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[Comments] (5) On death and dying: Nothing prepared me for the day one of my kids asked me why do people die?, so naturally when Lily asked me that question I was dumbstruck. We decided to buy the new Pixar movie Up. It came highly recommended by many people including Louise, who is a very tough critic. She rarely thinks anything is "really good" so I thought it really must be good.

Aaron popped it in for the kids. I was puttering around, getting things done, and still haven't seen it. It wasn't until the next day while Gunnar was napping, and Lily was watching it as I was doing the dishes. When all the sudden I heard this sad little voice and teary eyed girl peeking over the arm of the sofa almost begging me mommy, I don't want you to die. Why did Ellie have to die? When will she be back? I want Ellie to come back. I don't want you to leave. Why do people have to die? Where do people go when they die? I felt ill prepared to answer all these abstract questions in a way a 5 yr old would understand. All I could do was hug her and cry on each other's shoulder. I know it was wrong, but I promised her I wouldn't die, at least anytime soon. She was so sad and I wanted to reassure her and make her feel better.

Death is such a difficult topic and I think it is every child's worst nightmare. We talked about heaven and the resurrection and eternal families and I think we both felt better. It made me remember life is short and fragile and as a result I have not yelled at my kids as much this past week. I used to ask my mom what would you do if I died? And she would always say I would spank your little bottom. Death is something I struggle with and definitely don't want a lesson on it anytime soon. So the moral of the story is if you watch Up with your kids you might have to explain the mysteries of the universe with your kids.

[Comments] (5) for your eyes only: So last week, I tried to write a health care post about my health care of all things. A couple hours after I had posted it, my brain reflected on it and I just about died inside to think I just shared with the world my IUD problems. I quickly got to a computer and deleted it and spent the rest of the night feeling sheepish and wondering if anyone had already read my open book life.

Today, I will give it a go again, yet this time about Gunnar and with much less TMI. Gunnar's health care. My poor little baby Gunnar. I adore this little boy. I could eat him for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still snack on him throughout the day. Gunnar is and will always be my baby. This little guy went in for his "6 month" ophthalmologist appt. He was actually a few months overdue for a proper one since the past two were right before the move and right after the move and weren't proper appointments at all. We finally got the full blown appt out of the way and have been given two official diagnoses. First, our suspicions are correct. Gunnar has intermittent exotropia. Basically, one eye wanders when he is tired or not on his A game or zoned out. He can have surgery to correct it, but it really isn't too bad yet and the Dr and I both agreed that it is something to look into when he is older like 6 or 7 when "kids start making fun of his eyes in school" as the Dr put it, since his condition is very mild right now. Kids are so mean! And they probably will make fun of him, so when he is older and if it gets worse we will look into that, but for now he is ok. Just ignore his wandering eyes if you speak with him face to face and he zones out.

Secondly, his nearsightedness is now a raging -6.50 in both eyes. A whole 1.25 higher than last dilation. He's legally blind, but with his glasses he has near perfect vision, and it is very correctable with surgery if he chooses to get lasik when he is older. All in all, it is nothing serious. He is a happy, healthy boy. Sometimes, as his mother, I wished my body had been able to make his body more perfect, but there my vanity goes thinking I am responsible for creating my beautiful children. They are Heavenly Father's children and he is just letting me borrow them to discover tremendous happiness, and just a touch of torture.

But, there it is. Gunnar's health update. He is turning 3 in exactly 2 weeks so I better get onto making his well baby check up. Then we shall see how much this boy has g r o w n!

[Comments] (2) Burr, it's cold in here: This is all quite new to me, the wearing jackets in Oct and not really letting up. In TX the year Gunnar was born, I was so excited to not have to be my largest in the summer. It may have well been summer because as I recall, it did not get cool until the day I left the hospital with him. Geez, thanks!

Oh sure you might need a zip up in the morning, but by 2:00 you were sweating. I literally NEVER EVER wore jeans from the months of May-Oct. For 6 months I wore shorts every day. Even in April and Nov, the jeans were worn intermittently. But for those 6 months I didn't even look at jeans.

Yesterday, to make more room in my closet, and because I have a large Rubbermaid labeled jeans and sweaters that needed to be unpacked (and still one in the garage), I gathered all my shorts that I haven't worn a single time in a month, and all Aaron's shorts and exchanged places in the Rubbermaid with the jeans and sweaters.

It's not that it has been too bad here, gorgeous weather actually, but if I am not dressed properly my toes and hands will be frozen by 4:00 on. In SA I remember wearing flip flops year round. If it was too cold to wear them, that's ok because I knew by the afternoon I would be fine. It goes like this in the winter-mornings and evenings it is cool. Midday is warm. For a week or two we could have a cold front and then it is chilly, but then it goes away and for 3 weeks you are left with "perfect winter weather" picnic weather if you will. And the cycle continues.

Now maybe I am a tad cold because we haven't turned our heater on past 66 degrees. Perhaps. We are trying to save money, electricity is a lot more here, and all I have to do to get comfortable again is vacuum. (Why does that job make you sweat even in the winter? You are just pushing the thing around.) OR my new favorite thing is what Aaron calls my Back To The Future vest. It is AWE--wait for it--SOME. I have it in a couple colors, and it's perfect. It keeps you cozy at the same time freeing your arms to do household chores without feeling constricted like sweat shirts or jackets do. Plus, Old Navy is having 50% off all their outerwear. (Ok, online they are not quite 50%, they are more like 30% off and they have half the color selection so go to the actual store.) Go and get you one, and if you have an Old Navy card like me, you can get it for another 30% off that making it only $14. It's that awesome.

Now I am looking for some rain boots, because every week it rains cold rain here ALL DAY LONG from anywhere between a day to 5 days straight. My feetsies get cold walking around with wet socks and tennis shoes. So if anyone one knows of awesome rain boots for cheap (you know me, it's gotta be a good deal) please let me know.

[Comments] (1) Brisk: During my early morning run today, the sweat from my hands came out on top of my gloves and then turned frosty. I could tell because I was wearing black gloves and it looked like they had been flocked a little bit. Pretty weird--I've never had this happen before. Yeah, it was cold!

There were four in the bed and the little one said: I love lazy Saturday mornings. I awoke to Gunnar's noise and decided I wasn't ready to get up for the day and that I wanted to see if Gunnar was old enough to snuggle in the morning. Lily is at the age where she will lay down for a couple minutes but I didn't know if Gunnar "got it" yet. I went and got him and brought him in the bed. He knows what snuggling is because at night he always asks for me to snuggle just a minute so when I told him that he went for it.

It's seriously one of my favorite things to do is on a Saturday morning when no one has to be anywhere, just to lay in bed and snuggle and play and laugh with the kid(s). Gunnar is the most affectionate little guy. He leaned over to Aaron sleeping and kissed his cheek and said "I love you daddy". He then snuggled into me and said "I love you mommy, you're my big boy". He calls me that because I go between saying "You're my baby" or more lately "You're my big boy" so now he calls me his big boy too. He knows the difference between boys and girls which makes it that much funnier to hear him say it.

Gunnar leaned over and was pointing to my eyes and said "eww, what's that brown stuff?" I had a little smudged eye liner on from the night before that didn't wash off and he goes "that's disgusting." lol little noodge. Lily woke up finally and came in. Then I got to really snuggle-this girl knows how to spoon. It was the complete family, all four of us in the bed spending time together. It was a great way to start off the day.

[Comments] (3) Momentous occasion: Gunnar has been needing a hair cut for awhile. I dread it. Since buzzing his head in July I haven't had to do anything since then. It has been a nice reprieve. I can't emphasize enough how miserable it is to complete the task. He cries, flails, screams, jerks, and makes the whole ordeal unbearable for everyone involved. I am surprised we haven't been kicked out of the salon before, even though a person more or less discretely hinted not to bring him back, and many a times the haircut was cut short. no pun intended

I've been grooming Gunnar for the upcoming haircut saying things like it sure would be fun to go to Chuck E Cheese. If you get a haircut, we could totally go and have so much fun. That and the usual candy bribery. The other day I proposed the option again, and Gunnar went for it. There was definitely some trepidation in his eyes and face, but he agreed, and Lily was trying to be helpful by giving his tips like it's okay, just suck your thumb, it's okay. That girl really wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese so she was going to support Gunnar as much as possible.

When we got to the barber, Gunnar willingly got in the chair and was very sad and scared but he gave a chuckle when they put the cape on while I was talking about all the fun rides there were at Chuck E Cheese. I was keeping his eye on the prize. This was HUGE, and a good sign. While grooming him I told him they were going to go whrrrr in your hair but it's not going to hurt, and you are going to get pokies in your shirt but we are going to go straight home and get them off in the bath. I think telling himm all about it before the fact helped a lot.

Like I said Lily was standing right there giving him moral support the whole time saying it's ok, it's ok, almost done, you can do it. I am so proud of Gunnar, for the first time in his short 3 yrs of life he made it through a hair cut without crying and clawing his way out of the chair. Seriously, a big deal. I really hope we have turned a new leaf because the hair cut took half as long since the person was actual able to continuously cut without interruptions, and the experience was a lot more pleasant. You better believe we went to Chuck E Cheese that night. So awesome. I'm looking forward to the barber maybe even having time to do a style haircut in the future and not just some snip snip and call it good.

[Comments] (2) Honorable mentions: Congrats to Joe and Louise for bring a new niece into the world last week. Her name is Miriam and I can't wait to meet this towhead girly.

Also, I'm embarrassed to say it but I forgot to give a shout out to my brother in law Dave, who got to come stay with us overnight a few weekends ago. He missed his flight back to FL, unlucky for him, but lucky for us b/c we got to hang out and eat Ledo's pizza and watch old SNL clips together. Dave, next time you have a conf in DC, feel free to miss your flight and hang! That makes it visitor number 6. Michelle is coming next weekend wa-hoo (lucky number 7) and Chuck and Julie are coming in Nov making the list at #8. Who knew we, er, the city were so popular?

Who's next?!

[Comments] (1) I forgot: I forgot to say that I was stoked to find out that Trader Joes carries the same British crumpets I had while in London. I loved them and almost went to the grocery store to take a couple packs home. I didn't have to because they have them here (well in Alex,VA).

Also, I'm feeling much better than yesterday. Sometimes I can be quite the diva. Aaron's schedule has been rough this week. That coupled with the kids put me over the top. It's all good. We've got a fun weekend planned and I have that to look forward to after this crazy week.

Brain vomit : I pretty much had the afternoon from hell, and am venting to get it out of my system so I don't have to think about it anymore. It started really good. Gunnar and I went to Trader Joe's this morning for the first time. It's new to me, but I had heard a lot of good things about it. I never went because I thought it was expensive like Whole Foods. It turns out it is like Whole Foods but the price is more reasonable.

It was a blast. Gunnar and I got heirloom tomatoes, butternut squash, artisan focaccia tomato basil bread, pumpkin pancake mix, garlic and herb pizza dough, homemade lemon pepper pastas, organic fruits and veggies, and other odds and ends. I love cooking with new yummy stuff. So Gunnar fell asleep in the car which is good because his schedule is tight. I have to have him down for a nap on time, otherwise I have to wake him up to pick up Lily at school, and waking a child up from a nap goes against every fiber of my being.

When I transferred him he did not go right back to sleep, he decided to play in his room. Long story short, he finally fell asleep 5 minutes before I had to get Lily. I was really mad because I told the kids we could go to the park this afternoon since it was going to be in the lower 70's and the only nice weather day this week.

Well, with all the threats I made to Gunnar if he didn't go to sleep the 62 times I went into his room, one of them was if you choose not to take a nap then you are choosing to not going to the park. Dang, why did I have to say that one? Why does my mouth write checks that bankrupt me and I have to either be miserable listening to tantrums all afternoon or leave myself with no credibility whatsoever? So I said, tell you what, if you guys will be good in the store (I still needed to go to Safeway to pick up chicken breasts on sale for $1.68/lb before the sale ends tonight) we will go to the park. Well Gunnar had not taken a nap and was pretty much incapable of behaving in the realm of acceptable human behavior. The mother of a rabid hyena would have thought it was too much to handle. So at the check out stand my nerves were already fried as Gunnar was screaming and whining "I want to write my name" b/c I wouldn't let him use the credit card swiper pen and pad to scribble on, and then the man behind me commits one of my worst pet peeves. Do not, I repeat do not load your groceries on the belt and stand less than arm's length behind a person paying. It is so rude and invasive. I want a shopping cart's length in between me and the other person, and if that shopping cart is in my bubble, that is still not good enough. Being close in proximity to the person in front of you does not mean you are going to check out faster. So I already wanted to throttle Gunnar and then there's this man breathing down my neck as I go to pay. Before I knew what I was doing I turned my head to that man with a nasty glare and said do you mind?He quickly turned his head away as he should have, I was trying to put in my pin number for crying out loud, but I instantly felt a self-loathing that I had been that woman at the store who was rude and full of bad energy. You know the ones. The old man swearing under his breath complaining about not being able to find one dern thing in the store, and you thinking to yourself, get a life. I was that weirdo. Seriously though, people, you shouldn't even be standing beside the belt, give the person in front of you some space and privacy.

So then I was having a bad afternoon, and I felt guilty on top of it for being rude and passing my bad day onto someone else. Other things happened that I won't go in to. I have vomited enough foulness for the night, but this is one of those nights where I just wish Aaron could do the dishes while I could decompress and watch Biggest Loser. Except he's on splits with the missionaries and only came home from work to change. Oh well. I think I will just go back to the part of 'Trader Joe's was awesome and I can't wait to try the pumpkin pancakes', and forget the past 8 hours ever happened.

Pumpkin Cream Sandwiches: Since no one else wants to share, I thought I would. except Julie, thanks, I'll try those This recipe Ashley made and ever since I have LOVED these cookies. Pumpkin Cream Sandwiches

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 375° F.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg and beat until combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture 2 inches apart onto parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Clean the mixer, then, as the cookies bake, beat the cream cheese, heavy cream, and confectioners' sugar until smooth and spreadable. Spread the flat sides of half the cooled cookies with the cream mixture. Top with the remaining cookies.

EDIT: I actually do not put them together as sandwiches. I make the cookies and then frost the top. The frosting makes a lot and you are able to use up more of it. Plus, when you give them away to people, it looks like more if you have them separate as opposed to just sandwiches.

I'm making them this weekend for company coming over. I'll try not to eat half the batch single-handedly. No promises.

[Comments] (3) pump'in: I need to make something pumpkin. I'm thinking the pumpkin cake that we had at the reunion--it was to die for, but I should opt for the pumpkin enchiladas recipe I found. Or maybe I will make Ashley's pumpkin cream cheese sandwich cookies. Those are the best. Or maybe I will make all 3 before Thanksgiving, and then have Aaron make his homemade pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Or maybe I will make Chuck make the pies since the chef himself and Julie and Princess V will be in town to celebrate. Life is good if you are having to decide between pumpkin cake and pumpkin cookies.

What's your favorite pumpkin/fall recipe?

[Comments] (3) A smattering of thoughts: I realized today that I don't have a half birthday. The poor souls born on a leap year have no real birthday except every 7 years. I don't even get a half birthday ever b/c Feb 30th doesn't exists.

I am definitely in the thick of raising a boy. After putting Gunnar in time out I always ask him do you know why you are in time out? Gunnar's go-to answer for everything he has done is "because it's not safe". Even if that doesn't match what he did wrong, I realized that I say that a lot to him. Usually he is right, and most reasons I have to put him in time out is to keep him from offing himself or at least getting hurt very badly.

Today I pulled out a zip-up hoodie from the closet with the cool weather we are having. I obviously haven't worn it from last winter, and I was amused to find an opened, half full package of cucumber seeds. How random and funny. It brings to mind what I was doing probably in March is when I last wore the jacket. Planting a garden and getting our house ready to sell. Plain.

October is here and pretty soon Halloween. I know what Gunnar is going to be and have bought his Halloween costume already. I still need to take Lily to pick out hers. It is a lot more fun when they don't know and/or don't care so you can put together something cute. I already know Lily is going to change her mind a billion times and we are going to get in a fight on Halloween because the costume she has, she won't want to wear even if she picks it out. It brings to mind when she was 3 yrs old and we had a costume day in the joy school Pre-K co-op and I had bought a witch costume on super clearance at the Pottery Barn outlet and she shows up and all the girls have princess costumes and she is the only one not a princess. She was clued into the princess bandwagon, and I had to talk her into that thing 2 more times for the trunk or treat and actual Halloween.

Halloween is almost here, and that means Christmas is around the corner. Which means Christmas cards. I saw the cutest Christmas dress at Old Navy today and had to resist buying it. It wasn't on sale and so I didn't, but if something makes me almost want to pay full price, it means it's pretty dang cute. There were actually several really cute dresses and I would have a hard time choosing so I am kinda glad they weren't on sale so I wouldn't have to choose. I don't think I could.

We missed conference b/c Aaron, the kids, and I took a fall foliage trip to Vermont--a dream I have had for about 6 years now. It was gorgeous and so much fun. I had a blast just hanging out with the kids and Aaron with no distractions except picturesque landscape and yummy Vermont local cuisine including Ben and Jerry's ice cream at their factory. More on that later, but I have been catching up on conference by streaming it while I do dishes and make dinner, etc. Can I just say how much I am loving it?! It seems like every other talk this session was given directly for me. I can't wait to finish them.

While in the car Aaron and I talked about where we want to get stationed next. Aaron really wants to put Guam up on the list. I don't know how I feel about that yet.

Gunnar is having more eye problems. I took him in and apparently his eyes aren't focusing on things well. One eye wanders. So I need to take him in to another specialist and possibly start him on therapy sessions to work on getting it up to speed.

Both my kids need hair cuts. I am dreading it.

I am tired of being halfway sick. Not really full on sick, but enough pressure to give me headaches and a somewhat stuffy nose. It's been like 10 days already.

I love October, and I can't wait for the leaves to change down here like they have in New England.

Guns: 2 yr olds are terribly fun. They can also be just fun and sometimes just terrible. Sometimes I just want to squeeze his cheeks, and sometimes spank the other ones. Little Gunnarisms that make me want to 'eat his jellies' as I tease him:

He is still taking awesome naps. One day as I was tucking him in for a nap he goes this bed is cozy. He always asks to snuggle me for just a minute. He always makes sure that his head is on 'Light Queen' on the pillowcase, and my head goes on Mater. He likes Mater, has nothing against him, but his head has got to be on 'Light Queen'. Then he wants to make sure I have put on his Cars blanket, his blue blanket, and his "gasketball" blanket. I love that he calls it gasketball. It's so cutie. I don't actually cover him up with all those, I just put them on the foot of the bed because he would be sweating. Then he says nigh-night, wuv you, see you in the morning...I don't want the fan on. His prayers are a work in progress. It is the same every time. "Jesus Christ, mommy and daddy, lily and gunnar, go to church, have a good dinner, Jesus Christ"- and then the loop starts all over again. He doesn't realize when to stop. We have to work on beginning and ending.

His favorite song to sing is Popcorn Popping. He is getting really good as singing and remembering words. He really likes the new song the kids are working on in Primary for the program called God Gave Us Families. He sings the chorus spot on and he's got a cutie voice too. We got new tennis shoes, and wouldn't you know it he's like the goldfish in Fish Out of Water. One week in his new size 8's and we go back to wear his old sandals and his big toe is hanging off the edge of a couple summer shoes. They literally grow overnight, don't they. At first he loved his new shoes but he would always want to wear the trusty (and smelly) sandals. We had to tell him his new shoes would make him super fast. And now he loves to wear his super fast shoes.

Another thing he is particular about is his diapers. He's grown out of 5's which is a big deal for me because I never had to buy bigger than a size 4 for Lily. Size 5 and 6's are 'spensive! So I bought his size 5's for the day and 6's for nights. I always buy Huggies but this month Pampers were on sale and cheaper than the Huggies. Big mistake. Huggies has Mickey Mouse on the front and Gunnar doesn't want the Sesame Street Pampers diapers. He wants his "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" diapers. I can't wait to use up all those Pampers so I don't have to hear him bemoan those diapers anymore. If fact I think when we are done with this next box, I am not going to buy anymore and give the potty training a try. We will see how it goes. I don't want it to come too soon, but it will be nice for the first time in 5 years to not have to buy a single diaper. I can't wait for that day!

He is about to be 3, which I am in denial about, and is already talking about his birthday party and how everything he sees he wants for his birthday. Older siblings rub off. He's my little guy.

Lils: It's a new season, so much has happened this summer since the move. This is what Lily has been up to:

Lily is now in a gymnastics class. The girl is crazy, I wish I had her energy. From the moment we enter the gym she is bouncing-I mean literally bouncing up and down, climbing, moving, running from corner to corner like a pinball. If I had that kind of energy, my house would be spotless all at one time. She is very cutie in class too. She has made a friend and they walk the balance beam, swing on the bars, do front and back somersaults, and work on cartwheels. None yet, but we'll see. They start off doing stretches and if we could all keep our flexibility at that age, wouldn't that be awesome.

She likes school a lot. Her teacher is really good. She is making her write her full name out- Lillian, which is nice. I thought about teaching her to write her full name but just never got around to it. Now I don't have to. Love that. They teach d'nealian style handwriting which I kinda think is dumb. I guess it is to help them evolve into cursive better, but seriously, Lily's name is a little ridiculous. There are little curly's on the i and the l and the a and the n, pretty much every letter that has a curly on the end is in Lillian's name. She was confused in the beginning of the year why she had to do it like that, and now she just does it.

Lily is also learning to read--I use that loosely. Right now it is mostly memorized things and when I cover the pictures she isn't good at reading what the words say. But it amazes me what 5 yr olds can do and how much of an advantage for a mom it would be to have a teaching degree b/c you know when to push and introduce things whereas now I am just clued in, maybe she should wipe her own bottom. That's my problem as a person is when things are done, I like them to be done right and I didn't want Lily wiping her own bottom because she probably wouldn't do it right. So now I am to the point where she's 5 and she's gotta learn to just do it. If it isn't done all the way-I can't control it anymore and I'm not supposed to. I'm slowly learning that it's ok. No one is going to die and I don't need to have a panic attack about it.

How did I get on that subject? Don't know, but I'll just go with it. I do feel a little vindicated having an outsider deal with my child everyday. One afternoon while I was picking up Lily, Mrs. Kitlas kinda had a look on her face while trying to get lily to follow protocol of releasing the child to the parent. I asked how are things going to probe and see if it was more than a misreading. She then asked if Lily was stubborn at home? Umm, YEAH! Man it feels good to know I am not the only one that thinks so. That there isn't something wrong with me (or even Lily per say) but that I am not imagining all these power struggles we have. I have say it once, and I will say it again...I love Lily to death, her personality is awesome, I wouldn't want to change her in anyway, she is going to be an amazing adult, but man is she frustrating sometimes. She is so independent and I love it but not so much having to deal with it as a mother of a 2 yr old, 3 yr old, 4 yr old, etc. Heaven help me the minute she goes through puberty. I am dreading the mood swings already. BUT we will be best friends when she hits college, I know it.

Really, most the time she is an angel. She is breaking me in as a mom and I feel bad. It's like on Regis and Kelly- Kelly said kids are like pancakes. You always ruin the first one. (If you need me to explain that metaphor I will). Well, in my case, I really don't plan on ruining her, but things may not be so pretty from time to time. I can just live and learn and hopefully get better at my job everyday. I secretly love it when Lily sneaks into our room in the middle of the night to sleep with us. She will always be my baby.

[Comments] (3) That reminds me...: Some random story came to mind that I got a chuckle out of remembering. First, I am reading the new Dan Brown book The Lost Symbol, and part of the book made me remember something. In the book it describes a man getting through the subterranean entrance into the Capital and then going through security. Anyway, my experience with getting through security was a little funny. Not funny was the poor Asian people in front of us that had a CVS bag full of American candy and chocolate that it looked like they had just purchased that morning and had to throw it away. Absolutely NO food or water was allowed inside the Capital. We chugged our water (I hate getting dehydrated) and David had to throw out the rest of his Gatorade he had for breakfast. Everyone's packed lunches sat in a big heap on top of the trash bins.

So you get in and you have to put all your stuff on the x-ray belt. We had to drive Aaron's truck so he could have enough seats that when he got home he could take the babysitter home with the kids. So on his key chain is his consecrated oil vial. I totally forgot about it and was confused as to why they would pause on our stuff and take so long. I looked at what he was looking at and he was thoroughly examining it, had it opened up, trying to get a drop on his glove, etc. He was probably thinking what on earth is this? I don't think there was any oil left in there anyway, but it was funny, what are you supposed to say Officer, I know it looks like my coke stash or perhaps a bit of anthrax, but it is really consecrated oil that we Mormons use to administer Priesthood blessings to the sick. Um, yeah. He closed it up, no questions asked, thank goodness we were spared that potentially awkward moment, and handed us back my keys, and we went on our way to our tour. I just thought it was interesting and maybe someone else could share the laugh.

Last laugh: At dinner the kids were throwing their usual objections as of late to anything I put on the table. They complain just for the sake of complaining. It's not like they don't like what I've made. I've usually made it before and they ate it just fine. And if it is something they have never had, after I convince/force/coerce whatever the case may be, they end up liking it in the end.

Just as with any night I put salad on their plates, and Gunnar who loves salad and will ask for more started complaining how he didn't want it. Then I put cooked spinach on their plate. Lily is really good in that she will almost always eat whatever I give her if I tell her how many bites she needs to eat of each. She is like me, we can power through anything we don't like to do as long as we know how long or how much discomfort we have to endure. Gunnar is most easily persuaded by bribes. If you eat all your dinner, then you can have dessert.

Gunnar was just not having the spinach. Lily ate her three bites like a champ. Gunnar not only swept the spinach off his plate and onto the table, but then he flung it onto the floor in three splats. Lily ate her dinner portions and chose to have chocolate pudding for dessert. Gunnar ate all his salad but still refused the spinach. At one point he was a go for me to help it into his mouth but he started gagging before the fork touched his lips. He was bawling and wanting pudding so bad, but I was holding my ground that he didn't have to eat the spinach. I wasn't going to make him eat it, but if he wanted dessert then he had to eat his spinach first. Finally his sad pathetic cries broke me a little and I said all he had to eat was a little leaf. He ate it, lips trembling, but he ate it. Just to prove my point that it wasn't that bad and he didn't die from the experience, I had him eat another. He chewed just fine, and so we went to the fridge to pick out his dessert. I gave him the choice of chocolate Jello, tapioca pudding, or apple sauce. He picked the apple sauce. HA! He may have reduced his sentence of bites, but I got him to eat spinach AND apple sauce. This is what I call a win-win.

[Comments] (6) Ticked off: It's sooo not fair. Life is not fair! I don't mind life not being equal, I just want it to be fair. Aaron got pulled over again last night, and he got out of getting a ticket again. When's my turn? It's not like I get tickets left an right--I got two that royally pissed me off--but c'mon! The man has been pulled over no less than 5 times while we have been married and not once, not ONCE has he gotten a ticket. He has more luck than a leprechaun.

First off, he was talking on his cell phone while driving which is against the law, then he was speeding, AND he rolled through a stop sign, and while pulling over he turned onto a one way street, and the cherry on the top is he had expired proof of insurance. We have insurance but the paper was expired. So there you have it, 5 offenses. And he got NOTHING. I asked for his secret and he said you just have to act really penitent. I think it is because he is a guy, a respectable guy, and the cops see him more like a buddy.

I have never heard of a girl getting off from crying. Not that I have ever tried. If I could even squeeze out tears they would instantly evaporate from the lasers beams I am shooting out of my eyes to maim the cop and his car. Oh yeah, if looks could kill.

The bright side is we have never had to pay for Aaron's follies, which are many. I could list them, but I will only give the highlights--almost killed me when we first got married and living in Alaska and he was speeding on black ice and rolled the car in a big snow drift, caused a multi-car accident in the wake of a giant moving van he was driving, and most recently almost drove us off an overpass after jerking out of control to avoid hitting a car he was swerving into. Yeah, that was fun. We are still alive because we were heading home from the temple, is my belief. And he complains about my backseat driving. Just sayin. So if I die at the hands of Aaron, know my last words are I TOLD YOU SO.

ps I am really laughing, and not really mad that he got off of a $1000 ticket. That would suck to have to pay.

Travelogue: David and Ashley's trip in Aug is finished on my other blog. They were here for a week and we took so many pictures and did countless things. Getting that done was almost as hard as London and Paris. Details are there.

[Comments] (3) Almost over, wah?: It's crazy to me that this month is 2/3's over and I haven't posted anything on this blog all of Sept. The start of Fall is this week, and we have been enjoying cooler weather. We've enjoyed a visit from Aaron's brother, Ben. (Not to be confused with the other Ben's in the family.) He had an interview in Delaware so he stayed with us a couple nights, and we got to go to dinner with him in DC. He told us about this place called Ray's the Steaks. It was pretty dang good, and we will most likely go there again. Thanks for the suggestion, Ben, and the company! So he was our 5th visitor in our little house in Maryland. We're having fun living it up.

Next highlight is I have left the Stone Age. Yes, I have DVR. No more VHS recordings of shows. No more frenzied bedtimes "get to bed!! mommy has shows to watch!" No more commercials. It's all about taking back my time. TV is on my time and my terms-when I want to watch it, maybe during nap time while folding clothes or live. Either way, it is when I feel like watching. So here is me, joining the 21st century. I thought I would hate the EST with the shows not starting until 8 and all, but I actually love it. It gives me that little extra time to straighten the house, finish the dishes and whatever I want before TV starts. I like having it all done beforehand. All and all I am glad I cheaped out as long as I could doing without a DVR, but now that I have one it is worth the $15 extra a month. Plus, we got rid of Netflix so it equals out.

A little bad news this month. Lily was climbing on her desk--the half human half monkey she has always been--and was playing dolls and barbies on the hutch. I never allow her to climb up there, but she was and she accidentally pulled the hutch over and it landed on her. She got a gash on her head that was not bad enough to get stitches, but it bled everywhere and scared her straight. Hopefully she learned her lesson not to climb on furniture anymore. In the future, if Lily ever shaves her head and the question ever arises where she got the scar on her scalp, we can always look back to this blog to know it was when she was 5 and pulled a desk hutch on top of herself.

Now, I will close with an excerpt from Lorna's 5th grade diary that she shared with us last time we sisters were together, and we had a big laugh: "My favorite thing to do is go to the mall and show off my popularity." Haha hum, I guess you had to be there.

[Comments] (4) You know you are old when...: You say to yourself in the McDonalds as you survey the dining room with teenagers, kids these days... with an eye roll. I sound like my dad! Well, I am eating my words with a scoop of ice cream on the side. I am loving my aging. Or you could say maturing. Seriously, the older I get, the more I like myself and am more comfortable with who I am. For me, this is the age of, I am going to do with my life what I want to do and not let fear get in my way. My mom has a quote on her fridge that says something like "Don't go through life trying to "find yourself", decide who you want to be." I love that philosophy.

I can't wait to experience my 30's. I mean the wrinkles and age spots are no fun, but I really like the knowledge and experience that comes with age. This added number really isn't a huge change for me, mostly because I have been 28 in my mind half the year anyway. I have a hard time keeping track of my age and I sometimes seriously thought I was already 28.

This year has mostly been such an awesome year for myself and my family. Aaron is finally done with school! I mean he is in a residency, but we hardly call it school. He gets home no later than 4:30 every day, sometimes earlier than that. It might change when he does more clinic work, but still. Dental school was easier for us than it was for other people. Having said that, now looking back I can see how much things sucked compared to how it is in the real world. Did I mention a paycheck? That's nice too.

So there's that, and the fact that we live in this amazing place that I love with fantastic friends that I feel like I have known a lot longer. I have accomplished a lot of really empowering goals this year too. And I can't forget to mention all the fabulous vacations I have been on recently. And my kids just keep getting cuter and more endearing. Aaron and I keep finding new and better ways to show our love, and respect each other as individuals. This year has been so amazing. I am afraid to think that since this year has been so great, that we are in for a doozy next year. I know there are bigger, better things in the future for us, but I am so appreciative of life right now. I am so grateful to be alive and able to experience all these wonderful things.

It's not to say I don't have trials, and that my life is so awesome and nothing ever goes wrong for me. This isn't a "Seriously, so blessed" type of post that seems so generic and standardized. I go through lulls and highs just like everyone else. I have my off days, sometimes many in a row. Part of the awesomeness of this year has been out of the overcoming some of the hard balls in life. Or maybe more accurately said, the wisdom that comes with age that makes the trials more bearable. There is still a lot for me to learn. But seriously, 2009 has been divine. 2010 is going to be zen.

Happy birthday to ME!

p.s. Mom-thank you for birthing me in the heat of August. Sorry for coming 10 days late- and coming the day you dropped grandma back off at the airport. That was a really bratty thing of me to do.

[Comments] (1) So big!: Lily's 5 years old today. This morning she woke up and came downstairs and told me that 'today's my birthday'. She has been counting down the days. For her birthday I brought her class cupcakes. When I picked her up from school, her teacher had made her a birthday crown.

It's a tradition in my family that for your birthday you get to pick whatever meal you want, and mom will cook it for you. So I asked Lily and she chose spaghetti. But when Aaron got home from work, he told Lily she could choose wherever to go to eat. Of course she opted for that. And where else but McDonalds. Yuck. So we took the kids to Micky D's and they played on the playground and had happy meals. I decided not to eat there and to go to Girls Night Out at Carrabbas after the kids went to bed. Much better!

Lily was dying to open up her present before dinner so we let her. Aaron and I got her a princess locket at Disney World while we were there. She is obsessed with a locket I have and always wants to wear it. She loves that I put a picture in there, and she has always wanted one. So now she has one. She also got a Littlest Pet Shop from Aaron and me, that Aaron picked out, for her friend party.

I seriously can't believe I have a 5 yr old. What's even tripp-y-er is that Gunnar is almost 3. My youngest is 3, almost! Crazy.

August is a birthday month...me, David, Lily, and now Vivian. I have to give a shout out to Viv since I haven't already. She was born the 18th--3 days late. Julie was scheduled for an induction that morning, but she ended up going into labor on her own the night before. Crazy I know! So now I have a new niece I can't wait to meet. She is a lot like Lily. Both made their mama's really sick, both made their mama's retain ridiculous amounts of water, and both were little chunky babies within 2 oz of each other. Viv had an extra day in, so she was 2 oz bigger. Can't wait to see you Vivian! Happy birthday to all the August buddies out there!

[Comments] (8) Head check: K, so in the car this week we were driving to the commissary and I was zoned out thinking about something, and I hear in the back seat from Gunnar "I like this song mama, what's it's name?" I give a listen...it's the song by Cobra Starship-Good Girls Go Bad. Nice. Real nice. How am I going to explain to my 2 yr old what "I make them good girls go bad" means? So I told him "Good Girls".

So I got to thinking. I wondered how many songs I witness my kids listening to, nay-have my kids listen to, that make sexual references and other distasteful language throughout the song? The next song on the radio was "Poker Face". To my absolute surprise Gunnar shouts out "Hey sissy, it's Polka Face!" Oh my gosh, I'm a terrible mother. How on earth does my 2 yr old know the title to that song? How am I going to explain "and baby when it's love, if it's not rough it isn't fun" to him? Why on earth do I listen to this crap? The next song after that, Outkast, went "Don't want to meet your daddy, Just want you in my Caddy. Don't want to meet your momma. Just want to make you come-a." Are you kidding me?! These are songs I have heard a thousand times. If you just sit and listen to the lyrics, most songs on the radio are laden with sexual innuendos, flat out speech about sex (you don't have to be a genius to figure out what they are really saying), and sexual metaphors. I did a test, 3 songs in a row.

Then you hear about "kids are exposed to such and such by age 9". Well, they're 2 and it's by their mama. Hello? What are my priorities? To keep up to date on the latest in the music industry? At what expense? What do I do? Not ever listen to the radio? Is that extreme? Will people think I'm crazy? But these are my kids. MY CHILDREN. He's 2, she's 4. I am subjecting them to this filth. It's not like they are "picking this up from their friends at school". I am their advocate. I should know better. What to do? Where to find balance?

It's a mad MAD world. How am I supposed to raise children in this sin infested, pleasure loving world? "Freak out!" And le Freak was not Chic. What's a mom to do? I know, I know. Stay close to the Spirit. Pretty sure the Spirit doesn't jam out to stuff. I am so over Old MacDonald and Wheels on the Bus. I'll have to find new clean music both of us can agree on. Makes me very sad though for my kids. It was tough 15 yrs ago, and it's worse now. Let's just have the earth be hit by a big fire ball already and get this over with.

I'm tired: But I'm having fun with many new adventures with David and Ashley here. The end for now.

[Comments] (7) It's about time...: To write about whats been going on. How we are so glad Aaron is back, and what we were up to with him gone (lots of trips to the gym and pool). I asked Aaron to write his own blog post about COT with pictures and commentary, but he just sorta laughed. Some of the pictures are cool so if I have time to get around to it, I will do it. This blog is about me, ME, me so my number one priority is to blog about me and my trip to Paris first. But first a quick word on Aaron.

He's come home a new man! I haven't seen a change in him this big since he came home from his mission, in where he gained 20-25lbs and started growing facial hair. Not kidding, he still can only grow a sparse goatee and random hair along the jawline. He looks great and happy and a little more buff than before. The man never works out and still has huge arms and so you can imagine what his arms look like after a few push ups. haha But seriously, his countenance is glowing despite telling me over and over how much he didn't like COT; I can't help but think a part of him found it rewarding and fulfilling.

We are very happy Aaron is home. Very. So happy that when he started his first day on base yesterday and when the kids asked why he was absent again and I told them work, Lily was near tears saying I thought daddy was all done with work. No, now he works here and will be home every night. His first couple days have been fine, no big surprises, or accidents on his commute. Mainly just getting paperwork done. He can't wait to get a hold of a patient and hand piece again. Soon...

So while Aaron was away for almost 5 weeks, I took a little trip without him. It was spur of the moment, really. As much spur and moment as you can get with a European vacation anyway. Michelle was in London for an internship for 8 weeks and I, having a list of travel desires a mile long, cooked up a haphazard scheme to get myself to London to see Michelle. And we threw in Paris for good measure. Hey, why not? What's a little more at that point, right?

I knew it was a long shot, but I figured if I never asked it would never happen, so I went out on a limb and asked my dear friend Rebecca Cook if she would so kindly watch my angels for 7 DAYS. She said yes! She initially turned me down on paying her, but I insisted and forced her to take my money, and I think maybe she was glad at the end of the week after all the work was done that she was getting paid. Just maybe a little bit even though she was willing to do it out of the goodness of her golden heart. My 2 kids and her 4 kids=6 kids and she handled it like a champ. So impressed. Totally not surprised, she's awesome.

So I hurried and got my passport. It came with plenty of time to spare, only took two weeks and didn't have to pay for it to be expedited. I found a good ticket to fly into Paris and then fly out of London. Did my research, figured out where and what to see on my lonely nights with Aaron gone. Everything worked out awesome with only a few bumps along the road.

My kids also did great Rebecca said. Lily was no problem, actually loved being Bryn's little sister, and Gunnar had his issues, but for the most part behaved nicely. Besides Gunnar missing me so much, they both had a great time too with some bona fide bike riding cuts and running around bruises to show for it.

My mom overlapped my trip in London for a couple days as well. I got home before her and she had a layover in DC so she just scheduled to stay for 2 1/2 days to hang out with us and see where we lived and all. We had lots of fun going downtown and seeing the FDR Monument, Air Force Memorial-with a great view of the city skyline and Arlington cemetery, and Pentagon Memorial. We loved it, and the kids were good sports but after those 3 things Lily asked "What are we doing next, and if you say another monument I am not going to be happy." We also had the company of my mom's Aunt-in-law and cousin-in-law who are delightful people.

We went to dinner at a place called Blue Bay for authentic New England seafood, and we also had lunch at a local Greek diner in Arlington. Such a busy day--one of many skipped naps for Gunnar lately and us going out to eat. The next day I was able to get a babysitter so Mom, Aaron and I went downtown again sans kids, to a delicious Thai place and Cold Stone, then drove the National Mall with everything lit up. So beautiful! It was very relaxing and fun. And I found the best babysitter EVER! I didn't know 16 yr olds like her existed.

Anyway, we look forward to Mom (and Ben) coming out to visit again maybe in Oct, and David and Ashley coming out to visit next week. That will make our 4th visitors in 2 months. Any other takers before our calendar gets too full?! haha ...more on my trip to come.

[Comments] (2) Something smells fishy : Last night we went out for Maryland's famous crab cakes and seafood for dinner with Mom while she is in town. Lily said she wasn't hungry and didn't want to order anything. She kept asking me what that smell was. I told her it was the fish. She was like 'I know, but what's that bad smell?' The fish! 'But something smells stinky.' Trust me, it's the seafood.

After we got home and put the kids to bed Lily bemoaned "I'm hungry". Sorry kiddo, you don't eat dinner (there were chicken nuggets and hamburger on the kids menu for crying out loud) then you don't eat. So she was all upset and told me angrily "You shouldn't have gone to a stinky fish restaurant for dinner, I didn't like it." I'm such a mean mom. ps I have had oysters for the third and last time in my life. bleah