The Trials of a Busy Mom

Month: November 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

It’s a time for giving

I wanted to do something for the homeless this season. So many people are homeless and really need help, especially in these cold, cold months.

The Road Home is a private non-profit social service agency that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County and along the Wasatch Front. Our mission is to help people step out of homelessness and back into our community.

Originally established in 1923 to assist stranded travelers, the Road Home has grown to address a spectrum of needs that people experiencing homelessness encounter as they work to restore their lives. In addition to operating the largest shelter in Utah, the Road Home has developed a comprehensive housing program that helps people move into housing as quickly as possible.

I looked on line to see what kind of supplies they accepted, and I found out that they really take ANYTHING except for furniture. They are especially in need of common items like socks, clothing, sleeping bags, blankets, shoes, and personal hygiene products.

For Family Home Evening one night, I told the kids about my goal to provide some warm things for the homeless, and they jumped right on board. While I looked for blankets and coats, the kids looked through their toys, stuffed animals, and books for things they could give. I was most surprised by John, my youngest. He was VERY generous in his giving. He brought book after book and stuffed animal after stuffed animal. Even some books I didn’t think we should give away, he said, “No, Mom, I want those kids to have this book. I don’t read it anymore.” They gathered three big bags of stuff they wanted to give to those kids. When we added the blankets, towels, and coats, and pillows, our donations filled the back of my car.

Originally I wanted the kids to go with me to donate this stuff, but there just wasn’t a good time. I ended up taking everything up to the road home before a rehearsal, when I was going downtown anyway. It was quick and easy. I just pulled in and someone came out and helped me unload. Kind of like when you drop off donations to Deseret Industries. The lady there thanked me and said that they would use ALL of these items. As I drove away, I saw the people lined up at the door of the shelter. The people who were there for a hot meal, or some warm clothes.

It was 12 degrees when I drove my kids to school this morning. Twelve. I cannot imagine how in the world people can survive when they have no place to go at night. When life has not worked out the way they wanted and they end up homeless. I hope that they can find shelter and a warm place to sleep, and I hope that our coats and blankets help to warm them, and that the toys and clothes the kids gave also help to make some child happy.

If you would like to do something to help others stay warm, and also warm your own heart, you might also like to donate to the Road Home,or a homeless shelter in your area.


I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and those who you love! I can’t even list all that I am grateful for, but I’d like to start with my wonderful husband, my fabulous and talented children, my awesome parents and my brother and sisters, as well as the incredible family that I married into. I love them like my own family. I’ve been blessed way more than I deserve, and I am so thankful for all those who have sacrificed so that I can have the life I do. I have a warm place to live, food enough to feed my family and share with others, and the freedom to practice the religion I believe in. Truly blessed and truly grateful.

I’d like to share one of my favorite songs on gratitude.

I have a wonderful family, and I loved spending time with them today. Thanksgiving was truly a party, with volleyball and basketball before and after the big meal. The food was plentiful and delicious, and we all had a fabulous time.

We even made these turkeys yesterday.

They took forever, and I should have used my own frosting instead of frosting from a can. Now I know! But it was a fun project to do with my kids.

I also made mountains of mashed potatoes, a huge jello salad, and this easy pumpkin crumble. I didn’t cook a turkey, but I do have one in the freezer that I’ll have to cook up in the next month or so, just so we can have leftovers.

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday!

Boiler Boiler Toil and trouble? No, that doesn’t sound quite right.

When we built this house nearly 10 years ago, Ryan did a lot of the work himself. He wanted to install radiant floor heating, so he laid all the pipe in the concrete floors.

We talked about how someday we would buy a boiler and then hook up all this orange pipe and have warm floors. But boilers are expensive, and so we did not purchase one. I kept bugging Ryan about getting started on finishing that basement, and he said he wasn’t going to work on the basement when it was so cold down there, and I said let’s buy the dumb boiler, etc., etc.

Well, last winter we decided it was about darn time to buy the boiler. There was a healthy rebate offered, so we purchased the boiler. And there it sat, nice and cozy in it’s box. Other projects and Ryan’s heavy traveling schedule were always in the way.

At the end of summer, I had the furnace inspected, and they discovered a crack. They recommended that I have them fix it, or NOT run that furnace. Well, it was time to decide…are we going to get that boiler hooked up, or do we fix the furnace? (We did end up fixing the furnace, but called in the guys who originally installed it, so it wasn’t so expensive.)

Ryan and his brother-in-law have been working many long hours to get things hooked up in the basement. They’ve moved things around, unhooked the water heaters (which were leaking, by the way. It seems water heaters do NOT last more than 10 years. Many of our neighbors have recently experienced flooding due to water heaters leaking.), and there’s been lots of banging. Some nights I went to wash my face and found that we had no water. Or no hot water. There have been many mornings when I went to shower and was met by much sputtering and splashing and COLD water before the air in the line was forced out and the hot water finally came out. And the expense! I mistakenly thought that buying the boiler was it. I thought you just bought the boiler and “hook it up”. I forgot about all those many many orange pipes that have to go somewhere.

It’s been about a month of working and buying more and more parts, but on Sunday I went into my bathroom (the one with the coldest floors EVER) and I thought, “I must be crazy. The floor feels warm.” Could it be? Could it finally be working?

In the basement, it looks like this.

See all those orange pipes and that gorgeous manifold? Isn’t it pretty?

I’ve been walking around barefoot just enjoying the warmth on my feet. It’s not all evened out quite yet, so there are a lot of warm spots, and it feels wonderful. Of course, there are cold spots, too. Although yesterday my family room was 75 degrees and I had to open a couple of windows. Eventually it will all be regulated and hopefully won’t be getting too WARM, but it’s SO FANTASTIC!

Today there are forecasts of a huge blizzard that is hitting our area, but I keep thinking, “the weather outside is frightful, but our floors are so delightful”.

So, a big thank you to Chuck and Ryan, who have worked many long hours to get this thing set up. I’ll be enjoying my warm floors for many years to come. And if I get cold, I may just have to lay down on the wood floor to warm up.

Concert week

It’s concert week this week.

That means a lot of rehearsal, a lot of time away from home, and a lot of stress. If you could heard the thoughts running through my head, most of them would be music. I go to bed with songs in my head, and I wake up to songs in my head. Or I wake up to counting those songs in my head. “One and two and three and four, five, six…” One of my bell choir friends said that she dreamed that her life was in 6/8 time and her daughter refused to come in on four. I know that makes no sense to most of you, but I thought it was funny and I totally understood where she was coming from.

We only have one performance this year, and that means one time to get everything right. Add to that pressure that we have people recording parts or all of the concert, and our director expects each song to be perfect. I know that I have the ability to play all the songs perfectly. While I may not have played every song perfectly without mistake, I have played every part of each song correctly at one time. If I could just edit together all of my BEST run throughs of each song, I’d have it all done perfectly. And it’s not just me, there are 29 of us all attempting our very best performances. Oh, and many of the songs we will be playing have been arranged by our director. No pressure or anything.

But I know that I have done everything I can do to prepare. We have rehearsed and rehearsed and I have put in my time. Now it’s a matter of being THERE, in the music, and not getting distracted during the performance. And praying. Lots of praying.

I LOVE playing bells, and the experience is absolutely wonderful. I treasure my association with my fellow choir members, and we work together to make the best music we can. But the pressure. It’s still there.

If you want a sample of one of the songs we will be playing, you can take a listen to this one right here. This song, Holiday for Strings, has given us our share of headaches and stress, that’s for sure. (Click on the link, then click on “listen”. Or, if you want to see the sheet music, you can click on “View”)

We will also be playing the Overture from the Nutcracker Suite. I just searched on you tube and found this absolutely AMAZING performance by a bell choir playing this song.

The choregraphy! 6 ringers all sharing and playing all those notes! WOW! Now I’m feeling like I can TOTALLY play our version of the song. At least I don’t have to do that!

On Sunday morning, our bell choir will also be performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast. We will be playing two songs with the Choir and one song on our own. None of those songs are songs from the concert, by the way. Tune in if you can! My sister’s artwork will also be featured during the spoken word!

Amid this week of rehearsals and stress, last night was another BRIGHT spot of fun. My book club was meeting for their holiday dinner, and I had hoped that I could stop by after rehearsal and say hi and maybe sneak some yummy dessert. We were excused from rehearsal at about 8:30, and I hurried as fast as I could to my friend Melinda’s house, and made it there by 9. I was SO delighted that many of my book club friends were still there. I haven’t been able to attend our monthly book club meeting in several months, and I really missed my connection with these friends. Even though it was late, they fed me dinner, and it was FABULOUS! Butternut squash lasagna! Can you say Yummy? I knew I shouldn’t be snarfing dinner so late and so quickly, but it was all so yummy (and I really was hungry. I had only eaten a granola bar before rehearsal in anticipation of at least a yummy dessert later), and I was so happy to be with these friends. I am so lucky to have such wonderful and talented people in my life, and I bathed in the bright smiles and conversation with my friends.

I am truly blessed.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate, anyone?

Today, from 2-5 PM, it’s Buy 1 Holiday Drink and Get 1 Free at Starbucks. You can choose from Caramel Brulee Latte, Peppermint Mocha, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread Latte, Eggnog Latte, Caramel Brulee Frappuccino, Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. I have never been to a Starbucks. Ever. Can you believe it. I mean, I don’t drink coffee and all that, but I think it may just be time for me to check out what all the buzz (get it–buzz?) is about.

Mama’s Holiday Wish List

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStopp are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
–I wish that my family could all enjoy EACH OTHER and realize the many gifts that they already have in their lives. I wish that we can also truly remember the Savior and the greatest gift of all.
(p.s. I also wish for a clean house.)

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
–We make the kids wait on the stairs until we are all ready to go down to the living room and see what Santa brought. We listen to Christmas music as we open presents, and then we eat and enjoy the day!

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?
–A new car. Specifically a red Mazda 6. How about it, Santa?

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
–We bake a lot of goodies, we go to many free concerts, we enjoy parties with loved ones, and we watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special and any other Christmas shows or movies that we remember to record. We also have a little advent calendar that is filled with treats or little notes that inform the kids of one special thing we’re going to do that day, like..”play in the snow and then drink hot chocolate”, or “sleep under the Christmas tree”.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
–I loved the game “The Inventors” or “Inventions” or something like that. I wish I had that game today. I always love the invention “the eye protector for chickens” and I even had little song I sang about it. (Yes, I’m a weird one. But you already knew that, right?) We also played Life and Monopoly.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
–The Christmas morning lineup I remember from when I was a kid. Sometimes we’d have to go back to the stairs and “do it again, with the same level of excitement, please” because the camera wasn’t right, or the light wasn’t right for filming. We haven’t made our kids back up and rewind, but we do make them wait.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
–I was just looking at the pictures from the trip we took to Cancun. It was a December trip, but we came back right before Christmas. It was wonderful! I would LOVE to take my family to Cancun one year, and spend our Christmas break there.

8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?
–If I were to win this prize, I would totally be picking up the Donkey Kong Country Returns game for the Wii, Sonic Colors for the Wii, and Toy Story 3 for the Wii.

What a fun contest to enter. We could so put those games to good use. If you want to enter this one yourself, check out Today’s Mama for the rules.

Norah Jones “Featuring” review

I received an advanced copy of Norah Jones’ new album, “Featuring” from the One2One Network to review.

Since I have long been a fan of Norah Jones, I was excited to get this CD in the mail. Hubby and I even attended a Norah Jones concert a few years back. I was SO EXCITED, while he was only mildly excited, but he willingly came with me. It was an outdoor concert at the USANA Amphitheater. For some reason the grass was wet, and we were unprepared, with only one blanket. The blanket was soon wet, and there we were, cold and wet on the grass, but still enjoying the music. Good times. It may take quite a bit of convincing to get him to go to a concert there again. But I digress. I was telling you about this great new CD.

This CD will be available in stores on Tuesday, and if you’d like to take a listen, go on over to the Norah Jones Website for a preview.

“…Featuring is a star-studded collection of Norah Jones’ collaborations spanning her entire career. The result serves as a kind of parallel history to her four albums, which have sold over 40 million copies worldwide. ” said one site.

Featuringis a compilation of 18 guest collaborators including Dolly Parton, Andre 3000, Q-Tip, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock and The Foo Fighters..

“A lot of the people on this record are people I’ve worshiped since I was a kid, and some of them are younger and more my contemporaries,” says Norah. “Even though the musicians are so varied, the vibe of the songs makes sense when we put them all together.”

I must say honestly that I enjoyed this album. But then again, I’m already a big Norah fan. With all these different artists, each song is different. No offense to Norah, but sometimes her music gets to be a little “samey,” and there’s no sameness about this album. Each song still has that wonderful blues quality that Norah is famous for. Some of my favorite songs on the album are Creepin’ In – with Dolly Parton, Baby it’s cold outside with Willy Nelson, and Virginia Moon with the Foo Fighters. Did I love every single track? No, but I do enjoy the CD, and plan to make it a permanent fixture in my car.


It’s basketball time here at Casa Erickson. John’s got a team of buddies that he played baseball, soccer and now basketball with. It’s great to have so many boys his age in the neighborhood, and it’s even greater that we have such good sports dads who are willing to coach them! When I asked him originally if he wanted to play basketball, he said, “No. I don’t know how to play basketball.” I had to remind him that this they would TEACH him how to play, and that his friends were all going to play basketball. He was in. So, every Wed night and Saturday morning, you can find us (well, some of us, at least) at a basketball game.

Look at that boy get some air!

He’s got some really aggressive boys on his team who tend to do all the work. I told John that if he wanted to score, he was going to have to get the ball away from Tucker and Carl so he could shoot. In his 7 year old wisdom, he said to me, “Why would I want to get the ball away from them? They are on my team!” Well put, son. But he has had his share of time with the ball and last night he even made a basket! It’s so much fun to watch these little guys play. Dribbling is optional. Nobody is called for fouls, or annoying double dribbles and all that. In fact, there’s very little arguing with the refs, since there aren’t refs. And no one keeps score! It’s all for fun.

After one of his games, we all got out there on the court and did a little shooting. Even Kazuki, our Japanese exchange student, got into the fun.

Contrast that low key sports team for little kids to the 9th grade team try outs. Megan has been playing basketball with her friends for the past few years (and done quite well).

She’s quick and can steal like crazy, and those skinny little legs can jump.

Well, Timberline has been having open gym where the girls who want to try out come after school for two hours and practice, play, and train twice a week for two weeks. And this week they held try-outs. I was going to say ‘auditions’ but I guess you audition for a play, not a basketball team. Monday and Tuesday Megan and her friend Shaylee were there from 3-5:30 working their butts off to show those coaches what they could do. When I picked them up, they were lamenting how sore they were, how tired they were, or how bad they had done on different things. But they were having fun. Tuesday night, the results were posted at 7. So, before YW, I took both girls over to the school to see if their names were on the list. Oh, the tension and excitement. Joy of Joys, they BOTH made it. Also on the team are two girls they’ve played basketball with, and one girl from her soccer team. Which is good. That means I know 1/2 of the girls on the team already, and it will be that much easier to learn the other girls’ names.

My excitement waned a little bit as I just put 30 games on my calendar. Just what I need as I enter the “concert season”. Thankfully, there’s a bus. So if I can’t make it to those away games, at least I don’t have to figure out how she’s going to get there. And I don’t have to drive her to practices, they are just after school every day. We’ll work it all out.

It’s not the high school team, but we still couldn’t be prouder!

Watch out, this may just turn into a sports blog yet!

What a deal on eats

By now you’ve surely heard about, where you can buy discounted gift certificates for restaurants all over. And they are constantly having sales and special coupon codes to make it even cheaper. Well, right now they have one heck of a deal going on.

Just use coupon code GIVE at checkout which will take 80% off of $25 Gift Certificates and leave you to pay ONLY $2! This is a great opportunity to stock up on gift certificates for Christmas gifts, Birthday gifts, to use on upcoming vacations or just to have on stock for date night. Just be sure to enter the promo code GIVE at checkout.

To make this deal even better, if you go through
ShopAtHome Banner

You can get 30% back. Have I told you about yet? I just received a check for $35, all from clicking through ShopatHome before I shop online. There are specials, discounts, and always a percentage back. Just go on over here and sign up and start earning cash back.

I just ordered 6 $25 gift certificates for $14, then I’ll get 30% of that (a little more than $4, but still, it’s cash back!), so it’s quite a deal.

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