The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: General (Page 1 of 11)

New Year’s!

As the year was coming to a close, I couldn’t help but think about how happy I am. And not just because I spent my birthday (which is 2 days before the end of the year) in Disneyland, but that doesn’t hurt.
Seriously. Happy. And then I was thinking about this past year and I realized it’s been a big one.
In no particular order..

*This year I lost 9 pounds. I NEARLY lost 10 pounds, but not quite. And that was before Christmas. Ryan challenged me to eat low carb and give up sugar from Halloween until the end of the year, with a few exceptions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday, and a couple select parties. Wow. It really works. After the first couple of weeks, I stopped whining and complaining about how much I wanted sugar, and just dealt with it. I have learned to cook and bake a few low carb things, and actually didn’t feel like I was going to die. My goal was to lose 10 pounds before Christmas, and a couple days before Christmas, I was SO close! Like .6 pounds away. But alas, Christmas happened, and then a family vacation. So, now, I admit that I’m only down 6 pounds, but at least I’m not UP 5-10 pounds, right? I plan to stick to the low carb plan (which is also gluten free) for quite some time, but with a few more scheduled treats.

*I’m no longer the Relief Society President. I seriously LOVED that calling, and I feel like I grew so much. I loved the interaction with the sisters, meeting everyone new in the ward, helping people through trials, the camaraderie with the bishop and the ward council. I didn’t love the stress of visiting teaching and organizing that. When I was released, I felt at a loss. And even now, I realize I don’t know the new people, and I actually don’t know what everyone’s calling in the ward is, and I hadn’t heard about the new baby being born. I feel a little bit out of the loop, and a little bit ‘less important’, but I’m ok with that. I’m figuring out my new calling as primary chorister (which I love), and supporting the new Relief Society Presidency as much as I can. I think my stress level is lower, as I’m not quite so worried about so many people.

*The Bells on Temple Square went on their first real TOUR. Well, I don’t even know if you could call it a tour, since we performed at one location, but we call it a tour because we actually flew to California on a plane, stayed over 2 nights, and got to perform at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar. What an honor and a privilege is was to perform there for so many musicians and composers. Many of the composers of our songs that we were playing were there in the audience. It wasn’t the biggest crowd we have played for (think large hotel ballroom), but it was also broadcast live on the Handbell Musicians of America website, so handbell players from around the world could watch, listen, and even comment on our songs and our performance. Reading those comments was so much fun for us. We have done away concerts before, one at BYU Idaho and one in the Garland Tabernacle, but these were just a trip up on the bus and back, no staying over night. Our hotel, our flight, even our food was paid for! It was such an amazing experience. I’m SO glad that I got to participate in this trip. My days with the Bells on Temple Square are limited, and I’m sad and a little nervous about what will come next, but I’m trying to savor and enjoy every minute I have left, instead of worrying about how much I will miss it when I “retire”. This year, at the Christmas concert, one of the other members was asking me what I was going to do when I didn’t have bells in my life, and I didn’t really know what to say. I’m hoping to be able to start my own handbell choir, but I don’t really know how that is going to happen. I know there are a couple of community choirs around, but I don’t know if that’s the thing for me. Stay tuned on that one, I guess.

*I got to do a play this summer. The last play I was in was in February of 2017. Pinkalicious.
During that play I was called as Relief Society President and I just couldn’t justify the time it would take to do a play. But this summer, after our bell trip and summer concert, I felt I could work it into my schedule. I actually tried out for 3 musicals, but I chose Seussical. It worked the best with my timeline, didn’t have rehearsals on most Wednesdays, and turned out to be a smaller cast. It was such a fun experience. I had a tiny part of Yertle the Turtle, but it was enough that I had a few lines. Since it was a small cast, the jungle animals were also circus animals and in many scenes. I loved the Director and his awesome attitude, and I met so many talented people. It was a real blessing in my life, and I hope to be able to be in a show with some of those people again.

*For Spring Break, we took the family to South Dakota. We stayed with our dear friends Lisa and Paul, who had recently moved to Rapid City for work. It was a great road trip! We took Jenna, John, Natalie, and Kate. We had never seen Mt. Rushmore before, and it was amazing. There was so much to see and do, even though much of it was not yet open for the tourist season of summer. Lisa, Jared and Kamryn came with us to most things, and it was a truly fun vacation. We wanted to do something fun with Kate, our Russian daughter, that would be something she had never done. She made it extra fun for us all. Kate was one of the best things about the 2016-17 year. She made everything fun and was always enthused.

*Ryan and I got to go to Europe in February last year. BEST trip EVER! I’m sad that he wasn’t chosen to go to the Amsterdam trade show again this year, but I’ll treasure those memories and hope we can go again.

*Not really something I did this year, but John got to go on a fabulous trip to the National Scouting Jamboree. It was great to see him work toward a goal, prepare for the trip, and then experience such a wonderful event. Truly a once in a lifetime trip, and we are so glad he enjoyed it.

*This year I also became a Shine representative. Some friends of mine started a makeup company based on positive values and the words used in makeup. They realized they wanted to change the way women felt about themselves. They wanted to inspire women and help them to look their best at all times.

They wanted to remove the stigma that is often attached to beauty products, resulting in a woman’s character being questioned. They wanted to ensure women felt con?dent and beautiful without any inappropriate messages being attached to the beauty products they used. This became clearer to them on the night they were putting make-up on their daughters for a dance competition. They realized they were supporting a degrading message to women by supporting aggressively sexual and inappropriate messages.

The team spent two years developing the Shine brand before launching. Their mission: to be at the forefront of innovation and to ensure they help women define beauty with a positive voice.

I joined them in this business because I believe in that message. I love the product, as well. Focus, peace, joy, acceptance, awaken, lively, timeless..aren’t those better names for makeup than better than sex, naked, or lipgasm? I’m not the best at sales, but I do believe that if I keep at it, my business will grow and take off. I’ve enjoyed meeting people at home parties and events, too. If you want to check it out for yourself, go here. You can even get 10% off your order if you use my code, Paige10

I’m excited about the new year, but wondering what this year will hold. I’m hoping for more plays and more travel. I’ll work on that.

Change of plans–My, what a clean freezer you have

20160722_171645I had the day planned, including picking the Chinese girls up quicklyso we could go up to the Conference center for the King’s Singers concert. I have loved them for a while, especially after they were guests at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. They were so nice, and even talked to us backstage. And their voices….AMAZING. But even before that concert, I fell in love with this song from a PBS commercial.

I didn’t know who was singing this song, but I loved it. My sweet husband found out that it was the King’s Singers, and he bought me a CD with that song on it. The rest of the songs are kind of hokey, but THAT one..that ONE song is worth it.

Don’t believe me?
Listen to one of my all time favorite Christmas song arrangements. Hearing this one just takes me back to waiting in the stairwell keeping our bells quiet for our entrance in the next song. Every night, I just thought it sounded like angels. I’m listening to it right now and it’s such a calming song! I should make it my ring-tone.

Anyway, they are here with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir again for the Pioneer Day concert. Tonight. Right now.

Rewind a bit to about lunch time. One of the kids mentioned that some things in the freezer were mushy. I didn’t do anything right away, except to say to make sure they CLOSE THE DOOR! Jenna had a group coming over to go to space camp, and we were trying to make sure everyone was here, etc. Once we got that mess figured out, I had forgotten about the freezer. Later, when it was time for me to leave to go and pick up the Chinese girls, I remembered to check the freezer in the garage. Ugh. No WHOOSH should when I open or close it, which tells me the seal is not properly sealing, and things are all mushy and there’s a lot of goo on the floor. But I don’t have time to deal with it.

So, from the car, I called my daughters and asked them to
a-go and get some ice from the grocery store
b-start taking the meat out and putting it in the coolers
c-throw away stuff that is dripping
And I texted Ryan to see if he could come home a little early and assess the situation.

As I got onto the freeway, I got a text from the exchange group telling me that the buses from park city were late, and the students should be about 15 minutes late. Since I was driving to Orem, I decided to run into Costco quickly with those 15 extra minutes. I couldn’t get anything that needed to be frozen or even refrigerated right away, since I still had to wait for the girls.

Then I got to the school by 4:45 to pick up the girls. No Chinese kids. Listen to music, text a few people in my ward, trying to be productive. At about 5:20, they arrived. They had been to the outlet mall in park city, and every single student had at least one bag.


I had already given up hope that we would be going to the concert, which was good. At least I wasn’t super stressed trying to get home in time. I knew it was a lost cause.

By the time I got four girls dropped off and our two girls home, it was almost 6. Ryan was almost finished cleaning out the freezer. Three coolers full of food were on our counter, with lots of food that didn’t fit in the coolers. Time to start cooking. For dinner, we had cream puffs, taquitos, mozzarella sticks, and fried rice (all from the freezer). Everyone seemed to enjoy our hodge podge dinner.

After dinner, I had the pleasure of putting the food BACK into the freezer.20160722_191442

The funny thing is, that LAST night at book club, Susan, Tess and Melinda were commiserating about their respective freezer thaw disasters. Ugh. I had to text them and thank them for jinxing me.

So, here we are…tired, sticky, a little bit grumpy, and NOT at the Kings’ Singers concert. Maybe I can scrounge up ticket for tomorrow night. If not, I’ll survive. I’ll just listen to my favorite song about 10 times.

It’s a stop sign

really stop(Warning…grumpy old ranting ahead)

Dear Parade of Homes,

Let’s start by saying I’m not a big fan. People come to all different styles of houses that they can’t afford and gawk at the extravagance and excess. Or maybe they are looking for ideas to use in their own houses, but then leave discouraged because real people with real mortgages can not spend that much on amazing extra features. And why pay $15 and drive all around when you could just look at the pictures on the website? Ryan and I went to the parade of homes once. We were in the “get ideas” phase before we built a house. I think that was a mistake. Unrealistic expectations and disappointment is what I brought away from that experience. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who looks at an amazingly beautiful, absolutely spotless house and compares it to my own house, and then feels inadequate.

Sometimes I get inspired by new houses. I visit teach a lady and we had heard about the house and watched it being built. I was so happy for them when they finally got to move in, and I was in awe of her organized pantry. I came home that day and started to organize my pantry. Not to the level of HER organized and brand new pantry, of course, but I was inspired to action instead of just depressed about the state of my pantry.

But mostly, I compare.

Can we be realistic, though? The houses that are being built near us are enormous. Who needs a house that big? My sister. My sister and her husband have 15 kids. And a mother-in-law living with them. They sold two houses to build one big house. It is very big. But it’s built for 18 people! I don’t see any families that big moving into these other houses. Two kids, maybe three? Excess. It’s embarrassing. When we host exchange students from other countries, they are amazed by the size of our house. Our house is quite large and we have a big yard. We do have 6 bedrooms in our house, now. Enough for 7 or 8 people, and there’s always room for guests, even if we have to kick someone out of their room for a guest to sleep in their bed. But when someone from Japan or China comes, they are always shocked at the size of our house. It’s Utah, folks, where there is a lot of land, so we can spread out a bit. But 8000? 10,000? 12,000 square feet of house? Who’s going to keep that clean? A housekeeper? Probably.

parade of homes
This is the house in our neighborhood. It is beautiful. I especially love the back yard, and I was glad to see this picture of the backyard on the parade of homes website, since I don’t know if the new homeowners will invite us over for a barbeque. Probably not, if they ever read this post.
back yard

My REAL complaint about the parade of homes, however, would be the DRIVERS. We have had trouble with that stop sign since it was put in. stop People don’t stop. And now, with 40+ cars coming to see the house on parade, do they stop at the stop sign? NO. Do I lay on my horn when they don’t stop and give me the right of way? Yes, I do. And I wish there were a police officer there to pull them over. I was SO happy on Saturday, when I was driving into our neighborhood, I saw a police officer with lights on pulling someone over RIGHT there. Just past the stop sign that they had ignored. Maybe these drivers don’t realize that PEOPLE live in these neighborhoods. People with kids. People with jobs and dogs and scooters and wagons and strollers. We are trying to go about our lives, going to work or scouts or the grocery store, and we really don’t want to be hit by Mr. and Mrs. Parade of Homes attendees who can’t bother to look up from their maps or their phones to see a stop sign and actually STOP for it. really stop The stop sign requires you to stop, whether there is a car coming in the other direction or not. What? Yes, folks, that’s how a stop sign works. We are SO sick of the drivers. We thought the stop sign running was bad when it was just construction workers. We had a neighborhood meeting and talked to the city council about how to handle the problem. I feel especially bad for the people that live right by that stop sign. They have taken down license numbers, called the police, left notes, and done everything they can to help people notice the stop sign. One of those blinking stop signs would maybe work, but we don’t want something so obnoxious in our neighborhood.
flashing stop

A few more days is all we have to put up with this parade of homes traffic, and then hopefully the rest of the time it will be people who actually live here.

So, there you have it, Parade of homes. Sorry to be so blunt, but we don’t really want you here.

Rock Star!

cupcakesA friend of mine was telling us at book club about how she gets to guest lecture at BYU once a semester. She’s an author of several books, and one of her books is on their reading schedule for middle grade fiction. She talks about possible lessons and extensions that could be done with the book, and generally talks about writing. The students have all read the book and they are so excited to meet her, have her sign their book, and talk to her. I remember when Rosemary Wells came to my children’s literature class and I got to have her sign one of her books for me. So cool! She says she feels like a Rock Star.

Everyone needs to feel like a rock star every once in a while.

I remember the first time I took students to Lone Peak High school to play the National Anthem on chimes, and the after they had played the last part of the song, “And the home of the brave”, the student section broke out in a loud chant of “USA! USA! USA!” It was full gym, everyone was standing, and they were all clapping and cheering. It was great, and the kids felt like Rock Stars. I take my students every year to do 2 basketball games, and it’s the highlight of the semester for these kids.

In thinking about my life, I’ve had a few times that I have had that Rock Star feeling. I loved playing Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof. Even though I was only in one scene on those nights, it was awesome. Fruma Sarah steals the show. When I walked out after the show to meet and greet, little kids were frightened and grown ups told me how they much they loved my scene. It was awesome.


When I was in Pinkalicious, I got to play a few different parts. My main role was Dr. Wink, but when I went out afterwards to meet and greet the audience (mostly little girls wearing pink), they weren’t very interested in having their picture taken with me. But when I went out in the cupcake or the butterfly costume, they all wanted to give me a hug or have a picture taken.

Because who wants to take a picture of a doctor? They’d much rather take a picture with a GIANT butterfly.

Playing bells is amazing, but I don’t often get recognized as a member of the Bells on Temple Square. Except for a few years ago, when there was a bell convention in Salt Lake City. A few of us from our choir attended the convention and rang bells all day with a guest clinician, went to classes, and had a blast. Part of the convention was that all the attendees were to come to the tabernacle to see our spring concert.
w-June22.2012.BoTSConcert.DRG 095

To play for so many bell ringers, who understood how technical and difficult the music was, was amazing. When we went back to the convention the next day, so many people came up to us to tell us how amazing the concert was, and many expressed interest. One lady asked how she could join our group. Well, first of all, you need to be a member of the LDS church. We certainly felt like rock stars that day.

When a child comes up to me in the hall and says “Hi, Mrs. E!” or gives me a hug, I feel like a rock star.

Even when I make a dinner that everyone likes and eats and they maybe say how delicious it is, I feel like a rock star a little bit.

Everyone needs to feel like a rock star at some point in their lives. When are you a rock star?

What kind of food would you be?

In taking my daughter to school, we were talking about friends, and she said she didn’t think a certain person liked her. “I guess you can’t please everyone,” I said, “you aren’t pizza.” Then we began talking about if we were a food, what kind of food would we be?

I am a hot fudge sundae. With nuts. I realize that not everyone in the world prefers hot fudge, and some people don’t like nuts.

Some people are really rather caramel or strawberry syrup kind of people, and then there are the whole nut allergy people who would not go for my type of sundae. I’m ok with that, because the people who DO like hot fudge sundaes with nuts REALLY like them. And I realize that not everyone is going to be my friend, or like me, or agree with me.

She said she might be carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s a little joke in our family that Ryan wanted carrot cake for his birthday. The girls had already told him they would make him a birthday cake, and they were aghast at his choice. Why carrot cake? His reply, “Because it’s DELICIOUS”. He even had a funny voice thing that went with his ‘Delicous’, and it’s kind of stuck. They made him carrot cake. From scratch. With real carrots that they had to grate themselves. And man, was that cake delicious. As good as Kneader’s carrot cake. Not kidding. So moist and flavorful. But still, not everyone will enjoy, or even try, a bit of that carrot cake.

It’s like that with friends. Not everyone in High School is going to think that my amazingly awesome daughter is the kind of person they would like to hang out with. (Those who think that would be wrong, of course, because she’s SUCH a great person and everyone who takes the time to get to know her will totally think that, of course.) That’s ok. I think she’s ok with that. And it’s good to realize that not everyone is going to like you. You don’t have to please everyone. You are enough.

So, my question to you, dear reader, is What kind of food would YOU be if you were a food?


Today was a funeral for a wonderful young man. The family used to be in our ward, but they haven’t been for 5 years or so. We still see them at school things and stake things. This boy was a senior at Lone Peak. A star student, great artist, talented pianist, and friend to all. Not the kind of person you would think would take his own life. A few of the sisters from our ward signed up to help with clean up after the funeral. It’s not much, but it’s a service I could do.

I wasn’t planning on going to the funeral.

But at 11:10, I got a text from a friend who said, “do you know anyone who could come and watch the two little siblings during the funeral.” They had planned on having people in the nursery during the meal, but hadn’t thought about during the funeral. Even though I wasn’t dressed in church clothes, I texted back that I could be there in a few minutes. I hurried and changed my clothes and got over there as quickly as I could.

As I walked into the nursery, a little voice said, “Hi Mrs. E!” Yes, of course. His little sister is in the kindergarten class that I frequently substitute. She and her two year old brother seemed to be ok with me there. Of course, little brother didn’t want his diaper changed, but we got it taken care of. I feel like I was meant to be there to play with them. I could hear the talks from the chapel, but I wasn’t listening too intently, since I was playing with the kids. There weren’t a lot of toys in the nursery, since the toys were all locked in each wards closets, but we did have the kitchen, a few people and cars, and a rocking horse. They really loved getting snow from outside and playing with it in the kitchen.

I was glad I was there. The talks were so touching, and it was nice to be able to listen while playing with the kids.

About 12:40 someone else came to take over the watching of the kids, when the funeral was over, and I went home to make some lunch. Then I came back at 2:30 to help with the funeral luncheon clean up. What a sweet thing it is to be able to work with other sisters, some of them I know, some I don’t, and to offer service at this difficult time.

The other ward hasn’t had as many funerals as we have, and our current Relief Society President is pretty much a pro. She can pull off a funeral, a wedding, a party, probably in her sleep. She knows all the tricks. She brought over the styrafoam take out boxes to load up extra food to take to other families in the ward. She knows where the tablecloths come from, knows about the individually wrapped butters at Sams club, where to buy the best rolls, etc.

As I was leaving, I heard, “Bye, Mrs. E!”
“Bye, sweetie!” I called back.

A list for back to school time.

1- Loving this rain. Love, Love, Love it! I can open the windows and smell the clean earth. The grass is green and lush and we are saving up valuable water.008
The sound of the rain is comforting to me. I love when I wake up at night and hear the rain. Plus it cools things off, and we definitely need that in August.

2- School starting. Ugh. The three kids at home started school yesterday.
No one came home in tears, and they generally had good things to say about school, so I guess it was good. I think we have our carpools in place to get them where they need to be. Three different schools. I start my chime choir next week.

3-Megan starts school at Snow college today.
We took her down to the small town of Ephraim on Saturday, and helped her move her stuff into her dorm room. She didn’t really want us to hang around and buy groceries or help her get organized, so we let her do that. Hopefully she actually bought some groceries and has something to eat. I had purchased most of her books for her online, but there were some smaller ones and a clicker that i didn’t get for her, so she was supposed to do that.

4-Flies. How in the world are there so many flies in my house? Argh.

5-Crowing. Two of our cute little chickens are definitely roosters. One of them is small and annoying and I wouldn’t miss him at all, but MY chicken is a beautiful rooster.
011 Wondering if I can just get rid of one and then the crowing won’t be so annoying to my neighbors.

6-Construction. I kind of don’t care if I annoy my back neighbors because I’m living with their construction noise and it’s annoying me. So there. But I do care about my other neighbors.

7-Peaches. It’s peach season, so I’ve got a lot of peaches that need to be bottled, eaten, cooked, or frozen. This morning I’m having a peach smoothie.

Not the day I had hoped for

Just as I was about to drive to Provo for women’s conference, I realized I didn’t have my tag and the booklet of classes and info. I came back in the house and looked in my office. I found the booklet, but where was that envelope with my name badge? After 15 minutes of looking, my frustration level was raising higher and higher. Why can I not be organized? Why are there so many piles of paper and crap around here? Why can’t I remember where I put that dang envelope?

I was already irked that I had paid for the full two days of the conference and wasn’t able to go to the first day. So it was going to be my one day conference, spiritual boost, make me a better person day.

Ryan came in and asked what I was doing and then proceeded to help me look, which only annoyed me more. I had already looked in all the places he was looking, and I should be able to find the dang thing myself, thank you very much. But he could tell I was disheartened and he was trying to help. He even called BYU conferences and found out that I could, for $5, get a replacement name badges at certain registration locations at the Marriott Center. But I didn’t want to pay ANOTHER $5 when I had already paid MORE than I should have for the conference in the first place. I continued to look. As soon as he left, I couldn’t stop the tears. First I got rejected by the theater, then I couldn’t find this ticket. I felt like I wasted that registration money.

As I searched, I started to throw things away. Since I was already late, and would be even later if I went to do the registration, I decided to just skip it and make the best of it.

I was going to do some service. Service to myself and my family. If someone came to me and asked if they could help me do one dirty job around the house, I might say the laundry room. It’s a total mess and we neglect it all to often. So, I decided that to pretend like I was in someone else’s house, doing service for them. If I were helping someone else, I wouldn’t stop before we were done, and I wouldn’t complain about it. I would try to make the experience as pleasant as I could. While it was too noisy to watch a movie or a show (what with the washer and the dryer running), but I did turn up the radio, grab a diet coke from the fridge, and got to work.


So many clothes on the floor! We could probably outfit a whole family in just the clothes on the floor! While it wasn’t a HUGE purge, I did have a big garbage bags for too small items, and a lot of garbage.

When I had everything sorted, I had to address the mess on top of the washer and dryer.

I should be embarrassed to even show you these pictures, but it’s all service, right?

Eventually I got the washer and dryer so clean, they almost look like new appliances.

When all the clothes were sorted and put in everyone’s basket, I hauled the garbage out (3 bags of trash), and hauled the bags to go to DI (4 bags, just from the laundry room, plus another 2 bags I had already collected)

I was tired and hungry, so I loaded up the donations and took them all to Deseret Industries, then stopped and got myself some lunch on the way home.

I lost steam in my day of service after lunch, but I did manage to fold all the kitchen towels and tablecloths and fold one basket of my own clothes.

When Megan came home from school she said, ‘Hey, did you put my clothes in the dryer for me?’

Oh, I did more than that. Go see.

She took a look and said, ‘Wow, Mom! If I had money I’d pay you! Good job!’

That thank you and a little recognition of my hard work is all the payment I need.

After all, it was SERVICE.

February was…fine.

It’s the end of another month, time to give an accounting of my progress toward goals of being, having, and spending LESS

Shape up. I did go to the gym a few times before cancelling my membership. Can’t afford to pay for a membership I only use 4-5 times a month. I’ll just have to go walk outside, use our treadmill. Of course, cancelling a gym membership is no simple task, but I’m hoping I’ve gotten that taken care of now. No amazing progress, though.

Clean out. The tiniest drawer right by the sink wasn’t closing. What is the deal, here? I thought.

I looked in there to see what was blocking the drawer from closing, but couldn’t see all the way to the back.


This is the drawer that we keep sponges and cleaning brushes in. I reached back there and pulled out sponge after sponge, paint brushes, toothbrushes, etc. A WHOLE LOT of stuff had fallen out of the drawer and gotten wedged in the back and side of that little drawer.

I took it all out and got rid of a bunch of it. That drawer is happily closing now.

I cleaned out our linen closet. My goodness how did we get so many sheets, towels and blankets?

It was quite a mess as I was cleaning it out.

And we took a load to DI. But when it was done it felt so much better!

I haven’t purged any other rooms, although I did a big clean up of the family room after the kids had been down there playing and the infomercial filming rearranged everything. Today I need to clean out Cole’s room because we will be hosting not one, not two, but three exchange students from Taiwan. So not only Cole’s room, but Megan’s room, the bathroom, and the family room all need to be cleaned and ready for company by tomorrow when they come. I also have to get curtains up on those windows. These girls are from a big city and would never change clothes next to a window, even if it’s a basement window. Add that to my list of things to do today.

Ok, hosting students for two weeks doesn’t really simplify things, but it’s a fun opportunity, and we think it will be fun.

It will cost us to feed them and entertain them, but their program does pay us for hosting them, so we plan to use that money in our entertaining. It’s fun for us to go out, too, so it’s a win-win. The kids are excited to go bowling and go out to Los Hermanos for dinner and to get frozen yogurt. I’m not sure what else we are going to do with them. They have a lot of things already scheduled with the group, so we don’t want to duplicate those. They will be going to Music and the Spoken Word, shopping at City Creek, go cross country skiiing, go to a Jazz game, and some other fun things.

I worry a little about what to make for them to eat, and will have to make them breakfast every day (something I don’t do for my kids much anymore) and pack them a lunch on certain days. I don’t know if our regular “sandwich, chips, snack” routine will work. Have to find out if they eat sandwiches.

Less busy? I tried out for a play this month. I know, it totally goes against the whole “Less” thing, but it was possible to fit it in before the bells concert time, and they actually had roles for women over 30. Drowsy Chaperone, have you heard of it? It looks super fun. However, I didn’t get in. I didn’t get a call back. I didn’t even get a “thank you for auditioning” email. Nothing. Kind of rude of them to not let me know anything, actually. Kind of good that I didn’t make it, though. I guess.

Spending less? We thought we had payed off our car at the end of last month. But they didn’t ever send us the title. Ryan went in to check and it turns out we owed them 96 cents. Were they going to tell us that we still owed them 96 cents? I guess not. Probably just charge us late fees when we didn’t pay our bill this month. But he paid them the 96 cents and now it’s our car. We own it. I plan to reevaluate our insurance now and see if we can lower that bill a bit.

We are still working with our budget, mostly sticking to it. I went over a bit on my food budget and had to use my personal money. There are always things that we hadn’t planned on and we have to adjust a bit, but we are doing much more than we were in the past. We are working on paying off our debt, and it’s very exciting to see the progress that we are making. In addition to teaching my chime choir (yes, that IS a job), I sub occasionally to earn just a bit of extra money. Just enough to pay for daughter’s AP tests this month.

Our emergency fund is not fully funded, but it’s good to see it growing. I am working on saving money in small ways. I use coupons, shop sales, and save my change. I have cut my eating out and impulse buys a LOT. I am selling 1-2 dozen eggs a week to friends who want local fresh eggs. Hopefully as it warms up, the chickens will step up their egg laying and I can sell more. (and they will stop pooping on the porch!)


They should be cheaper to feed in the warmer months, as well. Hopefully they scrounge more bugs and weeds and eat less pellets.

Of course, as it warms up, we have to worry about lawn care, fixing our lawnmower, gardening, and maybe getting another tree or two. Each season has it’s own expenses, and it’s sometimes hard to foresee what those are going to be.


Living in Utah county there are so many wonderful free activities, so we can still do a lot with the family and not spend a ton of money. We went to the Sacred Gifts exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art. What a wonderful experience! They are switching out four of the Carl Bloch paintings. These paintings are amazing.

To see them up close is really amazing, and I’m so grateful that BYU worked so hard for so long to get these paintings on loan. If you haven’t gone to see it yet, schedule a visit. In fact, maybe we’ll take the exchange students. Maybe.

So, that’s the wrap up. I don’t feel like I made much progress, but it’s always a one step forward, two steps back, then one more forward kind of thing.

Valentine’s day done right

My husband gave me a shower head for Valentine’s day. Uh-huh. Yes he did. Installed it, too. Now that’s what I call a gift.

For a few weeks our shower has been kind of dribbling. Not great. I asked him if he knew what was wrong with it, and he did not. That shower head has been working hard for over 12 years, so I guess it got tired. Instead of buying a new shower head, however, my husband pulled one out of the boxes under our bed, and gave it to me. Instant gift.

What? Why do we have a shower head under our bed? We have a lot of neato shower parts in boxes hidden around the house. You see, several years ago, a certain shower maker wanted to partner with Ryan’s company and do a really cool automated shower. Somehow Ryan was the guy, and we got a whole bunch of shower stuff delivered to our house. Where is the really cool shower? In boxes. Ryan didn’t want to demo the bathroom and redo the whole shower, especially not when we were trying to work on the basement. So, in the boxes it sits.

Until now. Now I have a really cool shower head that does multiple functions. Like a hotel shower. And the cost? FREE. Better than flowers in my opinion.

(I gave him a shirt. A pink shirt, no less. Because we are ALL about the sappy valentines day stuff here.)

BUT, the next night, we got all dressed up and went to a Ball. Yes, that’s right, a BALL. A Regency ball. Where people dress up in their best Pride and Prejudice era garb and eat fancy food with the right forks and all that.

A friend of ours was turning 40 and wanted to throw herself a ball. She LOVES stuff like this. Well, it wasn’t exactly her birthday, but Valentine’s weekend, instead.

They hosted this party at the White willow Reception center in Provo. Everyone came dressed up. Some rented their clothes, some used what they had at home, some borrowed. It was so much fun.

Here I am sipping my juice. Elegant, right?

After dinner, there was even dance instruction and some dancing, and fancy desserts.

Ryan had to try on my gloves. I think he’s doing a magic trick or something.

There was even a photographer there taking pictures of us when we came in, and then candid shots throughout the evening. I can’t wait to see those.

What a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s day! I’m so glad we got to attend.

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