Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Giveaway! Right Here!

I've been a member of the BlogHer Community for more than four years now and, today, we parted ways. I never had any problems with them whatsoever but I had to keep the ads above the fold and I wasn't allowed to do any giveaways that conflicted with their ads. This was pretty much every giveaway. For that reason, I have another blog Givin' In A Fishbowl I don't really enjoy maintaining two separate sites and it was difficult to increase traffic over to the other blog. Originally, I was making a bit of money with the BlogHer ads but, lately, it's been pretty pointless as I was bringing in, oh, five dollars a month with the blog.

All of that to say, I am no longer a member of BlogHer and, while it makes me a little sad, I am very pleased to announce my first giveaway here on this blog. It's through Sam's Club and has to do with General Mills Box Tops for Education. However, keep reading because the actual giveaway is at the bottom of the this post...and it's a good one.

Starting tomorrow and ending on 9/30, Sam's Club is giving away 500,000 eBox tops!

Here's how:
  • Purchase any product at Sam´s Club and save your receipt
  • Beginning 8/1/12, log in or register at   http://bit.ly/ClickandEarn12.  and enter the code found at the bottom of your Sam´s Club receipt
  •  Answer a few survey questions and earn 5 eBoxTops for the school of your choice!*
**Limit one earning opportunity per email address. Limit of 100,000 earning opportunities thru 9/30/12.
Box Tops Membership Bonus 8/1/12/-9/1/12
  • New Plus Members will receive 100 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $10 value to any BTFE participating school)
  • Upgrade your current Membership to a Plus Membership to receive 50 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $5 value to any BTFE participating school)
  • New Advantage or Business Members will receive 25 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $2.50 value to any BTFE participating school)
Now, for the giveaway...

I get to give one of my readers a $25 dollar Sam's Club card. (If you don't have Sam's near you, don't worry, it can be used at Walmart as well.) 

You really all ought to be entering because who can't use 25 free dollars?

To enter, leave a comment telling me how you might use the gift card if you win. For three additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each):

-Become a follower of this blog. If you're already a follower you get an entry for that!
-Follow me on twitter. @lori_fishbowl.
-Blog about this giveaway (leave a link to the post in your comment).

The winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, August 8 after 6:00 pm MST and will be announced that same day. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me with her/his name, mailing address and phone number. If I do not hear from the winner within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. US residents only. 

Disclosure: The gift card, information, and additional sample have been provided by Sam's Club and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Every Four Years

I'm a total Olympic junkie.

Yesterday our television was on pretty much all day.

That doesn't mean I was watching the entire time but I was listening.

Gymnastics, track, beach volleyball, diving. I love it all.

But swimming.

Oh the swimming.

Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Beijing, and now London.

Morales, Sanders, Nall, Evans, Biondi, Torres, Beard, Coughlin, Thompson, Phelps, Peirsol. And so many more.

I love it. All.

Friday, July 27, 2012

32 Days

It's been well documented that we decided to keep Garrett in preschool for an extra year. Now he's ready. We're ready. Blah blah blah. If I've said it once I've said it dozens of times. And, where we live, kindergarten is ridiculously short. Garrett is only going from six hours of school a week to, like, fourteen hours a week. Next year, at age seven, he will jump to a crazy 36--or something like that.

So. Anyway. We're all ready. He starts school on August 28. So the thing is, I have one month left with the child who tore my heart out of my body and went walking around with it. I have one month left with the kid who climbs and jumps and swims and plays all while holding the beating essence of all that I am in his hands. I have one month left before everything changes. While I imagine the change will be gradual, I have one month before we become slaves to homework, projects, and a school routine. One month before we start something that won't stop until my son is a full grown adult with broad shoulders and facial hair.

At the turn of the new year, I purposed to be intentional about living. There have been days when I've felt a great deal of success in the endeavor and days when I've felt like a complete failure. Such is the way with resolutions. And life.

There are 32 days standing between now and the rest of Garrett's life. I realize this sounds dramatic and school won't take my six-year-old from me but we will cease to have the flexibility of pancakes at 10:00 am on a Thursday or the park at 11:00.

And so, today, I am vowing to do at least one thing every day, between now and August 28, with my kids that is intentionally designed to be fun bonding time. He'll be stuck in school for the next 17+ years so we might as well make the most of these remaining 32 days. I don't want to look back, when he's sitting in a classroom somewhere, and think, "Wow, I sure got the house cleaned but I didn't have a moment of purposeful time with my son."

It doesn't have to be something big or expensive. Truthfully, I started this yesterday with a trip to the pool. And then last night, the four of us spent a half hour in the street helping the boys ride their bikes. It's moments like those, when I see wide grins on my boys' faces and I watch my husband as he teaches them, that I won't soon forget.

The pool. The library. Ice cream cones. Art time. A park. The movies. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as I'm involved. My house might be a mess but I can clean it in September when Matthew starts preschool. My babies are growing up and I don't want to miss it.

It's not like I don't spend time with my children now--I'm with them all day long--but I've fallen into a routine and I want to actively choose to shatter that routine. At least, for a month. Or 32 days. If I could, I'd load them both up in the car and go camping until the end of August but that isn't an option. We've got ministry, responsibilities, and a life that we can't leave. But every day I will do something intentional, something purposeful, something meaningful with my kids.

And maybe, in the end, when my heart is writing his name on the top of his paper, I will be dusting a shelf somewhere or folding a load of laundry, thinking that I couldn't have done anything more to prepare him.

And maybe, in the end, I will be thinking that I couldn't have done anything more to prepare myself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weeks 26, 27 & 28

Week 26: An Old Friend

I wracked my brain on what to do for this picture. I live in Utah, about a million miles away from all of my old friends so it wasn't like I could call up a pal and have her come over for a photo shoot. I considered things like a tub of ice cream or a book I've liked for eons. In the end, it suddenly came to me and I knew exactly what I was going to take a picture of.

Meet Rainbow.

I think I got Rainbow when I was five years old. I can still vividly remember settling into bed with him (yes, for some reason Rainbow has always been a he) on the night that I received him from a neighbor. I remember my mom lying there with me and asking me what I was going to name it. I couldn't decide and she prompted, "Well, what does it look like?" And then I replied, "A RAINBOW!" 

His eyes are yellow and the plastic has caved in because I used to pop them in and watch them pop back out and then, one day, they just stayed indented and I was sad for awhile. He's faded into very muted colors and one of his arms is barely hanging on. But, for a twenty five-year-old bear, I think he's doing alright.

I slept with this guy from the age of five until the age of 17 with nightly regularity. During the summer after my senior year of high school I "weaned" myself off of him because there was no way I was taking a raggedy old bear to college. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't sleep with him when I came home from school. That bear knows more secrets and has caught more tears than any one living, breathing person. He is truly an old friend.

Week 27: Diptych

I didn't even know what a diptych was and totally had to rely on a series of websites to explain it to me. "A diptych is a photograph that uses two different or identical images side by side to form one single artistic statement. The two images can literally be in contact with each other, or separated by a border or frame."

So, the other day we were outside playing with a slip and slide. Our yard is pretty flat so I decided I'd set the slide up on our actual play yard slide and pray against broken bones. I rapidly shot as the boys slid down the slide. Then I put together this diptych which caught Garrett in the act of sliding and then his face post slide.

Week 28: Weather

We've been experiencing thunder and lightning storms in these parts. The other night, on our way home from our Community Life Group, we saw some fantastic lightning. When we got home, Troy jumped out of the car and took the boys inside to get them ready for bed and I drove up to the top of a hill by our house. I had our good camera but I don't know how to use it beyond pointing it and snapping some shots. It didn't have anything to focus on so it just kept flashing but never taking a picture. Apparently I need to learn how to use it in a manual setting. Well, quite irritated, I drove home and switched out the good camera for my every day, cheaper one.

That camera has a delay and I was unable to get any picture with lightning in it. I would see an incredible flash bolt through the sky and I'd snap only to look at the picture and see nothing but black. So I just started taking dozens of pictures of the black sky hoping that, eventually, a lightning bolt would occur.

And that's exactly what happened. Except it was way off to the right of the frame. So I kept taking pictures but never getting anything but the dark sky. Eventually, it started pouring so I drove home. I was pretty disappointed. Until I loaded the one picture that I did get onto my computer.

Just an ordinary, tiny, point and shoot Canon photographing the extraordinary. I'm pretty happy with the results.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview With A Six-Year-Old

1. What is your favorite T.V. Show?  Sponge Bob and Scooby-Doo.
2. What did you have for breakfast? I had cereal and a donut and milk.
3. What is your middle name? John
4. Favorite food? Macaroni and Cheese
5. What food do you dislike? Potatoes
6. What is your favorite color? Brown, green, blue, gray and black. (Apparently he doesn't want to discriminate.)
7. Favorite lunch? Macaroni and Cheese! (He said it like, "Dude, Mom, I already answered that!)
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go to the movies.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Hawaii.
10. Favorite sport? Soccer
11. When is your birthday? July 20
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? I'd go with...both.
13. Pets? A fish, a dog and a cat.
14. Any new and excited news you'd like to share? I'll tell you some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I went to Daxton's to let off fireworks. And then the bad news is that there was a rain cloud at the pool.
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? A general.
16. What is your favorite candy? Chocolate.
17. Where is the farthest you've ever been from home? I think it's Hawaii.
18. What is your favorite book? The Narnias.
19. What are you most proud of? That I'm good at swimming.
20. What is your favorite movie? Prince of Egypt.
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg. (Then he said, "Is that right?")

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Elephant
2. What is your least favorite word? Dumb.
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") When you take me special places.
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") When people say stupid and dumb.
5. What sound or noise do you love? The sound that an elephant makes
6. What sound or noise do you hate? I don't like the sound that you make when you talk in different voices. (He means an accent.)

7. What is your favorite curse word? vomit. (I wasn't aware that vomit was a curse word but okay.)
8. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? Carve stuff. You know, like my turtle carving.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Be in the Airforce. I want to be a general in the Navy.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "if") Welcome home!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Tale of Three Cakes

I got the wildly bright idea that I'd use a plain, old box cake mix but I'd fix it up all fancy like. I found a recipe on the Internet that used pudding and milk instead of oil and water. I baked the cake and it looked delicious. There it sat, gorgeous and golden brown and sweet smelling, on the stove top.

Then I tried to take it out of the pan. And then it broke into a thousand tiny pieces of cake and I stood there, holding two of the chunks in my hand and lamenting my son's wasted cake. That was cake number one.

It should be noted that I'd hit my head really hard on the boys' bunk bed earlier in the afternoon. Just for your information, if I push on the spot, it still hurts. It's been four days, y'all. So I cracked my head and it may or may not have been affecting my ability to think straight. Because, you see, after I ruined the first cake, and after I'd realized that I only had banana pudding left and would either have to make banana flavored cake or use the traditional box recipe method, and after I called my mom to confirm that a banana cake did not sound particularly good, I suddenly started feeling woozy, lightheaded, and weird.

I grabbed another box of cake mix and started over. I added the eggs. I added the 2 cups of water. I added the 1 cup of oil. And if you think that sounds like way too much liquid, you'd be correct. Despite the fact that I was looking right at the directions, I managed to add almost two cups too many of liquid. I started stirring. It didn't take long for me to realize that when the cake mix is floating in the water and oil something has gone horribly wrong.

I looked at the box. I looked at the mixing bowl. I looked at the measuring cup. Then I took the mixing bowl, which held a batter that was the consistency of a pulpy orange juice, and dumped it down the garbage disposal. That was cake number two.

We were about an hour away from needing to go to Vacation Bible School. I quickly whipped up a third cake--with the appropriate amount of liquid--and shoved it into the oven. Later that night I attempted to remove it from the pan and put it on the Hawaiian plate.

It thought about breaking in half. A few bits of it stuck to the bottom of the pan. It got a deep split in it. But I persevered. I started frosting it and little cake flecks were getting stuck in the white frosting. This was no big deal on the sandy side because I was adding crushed graham crackers and brown sugar. But it posed a bigger problem on the water side. I ended up frosting it with a layer of white and then adding a layer of blue swirled with white before adding the white tips of the foaming waves. This was the third cake.

Between my first attempt at fondant and the several attempts at actually baking the cake, I probably spent close to eight hours baking and decorating this cake. At minimum wage, it would have saved a lot of time and money to just buy one at the store.

But Garrett loved it so it was totally worth all the trouble.

As for the head, I think I'm going to live.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Luau/Surfer Party

It's hard for me to believe that this kid is six. The first time we took a picture with the jersey, it was  a couple of days after Garrett was born and he was about as big as the numbers on the front. Now it just looks like my kid likes to wear sports themed muumuus. 
Troy worked a half day because he'd already logged a ridiculous amount of hours working on VBS so when he got home, we headed to the pool for a little over an hour. When we got back, we had the boys rest for a little while and we worked hard to get the house and yard ready for his party. Once they woke up we let Garrett open his presents from his grandparents, aunts and uncles and us. 

Earlier in the year, Garrett gave a model plane to a a kid at our church for his birthday. Since then, he's been begging for one of his own. When he opened this gift from my aunt and uncle, he declared, "Yes! This is MY model plane!" It's already been built and is sitting on a shelf in his room.

He was thrilled to add Legos to his collection. He got art stuff, money for surf camp next summer (oh yes, more on that later), and many other things.

Pretty soon, it was time for his party.

Unfortunately, I never got a picture of this table with the cake on it. The gift bags had the prizes for the winners of the games. That coconut came from Hawaii and was used in one of the games. The ukulele also hails from the island of Maui.
I got everything at Dollar Tree or in the dollar section at Target. The table setting included bamboo place mats, tiki themed plates, and palm tree cups. The centerpieces were funky tropical hats and a pineapple. I served all the food in bright colored serving dishes from Dollar Tree.

The menu was simple. Potato chips, pineapple and strawberry kabobs, and roasted pig. Okay. So, actually, Garrett asked if we could roast a pig and I told him we could certainly grill chicken and pork hot dogs. The kids all had a fizzy pineapple punch made with pineapple juice, Sprite and raspberry sherbet.  

I made place settings with a clip art image that I found. Each kid received a flower lei and they got to take home their palm tree cup. While we were in Maui we bought 12 key chains for 10 dollars and each child got to take home a key chain as well.

When the kids got to the party they played for awhile. This included most of them jumping in to our kiddie pool in all their clothing. I totally thought they'd maybe get their feet wet if they were hot. That's why I left the water in it. I was thinking like a 30-year-old woman, not a six-year-old boy. 

Once everyone arrived, we had dinner and then we played games. Our games were traditional party games with Hawaiian twists. The prizes were ocean themed: sand toys, fish shaped side walk chalk, and a sea star that grows to, like, 50 times it's size when you put it in water. The first up was a raging game of Hot Coconut complete with Hawaiian music.

The second game was Pin the Surfer on the Wave. Troy bought a sea themed window panel from a party store. We cut it into pieces and one of the pieces was used as a table cloth on the cake table. The other piece was hung on the wall. Troy drew a wave on and the outline of our little surfer. We printed out a shot of Garrett surfing and each kid had their own little Surfer Dude.

So many of them ended up several feet away from the actual board so we tried to steer them a little closer. In the end, Garrett was surfing all over the place. We took this picture after the party and several of the surfers had been rearranged. No one got it spot on but a few were very close.

Our last game was a traditional balloon toss. It took us forever to explain what we wanted them to do. However, once we started, they decided it was a hit.

I'm going to have to write an entire post just about this cake because, boy howdy, was it ever a labor of love. The surfboards and shark fins are made out of fondant. The towels are strips of fruit snacks. The sand is a graham cracker and brown sugar mixture. This particular cake is the third attempt. By that I mean, two boxes of cake mix failed before this one was accomplished. I'll let you wonder about that for awhile. Keep checking back and you might see a post about the tale of three cakes.

After we had cake and ice cream, Garrett got to open some great presents. Most of the kids stayed and played for a little while before heading home.

 At 7:30 PST (or 8:30 in our time zone) Troy snapped this shot of me with my exactly six-year-old.

And I snapped this one of my favorite husband and my favorite oldest boy.

I'd made the mistake of looking on Pinterest for luau ideas and realizing that I am basically a colossal failure when it comes to creativity. But even if it wasn't exactly a Martha Stewart party, I think it turned out pretty well. And my birthday boy had fun--which is what really matters.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Dear Sweet Thang,

Do you see what I just did there? I just wrote something with a southern accent. So, you know, if I was reading this aloud to you, you'd inevitably start yelling, covering your ears, and throwing pillows at me with any available appendages. You hate, loathe, and despise (all at once) accents. But let me be clear. You're perfectly fine with them if someone is actually from another place. You just hate when people use fake accents. To you, sweet six-year-old, when a person speaks as though he is from another state or country, he is committing the deadliest of sins.

I don't know what happened to the time. How do you even know what a fake accent is? You're supposed to be asleep in your crib right now. Instead, you're building Lego sets and learning how to surf and devising a plan to systematically eliminate fake accents everywhere.

Do you want to know something? I had no idea that I could love the way that I love you. When I found out that I was going to have you, my heart burst with an intensity that I'd never known before. On the day you were born, it culminated into the fiercest love I'd ever experienced. I thought that was it. My heart would burst if I tried to love you any more. But I have found that it just grows with time and has, at this point, reached somewhat dangerous levels of adoration.

It swells inside my chest when, from another room, you call out, for no apparent reason, "Mommy?" and when I say, yes, you pause and then yell, "I love you!" It happens when you fold your ever growing body into mine at night as I snuggle with you before you fall asleep. I feel it when you score a goal in soccer or stand up on a surf board, or do something really great at school. It's not the accomplishment that does it, it's the smile on your face.

You are going to trot off to kindergarten in five weeks. You're ready. I'm ready. We're all ready. And we should be because we all hung out at preschool for an extra year with the specific task of making sure we accomplished the readiness. But I still can't believe you're old enough to be in kindergarten. I mean, I was just in kindergarten learning about Ollie Ostrich and avoiding the time out chair like it was the Black Death. I was the one, not all that long ago, receiving the stern looks from teachers because I was talking while they were talking. Or talking when I was supposed to be doing math. Or talking just to hear myself talk. And, not to be prophetic or anything but, Dude, that is so you. I promise you that, when I sit across from your teacher during a conference and she tells me that you talk a little too much, I will try not to laugh in her face. I will try to nod and agree that this is a big problem. I will try to sternly tell you that your trap needs to be shut except during preapproved talk times.

But here it is. Here's the truth for you to read when you're older--when you're eight twenty-five. Of course you need to learn when it's appropriate to talk. Of course you need to be respectful of those in a position of authority over you. Of course you need to learn boundaries. But I am simply not going to encourage you to be shy. Who is to say that you aren't going to grow up and be an attorney or a reporter or a politician? Who is to say that you aren't going to talk for a living? Not me and certainly not your teachers. But you should try not to tick off your teachers. That your days may be long on the earth. Or something like that.

I just want you to know that I don't mind if you talk excessively. Because last week you talked and talked about Vacation Bible School until you'd convinced your neighborhood friends that they needed to come. They were excited and ran home to see if they could go with us. Their parents said no and you came back across the street fighting tears. Once you reached my arms, you dissolved into hiccuping sobs. "I want them to come with me so they can know Jesus."

I whispered into your ear, "I love your heart." And oh how I do. Don't get me wrong, when you're busy forcing your brother to abide by the rules of your dictatorship, I'm not so thrilled with it. But when I hear you telling that same brother, "You need to pray and ask Jesus to come live inside you. Okay? Matthew, are you listening? You need Jesus." well, then I'm at least glad that you're a dictator who loves the Lord.

You also love water, playing outside, anything with sugar as a substantial ingredient, the three S's (swimming, soccer and surfing), waking up before anyone else in the house wants to be awake, "helping" me cook, having your back scratched, our pets, and Hawaii--among a lot of other things. Like obstetrics.

Yes, that kind of obstetrics. Although I'm pretty sure there is only one kind. You are obsessed with how babies are born. Not how they're made. Thankfully we haven't yet had to cross that bridge. But you want to know how a baby grows from a teeny, tiny embryo into a baby. Just the other day you asked me what the umbilical cord is attached to on the mother. That started a long conversation in which you were throwing around the word placenta with wild abandon. I ended up having to Google it because you simply would not stop the line of questioning until you'd seen a placenta. A real, actual, human placenta. I've gotta be honest, I don't think I'd seen, nor cared to see, a placenta until I saw my own. Or yours. I don't actually know which of us was the rightful owner of that particular organ. In any case, there we found ourselves, on Google Images, and I thought we should be done after I'd shown you two. But you pleaded, "Show me a few more placentas. Please." And I thought it had to be the weirdest sentence a five-year-old has ever spoken.

Years from now, if you're delivering babies for a living, I'm going to pull this letter up, stab it with my pointer finger and say, "There. I totally called it." And then you can tell me that it's a good thing you're an obstetrician because you need a lot of money to pay for all the therapy to undo what I've done to you on this blog.

But all the trauma I'm causing you aside, I want you to know that you can be anything you want to be and you can do anything you want to do. You are an incredible little man and I wouldn't trade you for anything in this whole, wide world.

Happy Birthday! I love you to the moon.

And back.


Happy Birthday!

The Rock Star won't technically be six until 7:30 tonight. That's what I keep telling myself so that I don't feel so old.

Happy Birthday to my incredible son! 

Large volumes of birthday related posts will be coming soon to a blog near you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Like Mother, Like Son

When I was little, I once broke a soap dish clean off the side of the shower. Among other things. (I mean, among other things I broke or got into in my childhood, not that on that particular day I broke all sorts of things off the shower. I didn't need anger management.) I don't really remember what I was doing but I used it to pull myself up and look out the window, or something like that. It snapped straight off and I found myself holding it. I looked at the wall. I looked at my hand. I looked at the wall. I looked at my hand. That stupid soap dish was decidedly not where it belonged. I did not want my father to know. Although I'm sure he found out within moments.

The Rock Star had a "soap dish" moment yesterday.

We were just about to leave for Vacation Bible School. Troy was at the church and the three of us were in the bathroom. Garrett had climbed up onto the counter to feed his fish, Matthew was protesting his teeth being brushed, and I was wrangling the younger's mouth into an open position and telling the older to get down because we feed his fish before bed time and didn't need to do it right then. No. Right then we needed to get shoes on and Get. Out. The. Door.

In some sort of psychic moment I noticed that, for whatever reason, that the cabinet door was agape. For whatever reason, I thought about reaching over and closing it. For whatever reason, I thought something might happen to it. For whatever reason, I ignored this premonition.

What happened in the next few seconds seemed to occur in slow motion.

Garrett jumped, backward, down from the counter top.

His legs split and the cabinet door went straight up the center. He landed on his back and immediately started sobbing. The cabinet door fractured and was held on by only an inch of wood that managed to stay intact. I saw the broken cabinet. I saw the crying child. "Oh no!" was all I could manage to say for the first couple of seconds.

Garrett cried, somewhat hysterically, and came to me. He folded his body into mine, consumed by racking sobs. "Are you okay?" I asked him. "Garrett, are you okay?"

"I'm sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry, Mommy. I'm so sorry, Mommy."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm sorry!"

"Garrett! I know it was an accident. Are you okay?"

"My bottom hurts!" He sobbed.

I checked his bum. The tip top of his leg, just before his butt, had a long, red scratch but he was otherwise fine. He must have told me 50 times that he was sorry. I repeated that I knew he didn't do it on purpose and that I forgave him.

And then I gave him a specific instruction. "Do not tell your father about this until after VBS is over tonight. Do you understand me?"

"Okay. But I need to tell him what I did. I have to tell him what happened."

"I'm glad you're honest, but believe me. In this case, it would be better to be honest after VBS." I believe that honesty is always the best policy. I also believe that sometimes you don't add stress to your husband's life. I might not be able to back that up biblically but there it is.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bloody Murder

Apparently, I say the phrase "bloody murder" way too often. I don't think about what I'm saying, exactly, it just comes out. If ever my children are yelling about something at the top of their lungs (read: always) I say they were "screaming bloody murder."

I am not entirely sure where I came up with this.

Matthew, has latched on to the bloody part instead of the screaming part. So now, any time he is bleeding, whether it's the tiniest of scrapes on his knee or a cut on his lip where a tooth saw fit to slice, he says, "I got bloody murder."

Or, "Look at the bloody murder."

Or, "That was very bloody murder."

Or, "This is bloody murders."

It doesn't have to be on his body, either. He's been known to say, "Garrett got bloody murder."

He doesn't watch horror movies or read the morning paper. I promise. Though I am well aware that it sounds like he does.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Finished Product

I have a new favorite room in my house. This is, admittedly, strange, because it's my kids' bathroom. I started working on it last fall, purchasing a new shower curtain, rug, and toothbrush holder. Both boys had such a great time beach camping last year that we decided to do a beach/surfing theme.
(the shower curtain)

(the rug)

I hung a couple of pictures of the boys from our trip last summer, one of Garrett boogie boarding and one of Matthew playing on the beach. (I took those down last week and put updated photos on the wall.) I hung this sign, which I found at the dollar store. It hangs on the wall just above the toilet.

While the boys and I stayed and played in Hawaii, Troy came back to his ministry. He painted the bathroom for me since it was previously a very stained white. I have no idea why, on earth, the "Icy Mint" that we went with insists on being photographed as an off white or a light blue but I cannot get a good picture of it to save my life. So it's a good thing my life is not on the line.

This year I found this sign, also at the dollar store. It hangs on the wall next to the door.

Peter, the betta fish, lives in the bathroom and, when we got back from Hawaii, I spruced up his bowl with a shell necklace from Hilo Hattie. I also draped a couple of necklaces from the light fixture above the mirror.

While we were in Maui, Garrett used some birthday money from my aunt and uncle to purchase a wood carving of a sea turtle. I put him on the counter and framed a picture of a surfer. (I think this picture is Garrett's favorite thing about the entire bathroom. I have found him--standing in the bathroom--staring at it on more than one occasion.)

I just realized that, in the above picture, you can kind of tell that the walls are light green. Okay, so they actually still look light blue but at least it's obvious that they've been painted. 

I'd thought that, while we were in Hawaii, I would get a couple of good pictures of the boys and get them printed on canvases but I was really not looking forward to spending the money to do that. My sister-in-law had a better idea...

I bought an inexpensive frame at Walmart and filled it with pictures of the kids in Maui and also with postcards that I bought while we were there.

I really love the way it turned out and if I sit there and imagine the wind and the sound of the waves, it's almost like we're back. And by almost I mean not at all, really. But it's the most tropical room I have so I'll take it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


A lifetime is made of events strung together and dotted with a figurative black spot on a metaphorical timeline. The things we choose to tell someone when they ask who we are, what we've done. We can whittle our entire existence down to a few phrases.

Raised in southern California in a close knit family. Born again Christian. Competitive swimmer. Good student. Theatre enthusiast. High school graduate. College graduate. Wife. Infertile. Survivor of the adoption process. Mom times two. Pastor's wife.

But those things are not where the real living happens. The real living is in the moments strung together by the biography. The brief seconds of an event that we choose to remember.

Life is when Matthew is 90% asleep and 10% groggy and he snuggles into my body and sighs. He knows he is safe and comfortable. I know that I am deeply in love with him and that surviving the adoption process was worth every painful second.

Life is the sound of a hush falling over an audience as I wait to take my place on the darkened stage.

Life is a moment camping with a dear friend I didn't even know existed three years ago. A friend who needed the Lord and now has Him. A friend who apologizes when she asks a Bible question, thinking, mistakenly, that it's a burden. A friend who doesn't yet grasp that talking about our shared faith is my favorite thing about our relationship.

Life is when Garrett forgets that he calls me mom now and let's mama slip. 

Life is realizing that I can't actually remember walking down the aisle but I can vividly recall the moment just before, when the doors opened and my not so future husband was standing at the end. 

Life is realizing that I can remember exactly what the material of my father's tuxedo felt like on my arm.

Life is being so mad at my rambunctious puppy, for ripping my couch to shreds, that I can't even see straight. Life is that same puppy looking at me through old eyes surrounded by a graying face as he lies at my feet.

Life is meeting my friends in the cafeteria between classes and some way, somehow, remembering what it smelled like all those years ago.

Life is the memory of feeling my lungs fill with a familiar ache and knowing that I won't die before I touch the wall. It's remembering what that cool water felt like as it rushed past my limbs. It's turning to look at the board and being elated. Or not.

Life is the moment when a professor said something profound and, in some way, shaped my world.

Life is the morning that the pregnancy test was positive.

Life is knowing that God has just revealed Himself.

Life is the feeling I had when my body went numb as I listened to the voice mail telling me we'd been chosen by a mother to raise her child.

Life is water and laughter and tears and sweat and hugs and friendship and love and anguish and pride and joy and despair. It is measured in moments. In moments that I wish never happened. In moments I long to relive. In moments of nostalgia and moments of anticipation.

A lifetime is made of events strung together and dotted with a figurative black spot on a metaphorical timeline. But life is so much more than that. Life is the moments we simply cannot forget.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


My husband tells this hilarious, to me anyway, story about how, when he was little, he thought his name was "Chroy" and it was only when he learned how to spell and understand the concept of letters that he recognized his name is actually Troy. We have, on a couple of different occasions, sat around saying "Chroy, Troy, Chroy, Troy," and realizing that they don't sound very different at all.

I've been working a lot on reading with my reluctant learner. Garrett is, I think, a pretty intelligent kid. His vocabulary knocks the socks off of the majority of kids his age, he loves learning about anything that he can get his hands on, like science and cooking, his attention span for older than age appropriate chapter books is phenomenal and he'll sit and watch documentaries on any number of topics. Just yesterday he was watching one on Abraham Lincoln and he's been known to sit for over an hour and listen to the history of the Catholic church. But when it comes to learning in a traditional environment, all bets are off. "You want to me sit? You want me to study? You must be kidding," is basically his life's mantra.

Why would anyone want to learn how to read when it involves sitting and studying at the same time? Especially when someone else can just read to him. His little brother has a much stronger desire to unlock the mystery of the written word than he does.

But I found a website (www.starfall.com) that's working for us. The first few days went very well and he was actually asking for reading lessons. The newness has worn off and I now have to force the reading time but he will do it without crying which is progress. One of the activities involves matching letters to the rest of a word. So, today we had the work ink and a column of extra letters. A picture of a pink crayon appeared and Garrett was supposed to choose from the list the letter which would turn the word ink into pink. He is very good at this game and was plugging a long until we got to the word drink.

We had the letters p, dr, w, and s to choose from.

"Drink," he said, or so I thought.

He screwed up his face. "I don't see it."

"Well," I said, "look at it again."

"Jrink," Garrett said more loudly. "J. J. Jrink. There is NO J. How can I spell jrink without a J?"

I had never before noticed my son asking me for a jrink of water but apparently that's what he's been doing. I didn't want to correct him in any kind of negative way so I simply helped him along.

"Duh. Er. Ink," I said. "Drink."

He looked at me skeptically. "That one then," he said as he pointed to the dr.

"Drink!" The computer woman announced happily when he'd completed it. And a sort of sad, sort of confused, sort of awakened look flashed across Garrett's face.

I suspect that jrinks will, from here on out, be referred to as drinks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We just had a blast camping at Bear Lake with our good friends. We left Sunday after church and came home yesterday evening. When we got there, we realized that another family from our church was camped right next to us. They have kids the same ages and we all had a great time together.

Funniest thing Garrett said, "Web, I've noticed that you think a lot where I don't think at all."

Camping. Dirt. Lake. Marshmallows. It really doesn't get any better than that when you're a little boy. (Or a grown woman, for that matter.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012


He has water running through his veins. Salt water. Chlorinated water. Mountain lake water. It pumps through his body in aching impulses. Every day it's the same, "Can we go swimming?" Which is why it wasn't surprising when, somewhat out of the blue, he turned to me yesterday and said mournfully, as though a small part of his heart was gone, "I miss Hawaii."

"I do too," I said as I looked deep into his eyes. He's tan, very tan, and his hair is lighter, almost blond. A constant reminder that we spent nearly two weeks on a tropical island.


"Why did we ever have to leave?" he asked me. And while there are plenty of practical answers--work, price of gas, food costs--there is no good answer to give an almost six-year-old. 

"Well, it was a vacation. And vacations always end," I said gently because the look on his face told me that this was a very serious matter in his young life.

"I wish we could live there," he said quietly, as though he knows there is absolutely nothing in the world he can do about this for at least another twelve years. 

Twelve years. That's all I have left. That's all the time I have left to raise this tiny child. Twelve years is not enough.

"It sure would be a great place to live," I said and I thought about how my children would simply never get out of the water. Ever. I think of what we'd save on toys because they'd live in the ocean from dawn until dusk. I think of what we'd lose by buying gallons of sun block.


"Mommy," his voice had an urgency that suggested he was about to tell me something really important. Life altering. Serious stuff. "I really, really, miss surfing."

I know. I've heard that about surfing. I've heard that you do it and it becomes an obsession and you live for that next wave. I can't imagine being almost six, believing that you belong in the ocean, and being hundreds of miles from anywhere with waves.

"I know," I said and left out the rest.

"I need you to know that I really love to surf," he told me. And I nodded solemnly, hoping that he would understand that I care deeply about what he loves. Even if he only loves Hawaii and surfing for a season. Even if he moves on to football or baseball or curling or fencing. I need him to know that it matters to me.

And I suspect that he's always going to love the water. I have a feeling that, once it's there, it never stops pumping through your veins. It twists and turns and gnaws and you simply must get in the pool or the river or the lake or the sea.

I know from experience.

And I think it's genetic.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Weeks 23, 24, 25

Week 23: The Good Old Days

You know, the days when Utah was just a place I visited to hit the slopes. Just kidding. But little did I know when we spent all those winter weeks in skiing at Brian Head that I would live just three and a half hours north one day. Those were the days when it was my own mom who spent all the time bundling us up just to have us need to go to the bathroom ten minutes later. 

That's my brother--boy did growing up do him some good. (Just kidding, Jon. Mostly. Of course you're still in the habit of calling me Hose Head and throwing me in pools so I really don't feel the need to flatter you.) I thought about not addressing the third person in the shot and waiting to see how many people inquired about the sister I've never mentioned.

In reality, that's my cousin, Amanda. She's all grown up now and we tried to go on the Amazing Race together but never got called. CBS has no idea what they're missing. Seriously. We'd make good TV.

Week 24: Black & White

Hi Babies! I love you so much you make my heart hurt. This theme was posted while we were in HI and I declared, "Oh, so I'll just post a picture of my kids." Although, really, in this house, we generally refer to people as "peach" and "brown" because that's what Garrett starting saying and we're letting our kids take the lead on when racial lessons are appropriate. I've had a question or two regarding this approach (i.e. what if something happens and you could have prevented it by talking about racial issues earlier?). But I am not going to be able to prevent race related issues from happening simply by talking about them. While I agree that we need to prepare our kids to deal with them, I've read several sources written by African Americans that suggest that the best approach is a kid driven one.

This picture was taken one of our first days on Maui. Garrett had a tattoo on his chest which came off in the waves only after he'd tanned around it. Thankfully we were there long enough to fix that bizarre tan line.

Week 25: Rise & Shine

Hi again Babies! How long will you let me call you that? What's that you say? That was so two years ago? Well, tough. As long as you're living under my roof I'll call you what I want to, Babies.

We took this picture in our hotel at Disneyland last summer. They were very tired from their festivities. Garrett still sleeps with that blanket and an elephant which might be the blue blob by his hair. That green blob on the right side of the shot is Franklin, who lives at Grandma and Grandpa's house and is one of Garrett's favorite things in the entire world. Matthew still sleeps with that blanket and that monkey. I am pretty certain that both boys are going to be packing blankies and stuffed friends to take with them on their honeymoons.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Post Hawaii Vacation

I've got a super giveaway going on over at Givin' In A Fishbowl. Check it out here.

Day 16
My grandparents retrieved us--me, two very sleepy boys, a car seat, a booster, three carry on bags, three personal items and one checked bag--from the airport. The boys did great on the flight and it was only touch and go once I woke them up and insisted that they attempt to get off the plane. Garrett was so tired he couldn't get his back pack on correctly and he stood in the aisle and burst into tears. Luckily, we were the very last people to get off the plane so only the flight attendants saw his meltdown. Matthew was exhausted and insisted that I carry him. Since I was trying to navigate three pieces of luggage down a narrow walkway, I told him I couldn't. He started sobbing and wouldn't move. Garrett then started forcefully pushing him down the aisle. Two tired boys attempting to get off a plane equaled disaster but once we met up with my grandma at baggage, we were fine.

We got back to my grandparents house around 7:40 and I put all of us back to bed. I set my alarm for a few hours later but woke up just before it went off. Garrett woke up shortly after and I had to wake Matthew after he'd slept a total of four hours. Otherwise he might never have gone to bed that night.

My grandma made us all pancakes and, once I'd packed up the car, we said goodbye to them and stopped to see my other grandpa for an hour. Garrett talked his ear off about the Navy. Side note: Garrett is kind of obsessed with the military. He told me the other day that he was going to first work at Red Lobster. Then he was going to be in the Army for awhile and then the Coast Guard. I explained that you pretty much pick one branch of the military and stick with it but I think that lesson might have fallen on deaf ears.

We then headed to my brother and SIL's new place. They'd set up a tent for the boys to sleep in so they were, obviously, thrilled. The boys were so tired that they had no problem going to bed at 7:30 PST which was actually 4:30 in the afternoon to their bodies. They slept until 7:30 the next morning so jet lag had nothing on them.

Day 17
My brother, who works for Sea World, got us tickets and we spent the morning at the park. We saw the turtles, still an incredible exhibit but somewhat less thrilling when a wild sea turtle swims underneath you at a distance of about 18 inches. We saw the dolphins and the rays and the sea stars and the sharks. Jon took Matthew to see the penguins while I took Garrett on Journey to Atlantis. We watched the dolphin show. When we were out of time, I asked Garrett if he wanted to go into the kid area, see the polar bears, or ride the sky tower. He'd never been on the sky tower so he picked that. It was a great morning.

We headed to Miguel's (a favorite of mine since college) and had lunch with my old roommates--meaning that we don't live together anymore not that they're old. Unless you consider thirty to be old which, well, it kind of is. The conversation was great and the food was delicious. Everything was perfect except that my boys both decided that they didn't like the white sauce which means that they are not my children. Oh well. It just meant that there was more for me.

We went back to Jon and Heather's and played in their pool, had dinner and spent time with them. The five of us played a rousing game of Candyland.

Day 18
I drove the boys to southern Utah. It was uneventful except for one of the worst pit stops ever. I stopped at a McDonald's for lunch and it took 25 minutes to get our food and get out of the parking lot. After waiting 20 minutes for the food, it took another five for the people in line at the drive thru to let me back out. I was seriously ready to go out of my mind.

We made it to my great aunt's house in Hurricane, UT and went to her pool. It was at her pool that I made a shocking--to me anyway--discovery. Matthew had been swimming with floaties in HI. At one point, in my aunt's pool, he told me he was done swimming. I got him out and deflated his water wings. A minute later he said he wanted to get back in. I told him no because we were about to leave and he'd taken off his floaties. "I swim by myself," he said.

"You don't know how," I told him.

"Yes I do."

He was being very bratty and defiant so I said, "Fine. Go." He turned and toddled off. I followed one step behind. I figured he'd jump in and sink and I would jump in a second behind him, pick him up, and the lesson would be learned. But this is my kid we're talking about (white sauce not withstanding). He jumped in, popped back up, and started swimming. It's very simple, barely swimming but it is swimming nevertheless. Somehow, in Hawaii, with all the time we spent in the pool and the sea, my kid basically learned how to swim.

Day 19
We got up, had breakfast with my aunt and uncle, and then headed home. I bought the boys ice cream in Santaquin--because they have some of the best ice cream ever. We made it home to a very happy daddy and a very excited dog. Every time we walked out to the car to carry something in, he started crying (the dog, not the husband), which he hardly ever does. It was very cute.

So we're home from our two and a half week trek to San Diego and Maui. It was an amazing trip. We bought a CD of Hawaiian music while we were there because Garrett is having a luau party for his 6th birthday. One of the lines of one of the songs say, "This must be just like living in Paradise. And I don't want to go home."

Ain't that the truth.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Maui 2012--In Images

I spent way too much time yesterday and today making this video but I think it captures our trip.

Oh man. I wanna go back.

Guess I'll just have to try to live a little Hawaiian style here in Salt Lake.

The Final Days of Hawaii

Day 14
On Monday we woke up to winds and more rain--rain was definitely a factor on this trip. I'd been thinking of trying to find a hike for the boys and me while my parents went on their ziplining excursion but, like all other excursions on this trip, it was canceled. We waited out the rain for awhile, Garrett and I worked on his reading and my dad read books to Matthew. When the rain let up, we decided to go on a beach walk that we started in Napili. We didn't make it all the way because I had a couple of tired boys but what we did was gorgeous--albeit very windy. I was pretty sure Matthew was going to blow out to sea if we weren't careful.

That afternoon I made the boys both take a nap. Garrett, who WAS. NOT. TIRED. fell asleep in a matter of moments. Of course there was more pool that day and we finished with a trip to Aloha Plate for a Hawaiian plate dinner.

Day 15
It was our last day in Hawaii and I was thrilled that we had decent weather. We got up and headed to Black Rock to enjoy a long morning of snorkeling, swimming and jumping off cliffs. My dare devil five-year-old wanted to jump off the very top but I did not allow that since I didn't think he could jump far enough to clear the rocks. I did let him jump from a shorter rock. My dad took him first and he climbed up the rock and promptly jumped off. No fear whatsoever. I took him later and he begged me to let him go higher. I let him go up a couple more feet and he jumped again without hesitating. While I was out with him, a sea turtle swam directly underneath me. If I'd extended my arm, I would have easily been able to touch it as it went by.

When we got back to the condo, we had lunch and then the boys spent the afternoon playing with a couple of new friends in the pool. That's when I first heard about the shark attack. My dad saw some guys on wave runners patrolling the beach we were staying at. He went down and inquired as to what was going on. That's when we found out that, just a short distance south from where we were, a girl had been bitten in waist deep water. Our beach was closed for most of the afternoon.

I packed up the rest of our stuff that afternoon and we ate dinner. Then we watched the waves for a little while before leaving to head to the airport. Of course, we stopped in Lahaina for more shave ice first.

Our flight left at 10:50 and I had some very tired boys. They slept almost the entire way to San Diego. We landed in San Diego at 6:45 PST, which was 3:45 am to us.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

11, 12, 13

Day Eleven
We got up and headed to Lahaina for Garrett's surf lesson. When we got to the surf shop it didn't take long before we met his instructor. Mike was seriously the best teacher I could have hoped for for my five-year-old. He started off calling him "bro" and "dude" and Garrett was eating it up. When it was time to walk to the beach for the dry land instruction, my mom headed back to the parking lot to tell my dad where we were going. I was going to walk with Garrett and Mike but my son looked at me as though he was seriously mortified. "Mommy," he said through slightly clenched teeth, "go with Grandma." Then he paused dramatically and whispered, "Go." Mike assured me that it was fine for me to go ahead and leave and so we followed them from about twenty yards behind. Garrett was strutting like he was an old surfing pro, chatting it up with his best friend, Mike.

He did some dry land work and then the hit the waves.

The first wave came, Mike pushed Garrett into the wave. Garrett stood up. And surfed.

Then he surfed more. And more.

I was so proud of him. When we got back to the surf shop, another instructor asked me how old Garrett was and told me that he did awesome out there. I said, "Thanks." And he said, "No. I mean, he's really good." It was really fun being the mom of the good child surfer. Too bad there isn't exactly good surf in the great salt lake.

When the lesson was finished we all had shave ice. The boys spent the afternoon in the pool and that night we had a serious fiasco with Garrett's poor eyes. He is really sensitive to chlorine and it bothered him so much that it took several hours of him keeping his eyes glued shut before he let us pry them open and put saline in them.

That night, my dad decided to slice his finger open on a super sharp knife. My parents spent several away driving to and from the ER and, of course, waiting to be seen. In the end, they were able to glue it and wrap it so that he didn't have to sacrifice the remainder of his trip.

Day Twelve
On Saturday we kept my dad out of the water. We had a kind of lazy day. Garrett and I built sandcastles and played in the water right outside our condo. My parents went to dinner that night so I cooked stir fry for the boys and me. They left early and I let the boys swim a little before we ate. After dinner, I got them into bed and spent the rest of the night reading.

Day Thirteen
On Sunday we had fully intended to go back to the same church but Garrett got a free surf board rental with his lesson and the only day we could use it was Sunday. We were going to go after church to get the board but, with Garrett being so little they strongly suggested that we go earlier, when the conditions are better. I hadn't missed a Sunday of church this entire year so it was a little weird but I did a Sunday school lesson with the boys later that afternoon so as not to teach them that we go surfing instead of to church. Even though, well, that's exactly what we did.

We got the board down in Kihei and the weather was incredible. The beach was great and the boys had a blast. Garrett didn't want to use the board for the entire three hours that we had it so my dad took a few turns and managed to get up. I also tried my hand--for the very first time--at surfing. It took me awhile to actually get up but I kept trying. Eventually, I rode a wave and quickly decided that I should have taken up surfing long ago. We had a great morning in Kihei.

That afternoon there was more pool time and a Sunday school lesson and, like all the other days, we fell asleep to the sound of the waves crashing just outside our condo.