The Trials of a Busy Mom

Month: December 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

Dear Applebee’s

Congratulations to you. You must be doing something right if people are willing to put up with the lousy treatment, and to actually pay you for it. You have a really great marketing team, I guess.

On Monday, it was my birthday. We had a bunch of gift cards to chose from, and I let my kids decide where we should go out to eat. They chose Applebee’s. We have had fun and good food there in the past, so we went for it. It must have been “gift card Monday” –you know, that first Monday after Christmas when everyone goes out to eat to use up their giftcards– for when we arrived at 6:30, it was already very crowded and we were told we would have a 30 -35 minute wait. We weighed our options and decided that 30 minutes was manageable, and we squeeeezed into the already tight lobby area, to wait it out.

Now 30 minutes may not seem so long to you and me, or to my husband who started reading a book on his PDA, but to a small child (or even a big one) 30 minutes in a very confined space with nothing to do is like an eternity. I tried to cheer them up and make it a little more fun when they were whining and complaining. “Remember when we were at Disneyland and we waited all that time in line to ride the new Finding Nemo ride? That was a longer wait than this, and it was raining? Remember?”
Only grumbling from the masses.
“Or for Tower of Terror. That was kind of a long line, right?” I tried lamely to continue.
“That was a short line, mom.”
Tough crowd. Well, never mind, then.

About 40 minutes into our 30 minute wait, I searched my purse for some kind of food for the poor kids, who were REALLY hungry by this time. All I had were Altoids, which don’t do much for the hunger. I encouraged the kids to stretch their legs and go for a little walk to the bathroom. My five year old had really had it by this time, and he looked at me with all the menace he could muster and said, “WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE?!” I tried to tell him that I had wanted to go to Olive Garden and YOU KIDS were the ones who voted on Applebees, but really, what’s the point. I sat on the floor and held him in my lap and tried to comfort him. “Do you want to hear a story?” I asked.
“No, I want some food!”

I lost track of how many “How much longer”s it was before they finally allowed us to sit, but by 7:30 we were squished into a too tight booth. We are a family of seven people, and the only thing they had for us was a four person booth. No WAY were they going to let us have a larger table, because it was still SO crowded. There was some arguing over where everyone was to sit, and some changing sides. Since there were no chairs and no hooks to hang our coats, and I wasn’t about to put my wool coat on the floor, I held my coat on my lap, hoping there was nothing gross or disgusting on the bottom of the table.

Soon our sweet but frazzled waitress was there to take our drink orders. The poor thing was so busy with so many tables to wait, I really did feel bad for her. It only took a few minutes for the kids’ root beers to arrive, but she didn’t have the chocolate milk for the other two. She said she’d be “right back” with it. We ordered our dinners and tried to have some fun while waiting. I mean, we were finally sitting down, right? But my youngest two kids still didn’t have drinks, and after 15 more minutes, we finally managed to stop our sprinting waitress and ask about the chocolate milks. She gave us a confused look and said, “I got those out, didn’t I? I’m so sorry! I’ll get you those in just a minute.” I again felt bad for her, and wondered if I could just walk over and get some drinks myself to save her the trouble. But soon someone else brought two kid size chocolate milk, which helped placate the hungry little ones for a little while, at least.

To kill some time, somehow we got on the subject of weird things you can do with your face. We had a fun contest to see who could wiggle their ears, roll their tongue, raise one eyebrow, flare their nostrils, etc. Soon we were all laughing and having fun, although still hungry and squished.

The people sitting in the booth behind us had had enough. I kept hearing remarks like, “This is ridiculous! We’ve been here TWO hours!” I think they were a couple with a two year old and another mom with a two or three year old. They had been pacing the restaurant, trying to keep the hungry kids happy. Finally they left in a huff. “We’ll go to McDonalds!” they said to the kids. I didn’t blame them for leaving, really. How long can you expect a hungry two year old to behave? I felt a little bad for the waitress when they brought out their food a few minutes after they had left. But I wondered what they had ordered and who was going to eat that food.

We had reached the point of EXTREME hunger by the time they brought our food. But imagine my little boy’s face when he was handed his plate of Kraft macaroni and cheese, but no fork. His sister was SO lucky–she had ordered a hamburger and could eat it without silverware, but here he was, without even so much as a french fry to scoop up his mac and cheese. I’m not joking when I say it took us 5 more minutes to track someone down who could give us the precious silverware. And they weren’t going to give us more than we REALLY needed, either. “Oh,” said the server, “how many of you need silverware?” Well, all of us, wouldn’t you think? But no, they only had enough silverware for the people who actually NEEDED their fork, and couldn’t just pick up their food. Forget napkins for everyone. I usually like to ask for extra napkins, since we do have a bunch of kids, and I’m a fan of napkins, myself. But I wasn’t going to mention that to the waitress or server–if I could even find one.

After we finally had food AND silverware and were all devouring it like hungry hyenas, the waitress came by to ask if the food was all right. She hadn’t wanted to stop by BEFORE. Probably because she was scared we might just eat her. I’m sure she’s seen her share of hungry people before, and she knows to avoid them, if possible. My husband reminded her that it was my birthday and asked if they did anything to celebrate birthdays. “Sure!” she said. I have to say that my trio platter was delicious and filling. The kids enjoyed their burgers, although my son’s “Frito chili burger” had chili but no fritos. Oh well, just eat it, we had told him. My husband’s steak was good, and the macaroni and cheese was…well, just like the macaroni and cheese that we make at home, but it only costs me 50 cents for the whole box, instead of $2.99 for a plate of it.

Then it arrived–the Birthday Freebie! The coveted brownie, ice cream covered creations that the whole family can take a bit of, and …what? What’s this? A shot glass filled with ice cream and hot fudge? And one spoon. “Usually we have the waiters come and sing for birthdays,” apologized our poor waitress, “but they are all too busy. So… Happy Birthday.”

Oh, the disappointment. It’s my birthday, for heaven’s sake. I’ve waited 365 days to be treated like someone special, and this is the free dessert you bring? We all took a bite (with the one spoon. One of the lucky ones who had a fork used their fork) and the “special dessert” was gone in seconds.

Check, please.

Now, Applebee’s–I know you can’t pack any more people into your restaurant. You’ve tried. I know it’s not your fault that everyone and their dog decided to “eat good in the neighborhood” that night. I understand.
But when a family goes out to eat, and is willing to part with over 50 of our hard earned dollars, they expect to be treated better than mere cattle. May I suggest you call in a few more waiters or maybe another cook so that people aren’t waiting over an hour for their food. Or maybe give the kids some crackers or a basket of bread to nosh on while they are waiting. A little bit goes a long way to assuage the hungry and the grumpy. And your birthday treatment? Well, let’s just say that when my precious one day a year, right after Christmas birthday comes around again, I won’t be spending it with you.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, it’s my birthday today! No, I’m not throwing myself a big party like I did last year, but I am going to do like my friend Robin does, and only do things I want to do. So, there will be no yelling at the kids, no cleaning of toilets, and no vacuuming (I’ll let my pet Roomba do that one). I do have an indoor soccer game to go to, but I’m going to try to send her home with someone else, so I won’t have to. I will hit some after Christmas sales and have my big kids babysit my little kids. We will probably also go out to eat, since I will not be cooking. I’ve already gotten the CUTEST e-card from my friend Melinda, who always sends the cutest e-cards that make me laugh,and several happy birthday emails and some actual cards. And I suspect that my kids are off making birthday cards for me right now, since they’ve all come in here to steal some paper. How fun!

“Sadly, there was a casualty.”

For Christmas, Ryan and I got some speakers. Woo-Hoo! Yes, we live on the edge, don’t we? Well, yesterday, Ryan was installing said speakers in our bedroom and in our bathroom! Speakers in our bathroom, people! Now I can listen to music AS I SHOWER! I’m a little bit excited about that one, can you tell? And I can listen for radio contests even while I use the bathroom, now! I’ll just have to take a phone in with me, of course.

Well, as he was telling me about the speaker install, he mentioned, “Sadly, there was a casualty.”
“What? What are you talking about?” I said, a bit confused.
“As I was vacuuming up the insulation mess, I inadvertently vacuumed up a lipstick.”
“Which lipstick? Was it the brand new one I just got for Christmas?” a little bit of panic may have crept into my voice about then.
“I do not know which lipstick it was, but I’m sure it was your favorite one, the one you searched months for, and that they’ve discontinued and you will never have again.”
“Let me just check.” I said, figuring that a lost lipstick, even if it was the brand new one, was a pretty small price to pay for cool speakers in the bathroom.
“And you’ll Never Have that RECIPE AGAIN…” and that’s when Ryan launched into a lovely version of MacArthur Park, which seriously has got to be the dumbest song ever. Someone left the cake out in the rain? Whatever.

Christmas Highlights

Snow, snow, and more snow.

The snow has been lots of fun to play in, if you enjoy freezing your extremities off, that is. The problem, however, lies in the fact that it takes about an hour to find everyone’s snow stuff, see if it’s dry from the last time they went outside, and get them into it. We’ve had cousins staying with us, and at one point had 10 kids to outfit into snow gear. And once we get them all outside (and lock the door–no, not really), they are only out there about 20 minutes before they are inside complaining of how cold they are. Then they leave all those wet, snowy clothes all over the place to “dry” out, and they demand hot chocolate.

And I’d like it stop snowing sometime, so I can go out and find my after Christmas bargains, thank you very much.

The Neighborhood Party.
We have some neighbors who host a party every year. There’s tons of food, and you get to talk to your neighbors without any kids pestering you. I haven’t been able to go for the past couple of years, but Ryan will go to this one by himself. This year, however, they did it late enough that I could attend, and it was super fun. And even better than a party? Leaving my brother and sister-in-law in charge of the masses at home. They had 10 kids to send to bed, but hopefully it wasn’t too bad. They let them watch movies and play games until bed time. The highlight of the party, of course, is the white elephant game. I thought my gift was cool but kind of weird, but apparently, it was just weird. Not the worst gift, though. I think the pre-flyed fly paper was the worst. Or the viagra. Thankfully we didn’t come home with that one.

The annual Christmas Nativity Puppet show.

The kids enjoy the Nativity puppet show each year. We read the story from Luke and they act out all the parts with puppets. It’s easier than coming up with costumes (or bathrobes, rather) for them to act it out, and they love it.

Screaming Monkeys.

The kids got Webkinz and flying slingshot Monkeys in their stockings. Who wouldn’t love a flying monkey? I think these might be good gifts for the neighborhood white elephant party next year.

Rock Band Surprise.

I was thrilled to give the kids an X-Box and Rock band. It’s doubly nice when I didn’t have to pay for it. Had I known I was going to be winning an X-Box, I might have bought less presents for them. But they were very surprised and pleased, since I would normally never buy such a thing. We finally got it set up today and are rocking out. And just so you know, Tina, I suck. But then, we all suck, so I’m in good company. I’m sure after the kids spend hours playing it and I still have only played it 5 times, they will totally smoke me, but right now we’re on a pretty even playing level. Except for Cole, who’s played guitar hero a lot more than me, and Megan, who actually plays the drums in the band at school. But since there are 5 kids and only three instruments, John is having a total melt down right now.

Chaos. And Mess.

I don’t know about your house, but our house is pretty much a mess after all the present opening. I wouldn’t say the mess is a highlight, really, just an unavoidable part of the eqasion.

Faster, Stronger, Better than it was before.

Ryan got me a new computer for my Christmas/Birthday present. The old one was the “free” computer he got back when he was fired from Intel many many years ago. It was old, slow, and frequently refused to do what I asked it to do. Now it has like eleventy times the memory and ram and all that computer language. So far, it’s working out nicely. Can you tell just by reading the blog how much faster it uploaded? Good job, new computer! And he secretly transferred all my old crap onto the new computer without me knowing what he was doing. He’s pretty sneaky that way. Ryan and I also both got new phones. Yes, you heard right. Ryan now has entered the 21st century and has a cell phone. Or, as he calls it, a leash. So I can call him. And you can call him, too, if you want! Everyone can call him! Hooray for phones. And yes, that does leave one extra phone for the kids to share. We haven’t worked out the details of that, but they haven’t seemed to care, yet.

Giving a Great Gift
We decided to give my sister and her family a gift that they really really needed this year. A van. Our van. They have three kids and can barely squish into their truck, plus my sister was left without a car most of the time when her husband went to work. We had been talking about it for a while and trying to figure out if we can survive with just the suburban and the little truck, and decided it was time to take the leap. We gave them the present a month early, and they have been enjoying it since. It really makes us happy to give something that is really going to be appreciated and used. And we hope it lasts for a long long time and they get many years and miles of use out of it.

Family Time.

We went up to my parent’s house on Christmas day and had the fun and folly of being with the whole family. Except for my sister’s family. Now that she’s got 10 kids we may never see her again. But even without her, we had something like 22 people there, and it was fun. It was actually the quietest Christmas celebration we’ve had in quite some time. Most of the kids stayed downstairs or watched a movie, and we’d call them up one family at a time to get their gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. The picture above is my brother actually blowing out his birthday candle that is there in the birthday pie. Yes, his birthday is on Christmas. A fact that I try to remember when I’m feeling picked on by the unfortunate timing of my birthday.

Food, Goodies, Sweets, Temptations.
I think I’ve eaten my weight in cookies, candies, chex mix and goodies. Seriously, people, don’t bring any more yummy food to our house ever again. Or at least until my birthday.

Singing Silent Night
Ryan and I sang Silent Night for our talent portion of his family party, and it was fun to sing with him. He actually played the guitar (my guitar that I don’t play), and I sang, and it was nice to sing to a guitar. I think this year I really DO need to learn to play the guitar. We also sang Silent Night with our family on Christmas eve before the kids went to bed, and then in the morning before we opened presents, John said, “I want to sing the PEACE song”. So, we sang the peace song together and it was nice. It’s one of my favorite Christmas songs, and if he wants to sing it anytime, I’m game.

Since I hadn’t yet watched Rejoice and be Merry with the King’s Singers (last year’s concert), I made the kids watch it on Christmas eve with me. You would have thought I was torturing them with hot pokers or something, to hear them complain. I mean, come on, people! Who doesn’t love the Twelve days of Christmas? You can see the video from that song here. I think I might just watch it every day just to make them crazy. Right after Rock band.

Christmas letters.
I know I was late in getting my Christmas card and letters out this year, and I may have inadvertently forgotten some, and didn’t have addresses for others. I felt very disorganized in my card sending. But I do enjoy getting those letters from friends. For some, this is the only communication we receive all year, so it’s especially fun to see pictures of their families and read what they’ve been up to. And even if I have to hear all about their perfect kids, I still enjoy the cards. (I know that their kids can’t be perfect ALL the time, right?) My sister and brother-in-law actually send out the funniest letter, and I really look forward to reading about their mishaps and adventures.

That warm Christmas feeling.
I love everything about Christmas. And I love the feelings of love and peace that we have each December as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I almost didn’t want Christmas to come because I don’t want Christmas to be over. But, yes, it’s come, and now it’s over. It’s up to us to keep those feelings in our hearts even when we don’t have people telling us Merry Christmas, and we aren’t hearing beautiful Christmas music on the radio. It’s up to each of us to keep Christ in our hearts.

Walkin in a Winter Wonderland

Hey, I’m still here. I’m just buried under about a foot of new snow. Because we didn’t quite have enough.

I’m so thankful I’m not traveling in this wet mess. There are people who have been stranded at the bus station for five days, but thanks to some kind people, they have found flights for many of them, and also fed and put them up in hotels, finally.

Our Arizona guests made it up here without any traveling trouble, and are enjoying the snow. I think the kids will be playing outside a lot of the day today. The problem is when they come back inside! They bring the snowsuits, boots, gloves, hats, and wet socks, and they have to put them somewhere.

Yes, it’s a winter wonderland!

Christmas parties

I love a good company Christmas party! It’s a night out with good food that you don’t have to pay for, and there are usually gifts or prizes. And on top of that, there’s a good chance that you’ll get to watch someone else make a fool of themselves when they are drunk! What could be more festive than that? Since I don’t actually have a job, I’ve had to rely on Ryan’s job for my company party fix. For the past couple of years, though, I’ve had choir commitments on the same night as Ryan’s company Christmas parties, so we haven’t gone. I encouraged Ryan to go without me or to “take a date”, but he would have nothing of it, and if I couldn’t go with him, he didn’t want to go alone. If the situation were reversed, I would TOTALLY go without him.

This year was different, though. For some reason Ryan’s company planned their party for a Thursday night when I didn’t have choir stuff, and I was excited to go! But then, with the slow economy, the company had to let some people go, and decided that to host a company party would not be a wise idea. I have to agree that it’s a better idea to not have a party, than to spend a bunch of money on an open bar. But still, then we’re out of a company party! My friend Kristy describes the disappointment perfectly in her post called “The Economy – Stealing More Than My 401K.”

As it turns out, I DID have a choir commitment the night of the party, after all. We had to rehearse for the Music and the Spoken word for this last Sunday. And if you didn’t catch the MSW this week (shame on you! You should have been watching!) you can find it, or last week’s wonderful program, and look for my bright smiling face at the BYU TV site. Yesterday’s program will be on next Sunday at 8:00am or 4:00pm, I think. I was kind of relieved that I didn’t have to try to make it to both a rehearsal and a party that night.

But never fear, we still got to go to the Choir Christmas party. It’s quite a lovely affair at the Grand America. I think they set up for about 1000 people, and the food was great this year, and the company was so much fun.

When I was signing up and registering my guest, I decided to mix things up a little bit. Instead of “Ryan”, I registered that “Dirk” would be my date. Just for fun. A day or so before the party, I did mention to Ryan that he “may or may not have to go by a different name at the choir Christmas party.” He was open minded about the whole thing, and when we got there to pick up our name tags, there was his–Dirk Erickson. “Dirk?” he said to me? “I’m Dirk?!”
“Well, yes, I guess you are,” I replied, “Isn’t that fun?”
“Whatever.” Thankfully we were in party mode, and he didn’t get too annoyed with me.

So, when we sat down to eat and laugh and joke with the people at our table, we wondered if the others at our table would notice my husband’s name change. Maybe they don’t know his real name? About 15-20 minutes into the dinner, Ryan commented to me that maybe no one notices name tags, anyway, because there had been no comments on his new name. But never fear, my friend Maranda was the one to notice.

“What the heck?” she said when she looked at his name tag, “Dirk? Who’s Dirk?”
That got everyone looking and asking why his name tag said Dirk. “Oh, because Paige is just weird,” was the best answer we could come up with. And we all got a good laugh out of it. Maybe next year we’ll Both have different names. We could be Rhett and Scarlett or something like that. Or Bonnie and Clyde, or Lea and Luke, or…. but one of us probably has to be a choir member. Darn. But it was a fun little way to see if people actually notice what your name tag says.
It was a lovely night, with good friends, good food, and the dessert was good this year! And it’s always nice to have President Monson attend the party!

So we still had our “company party”. On Saturday we had two family parties. One with Ryan’s family in the day. There was tons of yummy food, a talent show and some gift opening. It was very fun, of course. Then my family had their party at night. There was lots of yummy food, a craft, a giant twister game, a puppet show, and Santa came. It was probably the quietest family party we’ve had in a long time, since several families didn’t come. It was a wonderful mix of visiting with family, fun for the kids, and presents from Grandma.

This week we have our neighborhood party, which is a WHOLE different atmosphere. I’ve had to miss this one for the past couple of years, too, but this year I am lucky that they scheduled it later, and I can go. Ryan has no problem going to that one without me, by the way. I’m working on our white elephant gift, because that is the highlight of the party! Nothing too personal and embarrassing, like some people do, but I do want something original and fun. One year I gave away tickets to a U of U game that was in SanDiego. I don’t think they got used, but it’s a fun idea. Another year I gave away tickets to some show that was playing in Wendover the next night. I don’t have any quirky tickets to give away this year, but I do have a nice Manheim Steamroller gift basket with Halloween music and light up teeth in it. I think that might be my gift of choice this year. That or some just for men hair color. Maybe both.

What’s been your most exciting white elephant gift? My brother-in-law once took a tarantula to one of these things.

Today brings making and delivering the neighbor’s gifts. Last night we baked up three different kind of treats, and today we need to finish up the packaging and send the kids out to deliver them all (hopefully before the storm comes in). And my brother and his family are coming to stay with us for a couple of days. I hope they don’t mind that the house is a mess. With all the party attending, bell ringing, and baking, I haven’t gotten around to much house cleaning. Oh well, it will just get messed up when they are here, right? So we are just starting out with the house pre-messed!

If I don’t get a chance to wish you all a Merry Christmas, please know that I do wish you all the most wonderful Christmas week. Let’s all try to enjoy our families and the fun and excitement that is Christmas, and not worry so much about the details that we all think need to be perfect. There’s only a few more days to drink in the wonderful feeling of Christmas, so let’s all enjoy it!

Deep thoughts from the 5 year old set

As I was driving the boys to their preschool “Polar Express Party” today, the running conversation went something like this:

You might slip and fall on your butt.
That is a BAD word! You shouldn’t say bad words.
Yeah, like swearing.
Or like saying “I’m going to beat you up.”
Jesus doesn’t like it if you swear. If you swear then you are going to die and go to Satan, not to Jesus.
Yeah, and then you’ll come back alive in like 8 days.
Or 3 days.
Or maybe you’ll be dead a long time. Like 800 years, until Jesus comes back again.
And we don’t know how long that is going to be, until Jesus comes back.

About this time we drove by something that was more interesting than their discussion on Jesus and his impending resurrection, like a big truck, and the subject was changed. It’s so much fun to listen to these boys and their conversations, especially when they don’t think I’m listening.

The adventures of Dollar Store Mom!

Last night for Family Home Evening we had told the kids we would go to the Dollar Store. Of course, by the time FHE came around, some of us were exhausted from making and decorating dozens of sugar cookies. But, they were so excited about going shopping, and I was feeling guilty about having been gone all weekend and most of last week, so I sucked up my tiredness and rounded up the kids to go to…THE DOLLAR STORE!

First we have to make sure that each kid does indeed have some money. I give them money every week if they do their chores, so I know that they have had money, but that doesn’t mean they still have it. They might have:
a-lost it
b-spent it
c-lost it
d-left it in their pockets and then put their pants through the wash, in which case, the person doing the laundry (me) might have claimed it as their own
or e-all of the above.

We did manage to find some money for all of them, so that everyone had at least a couple of dollars. But even at the dollar store, two dollars does not cover all their wants and needs.

As we were pulling up to the crowded store (a popular place on a Monday night before Christmas, I guess), a contest came on the radio, and after I dialed in a few times and it was ringing, I handed the phone to Ryan, because I have won recently on that station (remember that large prize I told you about? The one that they wouldn’t let Ryan pick up for me last week when he went to go and pick it up? Yeah, that one), and what do you know, he was the correct caller. Lucky him! I think he won a 7-11 prize pack, which my carpool should enjoy. We were just talking about that the other night…”remember when Paige had those 7-11 coupons and we went there after rehearsal every week for a month? We should do that again sometime…” Well, I guess we will get to do that again. On the phone, the DJ asked him his name, and when he said Ryan Erickson, the guy said, “Oh, yeah. We’ve had a lot of Ericksons winning lately. Are you any relation to Kyle?” Kyle (his brother) must have won something again that day–no surprise.

Anyway, I got out of the car while he was finishing up the phone call and took the kids into the store. John had plans to buy presents for his teachers, and one for his class party. Natalie needed something for her secret Santa gift for her class, and the other kids had grand plans to buy presents for each other on the cheap. I have never seen a dollar store so crowded! It was near mayhem! We wandered up and down a few aisles, and then I told the kids they might do better splitting up, since they were picking things up and saying, “I think I’ll get this for Cole,” while Cole is standing RIGHT there.

John picked out a fun play set with handcuffs, a gun, a phone and a whistle for his preschool gift exchange. I hope a boy gets that one. He also picked up a very “pretty” red fur purse for his beloved teacher, Mrs. Net (She really goes by Miss Annette, but who am I to correct him when it’s so cute. And he wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to tell him her real name. I’ve tried.), and a cute little goofy figurine. For Miss Andra, he got a pair of gloves and a little LED flashlight. I hope they’ll understand that these gifts come from John, and that he picked them out himself.

The real fun is when the kids make it up to the register to pay for their stuff. As each child was ready, I would take them up and help them pay for their purchases. They reach into their pockets and pull out the one crumpled up dollar bill, along with a handful of change and plop it onto the conveyor belt. After the poor frazzled teenaged clerk counts up all the change, they let me know how much we still need to pay, and then I either put it on the debit card or pulled out some cash of my own. Then I would take that child out to the car where dad was waiting and then go back in to try to find and help the next child. Believe me, it was quite an adventure!

When we were finally done, and the last straggler was in the car, we went to Thanksgiving Point to drive through the light exibit. My nose was running something fierce, and there was not a Kleenex to be found in the car. I searched through the glove box and my purse for a tissue, maybe an old napkin? Nothing. Finally, I remembered the 12 pack of toilet paper that was in the back of the vehicle. I called back to the back row and had Cole grab me a roll of TP. “You mean open the package?” he asked me. Um, yes, that is generally how we get a roll out. But don’t ask me, I’m just snippy because my nose won’t stop running and I’ve got nothing but my sleeve to wipe it on. He finally handed me the roll and I was able to blow my nose! Heaven in a tissue, I tell you! I was relieved and could be happy again.

John was asleep before we even got there. We tried multiple times to wake him up, but he just drifted back to sleep. Oh well. I guess sleep is more important than seeing fun Christmas things sometimes.

We made it

Well, it was quite a week, with the Tab Choir Christmas concert.
It was a wonderful experience. If you didn’t get to go and you didn’t catch the mini version on Sunday morning’s Music and the Spoken Word, you can always get the CD and DVD or watch it on PBS next Christmas, or read these reviews Just don’t read the comments left on the article, because you will be scratching your head in wonder at the people who chose to comment and why. There’s a fabulous recap with pictures on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints Website here.

Mr. Mitchell stopped to talk to us for a minute backstage, and I shook Mr.Herrmann’s hand, and they were both gracious and warm. We are so lucky to be able to have such talented performers come and join us each year.

Ryan did a great job of holding down the fort while I was gone every night of the week, although some things still make me laugh. I “glued” up the little gingerbread houses on Friday so that Ryan and the kids could decorate them that night. I figured the kids still need to do some fun Christmas things even if Mom is gone. When I came home Friday night, I was so thrilled to see all the houses (well, all except Cole’s since he was gone to a party that night) decorated so cute! And the big house that Ryan decorated was Much cuter than the one I did last year! They did a great job! But next to the houses was a huge pile of candy wrappers sitting there on the counter. And a great big pile of dishes in the sink. When I asked the kids the next morning why they didn’t throw away their wrappers, they said, “Dad didn’t tell us to! He told us to go to bed.” Well, that sounds like Dad, but haven’t I trained you children at ALL? If I’m not here telling you to put your dishes in the dishwasher or to throw away your wrappers are you not going to do it? At least I’m needed here at home, I guess.

Saturday I took the kids over to our neighbor’s cabin to see Santa and ride the train. It was so well done and magical. And a snow storm came in just then to make it really feel like Christmas, and to make us really appreciate the hot chocolate. Of course we didn’t appreciate the snow a little later, when we had to drive up to Salt Lake in the snow. Thankfully, the worst of it was here at our house, and once we were on the freeway, it wasn’t too bad.

Saturday was long day, as it the taping day, in order to get a clean recording of the songs for the CD or DVD without an audience. But we had a lot of downtime, too. After a fabulous dinner, we had some time to kill and played Spaz Uno, Ziggety and the signs game and I was laughing so hard I was crying. After our performance that night, my friend Maranda and I were happy to not have to drive all the way home. We stayed with my wonderful friend, Marguerite, who had graciously offered to let us stay overnight at her house, which is only a few blocks away from downtown. It still took us about a half an hour to get through the concert traffic, but it was nice to have a warm comfortable place to stay and not have to drive home and then back in the early morning. Thanks, friend!

Sunday, we woke to MORE snow and icy roads. I worried about my family, and how the drive would be for them, but they made it up to the conference center in plenty of time. Ryan brought the three oldest kids up for the broadcast, and the youngest two got to have their own overnight vacation at Julene and Italo’s house! Lucky kids!

The broadcast and mini concert went very well, but what you don’t see from the audience is the show backstage. Imagine 100 plus bell ringers breaking out into a FULL RUN as soon as they get off stage. The thundering sounds of all of those feet on the stairs was a bit scary! We all had to run to where our bells were, put down the bells from one song, and find the bells for the next song (no, we don’t ring the same bells for every song) and then run back up three flights of stairs in time for our next entrance. If I weren’t panting so hard, I would have been laughing. We figured that between the rehearsal, the broadcast and the mini concert afterwards, we ran up and down roughly 24 flights of stairs. So, yes, we were sweaty and tired when we were done.

As we were walking out to the parking garage, I said, “My wish is that the snow has stopped and the sun is shining.” Someone walking near me laughed, and said, “Right, and that there’s only snow on the grass!” Was she mocking my wish? I think not. When we pulled out, sure enough, the sun was shining! The drive home was clear and dry. My Christmas wish!

I have to say it was a marvelous week and a wonderful experience. I am so thankful that I could be involved in such an amazing concert. At the end of the mini concert, when the choir and orchestra all sing “God be with you till we meet again”, tears were running down my face. It was an emotional day, and one I won’t soon forget.

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