Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Thoughts

The best picture I have taken this month.  Also, the best money we have spent on our yard.

I have been super emotional lately.  When people tell me things like "You're such a great mom!" I want to cry because I want so badly for it to be true.  Do any moms really feel like they've got it all figured out and are churning out perfect future citizens with good attitudes who know how to care for and think for themselves?

When people write they're and you're in the wrong context I think they're doing it on purpose.  Because why would you write them with apostrophes and everything when you could write a shorter word that actually works in your sentence?

When guacamole is spicy it is completely ruined for me.  I want to taste the avocado, not destroy my taste buds.  Less is more, guacamole makers.  Say that to yourself: LESS IS MORE. 

Actually, anything spicy is ruined for me.  My mouth can't handle it and then everything tastes like jalapenos or cayenne or whathaveyou for hours afterward.

This month marks 5 years since I started blogging.  I was going to give my blog an overhaul with a new name and header and maybe even my own blog button and everything but obviously, I didn't. 

I still don't understand tweeting and why people do that AND have Facebook.  Who has the time?

I use an old Razor flip phone and I will be very, very sad the day that it dies.  I have even debated not having a cell phone anymore when my Razor leaves me.

Despite the fact that I have never had texting I inevitably have someone tell me at least once a week that they texted me something. 

I should have been born in like 1820.

I keep wanting to write a detailed post about seeing Newsies on Broadway but I just can't do it because I think people will read it and think I'm an obsessed fan.  Which I am.  I have the ridiculously overpriced t-shirt to prove it.

I would wear my Newsies t-shirt everyday if that was appropriate for a 40-year-old mother of 10. 

I was thinking about having my family dress up as Newsies for our family picture this year, including choreographed dance routines.  Except that I can't dance.  Which is the beauty of photography rather than videography for family pictures.

When I watch a movie or read a book, a year or so later I have already forgotten most of the details about the underlying plot lines and supporting characters. 

I am always amazed by people who can hear a movie or book quote and then name the character who said it and the circumstances surrounding the quote from memory.  I'm lucky to remember to pick my kids up from school.

I do not know the real-life names of actors and actresses, let alone the names of the characters they play.  I know them as, "You know that one guy in What About Bob who plays the doctor that Bob makes crazy?  Yeah, him."  or "That actor with an English accent who was in About A Boy and that one really funny movie with Julia Roberts".

I do know who Julia Roberts is because people at Venice Beach used to think I was her when I was wearing sunglasses.  

I totally do not look like Julia Roberts.  We both have naturally curly hair, which is the distinguishing feature that brings most people to think that I look like someone they know.

A lot of people think that Allen looks like Jim Carrey.  I think Allen looks like his brothers.

I hate it when stores get remodeled and I don't know where anything is.  I'm talking to YOU, Fresh Market on Center Street and Target one city over.

I wrote 2 songs in high school that I haven't thought about in years.  I used to think they would make me rich someday when I'd sell them to someone who would make them famous.  I found them the other day and I'm kind of embarrassed.

I wish I knew how to shop for clothes without thinking, "I could get 3 full outfits at the thrift store for the price of this shirt!"  But I do love my thrift stores.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

School Shenanigans

Any time I see the elementary school's number on my caller ID, I cringe.  I worry that it's yet another call about Hubba and his crazy shenanigans.

Like the day they called because he peed on the bathroom floor, just to see if it would make it to the floor drain.

Or the time he threw his lunch on the floor so he wouldn't have to eat it and could get out to recess.

Or the day he flushed a school toilet repeatedly to try to figure out where the water refilled at ("There are no tanks with floaty balls on the school toilets!" he declared) and flooded the bathroom.

Plus, all of those other times.

So when I answered to hear the good news that Princess had earned a blue ticket for good behavior, I breathed a sigh of relief.  There are only 2 weeks until school's out, I thought.  I'll bet he can make it to the end of the year.

I should have knocked on wood.

When I went to pick the kids up, they all broke out into a buzz of news. Did you get a call from the principal, Mom?  Did Hubba tell you what he did?  I couldn't believe it when I heard about it!

I looked at Hubba, who was looking back at me sheepishly from the corner of his eye.

"Well?" was all I had to say.

He sighed a big, heavy sigh.  "Didn't you hear the message from the principal?" he asked, not wanting to retell the tale.

I checked the answering machine when I got home and learned that Hubba had some 'distracting behavior' during class and was not listening to the substitute teacher so they put him under in-school suspension for the rest of the day.  I tried to call the principal back and get a more detailed story, but he was with another parent.  So I asked Hubba for his version of what happened.

Here's his story.

The substitute teacher was a man who seemed kind of grumpy, so Hubba wanted to make him laugh.  When it was time for Centers, Hubba would yell out, "READING CENTER OVER HERE!  LISTENING CENTER OVER THERE!" and such, just to be helpful.  And whenever he got the chance, he would sneak up behind the substitute and yell, "RAH!" to make him jump a little.  And every time the substitute would say, "Hubba, STOP IT."  And Hubba would laugh his contagious laugh, then the other kids would laugh too.

One time, the substitute got kind of mad and when he said, "Hubba, STOP IT!" it scared Hubba a little.  He wasn't sure what to do, so he started to bang his head on the teacher's desk.  The substitute told him to stop it, but he kept going.  His classmates told him to stop banging his head on the desk, but he kept going.  No one knew what to do, so one of the kids picked up the classroom phone and called 9-1-1.

I stopped him here.  "He really called 9-1-1? Or he pretended to?"

"No, he really called.  The police came to the school and everything."

Oh, my goodness.  I was afraid to let him finish, but he went on:

The police showed up at the school and talked to the class about when it was okay to call 9-1-1 and when it was NOT okay.  The principal had the substitute go home and had a new one come in to the class.  And Hubba went to in-school suspension for the rest of the day.  He even ate lunch in there, and it was NOT FUN.

I was pretty much speechless at this point.  I talked to Allen about what happened and he said, "I think Hubba is destined to have a very interesting life."

We talked to him about appropriate classroom behavior and respecting adults.  I talked to his regular classroom teacher who assured me that he does not act like this for her and told me that she thinks he is a great and smart kid. (I love her, by the way.  She doesn't make nearly enough money for all that she does in that classroom each day.)  

This all happened last week. I went through a complete cycle of overwhelmed and frustrated to crying and confused to laughing hysterically and back again.  I doubted myself as a capable parent and rationalized that he is only 7.  I debated homeschooling and came up with a list of the benefits of a public education for Hubba.  I slept on it.  I talked about it.

I finally decided to write about it.  Because someday, this will not feel so frustrating.  In any situation from Hubba raising his own little precocious children and asking for advice, to when he has discovered a cure for cancer and I'm asked to speak about the secrets to raising brilliant kids, I will have this story to tell (along with many others).

And Hubba-the-adult will look at me sheepishly from the corner of his eye, and we will laugh.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Simple Pleasures

The first thing I do after herding the kids down our church pew each week (center section, 4th row up from the back, thankyouverymuch) is read over the program.  It's typical to find a few errors, but this year's Mother's Day program was a real treat.

This is my new favorite Mother's Day hymn, sung especially for the pregnant moms who are still experiencing morning sickness:

And this announcement from the Primary got me super excited:

Their budget must be HUGE!  I've wanted a fryer forever, and now we would have FIVE since I have 5 kids in Primary. 

I'm still watching for those fryers, but once they get here it's going to be a PAR-TAY!  French fries and donuts for everyone!! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Am I?

photo here

I am a jungle gym.

I am a punching bag.

I am a pillow and a chair.

I am a tissue for messy noses.

What am I?

I have memorized songs sung by dancing dinosaurs and normally inanimate objects.

I have not had a full night's sleep since 1993.

I have eyes in the back of my head.

I have my ways.

What am I?

My body is not perfect but somehow it is just right.

My mind is not perfect but somehow it is enough.

My patience is not perfect but somehow I am forgiven.

My dance moves are not perfect but... wait, actually they are.

What am I?

I am chauffeur, counselor and chef.

I am laundress, seamstress and waitress.

I am coach, referee and head cheerleader.

I am teacher, student and friend.

What am I?

My hands do an infinite amount of tasks.

My heart holds an infinite amount of love.

My mind holds an infinite amount of information.

My car drives an infinite amount of places.

What am I?

I can turn a simple shopping cart into a speedy race car.

I can heal hurts with the power of a kiss.

I can build castles with a blanket and a stick.

But I can't handle saying goodbye for extended periods of time.

What am I?

I am a mother.  And I am super thankful to share my life with the awesome small-ish to tall-ish kiddos in our family who make that possible. 

I hope you all have a fantastic Mother's Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tales From The Fridge

The prompt asks, Write a story about the picture.

Hubba writes, That they have big ears and. Too thingers on the. Chrunk.

When asked about this piece of creative writing, Hubba told me that there is no story in the picture - it is just a couple of elephants playing catch with a ball that looks like earth.  But he had to write something, so he did.

Sometimes a picture is not worth a thousand words.  More like eleven.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pizza Cake


When our cute Little O had his big 0-4 earlier this month, he was adamant about one thing.

"Little O, what do you want for your birthday dinner?"
"And what do you want for your birthday treat?"
"Pizza CAKE!"

What can I say, the kid loves pizza.  And since I know that he's really only a fan of the frosting on cakes, I decided to go with a cookie pizza for dessert.

I found this recipe online and I think it's my new favorite for fruit pizza.  It was quick, easy and delicious!

The creamy layer is different than a typical recipe; it's made up of vanilla pudding and whipping cream.  I loved this variation and had no problem eating the remaining 'sauce' straight out of the bowl with a spoon.  The cookie is just made from a tube of sugar cookie dough which worked out perfectly for me since I was rushing to get it done.

However, I was glad I checked on the cookie as it was baking because I ended up taking it out about 5 minutes before the suggested time in the recipe and it was already pretty dark, so if you give this a try I'd take that into consideration.  If I had more time, I would have made up a batch of my own recipe for sugar cookie dough just because homemade always tastes better.  And if blueberries weren't $6.99 for a tiny little dry pint I would have added them for more color.  But regardless of those things, this was a big hit with everyone and I'll definitely be making it again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Life's A Happy Song

photo here

This morning was a little crazy.

The 3 kids who go to elementary school were constantly getting on each other's nerves and calling each other things like crybaby, stupidhead and freak.

The mom who usually drives the kids to school called to tell me that pinkeye was going around at her house, so I was happy to be the morning driver instead.

As we loaded into the van, my kids started in again.

"Mom! He made me poke myself with my pencil!"
"Did not, crybaby!"

"Moooooom!  I was sitting there first!"
"No, I was!"
"You were not, stupidhead."

"She pinched me!"
"I only pinched your pants, you freak."

I was about two seconds away from losing it.  There was only one thing to do.  "Guys," I announced loudly, "I think we need a really happy song to get us in a more cheerful mood this morning."

"NOOOOOOO!" they all yelled out at the same time.

"Everything is great, everything is grand, I got the whole wide world in the palm of my hand!" I belted out.

"Mooooom!" Princess complained.  "H~ is in the car!"

I looked at her friend in the rear view mirror.  She was smiling.  That was all the encouragement I needed.

"Everything is perfect! It's falling into place.  I can't seem to wipe this smile off my face!" I continued.

"You guys take the next part or I'll walk you to your classes individually while singing and dancing this song," I threatened.  The girls know me too well.  They knew what pleasure it would bring me to follow through.

Cowgirl and Princess quickly sang out, "Life's a happy song when there's someone by your side to sing along."

"More feeling!" I demanded.

"Everything is great, everything is grand, I got the whole wide world in the palm of my hand!" they practically screamed.

I glanced back to see Hubba scowling at me silently as the girls continued to sing.

"Someone's getting walked to class by a crazy singing mom!" I warned, making eye contact.

I could see a smile creeping in.  Man, was he ever fighting it.

"Life's a piece of cake!" the girls sang out.

"With someone to give, and someone to take!" I replied.

"Life's an easy road," I sang.

"With someone beside you to share the load!" they sang back.

We continued singing and I kept glancing back at Hubba in the rear view mirror.  He was just about there...

"Life's a fillet of fish!" I sang at the top of my lungs, then gave a grand sweeping motion toward Hubba with my hand.

The car was dead silent.

And then it came.  The customary eye roll, followed by that deep my-mom-is-so-weird kind of sigh, a little twitch at the side of his mouth, and he couldn't resist it any longer.

"Ugh!" Hubba started before singing quietly, "Yes, it is."

The whole van erupted in cheers as we over-enthusiastically sang the last line together.

"Life's a happy song when there's someone by your side to sing along!"

They all left the van happy and smiling as they made their way towards the school - and I was able to avoid yelling at everyone.

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Guest Post: Flat Stanley

Dear Aleah,

Thanks so much for sending me to visit with Gerb and her family!  I had the greatest time in Utah.

I thought the Salt Lake City Temple was really cool.
It almost looks like a castle, don't you think?  It took 40 years to build it!
I saw the huge Y on the mountain by Brigham Young University.
See it there in the distance?  Did you know that it is even larger than the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles?

I got to go camping one night with Gerb's family.
We ate hotdogs and s'mores.  They were delicious!

One of the days I was there it even snowed!
It was fun to wake up to a world blanketed in white.

One night I heard Allen talking about taking Gerb on a surprise trip.  Lucky for me, Gerb had packed her notebook and I was tucked inside.  It was so much fun to ride on an airplane instead of in an envelope.

When the plane landed, we were in New York!  This is the lobby of the Hotel Edison where we stayed
and here's the view from the window on the 18th floor.
That's Times Square!

You know what I found out about New York?  Most people there don't have cars.  It costs a lot of money to park them - and the subways, buses and taxis will get you anywhere you can't walk to.  We mostly walked and took the subway everywhere.

We also rode on a tour bus
and saw a whole bunch of neat buildings and places.

This is the Flatiron Building.
They call it that because it's shaped like an old cast-iron clothes iron.

And here's a great view of the Met Life Tower at night.

We walked to Rockefeller Center and saw the GE Building (also known as 30 Rock)
which is 70 stories high!  There were people ice skating there in front of it, too.

Just down the block we saw Radio City Music Hall and the NBC Studios.

We looked down another block and found this awesome church called Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
Isn't it fancy?

The next morning we headed over to the Empire State Building,
 the second tallest building in New York!

The view from the top was pretty amazing.
I could see the entire city from up there!

I loved our visit to the Museum of Natural History.
I couldn't believe all of the animals in there!  I had Gerb take pictures of a few of my favorites.  Check out these tigers!
Have you ever seen a real elephant up close?  They're so big!

And don't these Asian rhinoceros look kind of like dinosaurs?

Have you ever seen the movie Night at the Museum?  I found a couple of my favorite characters from that movie in the real museum.  Here's Rexy, the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.

And here's the Easter Island statue.
I tried giving him some gum, but he still didn't move.  I guess he only comes alive at night, after the museum is closed.  It was worth a try, though.

We went for a ride on a ferry and got to see a huge aircraft carrier that was docked there
 as well as the Brooklyn Bridge.

 But one of the neatest things I got to see was the Statue of Liberty.
Isn't she beautiful?

Once we were back on land we walked to the New York Public Library.
It's the second largest library in the United States - and probably the nicest, too!  We tried to go inside one day but a guard shooed us away because there were a bunch of people going inside for a fancy party that you had to have an invitation for.  Isn't the outside cool, though?

Here's the Chrysler Building at night.
 I love the design on the top of it.   It looks like a bunch of crowns all stacked on top of each other.

We walked over to Grand Central Station next.  Now I know why it's called 'Grand'!
Can you believe how huge this main area is?  It's the largest train station in the world.

The next morning was our last day in New York.  We saw an awesome memorial that is a part of what is called called Tiles for America. 
After New York was attacked on September 11, 2001, people all over the world decorated tiles to show their support, sadness, and hope and sent them to New York.  Some of those tiles were on display here.

We walked down Wall Street and saw the New York Stock Exchange building.

It was awesome to see the Freedom Tower being built where the Twin Towers used to stand.
When it is finished it will be the tallest building in the United States and the third tallest building in the world at 1,776 feet high!  But for now, it's the tallest building in New York.

No trip to New York is complete without trying a pizza pie, so we took a break for some lunch.
Man, was it ever delicious!   

We walked to Washington Square Park next.  Here I am by the famous arch.

Later we found Carnegie Hall,

The Plaza Hotel,

and my favorite place of all - a toy store called FAO Schwarz.  This real-life toy soldier stands guard outside the main doors.

Inside is every kid's dream come true!  The main floor is almost completely filled with all sorts of sweets that you can buy, in all sorts of sizes I have never seen before.  Some of the candy bars were 5 times bigger than me!

 I also loved this little corner of the store where you can create your own Muppet puppet.

Upstairs is their famous Big Piano.  The guy who was in charge there saw me and said, "Flat Stanley!  You want to play a note?"
 It was so cool to be recognized by someone.  Look at me go!

We walked over to Central Park, too.  I thought this bridge was really cool because it's in the movie Enchanted.
You should watch the movie sometime and see if you can spot it.

Another really fun thing I got to do while in New York was to see two Broadway shows - Newsies and Wicked.
Live theater is pretty amazing.  The way everyone can dance and sing just makes me say "Wow!"

We flew back to Allen and Gerb's house the next day.  What a great trip!  Once I'm done writing this, Gerb promises she'll put me in my comfy envelope and send me back home to you in California.  I should be on my way any day now, so watch your mailbox!

See you soon!

Flat Stanley