Saturday, September 30, 2006

General Conference

Ahhh...General Conference weekend. Gotta love it. Twice a year we get to listen to our church leaders in Salt Lake City on Saturday and Sunday instead of our usual Sunday meetings. In our house, we watch the broadcasts on the internet. Today went SO well. I was so impressed with Brandon and Whitney. They have two choices: They can sit and listen with us, playing a little listening game or they can go play in the playroom. Brandon stayed with us and listened to conference for the whole 4 hours!! And even Whitney probably "listened" for about 2 hours or so.
We let them play a game called "Conference Squares" that I got out of the Apr 2004 Friend Magazine. It's basically BINGO. There are pictures to represent words like prophets, love, prayer, Jesus Christ, temple. They have to listen for the speakers to say the word and then they put an M&M on that square. (Again, violating my self-imposed rule of not using candy as a reward!) At the end of each speaker they can eat the M&M's that they've collected.

Brandon was a GREAT listener. He ended up getting a ziploc baggie and saving some of his M&M's because he'd gotten so many. At the end of conference, I asked him what he learned and what words he had heard the most. He said, "Forgiveness. They said that a lot. And Jesus Christ. They talked about Him all the time because we love Him." So cute.

Here's Whitney enjoying her M&M's, too.

It has been great to have Andrew home for the day and to just chill out at home together and be spiritually fed. I've loved it. There were some really good talks today. I think my favorite was Elder Ballard's where he talked about, "Oh, be wise. What can I say more?" I loved his adice about our church callings and how to serve wisely. I also enjoyed Elder Robert C. Oaks' talk about patience. I'll have to re-read it when it comes out in the Ensign because I missed the beginning while putting Whitney down for her nap. But I liked his quote from Elder Maxwell where he said, "When you and I are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we like our timetable better than God’s." How often do I do that? And I liked his advice to reommit each day to become more patient.

I look forward to another spiritually uplifting day tomorrow!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Best husband ever

(The title is supposed to be read in the voice of the comic book guy from the Simpsons!)

Andrew has been gone for 4 of the last 5 days. First he had that scout training and then he had a business trip. We've missed him! But at least it's getting easier to take care of the kids on my own now that they're older. Or maybe I'm just used to it more because he's gone so often for church. :)

Anyway, he did the cutest thing for us before he left for his business trip. He went and got two little gifts for each of us--one to open each day that he was gone. The kids thought that was great. So did I. I got cheesecake one night. mmmmmm.....cheesecake...

The kids got silly string as one of their gifts.

They had never seen silly string before and it was a hit! The spray button was a little too hard for Whitney to push, so I had to "help" her squirt Brandon. :) They giggled uncontrollably. It was so fun...and messy.

Another day Whitney got these two HUGE balloons.

You can definitely tell she has an older brother. The first thing she said when I blew them up: "Let's have a light saber fight!" and proceeded to make the light saber sound effects.

I was very happy to have Andrew come home last night. Hopefully he'll stay a while this time.

Whit and I went to story time this morning. We had a cute conversation about it over lunch.
Me: What were the stories about at story time today?
W: I don't know.
Me: They were about feelings, remember? What are some of the feelings we read about?
W: Happy.
Me: That's right! What's another one?
W: Sad.
Me: Very good! Do you know any other feelings?
W: Fish.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Shopping and lunch--life is good

Now that Whitney is progressing in her potty training, I had to restock my potty prize jar. In theory, I don't believe in using food as a reward. But it's just so darn easy to say, "If you use the potty, you'll get a piece of candy..." So that's what we've been doing for the past couple of (unsuccessful) months. I prefer to use something like this:

Cheap little trinkets that are not food.

We went to Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, and the dollar store yesterday and got a pretty good stash. And the prizes are working--Whitney stayed dry ALL DAY yesterday. What a big girl. I am SO proud of her. While running our errands, she also proved that she is quite a bargain shopper herself! She wanted PlayDoh. Yes, her grandma just brought some for her when she visited, but Whit always forgets to put the lids on, so it doesn't last very long. We looked at Big Lots, but couldn't find anything under $2, which is all the fun money she had left. At Tuesday Morning she found this:

It's just one tall jar that was all by itself.
There was no price tag. We took it up to
the register and they said she could have it
for TEN CENTS! That's a bargain!

In between our shopping trips, we stopped at Brandon's school to have lunch with him. It's so fun to see him there, looking like such a big boy. And he always gets excited to see us, too. It was Johnny Appleseed's birthday yesterday, so all the kids had these "pans" on their heads.

Brandon Appleseed

Last time we went, he was at a table with all boys, but yesterday he was sitting with all girls. They were so cute and fun to visit with.

I don't know if the teachers like it when we go to lunch with B, though. They're supposed to be silent for the first 10 minutes of lunch, so the kids will eat. But the teachers are very vague about this rule. They don't tell the kids when 10 minutes is up, so they usually just sit there ignoring each other the whole time. How boring is that? So we had fun talking and laughing with the kids at our table. I hope the teachers don't ban us from coming back.

The other exciting thing I did yesterday--I went to an adult transfer student information session at a local university. I've decided I want to go back to college and finish my bachelors. This movie quote from Tommy Boy comes to mind, "A lot of people go to college for seven years." "I know. They're called doctors." I was in school for 5 1/2 years, but all I have to show for it is an associate's degree. I've always thought I'd go back and finish, but have just kept putting it off. I feel like now might be a good time. So I got some good info from the session last night and I'm also requesting some details from BYU's online program. We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday can be a fun day, too

And we had a very fun Monday. I tried something new with Whitney's hair this morning.
I French braided it. (Andrew would probably call them Freedom Braids.)
You can tell it was my first time. I need some practice. They didn't last
very long. They were too loose and she looked a mess before lunch time. Darn.
Speaking of lunchtime, we got a special treat. We met Andrew
at McDonalds for lunch.

It was so nice. We used to meet him for lunch once a week, but things have been so hectic at work that we haven't done it for several months. It was kind of weird to not have Brandon with us, but Whitney sure enjoyed the attention.

After school, we had a Family Home Evening on following prophets and then we drove to Chuck E Cheese!

It was a blast.

Here's Brandon on one of his favorite rides there


In big and exciting news... Whitney won her first BONUS!

She was playing one of those games where there's a series of lights that turn on one at a time and you have to press a button to stop it at just the right time. They are impossible. I can't win on them. Andrew can't. Brandon can't. But, Whitney had beginner's luck and the magic touch because she won these 75 tickets all by herself! Way to go, Whit!

There were a couple of other games that were generous with the tickets and we ended up with 434 by the end. I thought that was pretty good considering I didn't win the 250 skeeball bonus this time and we were only there for about 45 minutes.

Brandon wants to start a new incentive calendar to fill in for good behavior in the mornings. I was hoping it was just a habit now, but we'll see what happens. When I woke him up this morning, he did say, "I'm not going." and I hadn't heard that in a while. He got over it pretty quickly, though.

Potty training for Whit is going surprisingly well. I can't believe it. She wore a pull-up all day yesterday and only had one accident before we went to Chuck E. Cheese's. Then today she stayed dry all morning even though we were out running errands. When I put her down for her nap at 2:15, she was in the same pull-up I put on this morning. Amazing.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Our weekend

Let's see...I can't believe the weekend is already over. We had a really fun morning on Saturday. We met up with two of our friends from last year's preschool class and let the kids play at the park. They had fun and I loved visiting with the other moms. Win-win situation.

Andrew was gone to Basic Training for Scout Leaders. He left early Saturday morning and got home Sunday evening.

Does he look cute in his uniform or what? :)

It seems like whenever he's gone, I try to keep us really busy so I don't start feeling lonely. So, we went out to Wendy's for lunch. And then stopped by Borders to return their expensive board books. (+$24 on the budget--woo hoo!) We came home to put Whitney down for her nap and Brandon and I read and played a couple of games.

Saturday evening was the annual broadcast from Salt Lake City for the women at church. Our stake had a dinner and activity beforehand which started at 6 and the broadcast ended at 9:30. They provided child care for those who needed it, but I didn't think Whitney would make it until 9:30 pm without being a big grump. Thank goodness for good friends. I didn't really want to pay a babysitter for 5 hours, so I asked our friend, Greg, if he would come hang out with the kids for a couple of hours and then put them to bed. He agreed. What a great guy! The kids love him and had fun. The activity and broadcast were really good. I always walk away from them holding my head a little higher because I'm a woman. (I've heard this is very different than the way the men feel after leaving their broadcasts every six month--but it's true!) The speakers make us feel so loved and capable. It's great.

Sunday mornings are always a rush around here, but Brandon was my super big helper this week. I was blow-drying my hair and asked him to pack snacks for himself and Whitney for church. He came back in a few minutes with this in his hands:

"Mom, can you close this baggie for me?"

He had gotten out a cutting board and used a butter knife to slice up a cucumber to pack as a snack. Is that the cutest thing ever??? I was SO impressed. I quickly peeled the skin off of them and put them in the bag and sealed them up and we were on our way.

Church was kind of rough. The last few weeks have been really good, so I was convinced we had reached a turning point as far as reverence, but this week we took a couple of steps backwards. Whitney was really difficult. She kept crying and whining over little things. I had to take her out twice. Brandon wasn't on his best behavior, either.

I got released from my responsibility in the presidency of the Primary (our children's organization). I have loved working in that calling, but it was getting to be a little overwhelming with Andrew's calling. There were some weeks where we would have church meetings 5 of the 7 days of the week! I don't get any rest, though, because I got called to be the chorister for the Primary kids now. I am really excited about it. I think it will be a fun calling. But it might be stressful for the next few weeks as we prepare for our annual Sacrament meeting program put on by the children. We have quite a ways to go in perfecting our songs before then. Hopefully it will all come together.

Here's the latest in my patch gallery:

Winnie the Pooh

When I found out we weren't quite done patching yet, I took some time on Saturday morning while the kids were watching cartoons and drew pictures on all of them that we have left. Brandon and Whitney wanted to help, so they each colored a patch, too.

And, in other exciting news, Brandon finished his Chuck E. Cheese calendar. It only took a month of being in school to get it filled in. :) It's supposed to be a homework calendar, but since his teacher hasn't started assigning homework yet, I told him that I had homework for him: to not be grumpy, whiney, or complain while he's getting ready for school in the mornings. Each morning that he got ready without a fight, I put an X on his calendar (I told him I'd give him the Sat's and Sun's as freebies.) Today he got his last X. Mornings around our house and have been SO much nicer than those first few days where I had to ask him 3 times to do everything. And, no, the 3rd time I ask it usually isn't pretty.

So, we're off to Chuck E. Cheese tonight after Family Home Evening. Yeah!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bargain shopping

I just had to share some of the great bargains I've found this week. I'm so proud of myself. :)

I was at Borders, looking for a gift for a baby shower
and I found these in the bargain section.
Retail Price: $138.98
(I don't see how ANYONE would pay this
much for these books, but the Celine Dion one
retails for $60 and Liberty and Freedom for$50!)

Price I paid all together: $17.96
Saved: $121.02

For the baby shower, I wanted to get my friend
a few good board books. She's a big reader and
I thought she would appreciate them.
Here's what I found at Borders:

None of them were on sale.
Price: $22.85
I thought this was outrageous and knew
I could find a bargain somewhere!

I went to Ross and found these FIVE board books:

Total price: $19.45
That's more like it!

The Disney Store has some fun things on sale right now, too.

Retail price for all of this: $50.00
(Again, who pays that much for this???)
Price I paid: $19.96 total
I've stashed them away in my closet,
most likely to be used as Christmas presents.
Too fun!

Where do you usually find the best bargains? Found any good ones lately?

Friday, September 22, 2006


Whitney and I had a fun playgroup today at the Environmental Center. Miss Christine, a naturalist, takes us on hikes and finds bugs and other cool stuff to show the kids. She does this once a month and we love it! Last year when we participated there were a few very active boys (Brandon included) who kept it very interesting. It was lots of fun, but not a relaxing morning. This year it is almost all little girls, most of them right around Whitney's age. It was so different. I wasn't constantly looking around to see who Brandon was poking with a stick or making sure he didn't get too far ahead of the pack.

Here the girls are checking out a camel cricket.

Is North Carolina beautiful or what?
I can't believe Utah is already getting
snow. The leaves haven't started turning here, yet,
but there is a little nip in the air the last couple
of days. Andrew always says, "There's football in the air!"

Here is Whitney giving me her "princess smile."
*sidenote* I've already told this to some of you, but it's a cute story, so I thought I'd post it. Whitney is really into "happily ever after" right now. She has apparently seen a few too many kisses at the end of princess books because she was trying to kiss us and Brandon with long, drawn out kisses and she would say, "Happily Ever After..." We told her she can only give "happily ever after kisses" after she gets married... in the temple...when she's much older. So now she talks about that all the time! Every time she gives us a kiss she says, "Not a happily ever after kiss? When I'm married in the temple, I'll give my husband a
happily ever after kiss."

Back to our day, at the end of the hike, Miss Christine takes us back
to the building and often brings out a snake for the kids
to touch. I'm so glad Whitney is having these experiences
now and will possibly not have fear of snakes or bugs when
she gets older. Do you think that's theory will work?

As for Brandon...
He is doing great. He had a smiley face from school every day this week.
In his own words:
I had a really good day. But, guess what? We did that thing that we did yesterday where we changed it around and first we did rest time and then we did outside. But sometimes we do it outside and then rest time.
Me: What's your favorite part about school?
B: Going on the computers for center.
Me: What do you do on the computers?
B: Do fun things. And paint and stuff. The end. Goodbye.

He is never this concise. He must be building something really cool out of legos in the playroom, because he was in a rush to get back there.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Good (but not perfect) news

What a day! We started off the morning with storytime at the library. We read all about fall, as in autumn. I don't think Whitney knows what that word means yet because she told Andrew that we read books about falling down. Huh. They always do an artsy project after the stories are done.

Here's Whitney with one of her little friends
decorating leaves to hang around the art room.

After storytime, we did a little shopping for a baby shower I'm attending this weekend. Then we rushed home because today was a big day. A visit to see Dr. Buckley!!!

Whitney wanted to look good for the occasion!

Brandon got out of school a little early and Andrew took the afternoon off work so we could drive up to Duke and find out if we are FINALLY done patching or not. Andrew and I were hopeful because it just seems like she can see better lately. She points out a lot more things than she used to.

Whitney rocked on the vision test. It was so awesome. She usually has to be inspired to look at the computer monitor and verbalize what she sees, but she was on a roll today. One right after another--teddy bear, birthday cake, telephone, Christmas tree....I could tell she was doing good. It turns out her vision is 20/25 in both eyes right now. Yippee! Now the real news--what do we do from here?

Whitney was excited to see her crush, Dr. Buckley.
Can you tell from the HUGE smile on her face???

Well, he says that even though her vision is equal right now, her eyes still aren't quite aligned. They both point out a little bit. So, when she's look around, she chooses one eye or the other. She's not using them together. He thought the patching would correct that problem, but so far it hasn't. He wants us to patch for another 6 weeks. We had been doing 3 days on and 1 day off. He says we can change to 1 day on and 1 day off. That'll be nice. If at that point her alignment isn't fixed, I'm afraid we might have to do another surgery. BUMMER. I'm not going to worry about it too much right now. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

On our way home we stopped at a Taco Bell/KFC/Pizza Hut for dinner. I think places like that are the best. What a great idea! Why don't they have more of them? Anyway, as part of the decor, you'll never guess what they had hanging on the wall...
Whitney, of course, was the one who pointed this out. :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fun Saturday, Lame Date, Good Sunday

We had the funnest afternoon yesterday. We went to a local park where they had a little festival-type event. They hold it annually and this was our second year going. The kids have a blast, and we like it, too. Ok, Brandon and I had a blast. Whitney and Andrew were both tired. He had a temple trip with the youth from Church in the morning. I think he left the house around 6:30. And he got home around noon, so Whitney missed her nap. But they still had a good time.

We did a little tag-team parenting because the kids wanted to do very different activities:

Brandon thought this big inflatable slide was pretty cool.

It turned out to be about the slowest slide ever.

He was also very BRAVE and tried the rock climbing wall.

He made it over half way up--even though he was in bare feet.

Pretty impressive, huh?

Whitney enjoyed the craft table--making this "bug" hat

and gluing sequins and googley eyes on a paper gecko.

And she also loved riding the little train and the carousel

with her daddy.

And they had some tribal drummers there with

empty chairs where you could join the circle. The kids

got really into it--very cute.

Last night was date night and we went on our favorite date--tennis and Sonic. It was terrible. I don't know what was wrong with us, but we looked like we had never played tennis before in our lives. I was embarassed! I kept thinking, I hope no one is secretly filming this because they would have some pretty good blackmailing material. I felt completely uncoordinated. It was crazy. One of the bad things about it was you can't really get a good workout from tennis if you can't rally back and forth more than 2 hits! I told Andrew we're going to have to take a break from tennis next date and try again in a couple of weeks.

Today church went really well. My friend, Nicolle, is still travelling the world, so I was on my own in Sacrament meeting. Luckily the kids were good. And Primary was very non-stressful, too. So I am having a very happy day.

To top it all of, Whitney is starting to potty train herself! Knowing the long road that potty training is, and how much I DON'T like it, I have not put any effort into training her yet. She's showing some of the signs of being ready, but I just don't want to face it. Well, yesterday, she told Andrew she needed to go potty and she peed! Wow! That's awesome. Then today after church she told me she needed to poop and, sure enough, she did it! Yippee! That was a first. I guess I'll have to start putting some effort into this and maybe we can have her potty trained by Christmas. Then again, don't keep your fingers crossed. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Artwork on Patches

Every morning when Whitney wakes up, I ask her what she wants on her patch. (Except every fourth day when she gets to be patch free--yeah!)

Normally she chooses something normal like

A Butterfly

A fish

She chooses lots of classic girly things like:

Princess Dora

Just plain Dora

This was supposed to be Belle
from Beauty and the Beast
(not my best work)


Gus gus from Cinderella


This morning, she made the most
RANDOM choice ever:
A volcano!

So, trying to look on the bright side of this patching ordeal, it has brought out some artistic abilities I had never tapped into. :)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Playgroup and TV

Ever since I've moved here, I've been active with a group of moms doing a playgroup. The group has changed COMPLETELY over the years, but we always manage to get together with someone to let the kids play and the moms visit. The summers are usually too busy, so we just started again a couple of weeks ago. We take turns hosting and I took the first turn. It was the Friday before Labor Day weekend, I believe. It was a total flop. No one else showed up. OK, I shouldn't say no one because my friend, Jayne, did come, but she just comes to visit with the moms because all of her kids are in school. Most of the other moms had e-mailed me to let me know they couldn't be coming for whatever reason, so I wasn't expecting a big turn out, but it was really funny that Whitney and I were just playing on our own. We called it our imaginary playgroup. :)

Well, today we got to have a REAL playgroup with real friends. It was a lot of fun. We met at the park. It was a beautiful day. The kids played well together. There was just one little incident with hair pulling between Whitney and one of her friends. Ouch!

Snack time!

We were watching one of our friends
and since I didn't have a double stroller,
Whitney got to share.

In other excitement around here, Andrew took a QUICK business trip up to Boston yesterday. He had quite an adventure trying to get home. Traffic was nuts and he would've missed his flight because he was so late getting to the airport, but his flight had been delayed like 2 hours, which would've made him miss his connection in Philadelphia. He lucked out because an earlier flight was delayed and was just boarding and had a few empty seats and he snagged one. His connecting flight was also delayed, so I don't think he got home until around 2:00 this morning. I was very much out of it, so I don't know what time it was. Thankfully, he got to sleep in this morning before heading back to work.

And, finally, Survivor premiered last night. Did anyone else watch it? What did you think? They have 20 contestants this year and they divided them into four tribes based on ethnicity. I wonder if people of mixed race were excluded from the application process... Anyway, when I heard about that, it just rubbed me the wrong way. Doesn't it seem like taking a step backwards? I decided to give it a try anyway and it was pretty good so far. It was interesting to see how shocked the contestants were about the division. And I also thought it was interesting that now they feel extra pressure to do well so they don't represent their race poorly. Personally, I hope they merge quickly and look forward to seeing how closely the original tribemates stick together.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More adventures with Grandma and Grandpa

We have had such a great visit with Andrew's parents. It's going to be hard to let them go home. It's too much fun with them here!

Yesterday, we went on a little hike at the Piedmont Environmental Center. It's the same place that Cindy and I got lost with the kids, but this time I was a better navigator, and we managed to avoid another disaster. :)

During Whitney's nap, Barb and I went shopping for some new clothes for the kids. We were very successful and found some CUTE outfits for both Brandon and Whitney. Brandon didn't pose for me, but here is Whitney modeling a couple of her outfits.

I love her in turtlenecks!
Actually, I love her in everything.
But she really looks cute in turtlenecks.

Barb couldn't resist when we found these
adorable cowgirl boots and outfit at Old Navy.
Whitney turned lots of heads when she wore
them around town today.

After Brandon got home from another good day at school, we went mini golfing. He's gone a handful of times before and normally does really well. He was a little impatient today and kept going one or two holes ahead of us and we'd have to tell him to wait for us. Then he'd get as close to the water hazards as he could without falling in while waiting.

We had to keep reminding Brandon to PUTT
the ball. Don't hit it as hard as you can!

Say Cheese!

After we finished golf, we thought it would be fun to try out the go-karts. I had done them before at a birthday party, so I sat out and took pics while the others raced. They had a great time, especially Brandon--the future NASCAR driver.

"And Dennis takes the lead...but not for long"

Barb had a definite disadvantage because
Whitney got freaked out if she tried to go fast.

Often when we are spending time with our parents, we are sharing them with all of the other grandkids, so it was nice to have them to ourselves for the past week. They'll be heading back to Utah early in the morning. But I think we had such a great time that they'll come to see us again. Hopefully soon.