers and would he please prove otherwise by commenting here. He didn't comment, which I took to mean that he wasn't really reading. So for the rest of the semester, I did the same thing on every homework assignment for a couple of the questions. At the end of the class, he asked me to be his TA for the next semester. I declined.

6. Ummm...yeah, I can't think of anything else worth sharing. So consider this like those times when the teachers let you out of class early.

And now for the good part: The Contest!

I've learned a few things since my last contest (one of them being the discovery of a random number generating website), so hopefully things go a little smoother this time.

The Prizes:

One Grand Prize winner will receive what I'm calling "A Caribbean Cruise In A Box!" This is a collection of trinkets that I got while on my cruise, as well as some essential items. These may include:
A towel animal
Large bottle of sunscreen
Disposable camera
Key West Lime Juice
Jamaican trinket (although it's probably made in China)
Pearl earrings
Sea salt (for rubbing in your hair)
iTunes card so your iPod is ready for sunbathing
Recipe for Molten Chocolate Cake (the reason I gained four pounds on the cruise)
and a few other items that I'm keeping a surprise...

As a separate prize, I'll also give a $20 gift card to Target, an essential stop before heading to your cruise ship! And if I am feeling stressed, there might be a dozen cupcakes offered, too.

To enter the contest you can do any or all of the following (BUT EACH ENTRY REQUIRES A SEPARATE COMMENT, please! I'm an airhead and need to keep this as simple as possible!)
  • Comment saying one odd thing about you.
  • Follow me (and Google Reader doesn't count...I need proof of your devotion).
  • Blog about this contest (for three entries).
  • Bring me chocolate.
Also, please leave your email address in your comments or have it listed on your profile so I can contact you!

I should probably include a deadline...contest ends at midnight (MST) on July 29th.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Older Than The Hills

We were driving through Provo the other day when the Boy looked out the window and saw the Provo temple. He asked if that was where we saw "the play" (the Manti Pageant that I somehow never blogged about...).

Me: No, sweetie, that was the Manti temple. This is the Provo temple.
Boy: In Manti?
Boo: Yeah, Manti is where Mommy and Daddy got married.
Me: That's right, Boo.
Boo: So it's really old.

Yeah, thanks, Boo.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cake Decorating for Dummies

I have two cakes this weekend. Both are fairly simple designs that I've made plenty of times before. But for some reason or another, I made a completely rookie mistake, causing my entire weekend to pretty much crash and burn.

During the cake decorating classes I took, the instructors taught us a few tricks, like how to make your own decorator bags out of parchment paper, how to smooth frosting, and how to properly layer your cake so it doesn't look like a prop from a horror movie. When you make a cake with a somewhat liquid filling, like lemon curd or raspberry puree, you need to have some sort of buffer between each layer of cake (so the liquid doesn't soak into the cake, disappearing on you) and around the edge (so the filling doesn't squeeze out and leak down your cake). This is especially critical when you have white frosting with raspberry filling. That red shows through easily! I spread a very thin coat of frosting on the top on of the bottom layer and on the bottom of the top layer. Then, I use the same frosting color as the outside of the cake and, with a large round decorator tip, make a ring around the edge of the bottom layer. A dam, of sorts.

So late Friday night, I am working on the first cake. For some reason that still escapes me (maybe I was thinking about this), I neglected to put in the dam. As a result, the bottom tier of the cake looked like this:


By now, I was using other forms of the word "dam." I tried to fix it a couple different ways, only succeeding in having more berry-tinted frosting. By then, it was 3 a.m. and I was very tired. I thought maybe things would look better in the morning.

They didn't.

And now my cake was kinda lumpy. Instead, I called my fantabulous neighbor and borrowed one of her lovely daughters (she has four) to watch my sleepy kiddos so I could hit Wally World untethered. I brought home fondant, my arch-nemesis. Desperate times call for desperate measures.


Now the cake has a lovely, smooth, uniformly-colored exterior. So what if the client didn't order fondant! She didn't say she hated it...I will have to sound convincing when I tell her I "upgraded" her cake. Luckily, I can make drop flowers in my sleep so those turned out just fine.


Just like she requested: two-tiered, white frosted cake with small red flowers, chocolate cake with raspberry filling. Simple, elegant, and possibly the narrowestly-adverted catastrophe of my short career. I think I might add some leaves, give it a little more color.

And of course she reads my blog. I have no pride.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Wild Life

One of my favorite things about going camping and getting outdoors is seeing the wildlife. It's exciting and sometimes a little scary. When I was a kid, we went camping a LOT. Yellowstone was a frequent destination. In fact, I was there when it was burning in 1988. I've seen buffalo, elk, deer and moose. I've caught site of wolves and coyotes. But in all those years, I'd never seen a bear, just the tracks they left behind after sniffing over our campsite. For your viewing pleasure, I've collected the pictures I took of the various forms of wildlife on this particular trip. Please hold your applause until the end.


Buffalo seem like bigger, slower-witted versions of cows. But they can be very aggressive. Just ask the buffalo that was clogging traffic but threatened to gore any car that tried to pass him. Imagine my horror when an Asian mother was instructing her two kids to go stand by the grazing buffalo so she could get a good picture! I was glad there was a park ranger on hand to stop them from getting too close!


Elk are a fairly common site, especially in the hour between dinner and the kids' bedtime. We were staying just outside the North Entrance, so every evening we passed through Mammoth, a small touristy town by the Mammoth Springs. And every night, we slowed to a crawl to join the other tourists gawking at the elk that took over the grassy lawns. Elk tend to ignore people but get to close and they head for the hills. Then there was this guy:


You might notice through our bug-spattered windshield that he is running down the center of the road - right towards us! He had been cantering along until we rounded the corner. We slowed to a stop but he started running, even lowered his antlers to charge our van! At the last minute, he decided against attacking the Japanese auto industry and veered to the side. Still...it was pretty freaky!


For the past 29.95* years of my life, I'd never seen a bear outside a zoo. On this trip, we saw three (and one of those was rumored to have two cubs but I didn't see them). THREE!!! This one was close enough to the road that the Man isn't even using the zoom here. Grandma and Grandpa G, I bet you're wishing you hadn't passed on going to the Petrified Tree!


One evening, on our way back home, traffic was horrible. If there's not a park ranger and someone sees something remotely interesting, then people start stopping on the road, leaving their cars to go and stare. They don't always know what they're looking at but they don't want to miss a chance to see a chipmunk. Such was the case then. Except these weren't chipmunk. They were wolves. At least one adult and more than a couple pups. It was fun to watch the pups jumping and leaping, playing with each other. What? Can't you see them in the picture? Okay, hang on...


Had to put my mad Photoshop skills to use. Try not to envy my talents. I really wish I had thought to use the movie function...

Last but not least, my favorite large animal: the Moose.


Here we see him in his natural habitat, calmly holding still, as if he takes no notice of us, as if he weren't even alive! Okay, so this is a stuffed moose I got for Baby. We didn't get to see a real one. I was kinda bummed about that but, hey! Now I can say we were charged by an elk and saw BEARS!! Real bears! No "teddy" or nothing!

*Because for all intents and purposes, I will forever remain 29.95 plus shipping and handling.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lookit!

Okay, I have returned from the land of pit toilets and roaming buffalo! If you'd like to see pictures of my trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, please let me know, otherwise, I'll keep those posts to a minimum.


BUT...while I was gone, look what came in the mail!


Ooooooo!! I just love when I get to open lots of little presents!

Swap Time!
At the last minute, Mamarazzi had to switch me to a new partner. Jeannie is a completely awesome triathlete who can face down a chocolate-laden vending machine armed with only a cup of tea. I had to find some items to fit her sporty, single style, so I let Boo and Boy pick out a couple items after explaining that they had to be red, white or blue. Let's just say that I hope Jeannie has a good sense of humor...


For only having two days notice that she was switching partners, I think Jeannie did a fabulous job! Here's the short list: blue plaid tote bag (have already used it!), Cheez-its, flip-flops, lunch container, note cards, GUM!, aloe gel (she suggest putting it in the fridge and I really could have used this a little while ago!), fabulous scented soap, herbal tea bags, nail polish, nail file, red tin, blue puff, lotion, napkins (so cute!), summer-themed stickers, and a band-aid box that is a great size for the diaper bag.

(The kiddos already half-emptied the Cheez-it box when they thought I wasn't looking...that's okay...I took the other half when I thought they weren't looking!)

Thanks to Jeannie and Mamarazzi! I just love swaps! If you hear about one, please let me know.



And speaking of swaps, I was considering hosting one...see, I'm about three posts away from big ol' #500 and wanted to do something to celebrate. Why not a swap? Help me pick out a theme: items that begin with a certain letter, vacation in a box, baking items...

What do you think?
Or would you rather I just give out a few random prizes?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fruits of Forgiveness - Revisited

**I may or may not be out of town currently...but if I am out of town, be assured that my house and property is protected by rabid dust bunnies. So you don't get too lonely, I'll be reposting a few of my favorites. This post originally appeared Sunday, Feb 18, 2007. It was my fourth post when I first started this blog.**


The topic for today's Sacrament talks: Forgiveness. The speakers had some good points (at least from what I heard between dispensing of Teddy Grahams and Time Outs). So it got me thinking...is there anyone I should forgive? Is there a grudge that I cherish too much to part with? The answers to both questions: Yes!
So I am going to offer my forgiveness twice. And if you aren't on the list, then send me chocolate and perhaps you'll make it next Sunday.

1) I forgive da Boo's preschool friend who asked me when my baby was due. My response - after my initial instinct to run weeping and wailing to the farthest corner of the playground - was a gentle "I'm not having a baby, sweety. I'm just fat." She's just a kid! And as such, still has the possibility of finding herself in the exact same dress size one day (I so believe in karma).


2) I forgive the banana. Well, not all bananas, just one. The one that I was eating in the backyard that fateful day...the one with it's tiny black seeds oh-so carefully arranged in a frowny face. That banana permanently turned me off to the yellow-skinned evil for years. Until today.
Today, in honor of the banana's new status of "Forgiven," I made a banana cake. For Christmas, one of the man's co-workers gave us a loaf of banana bread. Now, I've never had anything against banana bread. It never gave me a dirty look. This particular banana bread was beyond tasty. I got the recipe. Okay, so I made the man do all the gross stuff, like touching and peeling the bananas, mashing and mixing them, but I did the rest (and da Boo helped by stirring a bowl of flour for 10 minutes). Had to make it acceptable by adding a quick chocolate glaze but it was very good. I even ate a piece.

But I'm still not eating a full banana. Not even one dipped in chocolate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chocolate Research - repeated

**I may or may not be out of town currently...but if I am out of town, be assured that my house and property is protected by rabid dust bunnies. So you don't get too lonely, I'll be reposting a few of my favorites. This post originally appeared Sept 14, 2007.**


Chocolate Calendar for September 14th:
"Tell people you are working as a consultant for a chocolate company, and your chocolate consumption is actually research."

Ummm...fell down the stairs again. This time it was in the garage and I nearly landed on the Boy. I caught myself on my knee instead of hurting my shoulder so I'm not hurt. Well, my pride is pretty bruised. So I am eating some chocolate today as part of my research. I'm attempting to see if I can move my center of gravity down lower (by enlarging my butt).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Man Jobs - again

**I may or may not be out of town currently...but if I am out of town, be assured that my house and property is protected by rabid dust bunnies. So you don't get too lonely, I'll be reposting a few of my favorites. This post originally appeared May 27, 2008.**


This is the conversation the Man and I had while getting ready for our Memorial Day BBQ.

The Man: Can you get the propane tank refilled?
Me: I have no idea how to do that.
The Man: Just remove the tank, take it to the station -
Me: What?
The Man: It's easy.
Me: I can't do it.
The Man: Why not?
Me: Because that is a Man Job.
The Man: A what?
Me: A Man Job, something the Man is supposed to do. I can't do it.
The Man: (extensive rolling of eyes)
Me: Tell you what, I will birth the children and you refill the propane tank. Deal?


The whole conversation got me thinking about the Man's role at home. There are certain tasks that are undeniably his; I just can't do them. True, there are tasks that are all mine but we need not bring out the femi-nazis amongst my lurkers. Instead, let's talk about Men.

They have the Man Cold and Man Caves. They definitely have Man Jobs. For instance: Bugs. I have been known to not use a room for an entire day simply because I saw a spider in there (and don't tell me that they can crawl under the door! I don't need to hear that!). It is the Man's job to dispose of such unwelcome guests. Agreed?

Cold feet. I got 'em. I had it written into the Marriage Contract that I would be allowed to warm my frozen tootsies on his warm, hairy legs. If he shrieks and squirms away, he is in direct violation of said Contract and is no longer entitled to the benefits and privileges thereof. See? You give a little, you get a little.

Strange noises in the night. I get to cower under the covers - I mean, keep the blankets warm - while he goes in search of the weird sound. And really, let's just blame this one on genetics. Men are bigger and stronger, it's a proven fact. This is one of those times that I don't mind being dainty.

Unloading the groceries. The Man hates grocery shopping. Never liked it. I don't mind it, especially because it usually means I get to be out alone. If I spend the time traipsing around the grocery store, then he should help by unloading the groceries from the van for me. I'll put them away (if I ever want to find anything again), he just needs to use those big strong muscles and haul them inside.

Anything that involves the use of tools. And really, it's not because we don't know how to do these things (my dad taught me well) but we should let them have a little fun every now and then. What puts a smile on a man's face faster than strapping on a tool belt? Changing light bulbs, tightening faucets, replacing the deadbolt that your toddler dismantled while you were in the shower, or rescuing your earring from the sink drain. Good times.

Let's not forget the other jobs: car maintenance, lawn care, only person in the household allowed to pass gas without excusing themselves, and sleeping during church. These are the strenuous obligations of being a Man.

So what are some Man Jobs around your house?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Wii Gossips - Redux

**I may or may not be out of town currently...but if I am out of town, be assured that my house and property is protected by rabid dust bunnies. So you don't get too lonely, I'll be reposting a few of my favorites. This post originally appeared Oct 8, 2008.**


So you might be surprised to learn that we have a Wii. I never mentioned it before, right? And normally, we love it. The kids can play a lot of the games without constant assistance and not every game involves shooting someone. Ours was a house of harmony. And then we got the Wii Fit.

At first, it seemed harmless enough, encouraging us toward our weight goals and only briefly mentioning that we were so uncoordinated, it wasn't sure how we managed to walk safely. Whenever one of us would log in to play a few balance games, the Wii would ask us if we'd seen one of the other members of our family. Then it would casually remark that the family member had not logged in for a while...but that was no big deal. And really, conversations with the Wii are one-sided. The only response you can make is pressing the A button. No defending yourself, no explanations. Just press A.

One afternoon, the Wii had the following conversation with my daughter (I know because I was sitting on the couch, watching, and possibly eating a Nutty Bar). And the Wii is the one that changes the color of the text...not me and my snotty attitude.

Wii: Welcome back, Da Boo!
Boo: A
Wii: Have you seen Jess recently?
Boo: A
Wii: I haven't seen Jess in six days.
Boo: A
Wii: How is Jess looking these days?
(Then it gave Boo the rare option of an actual response. The choices were: looks bigger, looks smaller, looks more toned, looks the same.)
Boo: looks the same.
Wii: Really? Well...I guess that is possible.
Boo: A
Wii: Maybe you just haven't been paying enough attention.

WHAT??? SIX DAYS, people! I hadn't been on the thing for six days and it's already calling me lazy and - quite possibly - fat. And don't think I haven't noticed that it gasps every time I step on. The Wii is such a skinny punk.

Then again, just before my birthday, it reminded all the members of the family that my birthday was coming, asked them if they'd gotten me a gift yet and suggested they plan a surprise party. So it's not all bad.

Still...machines shouldn't be allowed to talk smack about you to your kids.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-Changes!

Since we've been talking about da Boo quite a bit around here, let's continue, shall we? She's had a pretty exciting time lately.

At her last eye doctor appointment, she got a new prescription. Also, she needed new frames (the previous ones she had for two years and they were starting to dig into the sides of her head). We browsed for a bit but just couldn't find a pair that we both liked. Then we saw these:


Pink, sparkles, and bows. AND the case looks like a purse. Perfect.

June 24th, Boo lost her first tooth.


Actually, she didn't lose it. Her father pulled it out using needlenose pliers. Fortunately, he waited until I left for a hair appointment. Unfortunately, I came back sooner than expected. The tooth had been loose for weeks but the adult tooth was growing in behind it, not knocking it out. It was either the Man or the dentist who had to do it. Then she wanted to hide the tooth so the Tooth Fairy wouldn't take it before she had a chance to show it to her very best friend. The following night, she got four quarters from the Tooth Fairy. Tooth Fairies apparently don't carry dollars.

Then? Boo got a haircut.


She's been begging for months to get a short haircut. I said she could during the summer...then kept putting it off until her bangs were so long that she couldn't see through her hair. I'm not gonna lie; it was a little heartbreaking to watch those beautiful locks fall to the floor.

My toothless, hairless, sparkly Boo.

What does the Tooth Fairy leave at your house?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Warning to Others

Here's a little tip for ya:

If - when arriving at a very exciting water park - you ask your six-year-old to put sunscreen on your back when all she really wants to do is go down the water slide, she might be a little distracted and not do a very good job...


And? It's just as hard to put sunscreen on your own back as it is to take a picture of what lack-of-sunscreen looks like.

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