Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wooba Wooba

I have had so many thoughts racing through my brain today. Most were not blog-worthy. So, despite the fact that I wanted to write a blog post about my goals for the coming year or maybe even a recap of 2008, you get to hear the story of the demon of my childhood - the Wooba Wooba Monster.

The kids and I were talking about things that scare us. For All-a-Boy, it was the Zorgons in the movie Zathura. For Hubba it's flickering lights - he is positive "they are gonna blow!" For Coolister, ElemenoB and Thumbelina it was playing Uncle Chip's version of hide-and-seek called hide-and-scare. And that reminded me of the Wooba Wooba monster.

My oldest brother, Toby, was watching Sesame Street with Chip and I one day. For some reason we noticed a particularly freaky monster at the 'Monster Disco' that day - one with angry black eyebrows and fangs. Toby, being the oldest brother, saw the fear in our eyes and decided to mess with us a bit. Another monster said the words "Wooba, wooba..." at some point, which prompted the name of this furry green demon who would lurk beneath our beds and in our closets for what seemed an eternity.

I must admit, I had it easy. Before we climbed the stairs to bed Toby would simply say, "Gerb- look out for the Wooba Wooba monster. He's under your bed." Or, "Cover your ears tonight - the Wooba Wooba monster might call for you." Poor Chip shared a room with Toby and had to listen to the monster until he was finally able to fall asleep.

The monster knew only one word. Wooba.

Toby would lay in his bed and quietly start with a long, drawn out "Wooooooooba..." and then he would ask Chip, "Did you hear that? He's here!"

Toby is a good guy. (Now.) But I will be honest and say that I am a 36 year old woman who is still afraid of the dark because of that blasted monster. And here's why...

I had finally had enough. I knew the monster wasn't real and I wasn't going to let Toby scare me anymore! I was tired of checking under my bed and in my closet. He was never there! As I confidently walked to my bed, sitting on the edge to remove my socks and crawl in, two hands came from beneath my bed and GRABBED! my ankles, shaking them, crying "WOOBA WOOBA WOOBA!!" I screamed! I probably fainted! Toby crawled out from beneath my bed, laughing.

The Wooba Wooba Monster stopped coming after it scared Chip so badly that he grabbed some scissors and stabbed it through the hand. Funny what a trip to the E.R. can do to a person's desire to scare little kids.

Wait...

Why the heck am I writing this story for my blog?!

I have no idea. But there it is.

So, um... Happy New Year! And may your 2009 be Wooba Wooba free.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why Green?

(photo from glassrootsofmontana.com)

I was thinking back recently to a time when writing poetry was my life. It defined who I was, it helped me to get the feelings I had deep down in my innermost core out onto paper in as abstract or concrete a way as I desired. Some poems took days to compose, some hours, some minutes.

One such poem I wrote became a favorite. It came to me one day as I sat in the alcove under the stairs in front of apartment #6 of Bay Village Apartments, pen and notebook in hand. I loved this poem so much that it even inspired my favorite color for that year - as well as the purchase of my beloved first pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars (back before they were cool). It contained only 6 words:


Why Green?
Because blue loves yellow.


I don't expect that to be earth-shattering for anyone out there.

But it still makes me smile.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Big and Little

I was watching Coolister, my biggest kid, as he washed the dishes last night with my littlest boy, Baby O, playing at his feet. And I couldn't help but think - I remember when Coolister was Baby O.

I think it was yesterday. At least it feels that way.

Time sure flies.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

This is WAR!

Apparently, the "tooth fairy" reads my blog. Why do I write"tooth fairy" that way? Because the "tooth fairy" I am referring to is an impostor.

Let me explain. I am well acquainted with the tooth fairy who picks up teeth and leaves cash at our house. Very well acquainted, actually. I mean, with 9 kids - that's a lot of teeth!

You can imagine my surprise when I found a nice little package on our doorstep last night. I brought it in and showed it to Cowgirl, who was ecstatic to have a visit from the "tooth fairy" when she hadn't even lost a tooth! We all know this is impossible. I mean, haven't we all seen "Santa Clause 2"?! Plus, the letter on the package was written in a different font than was used last time. And this note was full-sized, not tiny tooth fairy sized like the last one. And I always know when the real tooth fairy is coming. I had no advance notice here. I rest my case.

The impostor's note read:
(click on the picture to enlarge)

And inside were these:
Not Peeps, but sugar-coated marshmallow people decorated with frosting. Because, as we all know, the marshmallows and sugar coating are not enough to produce a true, bouncing-off-the-walls sugar high. We must give the children frosting as well.

I will say this - these Peep impostors are much cuter than actual Peeps. But no matter. The sugar-induced hyperactivity was twice the norm.

I will find you, "tooth fairy". And when I do... it's war.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who Knew?

One thing I love about Christmas is getting treats from the neighbors. It is no secret that I have quite the sweet tooth and I love eating holiday sweets... except for Peeps. These disgusting lumps of marshmallow coated with sugar crystals are an Easter candy that has been exploited to fit every possible holiday.

Hey, you can like them. I'll still be your friend.

...back to the Peeps.

Last Sunday a well-intentioning neighbor brought over EIGHT! packages of Peeps Christmas trees for our family to enjoy. "They were left over from what I gave to the kids in nursery at church today," she explained. "And you have all those kids, so I knew they'd get eaten."

The thought was very... sweet. But just imagining the sugar-induced high that my kids would be experiencing made my stomach feel sickly.

The kids were already bouncing off walls. Continuous strains of "Can I have a Peep? Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I, Mom?" were reverberating through my ears as I deliberated a possible solution to the overabundance of Peeps.

"Let's sleep on it," I responded. "I'll have an answer in the morning."

It turns out someone else took care of the Peeps for me.

Cowgirl had lost one of her front teeth that very afternoon and set it in the usual place, on top of the microwave, in anticipation of some cold, hard cash from the tooth fairy. As we headed for bed I placed the Peeps on top of the microwave as well, in 2 stacks of 4 boxes each.

In the morning we found this note:


The speculation among the kids is now that the tooth fairy collects teeth to replace her own.

Tooth fairy, wherever you are, thank you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That's What It's All About



One of my favorite Christian musicians, Kenneth Cope, produced this short video.

Forget the hustle and bustle of the season for a moment...this is what Christmas is all about.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slightly Imperfect

While perusing the aisles of a local dollar store for a few items needed for a gift exchange I came upon the sock aisle. Socks, I thought to myself, I need those. Unfortunately the selection of colorful, fun socks left much to be desired, so I turned my attention to the boring white variety.

I was surprised to find a decent name brand with not only one pair, but two in a pack. Why are these here? I wondered. Upon closer inspection I noticed a small label on the front of the socks: SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT. "Slightly imperfect?" I wondered aloud. "I wonder what that means?"

Coolister was with me and he quickly responded with, "Maybe it's referring to the girl, not the socks." I took another look... she looked pretty good to me. In fact, compared to her, my physique would be labeled something along the lines of ENTIRELY IMPERFECT.

Isn't it great that we don't have to wear labels? I mean, labels like DONUT CONNOISSEUR or DOMESTIC GODDESS, those I'd proudly wear. But there are other labels I would prefer to keep to myself.

We all have imperfections. I think that's what makes us interesting.

You know what? Maybe SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT isn't so bad.

In fact, SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT is keeping my feet warm right now.

I'll take SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Would I Say If You Were Here


Thank you, Dad, for giving me my love for children.

Thank you for teaching me to have a sense of humor.

Thank you for giving me that uncontrollable love for performing.

Thanks for loving me unconditionally.

Thank you for teaching me compassion.

Thank you for my awesome metabolism.

Thanks for all your support in whatever I decided to do.

Thanks for making me laugh.

Happy Birthday, Papa.

Every song I sing is for you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Goin' Back To Cali: Disneyland

(Picture a smaller version of my family with Mickey Mouse here)

We had to do it. It had been 5 years since the last time we took our kids to Disneyland, so we put out the big bucks and went again.

But this time we were prepared.

Last time: We took all 6 of our kids, ranging in age from 8 months to 9 years old. Disneyland was not the happiest place on earth. We had to push a stroller around all day which was nice for the cargo space but awful for navigating around and through crowds. Half the kids could not go on rides with a height requirement so we had to take turns sitting outside those rides with the vertically-challenged people while the others had a blast - and then switch off so the adult who missed out would get a chance to get in on the excitement of something besides the "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" ride. We had fun, but by the end of the day we were exhausted and vowed not to return until Coolister was at least 18 years old.

This time: We sent Coolister and ElemenoB to Disneyland with the cross-country team on Saturday after the big race. They had fun enjoying the park with friends (more importantly, without mom and dad). Then on Wednesday we left the 3 smallest family members at grandma's with Coolister and ElemenoB while we took the remaining 4 (ranging in age from 5-12 years old) to enjoy the Magical Land of Disney. It was perfect. Everyone was tall enough to ride everything except Indiana Jones, and only Princess missed out on that one. No strollers, no crying babies, no diapers to change. Just a lot of running around and having a good time.

I would now like to present some awards to the theme park in regards to this last visit.

Fastest Ride goes to Space Mountain with an extra shout-out to whoever thought up the fast-pass... I love you.

Coolest Land is awarded to Toon Town. The rides aren't worth waiting in line for, but the motif? Awesome. I could spend a whole day just wandering around there.

Scariest Ride for sure goes to the rockets out front of Star Tours. I feel like I'm going to fall out of those things every time! Can't they just tear those babies out? My fear of heights may have something to do with it...

Biggest Mistake goes to the person who took out Bear Country Jamboree and replaced it with a Winnie the Pooh ride! Seriously, Winnie the Pooh?! I mean, Bear Country Jamboree was a classic! Speaking of which...

Best Remaining Classic Ride/Feature goes to the Jungle Cruise. I love the remarks the guides make and the fact that they come up with new ones every time. I just hope they don't turn it into a canoe ride called "Pocahontas' Colors of the Wind" or something. I mean, look at what happened to Swiss Family Robinson - it's now Tarzan's Treehouse.

Most Improved = Nemo's Underwater Adventure. I always thought the submarines were fun, but they were a bit random. The Nemo theme helped tie everything together.

Least Worth the Wait goes to Autopia. I think the excitement of this ride comes from the idea that those who are not old enough to drive get to try it. But combine getting stuck behind someone who stalls every 20 seconds with the hard gas pedals and it's really not worth the wait for an adult. (p.s. Thumbelina didn't like it, either.)

OK, I could go on all day, but I've already been on the computer for much too long.

Final words: We had a great time.



p.s. What do you think? Any awards you'd give to a Disneyland ride?

Goin' Back To Cali: Thrift Stores!

(Imagine a picture of all my thrift store treasures here)


One of my absolute favorite things about coming to California for a visit is the chance to shop at the local thrift stores. Here on the high desert I have my favorite spots to shop - and I am never disappointed.

This year was no exception.

My 2 oldest girls have been indoctrinated in the fine art of bargain shopping and they were excited to join grandma and I in a shopping adventure. First, we figure out the best day to go. That was Tuesday, when early bird shoppers (9:00 am to 1:00 pm) got half off on all clothing items. Half off at a thrift store = suh-wheat deals!

I have been shopping for hardback books to stock our library-in-progress and found some good ones! Letters To Emily and Watership Down were my 2 favorite finds this trip.

I won't get into too much detail on our amazing purchases - but I'll tell you this: ElemenoB now has fun Christmas gifts for all of her friends as well as a load of new clothes for herself. Thumbelina found a few treasures as well. And me?

Let's just say it's a good thing we brought our trailer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Goin' Back To Cali: Saturday Was A Special Day

(Since I am not on my own computer you'll have to imagine
a picture of Coolister finishing his race here)

Saturday was the day that Coolister ran at Mt. SAC. For those of you who are not from Southern California or who don't give a lick about any kind of competitive running, Mt. SAC is a college that hosts an annual invitational cross country race for high schools in the west - best known as Footlocker.

So? Big whoop. you're thinking. Well, it IS a big, HUGE whoop. Because I ran at Mount SAC back in the day. I remember those treacherous hills, the horrendous switchbacks, the endless dirt... I remember it all!

We made the trip down to Southern Cali (that's what us former locals call this area - we're cool that way) and arrived the day before the big race. I had knots in my stomach. Coolister had more food than I eat in an entire week in his. We got a hotel room near the college so he could meet up with his team to make the needed race preparations the night before. (I later learned that this included pressing every button before exiting the hotel elevators and seeing who could leave the most plastic spoons in other people's pockets, unnoticed.)

The morning of the race, he caught the team's charter bus at 6:15 am. We (in true family fashion) arrived just in time to see him cross the finish line - and what a glorious finish it was! He came in with the front of the pack - his face beet red, dripping with sweat and with dirt in his teeth. It was a good race.

We then followed him around, his own entourage, as he talked smack with his teammates ("...and then I looked up, saw the guy in the red jersey and said, child's play! when I totally wasted him in the last 300...") and cheered on the runners in the remaining races.

(Picture of Coolister cheering on runners he didn't even know... he would name them as they ran by - "Good job, black shirt! C'mon Superman! Pass up green shorts up there!")

I'm not sure which I enjoy more - watching him race or seeing him cheer others on.

My absolute favorite part of the day was when, before the senior boys' race, I noticed many of the guys from Coolister's team gathered in a small circle, heads close, whispering. I couldn't wait to hear what hyjinks they were cooking up! I walked over, close enough to hear, and realized they were... praying.

(I wanted to take a picture, but it somehow seemed inappropriate.
Just try to picture it in your mind.)

This was the best moment in my whole day. I don't know how to describe what I felt just then.

What an amazing group of kids.




P.S. The 2nd best moment was possibly seeing the girl who ran dressed like a banana.

(picture of running banana here)

I was a little jealous, because why didn't I ever think of that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Blue Sweater

Christmas! The season is here. I have so many reasons to love this holiday, but the most prominent are the memories of the years that we had the least - monetarily, anyway.

Our first few years in California were tough. After my Dad lost his job in Iowa we moved to California to live with my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Dick. They were generous enough to not only offer my father employment but to also welcome us into their home. We lived with them for quite a while until Mom and Dad felt like we could try to make a go of things on our own and we moved into a nearby apartment. Mom and Dad told us that there would not be much for Christmas that year, but we would all be receiving a little something.

I remember well a trip to the mall a few days before Christmas to see the holiday displays and do some window shopping, something we did often. As I passed one particular window I caught sight of a beautiful blue sweater. Oh, how I wanted that sweater! I was at one of the most awkward social stages of my life. I had difficulty making friends and I was sure this sweater could help me in that department. With this sweater? Instant popularity! Friends galore! I slipped into the store, waving my family ahead.

I found my size and held it in front of me. It was so soft and warm. I looked into a mirror and could see how its blue color brought out the color of my eyes. I didn't dare try it on for fear that it would be a perfect fit, cementing the thought in my mind that we were made for each other, this sweater and I. I looked at the price tag... there was no way. I couldn't even ask.

I folded the sweater up and placed it back with the others in shades of red, purple and green. After one last, longing look, I hurried to catch up with my family.

Over the next couple of days we enjoyed some simple holiday traditions together - making cookies and decorating the tree. On Christmas Eve we delivered cookies to a few of our neighbors and friends then came back home to enjoy some Christmas treats. As we watched some holiday programs on the T.V. a loud knock sounded at our door. We ran to find who was coming to visit on Christmas Eve, throwing the door open eagerly. There was no one there. We were excited when we looked down and noticed a large box, filled with canned food, a ham and a gift for each of us! Christmas morning could not come quickly enough.

After a long, restless night, Christmas morning dawned. We gathered around the tree, eagerly anticipating the opening of gifts. There were a few things for each of us and we (im)patiently sat as each person took turns opening their presents one at a time, the way Mom liked to have us do it. Why we weren't allowed to just tear into the paper like wild banshees and get to what was inside was beyond me, but Mom made the rules.

I don't recall what my other gifts were but when it finally came my turn to open the mysterious gift left anonymously, I said a little prayer in my mind... "Please, Heavenly Father, let it be the blue sweater..." then I stopped. I felt a bit embarrassed. Who was I to ask God for a silly sweater? And why get my hopes up? The chances were slim to none. I slowly opened the gift and could not believe my eyes.

There it was. My sweater. The right size, the right color. We were made for each other.

Some may chalk it up to coincidence, but I choose to believe that God knows us personally and He knows what our needs are. And I think He works through others to bless us in simple ways when He knows we need it most.

This may sound over dramatic to you, but to a young pre-teen girl in need of a boost in the self-esteem department?

It was my own Christmas miracle.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ess Oh See Kay Ess!

I have a sock dilemma.

I love socks. LOVE them! I love putting on a new pair that still has all of its inside future-dryer-lint fuzzies intact. Yet it seems my funky high-arched feet are something of an enemy to my beloved foot coverings since they quickly get holes in the heels.

Easy, right? Just go get new socks!

Herein lies my dilemma: I am a bargain shopper. I can purchase a package packed with a plethora of plain white socks at a reasonable rate. (Don't we all love alliteration?) But white socks are so... boring.

I want variety. I want pizazz! I need stripes, polka dots, zigzags and argyle patterns in thick cotton or wool blends! (But please, no domestic or farm animals. I am 36 years old, for Pete's sake.)

Back to the bargain shopper thing: the socks I truly desire cost me as much for a pair as it would put me back for a pack of their plain white counterparts.

Check the dollar store! you are thinking. I am way ahead of you. The dollar store and I are well-acquainted. But I have yet to find a nice, thick pair of dollar store socks that make it through more than 3 wearings or one washing (whichever comes first).

Sure, I have the good fortune on occasion of finding a nice pair of fancy socks on clearance in a snazzy store. But those days are few and far between. And when they do happen, chances are one of the people I share my house with will see them and say, "Awesome socks, Mom!" and I will give them to them because, after all, I am a MOM! And as such I am constantly working for the title of "Kid's Favorite Person (for today only)!"

And so, before too long, the battle of the socks will be decided. And once again, the plain guys will win.

And it's okay.

Because someday, when I am an old lady with money to burn, you will find me in a wide variety of funky footcoverings.

Some will call me eccentric.

But you and I, we will just smile at each other knowingly and let them wonder.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You Lucky Locals!

Time's up! And the "Custom Random Number Generator" over at mathgoodies.com tells me that the lucky winner is: Comment #2, ~j! (applause!)


UPDATED! Check the bottom of the post...

I have 2 tickets.

They are for the Utah Regional Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker.

They were a gift from our fine city when we won the Good Neighbor Award.

Wasn't that thoughtful and nice? And we really appreciate it.

But there's this thing...

You know how some people are all artsy-fartsy and some are not?

We are all about artsy-fartsy.

Art galleries? LOVE them!
Plays? Musicals? First in line!!
Musical performances? BRING THEM ON!

But dancing... how do I say this?

I can't dance. Let's just get that out there. If you need someone who is crazy and can move around, wildly flapping their arms and imitating moves of decades past, I'm your woman. That's all I have to offer.

That may or may not have to do with the fact that watching other people dance puts me to sleep.

Please! Don't anyone be offended! (And don't tell me I should watch that famous-people-dancing t.v. show. We have rabbit ears, and I don't have time.)

Can you imagine how embarrassed I was when I fell asleep and SNORED at a modern dance concert back in 1989?! I had like a billion friends in this thing! But I could not. keep. my. eyes. open.

Here's where you come in. Can you help a girl out? Save me the embarrassment of ruining our family's good name and attend the Nutcracker Ballet for us. I am offering 2 tickets for the Covey Arts Center performance on Thursday, December 18th at 7: 30 p.m.

Anyone?

Balcony seats!

Anyone?

Great date night!

Anyone?

p.s. In the event that more than one person responds to this post, I will do that "random number generator" thing that other people talk about. I have no idea what it is, but I'm sure if I google it I can figure it out.

Since there is some interest in the tickets, I'll do the random pick thing. To answer questions: This is in Provo at the Covey Arts Center (a.k.a. the old Provo Library building). No, I don't have to know you for you to get in on the tickets. And I'll stop accepting comments tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, Dec. 4th) at 1:00 p.m. And by the way, I am SUPER excited that someone else can enjoy these.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And You Thought You'd Heard It All


This blog could very well be called "Life As I Knew It" with all of the stories I tell you about my past. I have been thinking about that lately. Should I be more focused on the here-and-now?

Here's my conclusion: Nah. I can write about whatever I want.

I have had a few people tell me I should write a book about my childhood and teenage experiences. Well, you'd have to buy a book, but my blog? It's FREE! (Now, that's priceless.)

My sister-in-law's sister (got that?) has apparently written a book which includes one of my experiences. You could go buy her book when it's available - or read all about it here. For FREE!

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago... (fade to past)

Soon after I graduated from high school, my friends and I went on a weekend trip. We returned on a Sunday afternoon, refreshed and ready to get back to school and jobs and whatnot. However, nothing could have prepared me for what I found when I returned home.





Nothing.





We lived in an upstairs apartment, #6 to be exact, of Bay Village Apartments. I unlocked the door and walked up the stairs, my red backpack slung over my shoulder. As I reached the top of the stairs, I wondered if I had somehow entered a vacant apartment... everything was gone. I mean, everything. There were no pictures on the walls, no couches, no tables, no television sets. (Yes, I said sets. My parents each had their own, and they were watched simultaneously.) I walked around the apartment, wondering what thief could possibly steal every single item from our home, unnoticed.

I was in shock.

I wandered around - no bikes on the balcony. No food in the refrigerator. No discarded popcorn kernels hiding in the corners of the kitchen floor.

Wait a minute. The thief took the time to clean up afterwards? This was getting seriously freaky.

I immediately thought of my personal belongings - my bedroom! I ran toward it and noticed something strange - it was the only door in the whole place that was shut. And there was a note taped to the door.

It read:

Dear Gerby,
We moved to a house in Gardena.
Here is our phone number: 555-1234.
Call us when you get home.


Loves, Mom and Dad

I stood there, frozen. They moved? I slowly twisted the doorknob, afraid of what I would find.
My bedroom was exactly as I had left it. It was eerie, like walking into an episode of the Twilight Zone. Posters still covered the walls. Clothing was still strewn about the floor. My bed remained unmade. I collapsed onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling, to let it all sink in...

They moved. Without me.

I thought to call my friend Julie who lived just down the court.

No phones.

I walked to her apartment, filling her in on the details of what had just happened. Julie's mom, (my 2nd mom, incidentally) suggested: "Why don't you just move in with us?"

So I did.




And that's the truth.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Thankful

Tomorrow is that day of the year where we give thanks for our blessings. I have been thinking for the entire month about what I would write today. I had all kinds of great ideas which included stories from my childhood, Thanksgivings now past, unanswered prayers, extended family, wonderful friends and the generosity of others. But, when it comes down to it, this is what I am most thankful for: my family.

I am thankful for a husband who works hard for the money (so hard for it, honey!) to support our family. For his ability to do pretty much anything house or car or yard related. Thankful he is as frugal-minded as I am and that we are on the same page when it comes to our household and finances. I love how service-oriented he is and that he is OK with my own whimsical desires to serve others - that he understands my need to do so. I am thankful that he loves kids as much as I do and that he's willing to support and love a whole houseful with me. I am especially thankful that he loves me enough to put up with all my weaknesses and imperfections - and I have a few. He's one of my greatest blessings.

I am thankful for kids who are nothing short of amazing. Are they perfect? Of course not. But when I hear others complaining about their teenagers' attitudes and unwillingness to contribute to their families, I realize how great we've got it here. I am a tad bit overprotective of my kids (yes, I know this and can admit it) because I love them so much. I want them home, with me, all the time, because can anyone really appreciate them like I do? (For the record, I am learning to loosen the apron strings some...) I am thankful that they know how to make good choices and that they are not afraid to do what they know is right - or to tell others what they think. I am thankful that they love each other and are loyal to each other and look out for each other. I am thankful that they put up with the crazy chaos that we call our home and that they all contribute to making it our own little piece of heaven here on earth.

Really, words cannot describe what I am feeling. Language is not sufficient to explain the emotions in my heart. Love? Thankful? Amazing? Words don't seem adequate. The thoughts of family that I hold in my heart, that float around in my head like a beautiful melody, seem to come out in a jumbled muck of words when I attempt to voice them. It is frustrating. So, let me just say again:

I am thankful for my family. So thankful.

I am thankful to have so much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ask And You Shall Receive


I have recently become reacquainted with an old friend from high school who now lives in Germany. (Hi Stephanie!) She was curious as to what my daily schedule is like with 9 children. In fact, she says she finds things like that "fascinating".

Regardless of how mundane my daily schedule seems to me, I like to appear fascinating to others. So Stephanie, this post's for you! (Grab yourself a snack, it's pretty long...)

6:30 am - Coolister wakes me up almost every morning. (I'm lazy that way.) I like to prepare a real breakfast for the family every morning. This varies from hot cereals (oatmeal, germade, cornmeal or rice) to scrambled eggs to pancakes or waffles, baked oatmeal or breakfast sandwiches... the possibilities are endless but vary depending on the actual time I wake up. We eat cold cereal most Sundays, which the kids consider a treat.

6:45 am - I start making lunches and check that everyone who has to go to school is awake.

6:50 am - Breakfast is served! The kids eat in waves. Usually Coolister and ElemenoB eat at this time.

7:00 am - Coolister leaves for the bus stop. I am still making everyone else's lunches. ElemenoB changes her outfit for the 3rd time then gets in the shower.

7:15 am - Lunches are done. Go tell Thumbelina that her bus leaves in 15 minutes so she had better get out of bed!

7:25 am - Thumbelina, All-a-boy and Cowgirl eat breakfast. I tell All-a-boy that he can NOT wear that same shirt again. He rolls his eyes and goes to change.

7:35 am - ElemenoB and Thumbelina should leave for their bus stop, but Thumbelina usually can't find her shoes or her math homework or her jacket. ElemenoB acts annoyed but secretly revels in the fact that she can check her hair in the mirror one more time.

7:37 am - The girls bid me farewell.

7:40 am - I do Cowgirl's hair. All-a-boy shows up in the shirt I told him to change out of. I state his name and give him 'the look'. He rolls his eyes again and heads back to his bedroom.

7:41 am - All-a-boy comes up in a different shirt... with shorts. I remind him that it is about 40 degrees outside. More eye rolling, more clothing changes.

7:45 am - I brush down All-a-boy's cowlicks with plenty of water and hair gel. He requests 'spiky' or 'flat' and I comply.

7:50 am - Last minute (frantic!) scramble for jackets, homework, backpacks, lunches, shoes... All-a-boy and Cowgirl watch out the window for their carpool and slam the door on their way out.

Sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 am - Princess, Hubba and Curly wake up and eat breakfast. Princess throws a royal fit if it is "oatmeal again". I sit down and eat with them.

Whatever time I sit down to eat - Baby O wakes up. I feed him then finish feeding myself.

Around 9:15 am - Wash breakfast dishes.

9:45 am - Get kids dressed. Let Hubba stay in his pajamas, since he's going to change back into them anyway at some point in the day. Get out Legos or K'nex or Furryvilles or trains for them to play with. If I want to take a shower, I put in a movie for them downstairs with strict instructions not to answer the door while I am in the shower! Princess does not get this, as she is fully capable of answering the door without my assistance. Luckily, we have not had many visitors at this time.

10:15 am - Make my bed, put in a load of laundry, then get on the computer. Check Google Reader for new blog posts. Mull over what comments to leave. Read my email.

11:00 am - Put the laundry in the dryer. Put Baby O down for his morning nap. Back to the computer to see if I got any new email or comments on posts. Read the local news online at KSL and Herald Extra. Begin to compose a blog post if I feel so inspired.

11:20 am - Lunch for the kidlets. Princess usually requests not a sandwich. Quesedillas or cheese and crackers are regulars, along with some form of fruit or vegetable.

11:30 am - Clean up lunch, do Princess' hair according to her specifications: "Two braids today, mom - in the back." or "No ponytails, just a clip with a flower." or "Two big ponytails". Or, if we are in a hurry, it just gets brushed. Last minute search for show-and-tell items, homework, and jacket - despite Princess' declarations of 'I like cold!' and 'I get too sweaty in my jacket anyways, Mom! Geez!!'

11:50 am - Wake Baby O. Load the smallish ones into the suburban. Chase Hubba and Curly around the house a few times, screaming threats of no more milk today! if they don't get in their carseats RIGHT NOW.

11:58 am - Leave for kindergarten. Sing the 'Bob the Builder' theme song and 'Thomas We Love You' 3 times on the way while looking for large machinery to point out to Hubba. As in, "Hey, Hubba - there's Scoop! Do you see Roley?"

12:04 pm - Drop Princess off for kindergarten. She is always at least 3 minutes late, so I figure I'm being consistent.

12:10 pm - Back at home. Throw in another load of laundry, fold the dry load. Vacuum the floors so Baby O can soldier crawl to his heart's content amongst the discarded Legos and trains.

12:30 pm - Turn on www.starfall.com to occupy Hubba and Curly. Try to eat my lunch somewhere that I won't be discovered.

12:31 pm -
Hubba: "Mom, can I have a bite of yours?"
Me: "But you already ate lunch..."
H: "But not yours lunch."
Me: "Mom needs to eat lunch, too. Do you want a sandwich?"
H: "I want yours lunch."
Me: "I'll make you your own bowl of soup, ok?"
H: "Can I eat yours soup? And you can make the other bowl for you?"
Me: (thinking) Could he possibly know that mine is really ice cream?

12:45 pm - Put the laundry in the dryer. Finish my blog post, if one is started. Check my email again. (Hmmm... I'm sensing a pattern here...)

1:00 pm - This varies, depending on the day. It includes: Start to think about dinner. Pay bills. Compose email replies. Make phone calls. Clean bathroom. Vacuum. Screen phone calls. Try to come up with a more creative answering machine message. Look at old pictures. Read old journals. Leave comments on blogs read earlier. Transfer pictures from camera to computer. Put on some music and sing really loud. Dance a little if alone. Dance a lot if the kids are watching. Check the calendar for what else is coming up this week. Take a kid to a doctor's appointment. The list goes on for miles...

2:30 pm - Start getting the kids in the vehicle to go pick up the elementary school kids. Try to find shoes. Tell Hubba socks are good enough. Try to be systematic about this - Put Baby O in the suburban. Go get Curly. Buckle her in. Go get Hubba - who has escaped from the house and is running down the street in his socks and pajamas, laughing his head off. Try to stifle laughter when I capture him and tell him he should not run from me.

2:45 pm - Buckle Hubba in. Count the animals we pass on the way to the school (horses, sheep, cows and goats).

2:50 pm - Pick up at the school of my 3 plus 3 others. Drop others off.

3:05 pm - Home again. Homework starts immediately or else I will forget to make them do it. Everyone had to read at least 20 minutes every day. There is often also spelling and math involved.

3:15 pm - ElemenoB and Thumbelina get home. (except for the days when they have play practice. Then they get home at 4:30 pm). ElemenoB goes to babysit. Thumbelina locks herself in her room with a book and says, "I'm doing my homework!" when I knock. "Homework at the table!" I yell back. I can feel her eyes rolling at me behind the door when I hear the exasperated sigh.

3:30 pm - Run a few errands now that I don't have to take the whole gang with me. Last-minute groceries, the bank, the library and stores with supplies for school projects are the top 4 destinations. The local bakery is often right on the way, so I have been known to stop there on occasion. I am a firm believer in supporting local businesses, you know.

4:30 pm - Coolister calls and wants a ride home from cross country practice. If I am already out running errands, I oblige. If I am not, he gets more running practice in as he makes his way home.

5:00 pm - I am home. I marvel over how the kids can undo what I have done in the house throughout the day and pick up some things, enlisting the help of the slaves. I start getting out what is needed for dinner. I help with unfinished homework. I read to Princess and Cowgirl.

5:30 pm - Put dinner together. Let it cook. Pick up more stuff off the floors, counter tops and couches.

6:00 pm - ElemenoB gets home from babysitting. On a good day, someone sets the table and dinner is served. Dinner is served between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. I hate the 9:00 pm dinner days, but when it's a day for grocery shopping that's what happens.

Everything gets crazy at this time of day, depending on the day of the week.

Mondays we have "Family Home Evening" which is where we sing songs, play games and have a short lesson about something, followed by a treat.

Tuesdays the oldest 3 kids go to church at 7:00 pm with the other youth in our area. The boys play basketball or Frisbee and call it "scouts". The girls do various things from cooking to sewing to having a little lesson.

Wednesdays All-a-boy has cub scouts.

Thursdays Allen has church meetings all night.

Fridays are often date nights. (I like Fridays.)

Weekends are a completely different story.

Around 8:00 - 9:00 pm, or whenever everyone is home, we read scriptures together.

Bedtime is somewhere between 8:30 and 10:30 pm, though we have been doing much better lately and getting to bed closer to 9:00 pm. This routine includes drinks of milk, bathroom reminders and empty threats before everyone is finally asleep somewhere. Hubba has a very nice bed but usually chooses to sleep with the "big girls", Coolister or right between Allen and I.

Once the kids are in bed Allen checks sports scores, peruses You Tube videos and does some work on his laptop while I head to the desktop for more blog surfing and email checking.

There are various things mixed in on different days, but that's about it. Pretty exciting stuff!




See what you get when you ask? Anyone else?

(I'm taking requests.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Order of Things

Apparently, if you are crazy enough to do this:

You may unexpectedly get something like this:


Where you could be told you've received this:


Any questions?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leiannaconnannaconnadonna

I will admit that I have been known to be a drama queen at times.

I know, most of you are completely surprised. It's true. I haven't always been the genteel lady you know me as today.

I mean, I used to be a liar, too. There it all is! Out on the table. All of my secrets, revealed. And here is my story.

Back in high school, I had an eclectic group of friends. Seriously, check out the picture. Everyone had their 'thing' that really made them stand out - I mean, Melanie had that cool hat . Debi wore RayBans 24/7, plus check out her awesome jacket with like 5,000 pins on it. Trish always wore the raddest clothes. Holly had her awesome orange convertible bug. Me? I had bangs like a polygamist. Hmmm. Not so cool. I needed a trademark! Something to make me memorable. Then suddenly, I had it! I needed a new middle name.

It had to be really out there. I mean, come on, my first name was already Gerberta - it had to compete with that. So a couple of friends and I thought long and hard and came up with this: Leiannaconnannaconnadonna. And I stuck with it. "What's your name?" someone would ask, unassuming. And they'd get the whole shebang: Gerberta Leiannaconnannaconnadonna Royce.

Was I part Hawaiian? Were my parents hippies? No. Was that really my middle name? Yes. I kept my answers simple. (Much easier to keep up with a lie when it's not too complicated. I was a professional.)

Then came Terry. A boy-friend. (Hey - I didn't wear the braided, bangs-to-the-sky look daily. When my long, curly locks were swaying about my shoulders, I was downright irresistible! Keep saying it, it may become true... I was irresistible. I was irresistible.) One day Terry asked me, "What's your middle name?" So automatic was my response, I didn't even think twice. "That's really your middle name?" he asked, incredulous. I gave my standard reply. His response? "Cool."

And then the lie started to catch up with me. One day Terry told me he had been in an argument with him mom. I asked him what about? "Your middle name." I cringed inside. Stick with it. Don't mess it up... "What about it?" I asked cooly. Apparently, his mom didn't believe that was really my middle name. And he defended me. I couldn't tell him the truth now! Or ever.

Then comes the part where Terry and I did that thing they call "breaking up". And in a final effort to win my heart back, he wrote me a song. I swear, this part is true. He went to a real recording studio and played the keyboard and sang the lines he wrote from his heart, to me. It was one of the best gifts I have ever been given, and I still have the tape he recorded it on. Inside the tape cover, he wrote: For G.L. Royce, From T.

G.L.?
I thought. Who is G.L.?

Oh, yes, that was me. He also uses the name "Leianna" in the song, titled "Leianna's Heart". And my 16-year-old self thought, Someday when he's a famous singer and songwriter I can show this tape to my kids and say, "See? He wrote a song for me once." And they'll say, "Who is G.L. Royce? Who is Leianna? Your middle name is Donna." And they'll all write it off to Mom The Drama Queen making up her crazy stories again.

Here are the morals to this story.

1. Don't be a drama queen. And

2. Lying is wrong.




And now for the Fine Print:
Exceptions can occasionally be made in certain circumstances where you may need to employ the skill of "stretching the truth a bit". Then it may be sort of okay. Or if you get a song written for you out of it, that may also be justified. Also, if you need a really good story to tell your kids someday, a very small lie may be acceptable. And when you make a story a little more interesting by adding a few facts? That is strictly for entertainment value and completely forgivable. There may also be times that your kids ask you questions about your past and a small fabrication is a good idea. Plus, I am not really a drama queen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Songs

Hello, everyone. I have resurfaced from my sickness fog. It is good to be back and fully functioning. Did you miss me? I missed you.

The final playlist for my Thanksgiving CD is complete. Thanks for your ideas and suggestions! Don't be sad if your songs aren't included - I may not have been able to find them.

(Or one song may have had a couple of lines that I didn't want to have to explain to my kids. Don't think I didn't love hearing that song again, though! It's been a long time...)

I also did not want a whole CD full of just instrumental music - I like to sing along. So a few were excluded for that reason.

When I played the songs for my kids, if they said anything like "That sounds weird" then I left it out as well. I mean, they're going to have to listen to this until after Thanksgiving, too.

A few songs were thrown in even if they just said "Thank you" in them because I wanted a little variety. I also opted to throw in a few songs about eating and home, because (hello!) where do we go and what do we do for Thanksgiving? And how else could I include Michael Buble?

Why do I feel the need to explain myself? Because I love you all. I do not like hurt feelings. And I especially do not like secret hurt feelings that come across as "No everything's just fine and I am not at all offended that you didn't like my song choices" but really mean "Why do I even bother reading your blog when you obviously hate me and all that I suggest and stand for?"

I really love you. Really. Really!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for (drumroll, please...)

Here's the playlist: (UPDATED! I forgot one! See #15...)

1. Thankful - Josh Groban
2. Thanksgiving Theme - Vince Guaraldi Trio (think Charlie Brown)
3. Colors - John McCutcheon
4. Prayer of Thanksgiving - David Tolk
5. Eat It - Weird Al
6. Thanksgiving Day - John McCutcheon
7. Thank U - Alanis Morrissette (who doesn't love singing along to this one at the top of their lungs? THANK YOU, SILEEEEEEEENCE!!)
8. When Fall Comes to New England - Cheryl Wheeler
9. Take Me Home Country Roads - John Denver
10. Thank You - John Mellencamp
11. Happy Thanksgiving - Debbie Friedman
12. Home - Michael Buble
13. Thanksgiving - George Winston
14. Celebrate Me Home - Kenny Loggins
15. Thanksgiving - Jim Brickman

Now I need to start working on a "Winter" CD for the day after Christmas...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sick and Tired (No, Really...)

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say something like, "Hey! Next week we're going to Disneyland!" You'd get all excited and not be able to sleep the whole week leading up to the big day - so sure that something terrible would happen to you or your family or even Disneyland itself and you'd have to miss out?

And then the big day would come and you'd be so excited that it was THE DAY and everyone was healthy and no one got hit by a firetruck and Disneyland didn't burn down?

That was awesome.

But now my body plays different tricks on me.

I get really excited about going to something like a Theatrical Interpreting Workshop with my brother for the weekend - a mini-vacation, really - and then my body says, "HA! I've got a little something I've been saving up for just such an occasion!"

And my throat hurts. And my head hurts. And I just want to go to sleep.

And parent/teacher conferences are today.

Plus I am doing my first interpreting job in a LONG time tonight.

Mean body.

But I'm older now, and smarter too. I'm fighting this for all it's worth - with banana/blueberry/pineapple smoothies and lots of water and herbal teas with honey and whatever else I can think of.

Here's hoping I wake up tomorrow feeling renewed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We Still Have Thanksgiving

First of all, let me just say that I LOVE Christmas. I especially love how it brings out the best in so many people. But you know what? I also love Thanksgiving. And I wish people would stop acting like it doesn't exist.

Have I mentioned that I don't want to hear Christmas music until after Thanksgiving? Well, I don't. You can listen now. That's all fine and good, and I'll still be your friend. But I don't want to.

So, in the spirit of my desire to recognize Thanksgiving for the fabulous holiday that it is, I am creating a compilation CD with Thanksgiving music. But here's where I need your help.

I only have one song in mind so far.

Thankful by Josh Groban

Do you know of any other great songs that talk about being thankful? Please, enlighten me, and I'll share my final playlist later.



Save me from the Christmas music.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Read Your Labels!

Today I made a startling discovery: there is tuna in tuna.

I know, I know - you are probably relieved to know this, especially for those of you with tuna allergies. I mean, you could have opened up a can of tuna and made yourself a sandwich or something and never have known that there was tuna inside.

I would just like to give a shout-out to the people who are conscientious enough to add information like this to the label of a can of tuna:


Thank you, Tuna-Warning Creators. Thank you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bragging Rights

My kids are pretty dang awesome, to put it lightly. So, although this blog is generally not a place where I gush over my kids' accomplishments (and awesomeness), that's what it's going to be today. Consider it a Christmas letter if you want - I mean, they ARE playing CHRISTMAS MUSIC ON THE RADIO ALREADY!! And it did snow here this week. (But you'll still get a Christmas letter in December. You know you want it.)

Wait... why am I making excuses? It's my blog, after all. You don't have to read it.

And so, (drum roll, please) I present for your reading pleasure: My Amazing Offspring!

First we have Coolister.
Can I just come right out and say that I LOVE when my kids share the same interests that I had at their age? He ran his first season of Cross Country and loved it as much as I did. His fastest time was 16:58. Not only was he Rookie of the Year, he also lettered and got an Academic Achievement award. On top of this, he gets the grades I only dreamed of at his age. And (here's my favorite part) when he gets home from school the first thing he (almost - there is food, too...) always does is to find his baby brother or sister and give them hugs. OK, I'll stop.

Next we have ElemenoB.
She graduated from braces and got contacts. (And I bought a bat.) This young woman has taken up a liking for drama and just auditioned for the school musical. She seems to have natural ability in everything she does. She is a huge help with the kids and around the house and a loyal friend to her siblings. She has a talent for writing and a new interest in photography which is pretty impressive. You will never see her sitting around without a book in her hands. ElemenoB also shares my love for finding a great deal, and I won't lie - I LOVE it.

And now, Thumbelina! This girl also shares my love for drama and is hoping for a part in the school musical. However, they came up with a new rule that 7th graders cannot play main roles. Don't get me started on that. Just let me say this: their loss. She is also very patient and loving towards her younger siblings. I was initially worried about her transition to middle school but it turns out she has just enough sass and spunk to OWN that place. Like her older sister, she has a knack for writing and drawing. Thumbelina is my best helper when it comes to cleaning. If I want a thorough job, she's the one I ask.

Next in line, All-a-Boy!
This kid has been an amazing reader from kindergarten, but it still amazes me when he brings home books as thick as his arm and finishes them in just a few days. He's been reading the "Fablehaven" series and also just finished the book "Brisinger". He's 9. Is this normal? All-a-Boy is always sharing some deep insight with us or asking questions we don't know the answers to. This kid has an old soul, but he still thrives on playing with friends and building Lego creations.

Next we have Cowgirl.
This sweet kid is still in love with anything having to do with cowboys, Texas and horses. Her creative abilities are always amazing me - from her homemade 'computers' to her written stories and colorful drawings. If we gave her a ream of paper and a box of markers and locked her in a room, I don't think she'd re-surface until the markers had gone dry or the paper ran out. Cowgirl has a tender heart and likes to make sure no one is ever left out of anything. She loves caring for and singing to her baby brother.

Look out for the Princess!
I mean, look at that face - do I need to say more? (I will anyway...) This girl is the queen of randomness which is a great source of laughter for the family. She is also not shy about voicing her thoughts. In fact, just this week when I asked her if she could please get me a diaper, she responded, "Um, Mom? When you ask me to do things like that it kind of makes me feel like I'm your slave. So don't ask me anymore, OK? OK." She mixes up 'ask' and 'tell' which makes for some interesting conversations as well.

Next I present... Hubba! This train lover has branched out some and also loves the main characters from Toy Story. He is all boy, through and through. Hubba has recently taken to walking up and hugging me around the neck from behind and saying, "I love you, Mom." I love his sweet hugs. He is as addicted to milk as ever and likes to have 'BIG drinks', not little ones. One little quirk he has that makes us smile every time is the way he points with one eye squeezed shut. I'll have to post a picture of that sometime.

Next is Curly.Curly gets cuter every day. When the above picture was taken, I told her to smile, so she signed it. She has learned a lot of sign language and uses it to help us understand what she wants - which is usually 'milk' or some kind of food. She has recently started talking quite a bit and will repeat everything I say to her throughout the day. She is all girl but is happy to play with whatever Hubba is playing with - especially if he doesn't want her to. She is always asking to hold Baby O - who she refers to as "my baby boy".

And last but not least - Baby O.
Look at those eyes. Look at those cheeks. Look at the little button nose. Check out the cute teeny chin poking out from below those chunky cheeks. He is full of smiles and so patient with his youngest older siblings. He is beginning to master the floor-scoot which generally precedes the soldier-crawl. Oh, how I love this baby.




(By the way, all pictures are by Jason at Backroads Photography. Have you checked out his website yet? No time is better than the present.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gathering Leaves

To add a little something to our yard for Halloween, we scatter leaves over everything. The problem with this is that we do not have large trees that produce enough leaves for the desired effect, so I have to gather them from elsewhere.

This year I found the perfect spot - the parking lot of the church in front of my kids' elementary school was blanketed with the colors of autumn! I gathered leaves in small increments until Halloween day, when I hauled a small trailer over with me.

After dropping The Princess off at kindergarten I began to rake, creating swishy patterns on the bare pavement and grass as I swept away their leafy covering. The leaves filled the trailer by the armful until the job was complete.

And then I had a fleeting thought - but it wasn't fast enough for me not to catch it and smile.

I looked around and, seeing no one, climbed inside the trailer.

I covered myself completely with the leaves, these colorful gifts from the trees, and lay there in silence. I listened to the rustling of the leaves on the pavement beneath me, blown about by the wind. I breathed in the smell of younger Halloweens and of autumn, then sighed as I realized I could not stay this way for long, buried in my memories.

I held a silent countdown: 3... 2... 1... and then burst from the leaves, throwing them to the skies and watching with pleasure as they rained back down into the trailer and onto the ground.

I made quick work of recapturing the leaves that were lost. As I walked towards the front of the suburban to drive home, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. A woman, sitting in the driver's seat of a car that had been there all along, eating her lunch, watching me.

I smiled.



I'm pretty sure she was jealous.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Scariest Night of the Year!

No, I'm not talking about tonight. Although the results of today's election could be scary, indeed! But I'm not here to talk politics. I'm here to give you a full tour of our haunted house this year.

All of these amazing pictures were taken by the talented Jason of Backroads Photography. Thanks, Jason! To put it simply, you are awesome.

First, the view of the front yard. You better click on that one to really see all the details. Go ahead, click!
Here's a close-up in the cemetery. Spoooooky!
This was my witches' table just inside the front door where I greeted the trick-or-treaters.
Here's one of our new additions - a sign declaring the name of our Halloween abode. (Yes, Allen creates these in his head and builds them in our garage. He's got skills.)
Another new addition this year: the corn field.
The cemetery from another angle...Another shot of the house... I couldn't decide which one I liked best. (Just humor me. Thanks.)We had over 500 trick-or-treaters. It was crazy fun and the weather was perfect. The majority of the decorations came down last night, so Halloween season is officially over. (By the way, radio people, we still have Thanksgiving coming. Can you stop playing CHRISTMAS music already?!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Be A Pal...

UPDATE: This lasts until November 15th - get over there and check it out! You are going to want family pictures to send out with your Christmas cards, prints to display in your home and Alphabetography creations to give as gifts this year. So go get it done, already!

I have a friend who is an amazing photographer.

In fact, he took our family pictures this year. (See? Amazing.)

He also takes some awesome pictures that you will want to frame and put up in your house.

In fact, I want to put one up in my house. And you want to help me.

(I'm using the force, is it working?)

Here's what we have to do. First, go check out his website by clicking HERE. Then go leave a comment on his blog telling him what you think and what pictures you like best by clicking HERE.

And here's the IMPORTANT part! When you leave your comment, be sure to say "Gerb sent me".

If you are really my friend, you will do this. (No pressure or anything.)

And if you decide to get all your friends to do it, too, and you're the winner, I get to come eat cookies at your house and see where you put your picture.

Deal?

(You: Deal.)

Ready, set, GO!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Can Call Us The Apple Dumpling Gang

Ever since I was a smallish child I have wondered about Apple Dumplings. Why was that Disney movie called "The Apple Dumpling Gang", and why did the kids like them so much? Were they like fritters? Were they like Chicken and Dumplings - only with apples?

I'm not saying I thought about this every day between then and now. But I read a post while blog surfing where someone wrote about making apple dumplings. And I thought to myself, "I have more apples than I know what to do with. I am DONE with applesauce! I am going to make apple dumplings!"

Now, here are a few a big 'secrets' that it took me years to learn:
1. ANYONE can be an amazing cook if they are willing to make the time to do things from scratch and follow directions.
2. Pretty much anything you could ever want to make is found in the Betty Crocker Cookbook with the red and white cover. Even those things you're embarrassed to admit you don't know how to make. This book has saved my life on many occasions. Boiled eggs? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Toast? Figured that one out on my own, thank you very much.
3. Be flexible with recipes. If it says to keep the apples whole and you want to chop them up, do what you want!
Sprinkle cinnamon on the apples before sealing the dumplings up! Add some nutmeg to the syrup! Get crazy!
Put 2 pans in the oven at the same time if you want. I know, air circulation and all that. But I'm flexible! And it worked. Besides, what's better than one pan of dumplings? Two. I like to peek while things are cooking. Look at how puffy they are getting! And that syrup is getting all thick and bubbly and um, ...sweetupy. (You can also invent words to describe things you are cooking. It makes it more splendiful.)
Then presto! Apple Dumpling Goodness for everyone! (side note: Am I a good mom or a bad mom since we ate these instead of lunch?)
My favorite thing to do with treats I produce that turn out tasty is to share. So, these went to a neighbor:
And life was good.