The Trials of a Busy Mom

Month: January 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

J is for Jenna

Sunday was Jenna’s 10th Birthday! What a fun age 10 is.

She didn’t get a party this year, but did decide to get her ears pierced, so Jenna and I went to the mall to let the ear piercing professionals at Claire’s pierce her ears. She was very brave and didn’t even hardly say ouch.

Here she is with her newly pierced ears.

We also went out to Applebees with the whole family. Since it can get very crowded there on a Saturday night and we didn’t want to have an hour long wait for dinner, we scheduled a lunch date. It was nice.

For her cake, Jenna wanted an owl cake. Not wanting to disappoint, I found SUCH a cute owl cake!

But you know how these cake designs go…they look SO easy in the directions, but when making the cake, there are so many variables. Maybe the cake is not so dense and it doesn’t hold up very well, maybe the frosting isn’t thick enough, maybe things fall over.

I had baked the cakes, and my girls really wanted to help frost the cake. Which was good, because then I could shift the responsibility on to them and hopefully ease my stress (cake decorating REALLY isn’t a talent of mine). cake

We got him all assembled and decorated, but then he started leaning. And leaning more. We kept trying to prop him up with shims of cookies and additional chopsticks stuck through the middle.

“What would Duff do?” I said to the kids in somewhat of a panic. Jenna was in the other room listening to our conversation, and she must have REALLY wondered what was going on with our cake.

Finally we decided to prop up the plate so that he could stand a little straighter. And the frosting didn’t seem to be stiff enough and I was worried that his eyes might just slide off his face. As soon as the cake was done, we called Jenna in from the other room so she could see him before he collapsed.

She was thrilled. She actually put those orange dots on the owl’s tummy herself. And what do you know? The cake did not tip over, collapse, or have have his eyes slide off. Success!!

When we look back at these pictures, I’m sure my girls will remember the “fun” we had making this cake together, and hopefully they will laugh at the memory.

I hope it was a wonderful birthday for my dear little girl, Jenna. She is a joy in our family and we LOVE HER VERY MUCH!

Let’s get the show on the road

I haven’t written much here about our upcoming ROADSHOW, but it’s time to enlighten you. Some of the younger generation might not even know what a roadshow is, but Brigham Young is probably the man responsible for roadshows (or you might have called them “trail shows” back then). At least he set a precedent when he instructed the Saints traveling across the vast prairie expanses to gather together in the evenings to sing, dance, and entertain each other. He knew that such celebrations could raise the spirits of his people.

Today’s Saints are still carrying on the tradition, according to Pat Davis, cultural arts specialist for the General Activities Committee. “I sometimes think we don’t realize what we have in roadshows,” said Sister Davis. “Roadshows are a unique LDS art form, and an exciting showcase for talents. Every would-be composer, choreographer, director, singer, playwright, and dancer has the opportunity to hone skills and try them before the public.” Originally the roadshow would actually go ‘on the road’ and be performed at several different churches through the stake. Now, not every building has a stage or place to perform, so our roadshow is limited to one night at our Stake Center.

And who would be in charge of the ward’s road show, you ask? Well, me, of course. Because apparently having a time consuming calling with the Bells on Temple square and another time consuming calling in the primary presidency and, well, you know, my life weren’t enough to keep me busy. Ahem.

In December, right in the middle of my crazy hectic schedule where I spent about half of my month at the conference center in Salt Lake City, I was informed that the young men and young women had scheduled every week in January to work on this roadshow of mine, so would I mind getting off my butt and coming up with a plan? Ok, they didn’t exactly put it like that, but on the day after Christmas, I called together my committee for an emergency planning meeting to figure out what the heck we wanted to do.

I am honestly so IMPRESSED with what we have come up with. Our theme was basically the 13th article of faith, which in case you need a reminder states: We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We decided to go with a top 40 countdown show, showcasing the songs that are important to our Highland 9th ward youth. We thought of popular, current songs, and we had our youth change the words. For example, instead of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” we have changed it to “All the Missionaries”. I was explaining to this my parents, and telling them how great it was to see all our young men actually learning this dance (toned down just a little bit. And they do wear pants) and having fun. They said, ‘Who is Beyonce?’ and “What is this Single ladies song?” What? I thought everyone in Northern America had pretty much seen at least one version of this song, but I guess I was mistaken. So, for my parents, here’s the original song.

I won’t post all the lyrics to our awesome song just yet, because there may be other road show writers out there just lurking here to find out our secrets. –What? It could happen!– But just know that it’s awesome.

The kids have been working on choreographing dances and blocking to these songs, and I’ve found that a lot of my job is organizational. When are we going to rehearse each thing, and how are we going to make such and such work. Not theatrical at all. Basically, I’ve been stuck doing all the boring grunt work, with not so much of the creative work. Oh, well. Maybe I’m getting better at the organizational stuff.

We’ve got one song, “Don’t Stop Believing” which is kind of my song. When we chose our songs, and figured out how we wanted to change them, we assigned one or two young people to come up with the actual lyrics. Except when I asked one of the youth to help me rewrite the words (since she WAS on the writing committee) she pretty much blew me off with the excuse that she was too busy. Seriously? Too busy? I may never get over that one, chick. So… I wrote it. It took me about a half and hour. (Too busy? Humph!) As we are trying to teach the youth the lyrics and dance to the song, we found it’s harder to learn when all we have to rehearse are either the original lyrics or the karaoke version with no words. Fine. I’ll sing the song and record the changed words so we can all learn it at our Tuesday night rehearsal this week. It won’t be our performance cut or anything, but it will do.

So I went over to our tech guy’s house, where he’s got the whole ‘garage band’ thing all set up on his computer. He plugs in a mic, gives me a set of headphones and off we go. Now, just for the record, “Don’t Stop Believing” is not the easiest song to sing. It’s high, but it’s right in between my “belt it out” range and my “head voice” range. Never mind. I sang it through once, and then we listened to it. Or rather, he listened to it, and I sat there cringing. Flat note there, not a good entrance there, too loud and a bit screechy there. I sound dumb singing the boy’s part there. And gosh, do I really sound like that? It was painful.
“Do you want to do it again?” he asked. And while I would have liked to do it right and do it again and again until I was satisfied with the sound, I realized that this is called a “scratch recording” for a reason. We’re just going to play it for the kids to sing to so that they can get the words. It’s not for performance.

I cringed and said, “No, it’s good enough. Just don’t tell anyone who did the vocals. Tell them it was your wife or some homeless person off the street who had a ‘will sing for food’ sign.”
He laughed and said, “Right. Let me just download this as my new ringtone, then we’ll be done.”
“You will do NO such thing!” I said a little too loudly.

Now I’m hoping that tonight I can survive hearing myself singing that song over and over and over while trying to teach it to our youth. If I develop a slight facial tick or have a stroke, I’ll let you know.

I should probably prepare by stashing some chocolate and ear plugs in my purse, don’t you think?

Modesty Issues

John was calling to me from upstairs this morning. Ryan was closer, so he asked what John needed. John yelled down that he didn’t need Dad, he needed Mom. So, I went upstairs and called, “What do you need, John?” He was hiding around the corner in his underwear. He couldn’t find his church pants.

“I can’t find my church pants, Mom.”
“Why couldn’t Dad help you find your pants?” I asked.
“Mom, I can’t have a MAN see me in my underwear.”

Well, ok, then.


Oh the fun! Oh the joy! Oh, the walking! Disneyland was such fun!! Monday was kind of crowded, with it being a holiday and all. I was walking along headed to the Indiana Jones ride, and I saw a guy who looked like Kelly. Kelly and Kristi are our Disneyland friends. For the past couple of times we’ve gone to Disneyland, their family has met us there. Seriously! Of course, they go to Disneyland practically every other weekend, so I guess it’s not a huge sacrifice to meet us. I hadn’t told her about this trip, because I didn’t want to bother her and make them think they were obligated to meet us there. But there they were!

What are the odds of actually finding a friend there, on the crowded day, when there are two whole parks where we could be? Pretty cool. We chatted for a few minutes while my little ones whined and asked ‘aren’t we going on that RIDE?’, and it was fun to catch up!

By 5 we were all tired. We decided to go check out our lovely (and free!) room at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. And Grand it is. The 8 of us (6 of us and my parents) took a few moments to lay down on the beds and couch and thought we might never get up. Now to decide what to do. Do we rest up and go back to the park? Do we call it a day? Do we go swimming? (The kids had already gone swimming both nights previous at the pool in Las Vegas and at the Residence Inn where we had all spent the night before. Even if it’s not really warm enough to swim, they are just so thrilled to be ABLE to swim in January, they’ll take anything.) Well, we decided to take a swim. Since two of the girls were staying with Grandma and Grandpa at the other hotel, that meant Ryan had to drive the grandparents back to their hotel, and have one of the girls run up and get swimsuits, then come back to our hotel. Thankfully, Ryan never complained about his job as chauffeur. He’s a great guy that way.

We braved the cold (when the sun goes down, it’s no longer the balmy 76 degrees we were so enjoying) to check out the fancy pools. Would you believe it? The fancy hotel’s fancy pools were NOT warm. And no hot tub. What?! The kids jumped in and had no problem, while the old farts (me and Ryan) took some convincing to get in. We ended up having fun swimming and playing in the cold water, but couldn’t last all that long. We still had to do something for dinner, and we were SO tired. We changed our clothes, John had a big melt down, and a time out, and then we finally got moving and ended up at a nearby restaurant for dinner. And by the time we dropped off the two girls at the Grandparents’ hotel, John was asleep in the back seat.

Day 2 at the parks dawned nice and early. We had our world of color fast passes, we had our plan, and we headed to California Adventure. It was just a short walk through the secret gate from our hotel. It was amazing. We walked over to Soaring and RAN through the line. There was NOBODY in the park!! We felt like the special people! After that we waited for the rest of the park to open so we could head with the rest of the crowd to Toy Story Mania. We weren’t at the front of the line, but it was only about a 10 minute wait. It was such a fun ride, we turned around and did it again!

The whole day was so nice! Hardly any lines, no crowds! The biggest crowd we encountered was in going to the Alladin show in that huge theater. If only we hadn’t all been dragging and tired! After we did every ride we wanted to in California Adventure, we ate, browsed the shops, then went back to our hotel to take a little rest and get our jackets before we came back to see the World of Color show.

While it is an amazing show, the fun was dampened a little by all the waiting and waiting. We were all sitting comfortably when they told us we’d all have to stand up to make room for more people. What the what? Don’t you people know we’ve been standing and walking all day and our feet canNOT stand for 60 more minutes? That’s when we started getting grumpy. We should have brought our camping chairs, or laid out a blanket and sprawled out on it like we do when we watch fireworks, instead of STANDING scrunched up with 70,000 of our closest friends.

Yes, the show was spectacular, but imagine how great it would be if you watched it sitting down?

Our third day at Disneyland we started out with no plan (big mistake). We let the kids chose the rides they really wanted to go on, which included some that we missed and some that they wanted to do again. John and I rode King Triton’s Merry Go Round many times. (I could only handle three times. Two consecutive. That is my merry go round limit. Any more and we may enter barfing territory). Ryan and kids rode California Screamin three times in a row, bringing their total up to 5.

Because the crowds were still down, we were able to squeeze in a few more rides after lunch, but by then it was getting cold. Of course, on the day that we didn’t wear our sweaters. By 5, we were getting down right cold, and had really had enough of the park. We had to do a little shopping, because Grandma wanted to buy the kids their birthday presents there at Disneyland, if there was something they wanted. Unfortunately, the things they wanted were spread out throughout the park. Megan wanted a Bolt dog, but not the ones with flowers in their mouths for valentines day. Natalie wanted a specific Grumpy shirt that we had seen in the shop by the Grizzly bear ride, John wanted a light saber, Jenna didn’t KNOW what she wanted. Grandma wanted a certain purse that she had seen in the gift shop at California Adventure. We split up, with Ryan taking the boys and Megan to the other hotel, then coming back for us 15 minutes later, after we had quickly finished our shopping.

So that was our trip wrap up. It was a fun trip! But before we go to Disneyland again, Ryan and I need to both lose 30 pounds so that all that walking and climbing and fastpassing doesn’t sap all our energy and we can keep up with the kids.

Now we’re back in Utah where a high of 37 seems balmy when the sun is shining. Oh, well. It was great to get out of the cold and wonderful to spend it with family.

Cole, by the way, was well taken care of. Yes, he did miss us, and was pretty lonely at home, but with dinner appointments every night and fun things to do all weekend, he didn’t score too badly. And now he won’t be struggling to get caught up like some other people I know. Can you say science fair?

Vacation, all I’ve ever wanted?

Claire from “Modern Family” said, “I’m a mom traveling with my kids. This isn’t a vacation, it’s a business trip.” I must say, I can relate. We are taking our long awaited trip to Disneyland. And yes, I did win it, back in the summer. But when you “win” a trip to Disneyland, that includes two nights in a hotel and four 3 day passes. Since we have to actually GET to Disneyland, and we have more than four people in our family, our “free” trip is definitely not free. But it is fun!

When I scheduled this trip, I wanted to be sure that it wouldn’t be crowded. We’ve taken too many trips over spring or fall break and seen half of Utah in the park. This time, while we will be there over a holiday, only Monday is the holiday, and we are hoping that Tuesday and Wednesday we can have the park to ourselves. But I didn’t consult with the kids about when they thought we should go, since this trip is kind of a Christmas gift to them. When I told them about it, a certain son of mine was very concerned with how many days of school we would be gone. After figuring it out and after a lot of thought, he decided that he would rather not miss 3 or 4 days of school. I gave him the option to stay home, and he took that option. Can you imagine? A child who would rather go to school than go to Disneyland?! He decided it would be too hard to make up the missed work in calculus and AP physics, among other classes. So, we left him home.

Before you think I just left him home all by himself, let me explain. He’s not totally on his own. He’ll be spending a couple of days with Ryan’s sister and her husband. They planned to take him out and show him a good time, since he willingly stayed home from Disneyland and all. He’s also going to spend the holiday with one of his friends. He’s even going to stay for dinner. Speaking of dinner, I’ve lined up dinner appointments for Cole for every night we’ll be gone. I just called up some friends and asked if Cole could come to dinner. One of my friends was all, “what’s his favorite food?” and I’m sure she’ll put on a lovely spread for him. Another friend likened it to feeding the missionaries, only he’s just one. I’m sure he will eat well.

Yes, he’s capable of making his own dinner, but I wanted him to know that people are expecting him, and care about him. I don’t want him to just stay holed up in the house doing homework all night, but enjoy a nice dinner with friends, and then go home and do his homework. I’m very thankful that my neighbors were all so willing to feed him. I really have wonderful neighbors and friends.

When I called to check on him the first night, he was watching a movie, had gone to dinner at a cool restaurant, went bowling, and had already had a fun day. It sounds like he had a lot more fun than we did driving all day. But the drive wasn’t all that bad.

Now, on to Disneyland!
(be prepared for lots of pictures when we get around to that)

keep the car clean

Ryan sent me this run down of his conversation with our daughter the other day.

M (Megan): “Are you going to junk up your new car like the truck?”

D (Dad): “The truck wasn’t that dirty, just some stuff that needs to get
put back away behind the seat.”

**Editorial comment here. The truck wasn’t THAT dirty? Ahem? I beg to differ. There’s always a pile of tools and crap on the floor, the dash is completely cracked up, and it’s falling apart. In fact, it’s perfect for a teen aged driver. Ok, I’m done.***

M: “I meant putting trash in the door pocket.”

D: “That is the trash can for the truck. When I get a cup or something I
fill it up with the trash and empty it.”

M: “When I get a car, I’ll keep it perfectly clean. I will have a trash
can in it, and I will empty it every day.”

M: “Come see me in 20 years, you’ll see.”

Me again. I believe her. I think she will keep her car clean, when she has a car. That kid has big dreams. She’s already saving up her money so that she can buy a mini cooper or a smart car. If only she felt the same way about her room.

Baby, it’s cold outside

I love a good jacket almost as much as I love a good sale, and when both combine, oh heaven help me! I found a great black trench style jacket at a yard sale in the summer, and I’ve pretty much worn it every day since. But now it’s gotten too cold for that, so I was wearing my black wool coat again. The trouble with the wool coat is….well, it’s old. And it’s hard to clean. I’ve had it dry cleaned once or twice, but honestly, I don’t feel like it ever seems clean anymore. And it’s just getting old. So, when I was at Target last week, imagine my joy when I found this coat.

Only it was in a pretty brick red (sorry, no picture of that color), and it was marked down $44.99 to $11. Happy, happy. And it was in my size. Into the cart it went, and I’m quite happy with it. No, it’s not the total warmest coat, but it’s roomy enough to wear over a light sweater, so it will do for short from the car to the school, etc. Not that I’d want to be outside very long in the TWO DEGREES that it was this morning as I drove my daughter to band. TWO!!!!! TWO is not the number I want to see on the temperature gauge in my car. Ugh.

But back to my cute coat. It’s a little Happy Birthday/ Happy New Year present for me.

Game play

I went to Megan’s basketball game this week. Even though I’m busy and a single parent right now, I am trying to also be a supportive parent, so I made it to one out of two this week. As the home team, the Grizzlies didn’t have a ton of fans in the audience (audience? Did I just say audience? It just shows you how much of a sports fan I am–Not.) I mean the STANDS. As I sat down, I was surprised to hear a lot of cheering and chatter for the OTHER team. Wow. That made me feel like even more of a loser parent, because I’ve only made it to one away game so far.

But the parents–how can I put this without sounding like a jerk–well, the parents from the other team were…loud and annoying. I finally had to move because right behind me sat the loudest dad supporter for the other team. And really, I don’t mind if you cheer for your daughter and her team. We all want that, but I don’t want to be privy to every single comment you make about the team, the girls, the refs, and all that. I felt like if I cheered for MY DAUGHTER and her team, this guy might step down and punch me out.

“Why are they not calling that BLATANT foul” and “LOOK WHAT THOSE GIRLS JUST DID”, and “WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO PULL”, and on and on. Not to mention that their girls were all over our girls as well (it was a very physical game with two scrappy teams fighting for that ball).

Parents–when you go to a sporting event, it’s not your job to badmouth the ref. Those poor guys do NOT get paid enough to take verbal abuse from every single parent and fan and coach. I understand that it’s part of the game, but come on. Or to scream and say negative things at the other team. Or to make all the other parents sitting near you uncomfortable. If you must say a bunch of negative things, keep your voice down. Is that too much to ask?

Growing up, I was never a fan of watching sporting events. Perhaps this comes from having a father who would yell loudly at the tv. I remember being upstairs and hearing the yelling downstairs, and wondering why there was so much yelling. Oh, yeah, it’s a football game. I know that yelling at the tv and yelling at a game are normal, I really do. I just wasn’t a fan.

Of course, I myself get into the yelling at the intense games when my kids are playing. I remember a certain youth basketball game when Ryan told me he was going to have to move because he couldn’t sit by me if I was going to yell that much. (So maybe I AM my father’s daughter after all.)
But I wasn’t badmouthing the other team. I was yelling positive encouragement. There’s a difference.

So either I get to get my rowdy on at the games, or I need to sit on the very top row so that the loud annoying parents are in front of me, instead of behind me.

What about you? Are you a game screamer, a cheerer, or a quiet fan who comes to support their team without making a bunch of noise?

My, what lovely eyebrows you have

Today I had my hair cut and had my eyebrows waxed. Yeah, I get my eyebrows waxed about twice a year. I know what you’re thinking…”What a DIVA!” I know. Totally high maintenance. Ouch. While I love the look of my eyebrows when they are properly groomed, I sadly don’t always groom them adequately myself, thus the waxing.

Every time I Do wax my eyebrows those two times each year, I am reminded of the first time I attempted to tweeze my eyebrows. The year was 1998, and I was on a roadtrip with my girlfriends. We went to Tahoe to attend the wedding of another girlfriend. The wedding was in late September, and I was 8 months pregnant. What a great traveling buddy I was, let me tell you. One night in our hotel room we got to talking about personal grooming and the art of the eyebrow tweeze. “I don’t need to pluck my eyebrows,” I said foolishly, “I’m blonde.” Oh, the naivety. My dear friends Melinda, Michelle and Sharmyn grabbed the tweezers and went at it. OW! I lasted about 5 seconds and decided that my eyebrows were just fine in their natural state.

Either I’ve matured or grown more vain, because now I do actually try to keep up with the eyebrow maintenance. I try. But, like I said, sometimes I let it go. It still hurts though. If I had more money than time, I would definitely be checking out some laser hair removal. Wouldn’t it be great to NEVER have to tweeze? And then it would be awesome to never have to shave the legs, either. Smooth.

Oh, well.

For the moment, I will enjoy my freshly groomed eyebrows. Well, when they stop hurting, that is.

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