The Trials of a Busy Mom

Month: August 2012

Tomatos, Zucchini and Eggs–Oh, My!

It’s harvest time in the garden. You may remember me telling you about Ryan’s garden system with the pots and the self watering and all of that. Even though we got kind of a late start, I would say it’s a success.

Those big bushy plants are the tomatoes. We are now getting quite a few ripe tomatoes every day. More than we can eat!

The huge zucchini came from the garden boxes, not the buckets, by the way. It’s nice to have both, because some plants spread out a lot and do better on the ground than in the buckets.

You like those sassy pink shoes, do you? We have a bunch of “chicken shoes” right outside the door so that when we go out to the chickens, we don’t wear the same shoes that we are going to be wearing in the house. Even if you are careful where you step, you ALWAYS seem to track stuff back to the house. Hence the shoes.

And speaking of the chickens, a friend of ours gave us three more chickens this week. She has just TOO many chickens and doesn’t like spending so much money on feed, so she invited us to come and take as many chickens as we wanted. We chose three, even though they urged us to take more. So now our little flock is up to nine.
We have these three buffs, who rule the roost,

These ones who we got as chicks this year. They are now full grown and laying eggs on their own!

And these three, who didn’t really want to pose for photographs.
I picked out this pretty Barred Rock hen.

One of the kids picked this big white hen with fluffy feet. I wonder if she’s too old to lay, actually. I don’t know what kind she is or how old she is, but the kids liked her. (Jenna took these pictures for me, so I can’t complain too much about their quality, right?)

John picked out a little spitfire of a chicken. She’s brown but has white ears, and a big floppy comb. There she is through the wire.

She’s a runner when we let her out, and the kids have named her noodle head or just Noodle.

This very morning, my husband,(who didn’t even WANT chickens, if you recall) said, “That coop isn’t big enough for all nine of those chickens. We will need to get a new coop before winter.” I agreed with him, and then he had to qualify that I was NOT to go and buy a coop. NOT. Does that mean we’ll be building our own coop? Hmmm. We’ll have to see.

So, if you need eggs or tomatoes or zucchini, come on over and I think we can set you up.

The first of many BYU related posts

BYU fall semester starts today.

We helped Cole move into his new dorm home on Wednesday so he could be there for freshman orientation. After me asking and nagging to get his room organized and packed.

He packed his bike and belongings into his sweet ride. And by “sweet”, I mean the ’88 Camry that used to be Ryan’s parents. We wonder if the drivers side door or the clutch will go out first. But it’s a perfect car for a kid who we don’t want driving too far or too fast, right?

While the parking situation there at May Hall was not good (too many parents all bringing their kids at the same time), we managed to finally find a place to park and haul Cole’s belongings into the dorm. First he had to check in.

I’m sure they will get this place personalized in no time at all.

After we went to the Wilkinson center to get his student ID card and took him to lunch at the Cougareat, we hugged him and said goodbye.

It’s a bittersweet time for a mother. I have so many hopes and dreams for that kid.
-I hope he meets friends. Good friends. The kind of friends that he will laugh with, cry with, share with, and still be friends with in 10-20 years.
-I hope this job actually happens. He got this ‘great’ job that was supposed to start in June, then has gotten pushed back and pushed back. I hope it really happens, and that it is a job he really enjoys.
-I hope he does well in his classes, and is not overwhelmed. Because of his AP classes, he’s leap-frogging over a couple of things, and starting out with Linear Algebra (math 313 or something like that) and some 200 level programming class. He’s also got American Heritage, Book of Mormon and Psychology.
-I hope he gains confidence in himself. He is a wonderful kid, and he’s going to be a strong and secure man someday.
-I hope he dates and has fun. I’m all about the fun, and those years at BYU I had the most fun of my life. Yes, it was hard, and often times stressful, but there’s really no other time in a young adult’s life when they can explore, learn, meet people and have new experiences than in college.
-I hope he remembers all we have taught him. Remember who you are and what you stand for!

And so many other things. In my heart, I know he will be fine and be safe, but my head still worries about him. Does he have enough money? Did we teach him well enough? Will he be lonely? Will he be organized enough to not get behind in his classes?

Thankfully we all have cell phones and I can text or call him, and he’s really only a half hour drive away.

He came home last night for dinner and to pick up a few things that he had forgotten. He told us a bit about his freshman orientation, the meetings and socials, and church in his new BYU ward. He wanted applesauce and pears so he could eat in his room and not always in the Cannon Center for every meal. He also brought home a couple of shirts that had ended up in his stuff but weren’t his. He seemed excited about today and all that would happen.

I will continue to worry and pray and call and do whatever I need to do to help him succeed, just as I do for my other kids, I’ll just worry a bit more since I don’t have him living here in our home.

Good luck, Cole, and enjoy your FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

Yep, we’re different, all right

It’s been almost a week with our new ‘daughter’, Larissa. She seems to be adjusting well and fitting in nicely. Soon the newness will wear off for all of us and we’ll hopefully just consider her one of us. Right now, I’m still trying to ‘make a good impression’. That basically means I’m not yelling at my kids, I’m folding laundry, I’m making dinner every night, and trying to keep up on the war against clutter. In a way, it’s kind of like you would feel if you were being filmed for a reality tv show, only we have an audience of one. I want her to think we are organized, nice people. (I don’t know why I try, she’ll soon learn that while we ARE nice, we are NOT organized.)

It was nice to read her blog and NOT see anything about how insane her host family is. No lamenting about how she got the lamest family ever, so that was reassuring to me. She did list a lot of differences, however, between America and Germany. As I read over her list, I can agree, that yes, all of her observations are true.

She said,

Well, this is a short list of all things which are different here (okey, actually there are too many things to write them on this blog, but these are the things I regognized immediately):

Evereything is bigger (cars, houses, meals, shopping centers, school, streets)
You do everything by car (including the 5 minute walk to your freinds house)
People eat differently (the meals are just different, I can’t explain it :D)
You do what your teacher tells you to do
You don’t always have to raise your hand if yo want to say something in class
If you need to go to the restroom or need to make a call in class you need to use a hallway pass. If you don’t use the hallway pass, you get extra credit (=better grades)
You (at least at my school) can look up your grades, teacher’s comments, schedule etc on the internet
People here are just friendly. The neighbor that you don’t even know says “hi” when you see him, everybody helps you when you need help – with a smile 😀
Everything’s easy going (except school, but now I also saw that it isn’t hard to get a good grade if the teacher just see’s that participate a little little bit)
If you buy something you usually look at the price. Let’s say, something costs 1.50$. You will always pay more than the prays say’s because of taxes!
Here are many fast food restaurants (but I guess that’s not new)
All meals taste very good, milkshakes are sweeter than in Germany, salads taste better etc. (Today there was a girl, my host sister’s friend and she bought a pizza in the school’s cafeteria, but she didn’t like. I wanted to try it. I liked it and told her: “Hey what’s up with this pizza? It tastes normal, just like German pizza.” She said, she would never buy a pizza in Germany. What I want to say: American pizza must taste really good, because I even liked the American “bad” pizza :D)

While I wouldn’t know about school in Germany, I would agree with her assessment. Yes, we are friendlier here, and yes, things are bigger. When she saw our Suburban in the garage, she just about fell over. Yes, welcome to Utah, home of large families and large cars.

I smell fresh backpacks

We had kind of a bumpy start to the school year.

With a new exchange student, there are a whole new set of things to do. We picked Larissa up on Saturday afternoon.

She is a very nice girl from Germany, and her English is GREAT. I need to practice my German, but I don’t really have a need to speak German, because her English is SO much better than my rusty German. We’ll work on that, though. By Sunday afternoon, we were putting her to work making pies with the girls.

Monday morning, we were off to try to register her. There was some confusion, as the doctor who had done her TB test hadn’t given us the proper form, and we left her passport at home, but after a little bit of shuffling and a rescue from Cole, we got her done at the district office. Then we went to the high school. We were sandwiched in with all the other parents and student who were trying desperately to change their schedule to get into that one class, so there was a lot of waiting. When we got in to the first counselor, she gave us some grief about the TB test, too. Ugh. But she put her in the system and sent us over to wait for another counselor to help build her schedule. Since she is in 10th grade, he put her in to the typical sophomore schedule (SOPHOMORE–Anyone from Brighton remember Mr. McCallister’s whole speech about the “wise fool”?), which includes health, English, History, PE. She is also taking Chemistry, French 3, and dance. There was one 1/2 year class we couldn’t work out, so she ended up with Child Development 1, which didn’t thrill her, but maybe by second semester we can work that one out.

By then it was noon, and I was already worn out. But after making lunch for the family (what? The oven decided it’s done and won’t light anymore? Typical appliance behavior when Ryan is out of town —toaster’s giving us trouble, too, by the way), we headed to the bank to get her more money, since registration had taken all of her cash. That didn’t work out so well, and we aren’t sure how to actually get money with her ATM card, but we will work that out soon. She did have enough to buy the few things she needed at Walmart.

Soon after that, it was time for back to school night, time to find classes and meet teachers. Thankfully, I talked Cole into taking Megan and Larissa to the school to walk around and find all the classes. I don’t really know how to navigate that school anyway, and I was glad that he took them.

Our night before school starts dinner? At McDonald’s. We wanted to see where Cole’s been working, and he needed to pick up his check. I used the oven not working as an excuse to take the kids out.

This morning, I got everyone up early enough to get a couple of kids showered. I put Natalie’s hair up in hot rollers, but it was straight after 10 minutes. Don’t know why I bothered.

John picked his own clothes, and wanted his newly cut hair styled in a “duck butt”. Ahem. I think the proper term would be “duck tail”, but whatever, he’s cute no matter what you call it.

Jenna, who has been sick with a cold or something all weekend, was crying and upset. She said her stomach hurt and she felt like throwing up. I hope it was just anxiousness and I sent her to school. I feel so bad, but I really don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t want to set a bad habit of staying home everytime she’s nervous or upset about something. If she really is sick, she’ll call me and I’ll go get her, but I didn’t want her to miss the first day of school! I didn’t even get a picture of her in the morning. (I checked on her during school and her teacher said she seemed fine. She also seemed happy and healthy when she came home, so I hope it was just nerves.)

Megan, who is such a procrastinator, wore sloppy clothes because, as she put it, “I don’t have a SINGLE shirt!”. In my defense, I asked her what she needed for school, and she said jeans. I did buy her jeans, new underwear, shoes, and a shirt or two. She just can’t ever find anything. This one also didn’t have a lunch made, didn’t have the parking sticker on the car, and made me late so i missed the whole breakfast at the bus stop, waving to the kids and taking pictures. But she did drive the truck to school, so hopefully she and Larissa made it to class on time.

But they are all gone, for now, at least. I expect a call from Jenna anytime now. Cole is upstairs asleep. He can move into Helaman halls at BYU tomorrow.
Cole’s BYU job, of course, is postponed again. Worried about that one. But there’s really nothing I can do about it, so I’m trying to be calm. His job today is to clean up his room. His stuff is mixed with John’s stuff, and it’s pretty much all a mess. We have got to get all his stuff together so we can move him into his dorm tomorrow. Ack! I can’t even think about that right now!

So, Happy Back to school 2012!

The more the merrier

Things are busy around here. Beds moving, closets getting cleaned out, school supplies being purchased. It’s not your average back to school time. You see, we’ve got Cole leaving for college next week, and that involves a lot of organizing, purchasing, and getting ready. Since he will be living at BYU for most of the year, he won’t be using his room quite so much, so we are moving John into that room. Poor Cole now needs to clean out his closet full of STUFF that he’s been collecting for the past 10 years. Sadly, he doesn’t have any of those nice purging genes (messy parents, both of us), and sorting and organizing are NOT high on his list of talents.

On the other end of the house, we need to vacate John from Jenna’s room. When a girl reaches a certain age, you see, it’s no longer cool to room with your brother. I’m amazed at the amount of legos, star wars figures, stuffed animals, etc, that I have pulled out of that closet.

My trash can is uberfull, and we just took a truckload of bags full of stuff to DI.

Why the rush, you may ask. Well, we are expecting a new addition in the Erickson household. Calm down, calm down. It’s not a baby. We are hosting an exchange student for the school year. Her name is Larissa and she is from Germany. She arrives on Saturday.

You might say we’ve been working up to this decision for a long time, with our short term exchange students from all over. We had a host family coordinator contact us about a year ago, to ask if we would like to host a student. While it wasn’t possible then, when she called again last winter, we thought that we might have the basement finished, and with Cole leaving, that might be a possibility. We chose our top three choices from the profiles we were given, and then didn’t hear much. In April, we found out that our school district only accepts a certain number of students, and they really have to be in the top of their class to come, and none of our picks made the cut. No problem, I thought. WE don’t really NEED that extra stress in our lives. But our coordinator was persistent, and eventually got slots transferred from other schools who were not using them. We picked from a short list again, and eventually we found out that our pick had been accepted, and we would actually be host families for a German girl.

Yes, I did have a little say in her nationality. If I’m going to have someone in my home for that long, I want someone I can actually communicate with, even if it means dusting off my rusty German. We’ve spoken on the phone, and she seems like a really sweet girl. Her English is also very good, so that’s a plus.

She comes in on Saturday. School starts on Tuesday, but we’ll have to try and register her on Monday and hope we can get some classes for her that she likes.

Besides all the cleaning and organizing, which we aren’t loving, we are excited to have her here. Since she’s here for school, not just a ‘vacation’, we won’t feel like we need to entertain her all the time. Hopefully she will be making friend and meeting people, and it will all be a great experience for all of us.

In the meantime, wish me luck. I still have the rest of the closet to clean out, beds to move, carpets to clean, and bathrooms to organize. In addition to that, I kind of promised one little boy I would take him to Seven Peaks SOME time before school starts.

The great bedroom migration

It’s the great bedroom migration of 2012. Oh, yes it is. It’s that time again, and while I would love to say that we were moving a couple of kids to their NEW bedrooms in our wonderfully finished basement, that is not the case. I am currently waiting for the insulation guy to come and give me a bid, though, so we are making progress. My super talented hubby fortunately has a JOB and other family obligations that prevent him from working full time on that darn basement, but he surprises me with the things he got done while I was asleep, or gone. The other day it was a new doorhandle (with a lock and keypad) on our storage room door. Now when the kids go down to get a new box of cereal AGAIN, they have to use their code to unlock the door, and it magically sends a text to alert us to who is opening the door. How cool is that?

Anyway, we’re moving practically every bed upstairs.
John’s bunkbed is moving to Cole’s room.
Cole’s queen bed is moving to Natalie and Megan’s room.
Natalie’s twin bed is moving to Cole’s room.
Megan’s twin bed is moving to Jenna’s room.


And don’t forget the dressers and the crap that has to be moved along with that.

So, since I don’t want to spend a whole day doing that myself, I have enlisted the help of my able bodied and willing (?) helpers. Natalie, Cole, Megan and my other two kids (not really) Sarah and Jacob are hauling beds around while I try to find the proper bedding and vacuum. What a mess! Oh, and I promised them Pizza.

I ate too much

I’m so stuffed.
Seriously, I feel like throwing up.

We had our PTA meeting at Chick-fil-a today, and they treated us like queens.

They had a table reserved for 8 of us, brought out menus, let us order whatever we wanted, refilled our drinks, and even got us dessert.
The charge?

Say what you want about their politics and supporting marriage and all that (which I won’t go into now), Chick-fil-a has gotten a lot of press recently. But I must say, they are one of the nicest companies I have ever worked with. They bend over backwards to support the our schools and the PTA, and I am so grateful to them for all they do to help me with our school fundraiser.

Now, if only they hadn’t been quite so generous.

Project Bathroom

First of all, thanks to all of you for your comments on that last post. Sometimes I just need to know that someone out there is reading, and might actually care about my ramblings.

I finally finished the bathroom redo last night.

We started the paint job back when Marie was here and Ryan was not.

I just got antsy and really wanted to start that project, even though it probably wasn’t the best time to be painting.

That bathroom was all green and white with grapevines, and while I really liked that design when I did it (eleven years ago when we moved in), I didn’t love it anymore.
Even though that bathroom is tiny, I let everyone who wanted a turn painting have a turn. One at a time, because there seriously wasn’t even hardly room for a ladder in there.

Can you see how it is SMASHED up against the wall between the toilet and sink? Not the greatest way to paint, I tell you. I really picked the LEAST convenient wall to try to do an accent wall. What was I thinking? Maybe because visually it was what I wanted. So, I taped it off, and I had to just be brave and start the stenciling.

Sadly, there’s quite a learning curve with stenciling, and my practice on a piece of posterboard wasn’t really enough to get a good feel of it. Let’s just say it’s not perfect.

But, if you will remember, I am not a perfectionist.

Good thing, right?

I did some touch-up work in both colors and decided I liked it.

The mirror and towel racks that I had in there were also grapevine (and green), and while I originally thought I could just paint them black, I took a trip to Hobby Lobby and found this cool mirror ON SALE and knew it was for me. Here’s the old mirror sitting in the hall, and there’s Popcorn, our bird, admiring himself in the mirror.

I also found a towel rack and tp holder thing that I thought went with the new design of the room. I’m so pleased with how it turned out!

Is it perfect? No. But hopefully anyone who goes in to use my bathroom is going in there for other reasons than to criticize my paint job, right?

I had to wait for Ryan to hang the towel rack, TP holder and mirror. We have a little discrepancy over what color that bathroom actually is, but that’s not important (Grey.. It’s GREY! The color is called “Dover Grey” so it’s Grey, not blue. Ahem.)

I borrowed that little shelf unit from the living room, and I think it fits nicely in there. My favorite thing, however, is the chandelier. “What?” you say? What chandelier?

I had bought this vinyl stick on chandelier a year or so ago at a yard sale, and I’ve just been waiting for a place to use it. It even has little crystals, but you can’t really see that from a picture. I LOVE IT!

So, there it is. Since it’s a tiny room I can’t get a picture of the whole thing, but I am pleased with how it all turned out. Yes, stenciling is scary, but I would definitely try it again. Now I just need to find some cool towels to go in there. The old green ones won’t look so nice. Ryan says BLUE, but I think maybe purple or black would look good. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for towels. So, if you come over, be sure to look inside that bathroom. I’m pleased with it.

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