Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's Still a Boy!!

Yesterday was our big 20 week ultrasound. Everything looks great and we're still having a boy. Ben is excited because he "doesn't have a brother yet, only a sister. It's called Maddie." They have the new 4-D ultrasound in the office, so they did some pictures of the baby's face, but ours weren't exactly amazing. The baby had his hand against his face most the time they had that tool out, so it sort of obstructed the view. Still it was cool. Can you make out an amazing profile yet?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Us

So today is our 9th anniversary. It's hard to think of life alone anymore. I haven't been independent forever! Being with Brian is so much fun. Recently, things have been even more fun than usual. Maybe I've been in a better mood after my mommy vacation (girls camp), or maybe he's gotten a bit more witty, but we sure have laughed more in the last week.

We celebrated last night by going out to The Melting Pot restaurant. It was so yummy! I'm a total fan of that place. We figured the last time we went was for Brian's birthday when I was pregnant with Ben, so I suppose we are allowed to splurge on a nice night every 4 years or so. Anyway, we had "The Big Night Out" four course meal. Cheese fondue, house salads, meat and veggie fondue with great spices and flavor, followed by dessert...chocolate fondue with fresh fruit. I was so full after all that I could barely stand up to walk out. Seriously, it's an experience that everyone should have at least once.

Thou Shalt Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

So, you try to teach your kids a few basics and they get taken to the extreme.. A month or so ago, we had a neighbor move in with a boy a year older than Ben, so now he has a built in playmate on the weekends or after he gets home from daycare. It was great until we realized that now we had to teach him about keeping the sabbath day holy and not playing with friends on Sunday. We had a Family Home Evening on it and tried to talk about all the things we could do instead and that it was a family day. It was only mediocre. Maddie kept stealing everything for visual aids and the pen for writing our "Can Do" list. Finally, Ben was bored and we gave up. He sort of got it. This Sunday, we went on a walk to a neighbors house to deliver some paperwork before church. Ben rode his bike. Later on, he told Brian how extremely worried he was about what he had done. "We aren't supposed to work on Sunday, but I worked on pedaling!" He was seriously distressed. Brian had to calm him down. Another thing that caused him some serious consternation was the TV commercials they kept running. "Those guys keep saying 'It's a great idea to order today." But it isn't a good idea because it's Sunday." He just couldn't understand why they would say that over and over if it was such a bad idea.

My Daily Walking Infomercial

Ben discovered a new channel on our TV and has been watching it lots in the last week. We got our new digital TV tuner, and have discovered the magic channel called "qubo." This is the first time Ben has been exposed to real commercials and I can't believe how he can almost recite some of them. He tells me all the time out of the blue, "Mom, we need _________" (fill in blank with space saver bags, a cell phone holder or the pancake puff pan). I've never uploaded a movie before, so I don't know how big is too big, so if it takes too long to play for you, just skip it... :) It doesn't seem to upload right anyway.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ben and Maddie Come to See the Baby

Ben and Maddie came with us today to my regular 20 week check-up for the pregnancy. Ben was interested in what is happening with the baby, so we thought why not. Maddie was mostly interested in opening every drawer and using the potty in the exam room. Oh well. Ben was excited to see the pictures and moved the chair around the room to get the best view of the TV screen. When he was settled, we waited about 30 minutes. I started seriously rethinking my good sense of bringing them... Eventually, the doctor come in. Ben got to turn off the light and he showed him the baby on the screen from the ultrasound on my belly. We think he liked it, but it was hard to tell. He seemed to be able to follow when we pointed out a head or a hand moving. Brian asked Ben if the baby had clothes on. He told Brian that I had told him that the baby didn't have a dresser to keep his clothes in, so he'd just have to wait to get clothes when it came out. Right now he is just naked. P.S. It's still a boy. We'll get a more final word at our big ultrasound on Wednesday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hi Woofelt

Maddie keeps calling Grandma Zufelt on the computer mouse. Grandma never answers, but Maddie keeps trying and trying to get a response...

Scream-fest Summer '08

aka Visiting the Dentist... When Ben was 3 and then 3 1/2 we had multiple problems, he freaked out at the regular dentist, big time...not because they traumatized him...he never even touched the chair to sit down. So they finally told me he was old enough that he had to be seen and if they couldn't do it, I needed to try a pediatric dentist with balloons and toys and stuff. So we found one and took him at 3 1/2. He screamed the entire time we were there. I had to physically restrain him so they could examine him on my lap. When we left, he told me, "Don't worry, next time we come I'll be four years old and when I'm four, I won't be scared of the dentist anymore." Today was he next 6 month check up. We scheduled Maddie too. I had been psyching myself up for the trip and doing it alone for weeks now. I was trying to tell myself that I could trust Ben's 6 month old promise to do great. When it came down to it, I chickened out. Brian came along. Good thing he did. Both Ben and Maddie had to be restrained so they could even brush their teeth with a regular brush on Brian's lap while I calmed the other kid and distracted them with a movie or balloons. Ben is getting super strong by the way... The second Maddie was done, she was totally fine and watched Ben telling me it was Ben's turn to clean his teeth and climbing on the examination chair, happy as can be. Ben clung desperately to us, even after his turn was over. I have no idea how to make him stop freaking out at everything new to him. I'm so desperately open to any and all advise. Next time will be even more crazy as it will be complicated with a 2 month old baby tagging along...yikes.

The Glasses Are Going Great

The first week with glasses was a serious struggle. We learned real quickly that we should just not make a big deal about anything and it would always go over better. Rather than demanding he wear the glasses, I'd just say, after you finish eating your rice, can you go grab your glasses. Ben would grumble, but usually comply. Then when he had them on, would tell me he didn't like his glasses and didn't want to wear them. About two weeks after he got them though, I realized that I never had to ask anymore. I hadn't even noticed the change occurring. While he still claimed for several weeks that the glasses didn't make any difference except make the sun brighter, he wore them on his own. This week I've noticed that he will say things like, "Wait a minute, I have to get my glasses to help my eyes read that better." He does still claim that while he can see almost everything better, he cannot see the color grey better. Grey just looks bad still. I think I may look into color blind tests too since Brian has some trouble with his colors. One funny thing he said tonight was that my glasses weren't cool. He told me President Weber at church had cooler glasses than Mom or Ben. I asked what made his glasses so cool. His reply was that they had three lines in them (i.e. trifocals). He really wants trifocals now.

Adam and Eve and the Cookie Trouble

During church, we're trying to get Ben to be reverent during the passing of the sacrament. We whisper Bible stories to him and look at pictures of Jesus and things like that. Today, we talked about the story of Adam and Eve. I told him the story of the Garden of Eden, how God told them not to eat anything on that tree because it was a bad choice and there would be a punishment. He put two and two together and asked, "Was it cookies on that tree? Because we shouldn't eat cookies unless our Mommy says okay. That's a bad choice because it's so sugary."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Darn PBS Promo's

PBS has a quick little add they run between shows promo-ing the upcoming shows. One says, "Dragon Tales...you can't miss it." Or whatever show is coming up in an hour or so. The commercial always upsets Ben. He gets so completely frustrated and in a totally irritated voice he tells me, "Mom, it says, 'You can't miss it.' but I always do."

Each time I try to stifle a snicker, but he always hears and gets upset with me. "It's not funny, Mom. I really do always miss it!"

If you're not stifling a snicker after reading this, you have no sense of humor... It sure is fun to be a mom. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beware of Consignment Sales!

Most people that know me know about my little obsession for shopping consignment sales for my kids clothes. I've got amazing deals on most everything I've ever bought there. Last April, I got Maddie a cute Dora the Explorer outfit with shorts and a t-shirt. I figured she could wear it the other day, it was 24 months, but she has figured out who Dora is now and I knew she'd love it. She did. She'd point at her tummy and say "Dora" or "Boots".

The down side is that within seconds of putting it on, I knew we had a problem. Somewhere out there, some other poor mother bought the other half of the outfit I wanted. The seller must have bought matching outfits for girls one year apart, because I have a 12 month top and a 24 month bottom. So, Maddie's belly button shows, but the pants almost fall off her waist. Oh well, overall, not a bad record at the sales...

Can You Hear Me Now?

For the last two weeks, Ben has been playing trains to feed his obsession. Then the last 24 hours, he has upgraded the experience. He decided that the conductor needs to wear hearing protection, like Brian does when he mows the lawn.
I got Ben some old industrial strength ear muffs from the basement, meant for use in a noisy refinery...and he hasn't heard a word I've said since yesterday afternoon. He is completely in his own little world. Every time he comes over to tell me something, he raises his voice to a ridiculous level. As annoying as it is, I have to admit that it is totally cute.

Grandma Fan Club

Ben and Maddie are both founding members of the Grandma Zufelt fan club. They were obviously, totally spoiled by the amount of time that Anne spent with them. When I got home, they were seriously upset with our return to regular life where I have other responsibilities than playing trains and reading books. Grandma, they want you back!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bless God

Today Ben was praying and asked God to "bless God to be safe today." So sweet that he would think to care about God. Most of us just ask for things for ourselves, but God gives, gives, gives and we really don't think much of him in that way. Some days I want to be more like sweet, pure Ben.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Difference Between First Year and Fourth Year Girls

I was a bit sad about being in lower camp this year. It's a serious hike up and down the nasty hill every day. You pack everything you will ever need for the day just so you don't have to go back until bedtime. Turns out there are some benefits to being at the bottom. Upper Camp - The youngest girls sleep here. It's right by the campfire ring, nice bathrooms at the swimming pool with double the toilet stalls and an extra shower. When these girls see a mouse in their cabin (by the way, they are in EVERY cabin at camp), the night is totally ruined. They scream and cry and worry. They adults and Youth Leaders have to spend hours calming them down and they usually end up sleeping in another cabin, just so the adults can finally go to sleep themselves. Middle Camp - The middle levels of camp girls sleep here. Accommodations are not quite so posh, but reasonable. Usually, your shower is accompanied by spider in the shower stall. Mice abound in these cabins as well. When middle camp girls see a mouse in their cabin, they scream and freak out and run away. They can at least be logically calmed, but usually do end up spending the night in the Youth Leader cabin as well. Of course, they do get mad at each other for leaving candy out. Lower Camp - The oldest girls in camp. When we were doing our nightly rounds of cabins, tucking in the girls and singing them a lullaby of whatever they wanted, here is what happened in one cabin... The girls were laying on their cots talking with us adults. One jumped from her relaxed laying position to up on her knees. "Oh my gosh, I just saw a mouse!" She points to where it was, in the closet about 1 foot from where her head is. They are all totally interested and we investigate with a flashlight. Yep! There sure is a mouse. We laugh with the girls about how crazy camp is, sing them their goodnight song and head off. Didn't hear another word from them all night. Heaven bless the lower camp girls!! Of course that doesn't mean we get any more sleep. Lower camp girls sneak out of their cabins and attack each other in the middle of the night with Weep-ons and tribal war cries!

I Think I Need A Nap

I just got home from Young Women's Camp this afternoon. The truck is unloaded, girls delivered, lost and found spread over the back porch to dry, I finally showered. Then Ben woke up from his nap. I had promised him if he gave me time to finish my jobs I would play trains as soon as he woke up. We commenced our play. He told me which track and which trains I could use. I followed along, my body getting lower and lower to the ground until he would ask why I wasn't driving my train anymore. I'd get up and play again. Finally, my train drove down the ramp onto the carpet for a tour of the living room. He asked me to wait for his train to come on the tour. Next thing I know, I remember hearing myself tell him to go get his Scripture Mastery Cards, presumably so he can pass off his memorized scripture verses to Sister Gardner at camp... I realize what I have said and become aware that I had drifted off to sleep on the floor. I asked Ben what we were talking about. He just stared at me with a totally confused look on his face and said he had no idea what I was talking about. Time for a nap.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weep-ons of War

Maybe you had to be there, and be so completely physically exhausted to think that weep-ons of war are funny, but me, my cabin mates and my YLs will forever snicker inside when we recall our week of weep-ons.

During 4th year certification, the Youth Leaders got really bored. They had pocket knives and started whittling sticks. Soon they found pointy rocks, etc, etc, wasn't long before they had made themselves spears and were acting like cavemen. Alexandra told us a story about her younger brother who had been reading scriptures with the family and read about weapons of war, but pronounced it weep-ons. So, the spears became weep-ons.

Alexandra and Tess began acting like cavemen, with tribal chanting, threatening terrible attacks, ridiculous dances, you know -- The Works. We adult leaders thought it was totally funny. I was in the dining hall after lunch and the girls came to ask where Sister Baker, our Stake YW President, was so they could show her all their new weep-ons. I told them they couldn't show her until they were in full costume with war paint. I knew just where to find face paint in the craft supplies. After getting in costume, we ran up the hill to the pool.

They had been running toward the pool before, so I ran with them. They got distracted talking to someone as we left the mess hall, so I ended up running in front. The girls were laughing so hard that they couldn't keep up. I told them to pick it up, don't let the pregnant lady beat them up the hill. By the time I got to the top, I was laughing so hard I could barely breath and was tripping on my feet.

From the pool, the Stake YW Presidency heard crazy Indian war cries, followed by me coming up over the crest of the hill. I totally tripped because I couldn't stand up anymore for the laughing and rolled across the ground. The girls were charging right behind me up to the top of the hill, spears raised and chanting. I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long, long time. I totally LOVE camp. I show up the first of the week my regular self and come home a whole new, revived Angie. Camp is good for my soul. It teaches me and reminds me how it is to laugh with the zeal of youth.

Life is never better than at Young Womens Camp!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Golden Broom Award

This was a hard fought competition for the cleanest cabin award, or the Golden Broom Award. The cleanest cabin in each area gets an award every day. We, the adult leaders in lower camp, thought we should win. We did a great job at cleaning up our cabin every morning. On the first day of cabin inspections, we had done a great job. Then some of the Youth Leaders hadn't brought any materials to teach the 4th year girls how to make bedrolls. Nancy Palmer sent them to our cabin to get her bedding to use to demonstrate. They ripped the sheets off her bed and all her nicely stacked clothes were all dumped everywhere. When our YLs inspected our cabin, they were not impressed. They left a note, "Dear Adult Leaders, You WOULD HAVE won the golden broom, but, Nancy Palmer...self explanatory. Love, your YLs." We harassed them a bit and plead our case, but were unsuccessful at swinging the vote in our direction. Everything was in order and ready for inspection on day two. I don't know what exactly kept us from winning, but the note that day on the door said we were looking better but were not quite there. It was our last chance to win it on Friday. Jan swept the cabin (plus porch and stairs) two or three times to be sure everything was in order. Our name tags on the door were straightened and alphabetized. Candy was sprinkled on each of our pillows to share with our inspectors. A cute note was taped to the door, "Welcome Cabin Inspectors! Please enjoy your stay. Have a wonderful day! Love, Adult Leaders" All day we campaigned for the award every chance we got to encourage the YLs in the right direction. The good news? WE WON!! And we received the award with all the graciousness in the world, or maybe it was hooping and hollering...I can't remember. :)

Rock Climbing

I lost the race...but I still did it. So I considered and rethought for weeks whether it would be a good idea for me to do a hike at camp with the girls. I admit to being totally out of shape, but my main concern was being pregnant, away from camp and having trouble. I had at least selected the shortest hike of the four. Just a one mile then the girls would rock climb for an hour or so with two great guys helping teach them what to do, and a quick one mile home. It wasn't until I got to camp Monday that I found out it wasn't a stroll in the park sort of mile. The trail map showed "Steep Incline" for about 1/2 mile and the rest, in my opinion was also a "Steep Incline". I figured if the weather was good on that day, I could do it. The morning of the hike was beautiful. I decided not to wimp out and give it a try. I was totally winded most of the hike up the mountain, but it wasn't that bad. I didn't ever think I needed to quit and go back, so no problem. At the top, the girls had been rock climbing on the four climbs set up for them about an hour while the other leaders and I watched. Then one of the fun 4th year girls, Kim, challenged me to a race. I totally wanted to do it. I've climbed enough to know it wasn't a real risky thing to do (if done right) and feel comfortable on the rock. Our belayers had us totally safe so no one was going to fall more than 3 inches. I did, however, know how hard the leaders had to work to make rock climbing happen this year though, and didn't want to put that in jeopardy at all. I looked at our camp director, Kathy, so see what she would say. She told me I was an adult and if my doctor wouldn't have a problem with me rock climbing, it was my choice. I jumped into the harness and we were off! I figured there was no way I'd actually win, but why not try? I actually turned out a pretty good lead at the beginning and got too comfortable. I stopped for a second to catch my breath and rest because Kim was far enough behind me. Then I started climbing again. She not only caught up, but won the race. Turns out my climb was super easy to start and hers was hard, then switched at the top. I just couldn't recover when my climb got hard and she won fair and square. In fact, we stayed almost together right up to the top. In the last 3 inches, I just couldn't find anything to hold onto anymore. I swear it took me 10 minutes to go those last 3 inches. Anyway, she won while I was still searching for a foothold. How frustrating to be inches away and have her totally kill me. Oh well. Next time I won't take a break. Better watch out Kim I'll get you next time!!

Crazy Hair Day

So, I'm not quite sure how it started. I wonder if Catherine just got frustrated with trying to fix her hair up at camp without a decent shower or a mirror. Really, I don't know. I went in to wake up my Youth Leaders and kick them out of bed one morning. Catherine was up and fixing her hair. Finally, she declared that it was just going to be crazy hair day. She told me I had to participate. So, I whipped out my bag of elastic bands, and standing right there in their cabin, put ponytails all over my head. It was a contest after all, with chocolate as the prize. No one had had chocolate for days by now and I was going to win it!!

While we were off rock climbing, one of the cool 4th year girls, Melissa, offered to braid each of the ponytails for me. It looked even better by the time I got back to camp. Then I went swimming to cool off and we made the braids loop back into a circle, so I had big loops sticking up all over my head.

No one in camp was giving me any sort of true competition until dinner. Michelle Dart came to dinner with toothpaste, chapstick and a bunch of other stuff stuck in her hair. I had nothing more to offer. They ended up choosing to award one prize to an adult and one to a youth leader, so I was still able to get a treat and the sweet, sweet victory of winning.

The pictures just don't do it justice, but it was cool...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

We miss you Mom

This is Ben, filling in for Mom while she is away (with a little help from Dad). Mom went to girls camp this week and has been gone for 3 days. I hope the next 3 days pass quickly so she will be home soon. Don't worry--Grandma Zufelt dropped in to play with me and Maddie while Mom is away and Brian is at work.

Before Mom left for girls camp, we went on a fishing expedition using the couch as our boat and Potsy (my doll) was the fishing pole. I drove the boat. We caught lots of big fish and cooked them and then ate them.

Mom, Maddie, Grandma Z, and Ben fishing

Grandma Zufelt has done lots of fun things with me this week. We went to ride the train at Burke Lake Park, we played with my Thomas train set for three days straight and we went on some walks together. We also made some spaghetti with some playdough.

Me, Maddie, and Grandma Zufelt at Burk Lake Park

Today we went outside to watch the workers replacing some of our cement sidewalk with their bobcat tractor that gets cement out of the mud and they brought a cement truck with a cement slide to fill the hole. They called the cement truck on the phone to come fill the hole. They worked very fast because it was a fast job.

I am having lots of fun with Grandma, but I miss Mom a lot. I will be happy when she comes home on Saturday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Cherries

Brian decided he really wanted to can more cherries, so he went an bought a ton more. Brian, Ben and Anne all donned aprons and started working to bottle the fruit. Maddie didn't want to be left out, so on her own, she went and found an apron and brought it to the worker group to have it put on so she could help. Of course, she had nothing else on so her clothes didn't get ruined.

Here are some fun pictures of the kids working with grandma, including Maddie's attempts to clean up by wiping everything, including her toes. Guess they must have been sticky.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Definition of Play Has Changed

I don't even know how to describe this new sort of play. It is so detailed, so meticulous, so planned and purposeful. The trains must follow certain tracks at certain times. If anything breaks, we have to call the maintenance crew to fix it, not just put the track back. Ben will line up the trains on top of the coffee table all facing me on the couch. Then I have to babysit, including telling them stories and giving a report to the grown-up trains when they get home from their meetings.

The trains even have errands to run. Ben will wait until the clock hands point at a predetermined number before it is time to leave for the errand run. I used to suggest he could just take care of the errand early, but he said the people waiting to ride the train know how to wait patiently, so they will be just fine and we can all wait for 11 o'clock or whenever. He is often found wandering around with a tape measure to be sure things are just the right size. Of course, the numbers don't mean much to him yet, he just makes up a number most of the time.

Same thing applies to all types of play, swimming, building with blocks, sesame street, cars, marble works, etc, etc.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shark Boy and Other Good Options

Tonight at dinner, Ben was again sharing his plans for our future. Either we should have two more babies or three more babies. He chose that we should have three, then he decided we should have four so we could have two more girls and two more boys. That way there is the same amount. Plus, if three of the kids were busy, then there would still be some left to play with. Baby names topping the list tonight: AJ (as always) Shark Boy Maggie Sarah

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hooked On Phonics Worked for Me!!

Ben is learning to read. He loves it. We'll be driving home from somewhere and he'll tell me that as soon as we get home, he wants to read for as many minutes as he can until we have to do another project. If I can't do it with him, he says that's okay because he can use the CDs to read with him. He is totally eating it up!

He read his first simple book yesterday. I came in and he had skipped ahead a ways right to the book. It had lots of words he hadn't ever practiced, but he read the whole thing just great! We're proud of him and his enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Amazing Husband...

After Ben was born, he cried a lot. He would only be happy if I was holding him. I learned to be very efficient at typing with one hand on the computer and made up lots of little projects to occupy my time. Ben would sleep in my lap on the nursing pillow if I kept one hand on him. One of my made up projects became sort of an obsession. It took many weeks of one handed typing, learning to format, searching for clipart and lyrics, etc. I put together a camp song book of all the songs I remembered singing at camp as a girl. After weeks of work, it was done and really cute. I got it formatted to print as a bi-fold book with color images...it was perfect. I was so proud and wanted to get it printed real nice so I could take it to camp with me.

When I tried printing it, I realized that we only had an inkjet printer, which meant if it ever got a drop of rain on it, it would be ruined. Ugh. Checking prices at all the copy shops only made me more discouraged. I think the cheapest store was going to charge me $75!! That's nuts. I resigned myself to a cheap version on our home printer, but kept running out of ink and the pictures didn't look good anymore when the blue cartridge was low, etc. Eventually, I just ran out of steam. The dream died and I was really sad.

This week, out of the blue, Brian asked if I still wanted to print my camp songbook. He offered to print it at work and said he had figured out how to do it on the laser printer, double sided, as a book, etc, etc, exactly as I had dreamed.
Brian always finds ways to make my day better. Sometimes though, he totally blows me away with his thoughtfulness, like making this book happen. I love him.

Never Trust the Eyes of a 4 Year Old

Ben had a total tantrum the other day when it was time to leave his friend Brigham's house. Full out on the ground kicking, screaming and crying. Reasoning wasn't working, never mind we had just spent two hours at the pool together. So Brigham offered to let Ben borrow his Thomas train while he was on vacation for three weeks if he could calm down. A deal was made and we departed.

Within a block, he started freaking out. "I left the Thomas!" I was pretty sure he had it in his hand walking out, but couldn't totally guarantee it. I asked him to calm down, but he was nuts. Maddie was already falling asleep, though I don't know how she could with the wild screaming going on. Ben wouldn't calm down, so he couldn't earn the train back and boy did I hear it all the way home. That was a super long 15 minutes. I looked all over the floor of the truck when we got home and couldn't find the train. I figured we really had left it at Brigham's place.

First thing this morning, Ben was tantruming again because he wanted to go get the train at Brigham's house. I told him he had to earn it. It took 1 1/2 hours to clean up 20 books, 2 blankets and 10 pieces of clothes. Finally, I called Brigham's mom to see if we could drop by. She said they didn't have it, so I checked the truck again. Sure enough, Thomas was right in Ben's car seat. Touching the side of his leg the entire 15 minute drive with Ben scream at the top of his lungs. Lesson learned: never trust the eyes of a 4 year old when they tell you they looked everywhere.

Now we just need to figure out what to do about all these wretched tantrums. I've about had it...


Two years ago I decided I really wanted to try canning cherries, so I ordered a super cool cherry pitter with springs and lots of fun engineering looking gadgets. I was totally excited to use it. Then I found out that I had just missed the cherry harvest. I had to wait an entire year! Ugh. The next spring came and I was determined to get some last year. I wanted to cry when a freeze destroyed the entire crop here in our region. Another year of waiting to use my super cool machine.

After waiting two years, Brian picked up some cherries last Saturday morning. I decided to take a nap in the afternoon. Before I fell asleep, I started hearing a rhythmic, pop-clunk. I knew what it was and tried with all my might to stay in bed to give Ben and Brian their special time. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to see the cherry pitter in action. Ben met me at the kitchen door and threw himself across the doorway, trying with all his might to block the door by touching both sides of the wall. We're making a surprise, he said desperately. I had to tell Brian I what I wanted so he could talk Ben into letting me in to see the kitchen.

Finally, after the long years of waiting, I was able to pit my cherries. Or at least use the machine. We figure it pitted around half of them. The other half are still inside because the plunger missed the pit and just made holes in the side of the fruit. Sort of a let down. Maybe next year, we'll just leave the pits in and keep it simple.

How Canning Can Change Your Life

Who knew that canning would come to define a home to me. I hated picking fruit, cleaning it, preparing it, bottling it, washing the bottles, carrying jars up and down the stairs to the basement storage. It was WAY too much work to be worth it. I made a vow to myself that I would never do it again when I had a house of my own. I've included some fun pictures of our family in the fruit orchards the last few years.

Ben in peach orchard at 2 1/2 yrs old.

Brian and I went through school happy as can be, living in our small apartments with no yard to mow or things to fix. None of the things we had to do during our growing up years. Finally we finished school, started working and bought a cute little house in Houston, Texas. It was probably the very next fall as the weather began to turn cooler in November that I felt this odd tug in my heart to make my house a home. I really wanted to can applesauce. That would make it home to me. Weird, I thought, that I'd ever want to do that.

Maddie in peach orchard at 1 year.

Two years passed and I thought of it from time to time. Finally, I tried my first strawberry jam when my mom was in town after I had Ben. It was fun to make and mom was there to make sure I didn't ruin it and waste all that money. That jam was precious to me and we made a ton. About three months later, Kristie and Anthony moved in. We shared groceries, cooking and chores (though they were lots better at doing their chores than I ever was...). I saw the jam disappearing so quickly it made me want to cry. Kristie had a rule that if we have any kind of pasta, from lasagna to mac'n'cheese, we must have bread with the meal. Of course, having bread means you must have jam. It sure went fast. There were about 8 bottles left when we moved to Virginia. I seriously considered how I could bring 8 jars of freezer jam on the airplane. In the end, I bequeathed them all to Kristie and Anthony. It was a really sad day for me to say goodbye to it.

Angie, Maddie and Ben picking raspberries.

Upon our arrival in Virginia, I became great friends with Cara Glassett. She lived around the corner from us and moved in only a week or two after we did. She decided to find an orchard in Virginia to pick apples. She found one and had a fantastic day picking apples and got us a bag. Finally, I saw my chance. We (Cara and I) decided to make applesauce together. I already had the sauce maker machine and lots of empty bottles, she had the steam canner and the know how.

Ben at 3 1/2 in apple orchard trying to keep the bees and flies out of his ears.

Brian was out of town for two weeks when we undertook the crazy process. I put down huge blue tarps all over the carpet and we began. The entire kitchen was a disaster and the tarps were so sticky from apple juice drippings. We learned a lot but never had I had so much fun spending so many hours working, cooking, squishing and measuring. I think every dish in my entire house was sticky when we finished. I let it all sit for a day or so before I had the energy to clean it all up before Brian returned from his trip to Europe.

Brian and Maddie in apple orchard at 1 year.

Brian was totally impressed and loved the applesauce. Since then, we have become serious canners. We buy bushels and bushels of peaches and apples each year to process. We do strawberry, raspberry and peach jam. Every time I can something, it makes my house feel like a home. Ben loves to do it, from picking in the orchard and eating as many peaches as he can, to mutilating the fruit (his best effort at peeling a peach), to squishing the apples or turning the crank on the saucer. Our home is full of love when we can fruit and spend that time together dancing to whatever comes on the radio and working hard as a family.

Taking Out the Bumps

We have speed bumps on the small road to our house. We've always disliked them, but Brian started playing a game with the whole thing a few weeks ago. Every time we come home, Brian would ask Ben if he took the bumps out of the road, because he didn't want to go over the bumps today. Ben at first seemed concerned, like he might get in trouble and wasn't sure quite why. Soon, he began to catch on to the game and would laugh and start to tell us it was Mom's job or Dad's job, not his. One day this week, we were just about at the turn into our neighborhood and he got this silly grin on his face from the back seat with his cute little glasses. He got real serious and sounded stern when he asked, "Dad, did you get those bumps out of the way? Because I don't want to go over any bumps today." Then he broke into a huge grin, anxiously waiting for us to play his game. It is getting really fun for him to grow up and start playing grown up games. His imagination is amazing and fun. We spent a long time playing during Maddie's nap on Sunday with the old Sesame Street Fisher Price toys I had as a kid. They play in the boats and the bird houses Ben makes at the Home Depot classes, fly in cardboard box airplanes and have to eat at the restaurant while Mr. Hooper drives the trash truck around the neighborhood and takes it all to the local dump by the fireplace. The detail in his play these days is delightful.

Things the little people say...


  • Ben always says, "On real?" when he means, "For real?"


  • Maddie is obsessed with telling us what she wants. I always hear her demanding what type of shoes, pajamas, swim suit, cup, spoon, toy ball, baby doll and binkies. She always tells me, "Dis Kind."
  • From her crib in the morning between 6:45 and 7:15 each morning I hear, "Cereal, Mommy?"

OH NOOOOOO!!!! It's coming!!!

That's what he screamed as we heard Ben's little feet running out of the bathroom two weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon when we were entertaining guests for dinner. He was shrieking and as we ran from the kitchen, Brian saw Ben wearing only a shirt and tried to send him back into the bathroom to put his clothes on. Then he saw the wall of water chasing Ben out the bathroom door. "I BROKE THE TOILET!!" he yelled. He broke down in tears.

I ran upstairs and grabbed a ton of towels and threw them down to a friend to stop the water wall just before it hit the carpet while Brian shut off the water at the wall. Ben was crying, scared, wet and half naked. We sent him upstairs to put on some clean, dry clothes.

I knew we had been going through WAY to much toilet paper, but with trying to potty train Maddie, I chalked it up to her. Turns out the excess toilet paper culprit was Ben. He was filling the entire toilet bowl with each flush. So we have a new household limit of 5 sheets per flush. If you come to visit, please plan accordingly. :)

To really top off the event, Brian threw the wet towels in the basement sink when he was done mopping up. Monday morning I did the laundry. The washing machine drains into that sink. It was full of towels and I didn't notice. When I came down to change the loads, the basement was flooded. Ugh... At least the water heater hadn't exploded or the foundation leaked again? There is a bright side to every bad situation, right?

No Matter What, I'm Telling

Ben keeps telling me that "No matter what, I'm telling Cindy (neighbor) that her tree is blocking my way to see the swimming pool." It makes him feel really bad. And I laugh every time he brings it up because he's going to tattle tale on the tree. He says he can't see the pool while he's sleeping. Shouldn't his eyes be closed while he's sleeping?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independance Day

The Fourth of July 2008

Megan, one of my super cool friends, said it best, "A bit underwhelming, but still fun."

We went to our ward pancake breakfast early so the crazy people could go to the Fairfax parade. I had to pick Ben up out of bed, dress him and carry him to the car. It was 8 am, but he was wiped out. Usually he's up at 7.

Angie, Ben and Maddie riding the Metro

Then we hung out at the house, enjoying NOT doing anything for an hour or so before we headed to our monthly appointment with Home Depot Kid class. Ben looks forward to it all month, so we cannot miss. We went with Lauren and Rocky this month, then did a super expensive Costco run on the way home. We got Ben Hooked on Phonics and he loves it! Mostly it was all about opening all the packages as fast as he could.

Maddie and reflection on Metro

Afternoon brought nap time for everyone but me. I crammed out stuff for YW Camp in two weeks as fast as I could so I could catch some ZZZ's with the rest of the bunch. Alas, little feet came down the stairs and I was still on the computer. Oh well. I got a lot done and then we headed to the Soderborg's house for a relaxing BBQ.

Megan, Jackson and Brigham watching fireworks.

At 7:30 we headed downtown on the Metro to watch the fireworks with Megan, Lauren and all the little people. We got separated in the mess of people trying to buy train tickets and we jumped on the train. When we connected via cell phone, I was about to give quick last minute instructions of where we were headed and which train transfer to take to get to Arlington when the Metro entered the tunnel. Oh well, huh? Just cross your fingers and hope...

Maddie on Angie's shoulders watching fireworks

We got to Arlington Cemetery and actually found everyone again. We watched the fireworks and had a pleasant time. Brian heard that an explosion in a port in China "used" about 40% of the fireworks for this year. I'd say that was about right. It was a lot shorter than it should have been. Plus, note for next year, check the wind report. On top of only getting 60% of the fireworks, we only saw the left half of what they lit off. The smoke all blew in our view. So, I figure we saw 30% of what we should have.

Rocky and Ben watching fireworks.

Oh well, I shouldn't complain. I got to watch the fireworks over the Lincoln and Washington Monuments! I celebrated the nations birthday in the nations capitol, the heart of it all. Seriously, who gets to do that? We love living here!

Angie and Lauren

Coming home was an adventure in itself. The kids were tired, the trains were slow and my closest 5,000 people were all stuffed in the same train car as us. Seriously, we couldn't move an inch and sweat was running down everyone's faces. Exhausted Ben was standing at our feet. His head was just the same height as Maddie's feet and she was having tantrum after tantrum. Poor kid. I'm surprised he didn't end up with a black eye. Finally, we told him to just sit down on the floor to stay safe.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Time Out

Maddie is really easy to discipline these last two weeks. I just say, "Maddie, do you need to have a time out?" She says, "Yeah." Then she walks herself over to the staircase and sits. After a minute or maybe a little less, she gets up, walks over to Ben. She gives him a hug and says, "Sorry" with a big smile and goes about her business. How long will that dream world last for me?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Loft Bed

Ben also loves his new loft bed. It has a desk underneath and a play space. He loves sleeping way up in the air. We still have to find a mattress that fits because it is about 3 inches too skinny and 6 inches too short for a twin mattress. Any suggestions are welcome. He's sleeping on a pile of blankets, but doesn't seem to care at all about being uncomfortable.

Ben's New Glasses

Ben did lots better today when we went to get his glasses. I have definitely felt some strong impressions that the best way to encourage him is to make everything no big deal. With Maddie, we do crazy wild potty dances to celebrate and get her excited. That never really worked with Ben. Same thing here. When I try to talk about the glasses or make an exciting show of anything in his life, he clams up and becomes very uncomfortable. We talked about going to pick them up and that he would have to wear them all the days after then. He just took it in stride.

No throwing glasses on the floor this time. He let the doctor put them on his face and check for a second that they fit right. Then we got him to mutter a "Thank You" before we left the office. He told me he didn't like them and that it made things bigger and the sun was brighter as we drove to Fosse Preschool. I agreed that he didn't have to wear them to preschool, but when I picked him up, he would wear them the rest of the day. I went to my meetings and upon my return put his glasses in Potsy's hands and went inside to get him.

He was excited to see me and Potsy. He noticed the glasses and didn't say a word. He held them as we talked for a minute. As soon as we got in the truck, he put them right on. While we drove home, he casually asked simple questions about them, like can they get water and rain on them? Where do we put the glasses case? Etc...

To quietly celebrate, we had a Mommy-Ben Library Date after dinner. We got lots of books and read them together without the constant interruption of Maddie pulling books off the shelves and me having to chase her. It was really nice.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If Odds Were In Your Favor, 9 to 1, Would You Gamble?

So the doctor was in no rush today. He said it is kind of fun for him to use his smaller ultrasound to figure out if it is a boy or a girl and asked if I wanted him to try. Figuring we were only 16 weeks and I thought even at 20 weeks with the monster machine it is hard to find out, I said yes. He won't be able to tell anyway, right? Well, he says he's 90% sure the baby is a BOY! Time will tell of course, but how fun to be able to start planning. This totally throws off the plans to be just like the Soderborg family as explained in my previous post, but hey, hopefully Ben can defer his best planning and judgment to God. Right now, Ben was super excited it was going to probably be a boy because now we can name it A.J. His friend brought their next door neighbor to the park a few months ago and Ben had lots of fun with him. Since that day, he's been planning to name the baby A.J. after the neighbor kid.