Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Imagination Pilots

Ben has been playing pilot for over a week. He got Eliza to play with him and they had a blast flying the plane. They put two dining room chairs side by side and a little folding table behind them. Drape a blanket between the two as a place for the maletas (suitcases) to go and...Presto! You have an airplane! He is a very attentive pilot. He always puts on his costume and someone has to wear a walkie talkie so they can talk to the guys that tell them where to land and call their moms if they need something. Hats are a must when you are a pilot.
I noticed Maddie jumped on board in the cockpit this time as a stowaway and stole a peach from my canning project...little stinker.

Our Days at the Pool are Numbered

On Monday we "set a goal" to go swimming 3 times before the pool closed the next Monday. Then we canned peaches and worked in the kitchen getting the trim up...time marched on while we were busy working. Then came the rain and cool weather. Finally, Saturday, it was hot and sticky again so we went over to the pool. The kids had fun and we loved visiting with their favorite neighbor, Claudia.
We didn't make it back to our pool again this year because Monday we went to The Water Mine water park. The kids thought it was a blast. Ben is still pretty chicken to go down many slides, but the entire park was 3 feet or less, so he could go about anywhere he wanted walking around. We rode the lazy river on a tube a bunch of times. Finally, we left when Maddie's diaper told us it was time and she was sleepy and shivering. We changed and Maddie napped in the car with me while Brian got some things at Home Depot and I grabbed groceries at Wegmans. Then we had a BBQ at the park with friends and called it an early night. Overall, a pretty good Labor Day weekend.


I've been working on updating posts and putting pictures on a lot of the old blog posts this morning. I decided it was time for the kids to get cleaned up and have a bath. I was about to take them up when I saw the familiar squatting, concentrating look on Maddie's sweet face. Ben asked when we were going to have a bath and I told him Maddie needed a minute to get ready. I gave her a minute. Sure enough, mega mess in the diaper. She squirmed and didn't want me to bother her, so I gave her another minute. As I was standing up from the table to go take care of the diaper and give them baths, Brian came down the stairs, hollering all happy and in his most excited voice, "Who's ready for a bath? Let's go!" Maddie all but ran to his arms, "Maddie do it, Maddie bath!" I can't help laughing as I sit here at the kitchen table, hearing, "Wow! That's a big stinky, Maddie!" Yes it is, Brian. Congratulations on winning the morning prize! I love you.

Smoothies - "That's How It Goes, Dad!"

Ben LOVES to help Dad make smoothies (smooffies). It is definitely their special thing they do together. Ben gets so excited to help. Tonight Brian gave him some extra responsibility while he got the frozen peaches from the basement. He was to find all the white parts that they needed to assemble the smoothie maker. Ben went one step further and assembled it. When he finished and Brian returned to the kitchen, Ben said, "That's how it goes, Dad." It brought huge grins to both our faces as we looked at his work. Can you spot the problem? Notice the bottom blade assembly just dropped into the middle of the mixing area?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Ben: Mom, why is Sunday church not just one minute long? Mom: We wouldn't have enough time to learn about Jesus in one minute. Ben: How fast would we have to talk if we still want to learn about Jesus, but we want church to only be one minute?

My Bike Has Just TWO Wheels

Ben's comments when asked what he wants to say on the blog (dictated slowly one word at a time so I can type it...): "I love riding my bike, but when I was riding my bike, my helmet got on my neck. That's the whole entire part of the story I want to put on the internet. The End." We picked up a cool, purple bike at the thrift store on Monday afternoon for $9.99. It has flowers and butterflies all over the sides. Ben was totally excited to ride it right there in the store. I let him steer it up to pay and out to the car, but it didn't have training wheels, so he couldn't ride it yet. Wednesday we went shopping to get training wheels and were surprised how hard they were to find. We finally located one package left, but it was missing a nut to tighten down the wheel. I asked for a discount and had Brian go to Home Depot to match the nut on Thursday. Friday was busy, but Ben was patient. It poured rain all day anyway. Saturday morning, I put the training wheels on and sent him around the side of the house to ride on the sidewalk while I got his helmet out. When I came out the front door with his helmet, I was greeted with a huge smile and a 4 year old zooming past. He was so excited! I guess I expected to go teach him what to do. Oh well, huh? We got his helmet adjusted to match his head size this year and headed out. He hates the helmet and having a strap under his chin. He'll get over it. Brian fit it pretty well to his head, but he still isn't a fan. Then we rode around our court. We passed a random guy who rode up on his motorcycle, Ben stopped and declared "This is my bike that only has TWO wheels." I laughed and told him that the guy only had two wheels just like Ben. Then we went to show our neighbor Claudia. She gave all the proper praise and excitement a four year old craves. The kids love visiting her and her daughter Aimee.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How Rain Works

Ben and I have some of our best and funniest conversations driving in the truck. It had been raining and cool for quite a few day when we left to meet Brian for lunch today. Ben: Why does the weatherman keep making it rain? Mom: The weatherman just tells us what he thinks will probably happen with the weather. God chooses if it will rain or not each day. Ben: Why does God keep sending rain for us everyday? Mom: He decided that someone around here needed it. Plus, it makes the plants grow and washes the earth so it is nice and clean and smells great. Quiet for a few minutes... Ben: EEEW!!! I know, maybe God has a button that he just pushes to turn the rain on. Mom: Maybe you're right. I'm not exactly sure how he does it. Quiet for a few more minutes... Ben: EEEW!!! Actually, maybe its a lever. That could work better. Mom: Stifles laugh. Ben: Or maybe he uses a handle like we have in our backyard to turn on the green hose to water the lawn. That could be it. We are still undecided as to the official method God uses to send the rain, but whatever it is, it works.

I Remember This Stage

Ben and Maddie each got a coupon book for cool free stuff by local retailers for participating in the summer reading program this year. I explained to Ben the rules of the coupon book and read him the statement and made him sign himself. It said, and he agreed, every kid got one book. If you lose the book, you don't get another one and you can't use the coupons you lost. Last Saturday we used our first coupon for a free ice cream cone at McDonald's. Ben was elated, it then began to really hit home what all this junk paper really could mean to him. He was catching on and loving it! When we got home, he had to return the book to the safe spot on top of his dresser, where Maddie couldn't get it. There it would be safe until we used the next coupon in a few days. Friday came around and I knew one or two were set to expire soon, so I planned a morning of cashing in coupons. We were all excited and ready to go. We'd hit story time, get a free book, grab a box of popsicles for each of the kids and meet dad for a free lunch at noon. All was going well until Ben was sent to get his coupon book. It was gone. We searched his entire room, behind the dresser, inside the drawers, under the bed, everywhere. No luck. I called off the excursion and we looked and looked. Finally, we called Dad to verify the book had come in from the car on Saturday night. Ben was in tears, knowing the rules that we can't get another one. Dad said yes, the book came in and he hadn't seen it. Ugh. What was I to do? Pretend? Lie? Tell him to suck it up and be tough, life isn't fair? Poor kid. I ran through every possible thought in my head. If it fell in the trash, I had taken it out on Tuesday and it was long gone (of course, I took it out this week, I only do it once every two months, what rotten luck). If it got stuck in the mail on the way into the house, it had been recycled and again, was long gone. I checked through every random paper I had laying around the kitchen and dining room (not a small job...). It was gone. We changed plans with Dad. We met at a restaurant and used Maddie's coupon for Ben since she was so young she was free anyway. Ben was totally sad, but starting to come to grips with his loss. Later that day, Maddie was playing in the living room while I relaxed on the couch. She had her backpack and was filling and dumping junk out of it. It hit me like a bolt of lightning. CHECK THE BACKPACK!! Sure enough. The coupon book, and everything else special Ben keeps on his "really tall" dresser that Maddie can't reach was in there. The heavens rejoiced and Ben was giddy with excitement. We formally acknowledge entrance of a new stage of development and mischief for Maddie. I remember this stage from the Ben days. I recall when Ben was about two years old. The most random things would just disappear and be gone for days. It was a twice a day event to locate Potsy so he could take a nap. His most usual location was in the lift-up seat of his trusty push around car. Once Brian was on a business trip to London. We bought a ticket for me to join him and our fantastic neighbors were planning to watch Ben for 6 days so we could do some fun touring. About 4 days before I was to depart, I thought I had better verify I had my passport and all was in order. The keys to the safe were missing. The were kept high up on top of the computer monitor on top of the desk. I looked for 3 days and tore the entire house apart. I looked everywhere. The night before I was supposed to go, I was desperate. I put Ben to bed, prayed again for divine intervention and started looking for the hundredth time in all the regular places. I went quietly in Ben's room and pulled every last toy out of his toy chest. Just as I was about to put things back in, I saw, in the dark back corner, the keys. I just sat on the floor and cried. I wasn't going to have to skip my trip to London after all. Unfortunately, we never did find the remote control for our DVD/VCR player. It is long gone to a landfill far, far away we're sure. Things to remember in this stage:
  • Maddie is taller and can reach the "safe" place for Ben's special things (or mine for that matter).
  • Maddie can climb and can get a hold of anything not stuck behind a closed door.
  • We must now check every random place in the house for all missing items.
  • Don't blame Ben for everything that we lose anymore.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Peaches - Check!

We finished the peaches! Thanks mostly to that wonderful husband of mine. I worked Monday and got one jar filled. Tuesday I decided I needed to really focus and get it done, so I got two jars done. I knew I'd never finish at that rate. The kids just kept interrupting my work. I had to get snacks, help with the potty, wash hands, chase Maddie away from the peaches all over the dining room table, build forts, make lunch, get drinks, open windows, change CDs, get down snacks, etc, etc. You know, be a mom. Plus I had to wash up and dry off between each task. To top it all off, neither of the kids would nap Monday or Tuesday. It was slow going to say the least. Wednesday rolled around and I had to make sure I was focused and the kids had plenty to do. Ben was a huge help. We had a multi-purpose fort built in the living room that helped a lot. It was an airplane, train tunnel, fort and lots of other things. He did all sorts of things to help Maddie and seemed pretty understanding when I told him I couldn't help him with this or that. The biggest blessing was that at 10:30 Maddie asked if she could take a nap in her bed. ABSOLUTELY!! I got her settled and was able to plow through half the peaches by dinner time. I was ecstatic. When Brian got home, he was planning to work on the kitchen remodeling. Unfortunately for him, but lucky for me, it was sprinkling outside. He couldn't cut the remaining boards, so he helped me can peaches and we finished all of them! Isn't he great? Now, no more for me, I'm tired of swollen ankles and throbbing feet.

DMV Memories

A few weeks ago I got a notice in the mail that the fantastic Virginia State DMV saying that they had rechecked my information with the Social Security Administration and that the information no longer matched. Interesting, I thought. I haven't changed my name, my SS# or my birthday (is that even possible??) in the last 4 year years. I'm still me, as far as I know. In any case, I was instructed to fix the situation and appear in person to renew my license with proper documentation to prove my identity. I called the DMV to protest. I'm still the same old me, I told them. They didn't care. I was told to call Social Security and work it out with them. They said everything was the same. DMV said they couldn't help me over the phone, so I had to come in. Ugh. That's just what everybody wants to do, especially with kids in tow. I called a friend, Mary, to see if she was free any morning this week to watch the kids while I went in to fight it out. So, today I went in. I was in a foul mood, expecting a disaster, not knowing what to really say. Nothing had changed, so what do I fight with them about? Everything turned out just fine. After waiting, I approached the counter, presented my notice and asked what I needed to do. He looked it up on the computer and said, "Hummm, it doesn't show any problem at all. We'll just renew it like normal then." I could hear the choirs of angels singing!! Hallelujah!! So, other than waiting, it turned out to be no big deal. During my quiet waiting time though, I reminisced about my last visit to the DMV. It wasn't so easy on me. Every move we've ever made, at some point in the process, have a total and complete emotional breakdown. Sobbing so hard I can hardly breathe, snot running down my face, red puffy eyes, total despair in my heart, you know a COMPLETE emotional breakdown! Unfortunately for me, the Texas to Virginia breakdown just happened to occur at the DMV. Ugh. Brian and I took Ben with us to change over our drivers licenses, license plates, etc, etc. Everything was going okay other than having a 13 month old and trying to wait. We juggled him alright. Finally, after about an hour, Brian got called up for his picture, then picked up his license, and I was still waiting. Time was passing slower and slower, Ben was hungry and needed a nap. I was getting more and more aggitated and upset. I waited over an hour past when Brian had picked up his actual license, then finally approached the counter to demand they find out why mine hadn't been processed, it had been over 2 hours I had been sitting. They didn't know anything and weren't willing to look. I waited another 30 minutes or so and approached again, this time they could see I had been crying. They had mercy on my and started looking for my file. It got lost somewhere in the back, but they did eventually find it and start working on it. By this time, Brian had left me and had Ben strapped into his carseat in the rental car in the parking lot, napping. I finally had to leave the building because my crying was so totally out of control. As I walked out the Exit Only door, a sweet woman with a muslim head scarf tried to comfort me. She said, "Don't worry sweetie. You will pass your driving test next time you come back. I didn't pass either." I was so upset, I couldn't even laugh even though my soul knew exactly how funny that was. Now that the moment is past, I think it is hilarous that she thought I had failed my road test. In the end, I got my license, but my picture was terrible. My face was literally as red as an apple and my eyes were totally swollen. So, now I have a new picture on my license, though it's not really much better than the original one. But, the best part of the story, I won't have to set foot in the DMV for another 8 beautiful years. Hooray!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Helping Dad Finish Up the Kitchen

Maddie loves to be in the middle of everything. Since Brian has decided, rightly so, that remodeling the kitchen should take less than one year, he's back on the job. As much as I try to help, I do the most good to get totally engaged with the kids, and well, just keep them away from the work zone. I figure in approximately 8 years, we'll be able to work together again on projects.
Maddie measuring the board for Dad.

Just about right? Maddie helps Dad decide what to do next.

Dad isn't so sure Maddie has good input.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Maddie when asked, "Does Jesus love Maddie?" will always reply with a huge grin, "Nauh yet!" Ben told me today that Jesus turns the light on before he gets up by sending the sun up in the sky. At least we're making progress with Ben, even if Maddie needs a bit more instruction...

Let the Games Begin

Maddie is such a helper. Here are some instructional photos to help anyone just starting out canning. Here is how we use the peeler to remove the skins of the peaches before bottling them. First, choose a peach to your liking. This is not the peach that Mom is forcing upon you because you previously took a bite in it. Insist on new, untouched peaches because they work much better than the peaches that already have a single bite missing. Second, take the smaller end of the peeler and press it firmly against the outside of the peach as shown in the picture. Once you have penetrated the peach, twist the peeler several times to enlarge the hole. Make sure you create enough holes to let all the juice out. Once you have created enough holes, bludgeon the peach using the larger end of the peeler while walking around the kitchen. Hold the peach up so the juice runs down your arm and drips off your elbow. This way you can control the drip and maximize the splatter by moving your elbow in random patterns above the floor, stool, and if you are lucky the carpet. Mom will be delighted to see the sticky mess you have left in your wake. Once the peach stops dripping or has lost all of its pulp, discard and select another to begin again. Good thing Mom just went to the orchard and bought 6 pecks of peaches--you can stay busy all day "helping" bottle the peaches. Enjoy!

Errand of Angels

All you Utahns and Idahoans should go see this movie opening out there. My friend wrote it and I think it's great. Finally, a woman perspective on serving an LDS mission. I loved the music in particular.
We hosted a Mother-Daughter event for our stake YW in April where we watched an early release of the movie--it was a hit. We had Heidi, the writer, do a Q&A session after we watched the movie and it was totally cool to hear her perspective on how it all came together. We love Heidi!

My Mind Wanders During Class

So our lesson yesterday in RS was about missionary work, but one of the quotes they used (see below) made me think about Juli's pictures of chocolate cake the whole lesson from the Robinson Family Blog. Could anything look more appetizing than that chocolate cake, dripping in chocolate syrup and photographed perfectly on a pure white plate? Yumm...
'In many cookbooks there are pictures of the perfect dishes that recipes makethe fulness of the joy of cooking. These pictures are important because they help us envision the outcome if we strictly follow the directions as given in the recipe. It is important to begin with the end in mind, but the end represented by pictures in cookbooks is an end that is only possible if everything is done right. If directions are not followed or an ingredient is left out or miscalculated, the desired taste and appearance are seldom attained. The picture of a perfect dish, however, can serve as motivation to try again to create something that is both delicious and beautiful.
When we think of eternal life, what is the picture that comes to mind? I believe that if we could create in our minds a clear and true picture of eternal life, we would start behaving differently. We would not need to be prodded to do the many things involved with enduring to the end, like doing our home teaching or visiting teaching, attending our meetings, going to the temple, living moral lives, saying our prayers, or reading the scriptures. We would want to do all these things and more because we realize they will prepare us to go somewhere we yearn to go.' --L. Tom Perry, Conf April 2008.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Puppet Shows

We were all in the living room this morning. I was trying to sleep on the couch, Brian was working on the computer, Maddie playing with something on the floor and Ben was using his imagination. We have a bunch of puppets that he has recently become interested in. I realize when I bought them (he was 6 months old) that I might have been jumping the gun a bit, but he'd eventually like them, right? Well, 4 years later, he started playing with them. Brian had the laptop and took notes of three of the make-believe stories he created... "Once there was a nurse and a doctor that lived together. They gave reeaally good snuggles…The End."
"One day the parrot and the chef were friends. They gave really good snuggles to each other. The End."
"Once there was a sleepy lion and a rooster…Cock-a-doodle doo…I need more people…" So, he didn't have enough hands to do more complicated shows. This is why he bothers me everyday to have a play date, so he can boss his friends around and make them do what he instructs them to do since I don't always want to play puppet show.

Squirrel Loses Tail

Today I had early morning meetings. On my leisurely Sunday morning drive home, I saw something that totally surprised me. On the left side of the road was a squirrel. A car was approaching. The squirrel ran at the car and between the front and rear tires of the driver side. It wasn't quite quick enough to make it all the way out from under the car. The back passenger tire caught the squirrel's tail...and it came off. The tail rolled across the road and the squirrel kept running. GROSS! Now I will always have to wonder, did the squirrel live? How bad of a wound is losing a tail? Hummm... During our recent trip to Utah, one of our car conversations centered on animals. In Utah, you would have had to drive to the mountains to even see a squirrel. I thought of squirrels, fox, deer and the like as wild animals you only got the opportunity to see if you went WAY far away from civilization up in the mountains. The whole conversation started when we were driving to Uncle Brett's wedding in Manti, UT, a fairly rural community. We crossed the path of a skunk and Ben asked what was "making all that stink." We laughed, while we had definitely smelt the skunk, neither of us had thought much about it. Brian and I talked with Ben about how animals are different in different areas of the country. In Virginia (and Texas and Kentucky and Michigan too) you will find squirrels running in your yard all day long. When we first moved from Utah to Michigan, we have tons of pictures of the squirrels eating right on our balcony. It was such a unique thing for us to see, we were totally amazed and amused. In Kentucky, there were fields and fields of thousands of fire flies. Again, we were TOTALLY amazed! The other interns taught us how to squish them and squeeze their light juice on your arms to have a glow in the dark tattoo. We have some fire flies here in Virginia, but not enough to squish and paint with. Ben loves to chase them and watch them at dusk before bedtime. Last May we had a fox at our house. When we would come home in the evening, a beautiful red fox would be sitting on the porch. I called animal control when he didn't leave for several days and was hunting the tree for squirrels right outside the front door. It was like having Discovery Channel in my kitchen so see him pounce and eat a squirrel. Animal control said unless the red fox was sick, just let it be. Just keep a watch on my small children because, while it probably won't approach them, if my kid thinks it's a dog and approaches him, they will attack because they are small enough they aren't intimidated by someone Maddie's size. Comforting, huh? We've also had a few turtles living in the front bushes and lots of frogs. One night when our porch light was out, I came out the front door and stepped on a poor frog. It did hop away, so I hope it was okay. Anyway, compared to where I grew up in Salt Lake City, sometimes I'm surprised by how many wild animals I see from my front porch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Orchard Days Again - Peaches

The kids and I had another enjoyable day picking peaches at the orchard in Markham, Virginia. As usual, we all picked for a while and then the kids retreated to the car to "drive" while I finished up. Ben had fun trying to climb the trees to reach the high up fruit. Then he picniced alone on a blanket while he watched me pick and Maddie wander the rows.
Maddie picked up a bunch of peaches from the ground and put them in her bag. After the bottom of the bag was covered, she started whining "too heavy, mommy, too heavy." In my good faith efforts to help solve the problem, I offered to trade her bags for an empty one. She happily agreed to the trade. Then she got mad when I turned to leave with her bag. She carefully, moved each and every peach from her original "heavy" bag to the new empty bag. Upon completion of the task, she happily walked off. "All better," she claimed. Whatever...
I was surprised how much longer it took me to pick peaches and how much less fun I had since we went without Brian this time. We've never been to the orchards without him. I think taking him is a must now. Though we had fun, it wasn't the regular fun family day I usually envision at the orchards without him there.

I a Pie-wat, Mommy

Maddie likes to be just like Ben. She dressed up in his pirate garb after he finished today. She asked for my help getting the eye patch on. After just a short time, she decided that it sure is hard to see with this thing in front of her eye. With a slight modification to the pirate outfit, she was happy as a clam and kept it on for a long time. She walked around saying, "I a pie-wat, Mommy, I a pie-wat!!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gas Prices Are Coming Down

So, you can quit all bothering Brian. We laugh everytime we hear the stats on the radio about how much ExxonMobil has made this week, this quarter, this year, whatever... It is fair to say that they don't really have the buckets of money in the lobby for the employees to take, like the stories he tells everyone. I passed a gas station yesterday and the price listed at the bottom was $4.07. I thought it was really weird that they had switched the prices and put regular on the bottom and must have moved premium to the top. My jaw dropped when I saw that regular was ONLY $3.69. Of course, when you realize how much the cost of a barrel of oil has gone up in the last year, I realize if it was a direct relation, we'd have been paying a lot more than $4.07, more like $8.00/gallon. The whole gas price thing is so complicated, but I don't whole heartedly subscribe to the thought that all gas companies are evil, even ExxonMobil. There Brian, I finally said it, ExxonMobil is not really the Evil Empire. Several of my engineer friends and I had a running joke when I worked for the competitor, BP. No one ever actually said ExxonMobil, we just asked how Brian was doing at The Evil Empire. Oh the good old days...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Christmas In My Closet

So today, it was like Christmas in my closet. I finally took the time to clean out my closet of all the things I can't wear anymore and won't fit into for at least 8 months. I hung up all my maternity clothes and put the bin that has been sitting on the floor for over a month away in the basement. I could actually shut my closet door and could see everything I could fit into hanging on hangers. It's great!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Girls Night Out

Me and a few of my fun girlfriends went out for a wild night on the town tonight. We went bowling and for ice cream to celebrate a happy divorce. We had such a relaxing time together and I'm pleased to report that I was the bowling champ with a score or 134! Likely the best score of my life, I remember thinking a 120 would be amazing and knowing I usually get in the mid 90s. Go me! Then we went to Friendly's for a sweet treat. I was totally sucked in by the add thing on the table and ordered a chocolate brownie ice cream sundae just like in the picture. I didn't read the fine print though, it did not say "actual size" on the add and it sure wasn't. I got a full, dinner sized plate full of ice cream, brownies, whipped cream, carmel and chocolate fudge. Holy cow it was a lot of ice cream...but I ate it all. Hey, I'm pregnant. I have to exercise a few of the perks that come along with the pain and misery. I was home and in bed by 10:30. Okay, so it wasn't my most wild night on the town ever, but fun just the same. Congrats Lauren!!

7-8-9 and An Irreverant Mommy

So tonight at dinner, it was Maddie's turn to pray. She wanted Daddy to help her do it. He started the prayer, "Father in Heaven." Maddie repeated exactly what she heard, "Seven." She looked up and her smile was growing... If you read my post about the kids and numbers yesterday, you know that I knew exactly what was coming since Brian hadn't caught the goof. Brian continued, something about thank you for the food, I don't know...I was laughing too hard to hear him. All I could hear was Maddie excitedly saying, "Eight, Nine!" The prayer continued in a totally normal way, except that I was busting up laughing. Sorry for my irreverence today.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yogurt Painting

You'd think I would learn. Whenever I get feeling busy or don't want to sit and monitor the lengthy breakfast eating process, we get a mess like this yogurt painting and bath time we got this morning.
Of course, we also get really happy smiles...

My Amazing Husband

When we had been married for one year, we had saved a bit of our wedding money. I knew that eventually I would need a good sewing machine and thought that we should use the money we had left to get a good name brand one that would last our entire marriage or at least 30 years. So, we shopped and shopped. Finally, I got a Bernina that was the best we could get without going into the computerized styles. That way, we figured maybe we could fix it ourselves if it ever broke. Right from the start, it was either off or turbo speed. I really loved it and didn't want anything else. I convinced myself and Brian that over time, I would break in the spring and it would have all the desired speeds, like slow, medium, fast in addition to turbo. Well, it has been eight years now and I've still been operating on stop or turbo. Until today.....
A good friend stopped by while I was cooking dinner and we were chatting about sewing. I asked if she knew a good place to have my machine serviced and maybe the spring in the foot replaced with a normal one. She had some recommendations and I pulled it out to show her the style of machine we have. After dinner, since it was still sitting out next to the kitchen table, Brian decided to take a look at it. He opened up the foot pedal and quickly found the potentiometer. In about 2 minutes, I have the full range of speeds. It is like heaven to me!! He's the best. Now I'm excited to sew my Halloween costumes again. I didn't finish in time for our ward party last year, so we're going to finish up those costumes this year and go as the Wizard of Oz clan. Good thing that the Dorothy costume has an empire waist. My big belly this year would never have fit in a regular dress...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sharing a Room

Maddie did so well at moving all around during our vacations the last two weeks! She would basically sleep anywhere we stuck her, a crib in the dark basement, pack-n-play in a mountain cabin with kids playing around her, a futon bed in the spare bedroom. Brian decided to capitalize on her flexibility yesterday. We got home from our trip to Utah and he put the side rail on the big boy bed Ben used to use before he graduated to his loft bed last month. She thought it was a totally cool idea. "Maddie night-night Bens woom?" she said. Ben has to have a lamp on in his room for light, so Maddie could see and it kept her awake for the extra half hour until Ben came to bed. Ben climbed in bed and was asleep in a few minutes. Maddie stayed awake until we went in after Ben was out and turned the light off. Then she was asleep right away. She stayed asleep the entire night. For naps today, she demanded to sleep in Ben's room. The one bad side is that Ben told us this morning he didn't sleep the entire night. He kept his eyes open the whole time to make sure Maddie didn't fall off the bed. Poor kid. He must be exhausted!! So, assuming the good luck holds, the nursery can now be for the new baby. Not bad to be 4 months early! Next task: loose the binkie...

Things I Don't Think About Enough...It's A Wonderful Life

Everyone always has a million things to complain about, but sometimes I realize how many amazing things I have to be thankful for too. This is the view outside my front door in the summertime. Could you ask for anything more? We love our little place here in Virginia. It is so beautiful and peaceful.
I also greatly value going to the bathroom alone without little voices probing me for answers to urgent questions (like what time does Dragon Tales start on PBS?) and little fingers poking under the door to get my attention... :) Just a random thought I had while I was home spending time with my family. I remember long conversations with my poor mother. Me laying on the floor, pushing my little mouth up to the crack under the door so that my voice would carry through. Poor woman. Now I know why she got dinner ready, served us and then left to go "check her blood sugar" every day. I bet she loved that time alone! Just kidding, Mom. I know you really had to get a shot of insulin, but I have been considering "checking my blood" lately.

Ben 125. Maddie 7-8-9

Ben is obsessed with the number 125. It is his make-believe answer to any question. How old is he going to be when he is a grown-up? 125. How many minutes until we get to the store? 125. How many candies should we buy? 125. How much will the baby weight when it comes? 125. How many pages in that book? 125. Fortunately, every toy and candy at his pretend store is only $1. That is because it can't cost all our money in one visit because then we couldn't have any money to spend the next visit. Maddie is obsessed with counting. Just 7-8-9 though. She walks around the house singing, chanting, yelling or just saying 7-8-9. Weird.

Making Up Reasons to Whine...

Ben was in the living room playing with trains. Maddie was in the kitchen with me. Ben: "Maddie, do you want to play with the circle train?" Maddie: no response Ben: "Maddie! Do you want to play with the circle train?" Maddie: "No thank you." Ben plays for a few minutes alone, then enters the kitchen. Ben: "Maddie, do you want this circle train?" Maddie: ignores him Ben approaches, hands over the train: "Maddie, do you want this circle train right here?" Maddie takes the train: "Thank you, Ben." Ben goes in the living room for about 1 minute. Ben comes into the kitchen with Maddie and me. Ben: "Mom, Maddie never lets me have a turn with the circle train. She always has to have it!" Mom: "Not my problem today. You gave it to her when she didn't even want it." Is there really anything else to be said to the kid? Come on!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Totally Unpredictable Toy

Ben occupied himself with Grandpa Dave's remote control car this morning. His giggles and squeals are hilarious for us to watch. In his mind, the remote control car has a mind of its own. He pushes random buttons and switches and it zooms any which way it wants. There was absolutely no correlation between his moves and where it went. Grandpa Dave did give him lessons after a while of playing and then set up an obstacle course on the driveway. Of course, my camera card was full right at that moment, so no great photos to show. By the end, Ben had figured more or less how to maneuver and could get it mostly where he wanted to go. Maddie thought it was a funny toy too. She liked Ben to drive it up onto her feet. She kept telling him, "AGAIN!!" He would laugh and happily oblige her requests. Who doesn't want to run over their sister on occasion?

Chicken Nuggets

Maddie is much more familiar with the facts of life than we had previously been aware. At my parents house, she and Ben played with a little toy farm. It had a fence, tractor, horse, cow, pig and two chickens. Every time she was left alone with it, she would talk to herself. She would pick up the chickens and say, over and over, "Maddie's chicken nuggets. Maddie chicken nuggets. Chicken nuggets for Maddie." She makes me laugh every day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

High Altitude for a Pregnant Lady

All my growing up years in Utah, I knew that the pregnant leaders of our youth group weren't allowed to go to camp with us up in the mountains. I just didn't know why. Something about going into labor, I don't really know. I figured I wasn't far along enough to really worry about going into labor at 4 or 5 months. We headed up the mountain to my family reunion. Heber Valley Camp sits between 7,500 and 10,000 feet depending on where you are. Fairfax, Virginia is right near 400 feet above sea level. Quite a change to do in a week for anyone to adjust.
I was just fine for a few hours and then I started feeling not so great. I was a weird kind of sick though and my abdomen hurt in a funny sort of way. After a while, I went to lay down on my bunk. Everything got better pretty quick, but every time I got up and around again it would start. I asked our local nurse Kristie and seasoned mom Juli why pregnant people really weren't supposed to go camping. Turns out the baby doesn't get the oxygen it is used to getting.
The rest of the time, about 12 hours more, I just took it really easy, laid down when I needed to and chose not to participate in the high adventure course stuff. Everything was just fine as long as I was relaxing and we were home in no time at all. Guess you learn something new everyday.

This Is the Place

As we left the Hogle Zoo, Ben noticed the massive granite monument at This Is the Place with statues of several people on top. He was worried about it and asked, "Did those guys die and then they just put them up there after they were dead?" Poor kid, thinking he was looking at dead people.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Potsy Won't Be Quiet

While we were camping with the Robinson side of my family at the Heber Valley Camp, we got all the kids in the bunk house and I was the designated babysitter while the other adults hung out and played kick the can in the dark. After quite a while, Ben started complaining that Potsy wouldn't be quiet. His favorite doll (version number five no less) had finally given up the ghost or at least he was trying. He is one of those plush Precious Moments dolls that if you squeeze the tummy, it says A Child's Prayer. He wouldn't stop saying the prayer, only you couldn't really understand the words anymore, just more of a weird squeaky rumble that never stopped. Potsy really did go for almost 20 minutes straight and Ben couldn't sleep with him snuggled against his face.
The other kids were pretty much asleep, so I took Potsy outside to see what I could figure out in the light. I could not get him to stop, but Brian and I both knew Ben wouldn't sleep without him. Brian found a sharp kitchen knife, opened Potsy's pajamas and ripped his back seam totally open. He pulled out the batteries and Potsy was finally quiet. He gently stuffed all the stuffing back inside and velcroed the pajamas back together. Ben slept through the night.

Wedding Reception

Pictures...well...my kids weren't exactly on board with the whole idea. I give them a smidgen of credit because the reception didn't even start until after bedtime on the East Coast, but they were really, really bad. The both would scream and arch their backs and would run out of the picture zone if we let go of them. Sorry, Brett & Missy. Hope you got at least one good one. If it makes you feel any better, they enjoyed chanting for you guys on our drive to the reception. Brian had Maddie all riled up, fist raised, chanting, "Uncle Brett, Uncle Brett, Aunt Messy!" We're working on pronouncing "Missy," for now, you're just going to have to be "Aunt Messy." After picture time, they dimmed the lights to set a nice mood. To this, Ben queried, "Why did they turn the lights down?" I told him it was to make it fancy. He looked around with skepticism in his brow. "It doesn't look fancy to me yet."

Introducing Fanciness

Uncle Brett and Aunt Missy's wedding luncheon went okay. Better than expected though I must admit (from a nervous mother's perspective). Who really wants to take a 4 year old and a 2 year old to a nice lunch with fancy dishes and linen napkins? They did great. As soon as Ben sat down and saw all the silverware, he was immediately aware that he had too much for just him to use. He knelt on his chair, picked up a fork and began trying to give it to someone in need. He yelled, "Whooooo neeeeds a fooork?" Since he was about starving to death and the first course was a yucky green salad with lettuce and lots of healthy vegetables, he asked several times, "When is the real food going to come?"

Road Trip Entertainment

Ben decided that he could provide better entertainment on our drive from Uncle Brett's wedding in Manti, Utah to his reception in Bountiful than the DVD player and his stack of movies. He started telling us stories he made up. This one in particular sticks in my mind. A balloon was up in the sky. It had a long, long string. The balloon got higher and higher and higher (the giggles begin) until Jesus ATE IT UP!! The End.I'm not sure if I should be glad he thinks about Jesus and God a lot or worried about where he takes his imagination... For now, I'm just enjoying the moments as they come.
Maddie watched Dora and Diego so many times that she became convinced that she was the map. She will sing, "I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the MAP!!!" She gets so excited about it that we just laugh at her.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grandma and Grandma

Maddie had trouble saying Grandpa. For four days, it was Grandma and Grandma. We worked and worked to get a Grandpa out of her, but it was tough going. We tried Papa and other things like that, she could say them, but wouldn't call grandpa anything but Grandma. Finally, on the fifth day, a Grandpa popped out of her mouth. For Great Grandma BerDella, she just called her "Great" which isn't a bad name to have at all.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Is Living with One Fridge Possible?

So we ripped up our kitchen about 10 months ago (October 2007) and had it mostly put together for my family to all come visit at Christmas. We decided to hold onto the extra fridge because it would make feeding 19 people a lot easier if we had the extra space. Well, we just kept keeping it and keeping it.

Brian worked diligently to empty it many, many times. He would empty the door and start slowly shifting everything to the new fridge. Then, I would go shopping and fill it right back up. Since the old fridge was right by the table, I could put away all the condiments, milk, juice, etc so much faster if I just threw them into the spots Brian had just emptied. Eventually, he gave up the fight.

Sunday night I decided to finally just post the fridge on Craigslist even if it wasn't ready. Sure enough, like magic, when I had an appointment for someone to come see it, I had emptied and wiped the whole thing down in about an hour. It was a trick to get everything to fit in the new fridge though. Let's just say don't open the door unless you are ready to catch a stray orange or apple...
Seriously, I think I could do so much more with myself if I just have proper motivation. If I was accountable for more on a daily basis, I might could move the world. As it is, I don't even think about moving the world, just a mess from the left side of the counter to the right side...how could I find anything if I actually put it away. The mortgage bill is about 1/4" inch down on the leaning pile on the left, not in the finance file, etc, etc. That's just the way I've always operated. Sorry, Brian, but you did see my bedroom before you married me. You can't say you weren't warned.

Side Note: I'm not alone. Wednesday night I was talking to a sweet friend who told us that she had 3 cans of paint, rollers, etc in her entry way closet from an unfinished project for 3 years while the shoes and other things that should go there have been on the floor all over in front of the front closet. Just occurred to her this weekend that she could move the paint supplies to the basement. We were almost rolling on the ground laughing when she told us one of her "summer projects" was to move the 3 cans of paint. Hello!!, 15 minute job or "summer project"?? Like I said, I'm not alone and I felt comforted...

Anyway, tonight, the lovely extra fridge will be gone and we're a few bucks richer which helps offset the cost of the repairs for our "new" old fridge. Still, I'm not sure I can live with just one fridge anymore. Where will I put a Costco sized...well...Costco sized anything? I was totally spoiled rotten for a beautiful 8 months and loved every minute of it!

Kill the Bees!!! a new strategy...

Our family spends a great deal of time (and water) waging a futile war against the ground bees that share our real estate. We are totally aware in our heads that we're being stupid, but we can't overcome the impulse inside to keep trying to win the battle.

They are totally uninvited guests. Our house is at the bottom of a nice gentle sloping hill. Apparently, the exact type of place ground bees like to nest. In three years, we've never been attached, heck, even bothered. They couldn't care less that we are around.

The first year we were here, Brian and I would chase them with a can of Raid that would spray up to 20 feet away. It was fun to watch them dive bomb and then totally crash after they had enough of poison soaking their tough little bodies. We went through LOTS of cans that summer. Ben thought it was cool that as soon as Dad came home from work, he could watch out the bay window and see him fight the daily battle.

Year two they came back. I was so mad! I even took it to the community association to see what they could do for us since the field in front of our house was swarming with hundreds of bees. It was there, that I really learned about them. Basically, they'll never really go away. They have been tormenting our hill forever and no one has ever been stung. They did send an exterminator out, but the word was that his poison would work for a week but they babies would hatch and we would be back to square one.

Mr. Exterminator did educate us a little bit as did the internet. Basically, I should ignore the big monster bees. They will all be dead in 2 weeks anyway. Concentrate my efforts on killing the babies by flooding the underground tunnels they dig to lay the eggs. So, every morning, all summer long for two years, we go outside with Ben and "water the bees". Ben thinks it is a blast. It was actually reasonable effective, but realize the size of the problem I was fighting is huge. One single morning when I went out, I counted 52 NEW bee holes that had appeared overnight.

Last night, Brian decided to water the bees with Ben around 9pm. I think he stumbled onto a genius plan. He flooded the holes like we always do. The difference was, that he took Ben's shoe and crouched down next to the holes as he filled them. Eventually, a huge bee would come coughing and spattering out of the holes. SPLAT! Brian would pound on them and squish them. Even if it doesn't really matter if we kill the adults, it sure does feel GREAT!! Plus, that one can't lay eggs anymore.

I Think I Might Be Pregnant Now

Sometime between last Saturday and this Wednesday, I magically became pregnant. I realized that lifting Maddie was starting to make me feel winded if I do it too much and my back would start to ache. After sitting on the floor, playing with the kids, I noticed that I have to get up like a pregnant lady now. I moved pretty much everything non-maternity from my closet into a huge pile on the floor. People started commenting on how I look pregnant now, but didn't just last week. I know, I know, I'm gaining weight... Great timing. We're visiting family for the next two weeks and I was really hoping to look fat in all the pictures. On the up side, my doctor wrote my weight down wrong last month, so he told me I had lost weight at my appointment this week. Seriously, I think he does stuff like that to stay on my good side. Smart man.

Purple Luggage

Ben's ready to go. We leave in two days for Utah for Uncle Brett's wedding, but he packed tonight. Good thing I did the laundry today. We went shopping yesterday and got him a new backpack. He chose purple with wheels and a handle so he can pull it around the airport. He played with it for about 4 hours this afternoon. He wouldn't let it go for a second. Maddie had to stop eating dinner while he was busy just to get a chance to use it while he was distracted.

The backpack is supposed to be "the big surprise" when we go to Utah. He's going to show it to everyone. So, if you read this before our arrival, please act totally surprised when you see his snazzy new accessory.