The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: holiday fun (Page 1 of 4)

Birthday Surprise!

My birthday doesn’t have the greatest history of being celebrated. It’s right after Christmas, but before New Year. People are partied out, broke, and just want to relax. No one wants to come together for an epic party just 4 days after Christmas. So, I usually remind my kids a couple of times, and then I go out and buy myself something I want. Or, since I bought too many presents for Christmas, I tell Ryan that he can have the kids wrap one of them and give to me for my birthday before I return things.

I try not to be selfish and petty about my birthday and the lack of “special” that it is, but it’s hard. I see other people with huge birthday dates or trips or fantastic present and I tend to get a little jealous. (I’m not proud of it!)

Anyway, let’s move on to this year.

I told Ryan that I just wanted to be surprised for my birthday. That’s it. A surprise. In my mind, I’m thinking maybe a party, or dinner out with friends, or maybe even a new dishwasher (because he’s heard me complain enough about my 15 year old dishwasher that he keeps fixing). He complained a bit and said, “But that’s so hard.” Sorry. You shouldn’t have married someone with an inconvenient birthday, or someone who likes surprises and parties, then.

Mid December Ryan found out that he is definitely going to Amsterdam in Feb, and I decided I am definitely going with him. We booked the tickets. The company pays for his, mine is with miles. “Darn,” I thought, “that would have totally counted as a great surprise!” But that wasn’t the surprise.

The day before my birthday, I was just about to ask if I needed to plan anything or leave time open, and Ryan said, “I have to tell you a little bit of the surprise.” He had booked 2 nights of hotel, but my friend Robin was coming into town to stay with us, and he wanted to make sure and cancel if I wanted to stay home and party with Robin. No, that’s still good. They are only here until Friday morning, and they have a family party on Thursday night, so I’m sure they won’t mind if we leave them.
Cool! He booked 2 nights of Hotel!!! He CAN do surprises!

Of course, now that I knew we would be leaving, I had to plan. Is there food for the kids, can Megan drive Jenna to a party on Friday, etc. But I’m the mom and that’s my job.

Robin came into town on Wednesday and we spent the night talking and laughing. Thursday dawned and the two of us went to get pedicures for my birthday. Then there were presents at home. The kids had actually shopped or planned something and got me some nice things. Then Ryan handed me a present. What? I thought the trip was the surprise? Nope. New camera. In Red. Because he knows me so well. Our last point and shoot camera started flaking while we were on our cruise, and I can’t trust just a phone to take all my pictures.


Then we packed our stuff for our 3 day adventure in St. George (where it is 20 -30 degrees warmer), and took off.


We had such a great time. We went and did a session in the St. George Temple, ate dinner with some friends of ours that we haven’t seen in years (another surprise Ryan cooked up), went thrift store shopping, saw some petroglyphs, went to a movie, ate out, did more shopping, and really enjoyed our time together.

It was wonderful to be somewhere warmer (almost 50 degrees, it felt like spring), and to just relax.

We left on Saturday around noon, and stopped at a “ghost town” a little bit from Leeds.

The Wells Fargo building in this old silver mining town is still standing, and they have made it into a little museum.


There are many old structures partly standing, but we also enjoyed looking at the other houses in the town. The ones people live in. Such a eclectic mix of architecture!

We call this one the “Haunted Mansion House”. Right?


This family of deer jumped out onto the road just as we were rounding the corner. Good thing we weren’t going fast.

We got home New Year’s Eve night, in time to “celebrate” the new year, or in my case, to go to bed. It was such a wonderful surprise birthday trip. I can’t imagine him topping this one!

Fun for Easter weekend

Easter Weekend!

Both Cole and Megan have birthdays around Easter, so it’s a lot of celebrating in a short time. Saturday, between mowing the lawn, celebrating Cole’s birthday, and getting the suburban water pump fixed, Ryan and I drove down to Snow College for a quick visit with this girl.


This is her standing in front of their puzzle wall in her apartment. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

Megan and Sarah were heading down to St. George for their spring break to work at the Tuacahn theater. They get to spend the week working stage crew. I’m sure it will be a great experience for them. But I couldn’t let them NOT celebrate Easter, so we took a couple of Easter baskets for them.


I also got to try out my new little camera. It’s a Nikon Coolpix s7000, similar to what we’ve used before. But so far I’m impressed. I took this picture while driving on the I-15.

Here’s our driving selfie.


And another random house.

When we got back home we got out the eggs and dye for the coloring of the eggs.

I think they got tired of just coloring, so they brought in a friend. This is one of the 6 week old chicks we have in the garage. She’s the calm mellow one.


But when they brought in Speckle, things got a little crazy.
We had chicks on the counter, running, flapping, and soon one was on the floor. We managed to contain the mess and put them back into their cage in the garage.

After cleaning up the eggs, it was time for dinner, then celebrating Cole’s 22 birthday! He didn’t really have a lot going on for his day, although he and Emily went to lunch. Dinner was casual and we had a cake, and he had a few friends come over for games.

He and Emily had too much fun popping the bubble wrap.


Easter Sunday was busy as well. We were singing in our sacrament meeting in the choir, so there was a choir practice, then run home and grab a few things and head right over to the church to get a half hour of practice in at the church with the organ. The program went beautifully.

Ryan and I skipped out on Sunday school, however, to put the ham in the oven and assemble the potato casserole.

Then after church we had an Easter dinner with family. We ate delicious food, then had the traditional egg hunt, and some games.





It was really a wonderful day.

(Sorry for the picture dump)

On Birthdays

Birthdays are a funny thing. On the one hand, no one over 40 wants to get any older. On the other hand, it’s my special day, and I want people to notice, let me know I’m special, and give me presents–who doesn’t want that on their birthday?
When you have a birthday that is four days after Christmas, this presents a challenge. The good things about my birthday are..
-I NEVER had to go to school on my birthday. I ALWAYS had the day off, so school wasn’t a problem, although I have worked a few years on my birthday, and that was a drag. But, then I never got to bring treats on my birthday, or have the birthday crown and all that stuff, either.
-End of the year clearance sales. I remember one year my mom took me shopping at a certain store on my birthday and they were barely open. “Doing Inventory” they said. But I did manage to find this certain doll that I wanted, even though they were hardly helpful.
-It’s at least better than having your birthday ON CHRISTMAS DAY, which is when my brother’s birthday is. (My Dad’s birthday is on December 20, too. My poor mom! I also have an uncle and a cousin with a December 26th birthday, so I am in good company)
-Because so many people forget on my actual birthday, presents trickle in for days afterward. Even up to a month after. One year my hubby decreed that we would celebrate my birthday on JANUARY 29th, and we did. It was GREAT! Because really, who cares if you celebrate on the actual day of your birth, as long as you are celebrated, right?

That’s about it for the perks of this birthday date.

Both my brother and I were kind of hosed in the birthday department. My mom would try to have parties for us, but who has a birthday party on Christmas? No one, that’s who. And on the 29th? Not many. People are either out of town, or they just don’t remember in the after Christmas lull. Often we would each get to invite a friend and we’d all go to a movie or skating or something. When I got old enough to do my own parties, I would often have a slumber party, which worked well, since there wasn’t school to clutter up our young lives.

Now that I’m a grown up, I usually buy some things I want, and give them to hubby and tell him to have people wrap them. Yes, I am buying my own presents, but do you blame me? My husband is wonderful and amazing, but bless his heart, he doesn’t always do great in the birthday department. There was one year he went above and beyond and got me a fridge. And he didn’t just get the fridge, he bought it, hid it at the neighbors, cleaned out the old fridge and installed the new fridge ALL in SECRET after I had gone to bed. Can you believe that?

One year I had the birthday blues and really just felt sorry for myself. It seemed that everyone but my mom had forgotten my birthday that year, and I think the kids and Ryan had gotten me a spatula and a slotted spoon or something like that for presents (this was before I started buying my own presents). The kicker was when I went to church a day or two after my birthday and listened to a “year in review” in Relief Society when the president gave a wrap up of what the relief society had accomplished that year. She said something like, “And we personally visited each sister on her birthday.” I started to cry and left the room, because they hadn’t visited me. Because usually when an organization decides what they are doing for the birthdays that year, they are burned out by December and just forget the after Christmas stuff. I KNEW I was just being stupid, but I really felt picked on.

After that experience in church, I decided I had to grow up (literally) and get over it. If I wanted to have a good birthday, I needed to make it happen myself. I needed to change my attitude.

When I turned 40, I threw myself a party. I arranged a place to hold it, invited people, made the food, etc. I had a friend who insisted that I shouldn’t be planning my own party, but I didn’t mind. She did insist on buying the cake so that I didn’t have to get my own cake. But I have seen what she does for birthdays at her house, and she’s pretty amazing, so I can see where she’s coming from.

My birthday was on a Sunday this year, which usually means it’s going to be pretty low key. However, I had planned a get together with friends for the day before my birthday. It was actually our Christmas party, but that was the day that worked. To me, it felt like a birthday party. There were presents and food and ice cream, so I’m counting it! On Sunday morning we got up early to go to a friend’s mission homecoming. Afterward there was food and mingling at the house. More people, food and laughter, it was like ANOTHER PARTY! WE came home from that and skipped out on our own church and I took a nap. A BIRTHDAY NAP! After the nap, I got a surprise visit from my sweet visiting teacher. She had a gift for me. She said, “I told myself I was NOT going to forget your birthday this time! I always miss it and end up giving you your gift in January, but NOT this time!” I was touched and impressed. And she gave me a cute necklace that I really love. I did make dinner, but my family made a cake. A CAKE! Usually we are sugared out by this time and we skip the cake, but Natalie and Ryan made a cake and even frosted it! Color me impressed.

I got several cards, emails, and texts to wish me a happy birthday, but FACEBOOK really is the biggest perk for birthdays. Every one of your friends sees that it’s your birthday, and I got over 100 birthday greetings on facebook that day. LOVE IT!!! Say what you want about facebook, but I think it’s especially great when I get greetings from long lost, or even close by friends, who normally would not remember or even know that it’s my birthday.

After dinner, we were watching Amazing Race (reruns) and my parents called and said they wanted to come over and play some games. Instant party!!! Hooray!

Why does the cake have a 5 on it? Because I didn’t want ALL the candles for my actual age (I don’t think we even have that many candles) so they just put a 5 on there. I like it.

So we played games, ate some cheese ball, and had cake. It was a fun night!

While we were playing, there was another ring of the doorbell, and there was Ron (my friend Robin’s husband), with a birthday gift for me. He said he just came from Arizona where Robin was lamenting that it was too late to mail me a gift, and yet again she would miss my birthday. So, he BROUGHT me some lemons and tangelos from Arizona, packaged up in the cutest happy birthday bag. ( He was coming back to Utah anyway, it’s not like he came JUST to deliver something for me, but how sweet that he came over). What a wonderful surprise!

Monday was declared VACUUM DAY. It’s a new holiday in which everyone cleans and vacuums their rooms. The kids weren’t too hip on Vacuum day, but we declared it, and everyone did it. Ryan and I even cleaned up our mess of a room. And the best part of vacuum day was going to lunch at Los Hermanos.

Megan had decided she wanted to take the family out to eat (on her dime!) so we chose to go to Los Hermanos for our favorite Mexican food. We even told them I was celebrating my birthday so they brought out a free fried ice cream and sang happy Birthday to me (I told them my name was Susan, so they actually sang to SUSAN, but it still counts).

So, no bummer birthday for me this year! It took an attitude change on my part, and some thoughtful friends who are determined to remember my special day. I still don’t like getting older, but I can deal with the celebration part.

Count your many blessings

turkey kids

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m missing two of my turkeys this year, but we are pretty sure they are being fed. Larissa will probably have a salad today, and Cole told me he had a lunch appointment, and probably a dinner appointment, so that’s good. My first Thanksgiving on my mission was weird. I had just arrived in Germany, and Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday there, but a nice sister had invited the missionaries over for lunch. I felt very new, and things felt very strange. Corn and Garbanzo beans and something that tasted like peanut butter on pizza? Weird. But I was still thankful for the, thankful to be doing what I felt was right for me at the time, and thankful to be serving the Lord in Germany.


We are making our traditional Oreo turkeys, and I’ve got the kids peeling potatoes. We will be making the green beans with bacon that my family loves, too. Oh, and I made this
layered pumpkin pie toffee cheesecake.

I’ve spent the month posting things on facebook that I’m thankful for. It’s a good exercise in thinking about all the blessings I have. I am so blessed. I have a wonderful family, I have great kids, I have a wonderful husband.
We have a nice home and even have chickens. The kids get a good education and are not afraid to go to school because of bullies or violence. I made up my own job and get to teach a chime choir to elementary kids. I’ve been blessed to perform with the Bells on Temple Square for almost 9 years–a calling that has completely enriched my life and made me a better person.

We have a wonderful neighborhood and friends, and we love to associate with them.

We have the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches us that we can repent and be with our Father in Heaven someday.
President Monson, in 2010 general conference, said,
My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.

My beloved friend President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.” 3

Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

This is Halloween, This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween……


What a beautiful and fun day we had for Halloween! Even though it had rained earlier in the week, the day was dry and sunny. You couldn’t ask for nicer weather, actually.

Of course, the night before Halloween there was quite a costume scramble. Everyone asking “where’s my yellow shirt? I put it on the stairs?” “Can you fix my costume? It ripped”, “Do we have fairy wings?”, and my personal favorite comment, after I spent a half hour going through all the possible costumes we have and suggesting many ideas, was “We don’t have ANY costumes. All of ours are stupid.” Oh, the joys of children who have opinions. Remember when they were little and MOM just chose the costumes and dressed them up?

Oh, yeah. Those days were fun.

Even back then (this picture is from 2005), the kids loved to go to Ryan’s work to go trick-or-treating through the cubicles. Dad gets to show off his family, the kids get a lot of candy in a short amount of time, and it’s just fun. Plus the costumes at his work are great! This year the marketing department was all wizard of oz, and even had a yellow “brick” road.

Of course, I started my day in costume. Still doing that Merlin show.

What a fun experience. And all the kids in the audience were in costumes, too, so that made it even more fun.

Then off to do John’s class party at school. Although those darn 4th graders didn’t know I was supposed to be Rosie the Riveter. Next year I’ll go with something more recognizable, I guess.


Fun party, though. I was in charge of Halloween Bingo.


After school, when we went to the dad’s work, the kids HAD to make sure we stopped in the game room. I think they think that people just play games at work.


After we got home, it was sandwiches for dinner and then trick or treating. Megan and Natalie felt a bit too old to go out begging for candy, but when I told them they HAD to go with John, that gave them an excuse to go.


It was a lovely Halloween. I’m kind of sad that it’s over. But luckily, we get to get right into Christmas concerts, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, which will be here before we know it. I hope you also had a fun holiday, and I’ll leave you with this funny.

Costume Party!

Saturday evening we hosted a costume party for the Scarlet Pimpernel crowd–or whoever wanted to come. It wasn’t my idea, but a couple of the girls from the play were discussing how fun it would be to have a sing-a-long party, and asked if anyone had a place big enough for a crowd, and who had a piano, etc. I did not volunteer because I hosted the last party we had with this group, but one of the girls asked if I would be willing to have it at my house again. They would “plan” it, and could I just provide the house. Less pressure and work for me, right?

Well, we still had to clean the house. I didn’t make a ton of food, because I wasn’t in charge, and I thought she had made it clear to people that they were supposed to bring food. Ahem. These are mostly college students we are talking about, so there was very little food that was brought.But no one seemed to mind that there wasn’t a ton of food, or if the food that was there wasn’t very great or fancy.

Here’s Ryan. He’s thrilled about a-dressing up (can you guess his costume) and b- having a bunch of loud theater people taking over the house.

After the mingling and hugs and “YOU LOOK SO CUTE!”s, we settled in to play some games. We had apples to apples going, and then some people started singing show tunes in the other room with the piano.





We had some fun costumes! My friend Justin picked up my camera, as he tends to do, and took a bunch of lovely random pictures.





This was us playing “match that face” or something like that. You would look at the picture taken before yours and try to match the expression. Yeah, I know they are sideways. Whatever.

This is my favorite picture of everyone in their costumes.

We ended with a couple of rousing games of ENCORE, and if you’ve never played that with a bunch of musical theater people, you really should. We do know a lot of songs, but the pressure! When put on the spot, the brain just seems to sputter and fart, not coming up with the requisite song, like a song with the word “KISS” in it. We went back and forth on that one for a long time, until our team finally couldn’t think of another one. Of course, LATER, every song in the world seemed to have the word Kiss in it.

It was a fun night with friends, and I’m glad we could host it at our house.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thankful weekend

What a wonderful Thanksgiving! We enjoyed a big family gathering for the Colemans. Because there were about 70 people coming, we had to hold the dinner at my sister’s church, and there was no shortage of yumminess going on. Larissa got to experience her first Thanksgiving, and hopefully she will remember the day fondly.

My family doesn’t go in for all the formal dinner stuff, (we used paper plates) and while half of the cultural hall was set up with tables, the other half was used for basketball. People played before and after the meal. There were oreo turkeys and silly hats.
Perfect! We also got to chat and catch up with cousins I only see once or twice a year, and everyone had a great time.

After most people had sufficiently stuffed themselves, I took my large pot that had held green beans and started to scrape plates into the pot. What? Some of the food was HARDLY touched, (picky kids!) and it’s good enough for my chickens, right? Those girls aren’t picky–they eat bugs, for heaven’s sake. I filled the WHOLE pot with the leavings, even though I got some strange looks and had to explain that I wasn’t taking this home to feed my family, but to feed my CHICKENS. Otherwise it would just be going in the trash, right? I had to transfer that big pot of squished food to 3 gallon sized ziplock bags. I wouldn’t want to feed it to them all at once. They are happy with the leftovers and don’t complain at all when I bring it out to them.

The chickens are happy with their new fabulous house, by the way.

Here’s an inside view.

They don’t have a microwave and furniture in there, but I worried it might come to that.

Anyway, after that big family feast, we went over to Ryan’s sister Julene’s house, where most of Ryan’s family was gathered. They were just finishing up dinner, so I’m glad we didn’t get there any earlier. We tasted some of our favorites and Ryan got some of his mom’s dressing, which is his favorite part of Thanksgiving. I’m not a big stuffing/dressing fan, so I don’t bother with that, but he is convinced that it’s the best dressing in the world, and it’s not Thanksgiving until he has some. That right there is one reason that I won’t even attempt to make dressing. It would never live up to his mom’s, and I don’t really like it, anyway. After the meal, we helped clear the table and divide up the leftovers. Even though we didn’t eat at this party, we ended up taking a little bit of everything home. Ryan’s mom divied up the leftover dressing (don’t ever call it stuffing, by the way. “Stuffing is cooked inside the bird, dressing is NOT.”), in baggies. Ryan’s niece Camille just started eating the dressing. “This won’t even make it home,” she said. Like I said, this family really like’s Mom’s recipe. Julene and Italo’s son, Elias, even called Grandma from California and asked how to make this dressing. He was hosting his first Thanksgiving and said hers was the best dressing he’d ever tasted. She gave him all the specifics and instructions. Not sure how it turned out, but good for him for trying it. We went home with the generous fixins for the perfect leftover sandwiches–turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy and sweet potatoes. I had made rolls and pumpkin pie for us, so we were set for at least one lunch.

We are so blessed to live so close to family! It was a wonderful day with people we love and we are so blessed.

For Black Friday, I did a little online shopping. Ryan was the one who went out, but that was just to the hardware store. He’s been working on the basement this week since he had a couple of days off. Hooray! No, we are not ready for our 4-way inspection and I don’t know when that will be, but every day there is some progress, and it’s been nice to have Cole here for the weekend to help out. He doesn’t really let me help much, but I did help move a tub into place and he let me paint a door frame yesterday. I really just try to stay out of the way.

In the afternoon on Friday, Ryan and I got cleaned up and went to Salt Lake to meet the family in the Salt Lake Temple. Ryan’s niece Rachel is going on a mission. She’s the first sister missionary in the family, and we are SO proud of her. She’s going to The Dominican Republic. Because of the new mission age for girls, her younger sister Marissa is ALSO going on a mission, and just got her call this week to serve in Puerto Rico! How blessed this family will be to have two missionaries out at the same time! We enjoyed an endowment session there in the temple, then met for dinner at the Garden Restaurant. Because the lights on Temple Square turned on at 5:00, it was pretty crowded, but that just added to the spirit of Temple Square. We looked out over the temple and it was so beautiful!

(Photo from RKSmith

Saturday was spent working about the house. I ran some errands and bought a few things. But while at Kohler’s (our local grocery store), I realized that the 6 pk bottles of sprite were still on sale for $2 each. Thinking that these might make fun and easy neighbor gifts, I bought all I could find. When I showed up at the checkout, my cart was FULL of sprite, and a few other things for a salad. I got some weird looks (again), but I don’t mind. A bargain is a bargain.

I was kind of bugging my husband to get the lights up while it was warm, but he decided to do that when he decides to do that. I had bought new LED lights after Christmas last year, and therefore we needed new clips. I bought some when I was at Lowe’s this week, but not knowing if they were right, I only bought 3 boxes of 100 each. Well, they were right, but we needed more. I went back to Lowes while he got started. Of course Lowe’s did not have any. I checked WalMart to see if they had such a clip….nada. Then I went to Home Depot. I found a similar clip, just not the same exact one. It will have to do! I bought five boxes of 75 each. Hopefully they will work, cause that was all I could find. I could always order more–if I had to.

The weekend was a nice break from school and work. It was really wonderful to be here with family and to have time to celebrate, count our blessings, and enjoy!

I’m thankful we made it through that week

Well, we survived another busy concert week!

With rehearsal on Tuesday, Wed, Thursday and a concert on Friday night and then a Music and the Spoken Word braodcast on Sunday morning, I was gone about 22 hours for bells. *Whew!*

Saturday night I woke up and the room was spinning. Really. I was really thirsty, but didn’t want to risk getting up out of bed to get a drink, so I just tried to sleep and make the spinning stop. What a horrible feeling. By morning, there was no spinning, but I still felt awful. Not sure if it was a bug of some kind, or if it was just exhaustion. I spent most of the day lazing around. So thankful I didn’t have a whole long list of things I was supposed to get done that day!

The concert went very well. We even lightened things up with “Blue Christmas” and “Jingle Bells”. I haven’t found any reviews online yet, but you know if I do, I will post it (if it’s a good review, that is).

Now we get a week off for Thanksgiving and then we will work on our songs for the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concerts and our next Music and the Spoken word appearance.

In other news, my little chime choir is up to 12 kids, now. I’m a little worried about our concert in two weeks. I still haven’t gotten the morning group and the afternoon group together, so we haven’t played a whole song all together. But people probably don’t expect too much of us, so if we crash and burn I can blame it on the fact that I’m working with 3rd-6th graders here.

I’m still trying to drum up votes in our grant competition. If you haven’t taken the time to register your email and vote, please do so. You can find out about it here. You can just search for ‘handbells’ (it’s the only grant request to mention handbells), and then if you could force everyone in your family with a cell phone to text in once a day, I wouldn’t complain. We are currently ranked 128th, so that’s only 127 other grants we need to surpass to assure our money!

And in other news, we are getting excited for Thanksgiving! I bought all the stuff to make these little critters.

We also found these great hats at Target so all my turkeys could be ready for Thanksgiving!

I don’t have to cook a turkey, but probably will, just so we can have all the yummy turkey leftovers. For our big family party, I am assigned green beans, so I will make up a huge amount of my favorite bacon, apple green beans.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Travel? Guests? Lots of cooking? Whatever your plans may be, remember to be thankful for your family and those you love!

Halloween 2012

Oh the Halloween festivities are so much fun!

Between the parties, the house decorating, the costumes and the candy, it’s no wonder we are exhausted.

We did the pumpkin carving last week when it was still cold, and as you can see, even the birds got into the fun. This is new for Larissa, so she was excited to to carve a pumpkin!

Saturday was our ward party and trunk or treat. Instead of candy, I gave out hot chocolate, and that was a big hit.

I was excited to dress up as Maleficent, from sleeping beauty. Can you believe some kids didn’t know who I was?

On Monday, I took the girls to Gardner Village to see the witches. They all played along and wore witch hats!

We had some fun shopping and seeing all the witches and Halloween decor. Not to complain, but it was almost too warm.

Halloween was a wonderful warm day. So nice, in fact, that Ryan decided to skip the festivities at work and stay home and work on his chicken house project.

I would never complain about a job well done, but I think he’s going a little bit overboard on this project. He might just install a tv in there and keep it for himself!

Those are the nesting boxes on one side, and there’s a feed “trough” on the other side. I helped with some caulking and priming before I had to dress up and go to John’s school party.

First we played the mummy wrap game, with two teams wrapping their friend up in TP. It was close, but the girls were the winners.

My game was the cup stack, and I had each kid try to stack the 36 cups in one minute.

Not many could do it. Perhaps I should have a made it a bit easier for them and had less cups to stack, but they still had fun, even if they didn’t all ‘win’.

By the time the party was over, I was feeling very sick, and starting to rethink our hugely busy plan for the rest of the afternoon. I LOVE Halloween, and I really want to do ALL the fun stuff we can possibly do, so we usually grab the kids right after school and go trick-or-treat at Ryan’s work. When I told him I wasn’t doing well, and didn’t want to go to his work, he said he didn’t really want to take the kids, and he didn’t care if we went or not. I knew the kids would be disappointed, but I broke the news to them that we wouldn’t be doing that activity, and no one threw anything at me, at least. I went upstairs and had a tiny nap, hoping to gather a little energy.

After a little bit of dinner, the kids were excited to go out.
They were all in costume, and the house was bedecked in Halloweeniness.

In case you can’t tell, we had the tootsie pop owl, pikachu, a cereal killer, spider man (although he changed several times throughout the day), and a hippie.

The kids all went out in groups, with friends or sisters, and I didn’t go out with any of them. I didn’t even want to go over to our neighbor’s annual donut night. I was just wiped out and not feeling good. I stayed close to the door and gave out candy to all the little trick-or-treaters, but I still felt like I was missing out on the festivities a little bit.

Megan and Larissa ended up going out later that night to movie parties, but everyone ended up safe and sound. Even though it was a middle of the week holiday, everyone got their share of fun! (Jenna and I even have a mother daughter costume party coming up this Saturday, so I guess it’s not time to put the costumes away JUST yet).

I hope you also enjoyed your Halloween, wherever you were.

Not quite the “Holiday” we were planning

We still have Marie, our exchange student from France, with us, so we are really trying to do fun things every day. Some days I don’t want to do fun things, I will admit, and it wore me down when Ryan was gone for a week and everything was all on me. We’ve gone to plays, concerts, swimming, laser tag, shopping, out to eat, and many other things. Saturday night I took all six of them up to Salt Lake to go to the pioneer day concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and that experience just might have pushed me over the edge. Kids (not Marie, of course…she never complains) were grumpy and complaining, and even though I was working my hardest to make things exciting and fun for them, and they were not appreciating my hard work.

When we got seated in the conference center, approximately an hour before the concert was to start, the complaints and declarations of boredom from a certain young man were driving me crazy. Then a family came and sat behind us. I overheard as the teenage boy said to his mom, “What? The show does start for an HOUR? Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME? What am I supposed to do for an HOUR, just sit here and die of boredom?!” His mother gave him some motherly answer (I must admit I didn’t hear what she said, but she said it in a nice voice). But this young man was not easily appeased. “Hey, Mom? How about NEXT time there’s one of these things, you just don’t bring me? Can we make that deal? You just come by yourself and don’t make me come to one of these again, ok? Mom?” Mom was not answering. It took every bit of willpower I had left in me not to whip around and slap that young man, or at the very least inform him that his mother was only TRYING to give him a little cultural experience, and if he didn’t shut his trap immediately, he’d have to answer to ALL the mothers sitting near him. Seriously, folks, I should be given a commendation for my patience. Instead, I gave my own bored 8 year old my Kindle so that he could play a game or something to keep him busy, and I read the program.

The concert, once it started, was really, really great, and I was glad that I had dragged them up to Salt Lake SO early to have dinner, goof around at City Creek, and see the concert.

On Tuesday, the actual 24th of July, I was excited for the day. Even though it was expensive, we had decided to take everyone up to Snowbird and get day passes so we could slide and bungie and zipline and all that. It would be a splurge, but hopefully something that the kids will remember! First we had our ward Pioneer Day breakfast, and the kids were actually up before me! They were ready to go by 7:30. We left before 9, to avoid the fire truck and everyone getting wet, came home and packed up some food and got everybody in the car.

The car would NOT start. Seriously? What is going on here? It started just fine yesterday, and today, it won’t even turn over? We all sat in the car as Ryan tried over and over to start it. I guess we’re not going anywhere right now, so let’s get out of the car. After we found a mechanic’s shop not too far and open on the holiday, we had to call AAA to see if they would tow our car from our house to the repair shop. Yes, they will. When the tow truck came, I called the kids outside (they need SOME excitement, right?) and we all watched the poor tow truck guy hook up our Suburban and take it away.

Left with no car that would take all 8 of us, our plans were cancelled. We watched the parade on tv, then the kids played some video games and Cole started mowing the lawn.

In the afternoon, we got a call from the repair shop. I had no idea that a new fuel pump could POSSIBLY cost that much! And it wasn’t just the fuel pump and filter, but the water pump as well. Oh, and some belt. Let’s just say it’s not quite as much as college tuition for a semester for our son, but it’s more than I paid for my red couch.

Shall we talk about the couch? Yeah. Ryan wasn’t going to mention that to me until after we had our fun day in the mountains, but some things you can’t hide. My red leather couch is totally sagging in the back. Probably from too many kids FLOPPING on it. They continued to use it, even though it was getting lower and lower. (Can you see how Marie is being swallowed into the couch?) I pulled the bottom off to look at what we’ve got going on here, and I’m not sure if I know how it’s supposed to look, or if it’s even something we can repair ourselves. Oh, and here’s what I found when I tipped the couch over. Can you say, “NO food in the family room?” Hmmm. I don’t think my kids quite remembered that rule.

While Cole was mowing the lawn, he came in to tell Ryan that the back of the lawnmower was broken, and things were falling off. Oh, seriously? Luckily, Ryan discovered that it was just a problem with some bolts that had been sheered off, and he was able to go to the hardware store and easily fix that one. (Thank goodness!)

We decided that after dinner we would go to a baseball game at UVU. Something to do to get us all out of the house, and if we were lucky, there would be fireworks afterward. We did have to take two cars, and did you know they charge you per car for parking there? But we all made it and found a place on the hill to settle in and watch the game. I think we’d been there about 15 minutes when it began to rain. But the sun was shining, so it couldn’t be MUCH rain, right? Ahem. In keeping with the tradition of the rest of our day, we all got quite wet. We used the blankets we had been sitting on to try to hide us from the rain, but then the blankets all got wet. Whatever! Thankfully, the rain didn’t last too long, and we were able to stick it out and ‘watch’ the rest of the game. Finally the game was over and there were, as promised, fireworks. They were SO close and loud and fast. It was a GREAT fireworks show.

Here’s John doing my hair, waiting for the game to end.

So, even though it was a pretty crappy day, we tried to end it on a positive note.

We went home and had ice cream sundaes. Yes, it was nearly midnight, but I had told the kids they could have ice cream, so ice cream it was.

Today, we still have no suburban. I am waiting to find out the damage and trying to mentally prepare myself for the WAY TOO MUCH money it will cost and how can we possibly afford this freak out that I will have.

Happy Pioneer day to you all!

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