Friday, May 30, 2008

And then there were curtains

I arrived home today to find a surprise. Our neighbors got curtains! There was a great amount of jumping for joy and tremendous happiness in my heart. No longer would I have to expose my eyes to the terror they had been experiencing. I could hardly wait to tell Ben about it.

Tonight after dark we left home to run some errands. I was so excited to drive down our street without witnessing the bad accident that I have not been able to look away from for the last year. As we pulled out of our house, my joy turned to complete horror! How in the world could it possibly be true? The exhibitionist neighbors have managed to pick curtains that are completely transparent at night. There sitting on the other side of the curtain, that should be protecting me, was a giant man in a recliner.

I do believe that the problem will now be compounded. Not only will we be able to see in their giant picture window, but they will be under the false belief that they are protected by their curtains!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just a little sweetness

The Story of Us- Part I

About a month ago, I posted about my Superman. People ask all the time about how we met, so I thought it might be fun to reminisce a little.

I had been married to my first husband for almost 5 years, when the relationship ended rather roughly. I had been committed to the marriage through thick and thin and was devastated by the ending of it. However, the end had been quite drawn out and when it was finally over I was ready to LIVE again. I picked myself up and began to spread my wings. I realized that I was destined for a much happier life. I worked up the courage to file for divorce and started living a brief existence in the single world. I dated a couple of people and just had fun. During this time I was hit on by a complete stranger in a bar, something that was both exciting and frightening to me. I stayed out late at night and met a lot of people. After about 3 months of this, I felt that I just wanted to go back to a quieter life. I was ready to be spending more time with my kids. I threw myself into my work and I was incredibly happy. I was standing on my own two feet and I wasn't looking for anything more.

Then one day, I was talking with someone at work. He hadn't worked in the office long and he was telling me about his wife and kids. Out of the blue I asked him if he was the same faith that I am. He was shocked and told me he was. Over the next few days he stopped by my desk a few more times to talk. Then he told me that he had a friend that he used to work with that was newly divorced and was just starting to date. He told me that he thought we should meet. But he warned that the meeting might be a little strange since his friend was over a foot taller than I am. The height difference didn't seem like such a big deal. This sounded like an interesting prospect... I told him that he would need to call his wife first and get a woman's opinion for me. I wanted to make sure that his wife thought this was someone that I should be set up with. His wife reassured that this friend was an eligible prospect and I should allow it to happen.

That night I got my first email from Ben! I couldn't believe how fast that happened. He had just gotten off the phone with my coworker and emailed me right away. Over the next few days we emailed 2-4 times per day. I anxiously awaited his emails. I would read them and reread them and then respond as quickly as possible.

Immediately, even in writing there was something different about this man. We seemed to have so much in common. He was devoted to his children, even though they lived in a different state. He wrote like someone with a good heart, his writing was kind and gentle. He wrote things that reflected an attitude of integrity and honesty. But I was scared, scared that he was too good to be true. I guess even scared that he would be just as good as he seemed, but wouldn't be equally impressed with me. We began to talk very candidly through emails, revealing personal values, beliefs, goals and dreams. Emailing was safe and I avoided our first phone conversation for a while.

Then after about a week of emails my phone rang one night...

This story is going to be posted in segments over the next few days, so keep checking back!

Continue to Part II

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ready for anything

Sometimes, you need to pause from your routine to make sure you are prepared... Clean the engine, check the ladders...
Make sure everything is completely ready...
To be a KID! There couldn't be a more important job!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Where have all the crazies gone?

I found them. Yesterday, my dad, brother, nephew and I made the trek to my Great-aunt's 99th birthday party. It was to be a raging convalescent home party. Amazingly, Aunt Jerry has lived completely on her own until 2 weeks ago when she broke her pelvis and has been in a convalescent hospital since.

When we arrived in the LA suburb where she is, my dad believed he had good directions from his brother about where the party was to be held. But we couldn't find it anywhere. I'm an active member of 21st century society, so I called 800-Goog-411 to get a specific address for Verdugo Vista Convalescent Hospital. The very nice Goog lady immediately gave me an address for Verdugo Valley convalescent hospital located on the very same street my uncle had directed. Great! We parked the car and entered the building. I immediately became concerned that we were scarring my 10 year old nephew for life by taking him in there.

The first person we met pointed at my brother with determination and said, "Hi Ken, good to see you!" Yes, it was very friendly, however my brother's name is NOT Ken and he has never seen this guy before in his life. That was the first sign that we weren't in Normalville anymore! I found a worker and asked them to direct us to the "rec room" and she told us just down the hall to the right. Come to find out she sent us to the "restroom." The confusion was most likely caused by the fact that none of the workers spoke English.

Another lady in the hall pointed at us and said, "there's the dad, and there's the mom and there's the uncle and there's the kid." As we walked away she started shouting, "Hey, your family is leaving, the family is leaving. Get the family, they're leaving"

The halls were filthy! Strange people were talking to themselves and wandering around. One man in a wheel chair almost rolled down the stairs while we were standing there. I leaned over to my brother and told him, "ummm, our kind of people don't belong here."

Come to find out, our people aren't there. Our Aunt was staying at Verdugo Vista Convalescent home on a completely different street. It makes me very sad to think about the crazy people living in that first hospital. They are the forgotten. I just hope that if I suddenly become crazy, I won't be forgotten and sent to a depressing dirty place with all of the other crazies.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


This is how my baby chooses to go to school each day. She carries a giant back pack by choice. There is no necessity for a preschooler carrying such a huge back pack. But she likes to take it.

This morning it made me think about the "extra" burdens that we choose to carry throughout life. I intentionally load stresses, concerns, projects and ideals onto my own back. Things that aren't necessary but apparently I like to carry. I guess I do it because ultimately they make my day brighter and better, just like the stuffed animal that goes to and from school in Sarah's backpack makes her day a little better.

Some burdens are just worth the extra load.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


We are currently under a "National Weather Service Wind Advisory." I know I've mentioned before that I am definitely NOT a fan of the wind. However, I realized this morning that it is one of those things that people who live here are allowed to complain about, but it just doesn't set well coming from visitors or tourists. This morning I stopped at the mini mart for my morning Dr. Pepper and there were several people there that were just stopping for gas as they were travelling through on the freeway. There was a lady wearing shorts and a tank top who just wouldn't stop grousing about the wind. "Oh, this is just ridiculous! I don't know how anyone could ever live with this. This place is just terrible." And I found myself biting my tongue; I just wanted to tell her "if you don't like it then get out of our town!" The wind is not fun, I really don't enjoy it. But it pays our bills!

So to you lady who travelled without first checking the weather forecast, I say, "If it isn't your windy town, then keep your complaints to yourself!"

Monday, May 19, 2008


I was tagged by Amanda. Remember her? Coming up with 5 things for these topics is gonna be tough!

5 things on my "to do" list this week:
1. Get ready for yard sale
2. Clean my house
3. Take pictures of kids
4. Sort items for yard sale
5. Have yard sale

5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Dr. Pepper (does addiction count as enjoyment?)
2. Ice Cream
3. Cheeze-its (Never Cheese Nips)
4. Grandmother Bread and butter
5. Dr. Pepper (Did I already say that?)

5 things I would do if I suddenly became a billionaire:
1. Pay for gas for our summer vacations
2. I don't think I have any money left after the gas...

5 places I've lived:
1. Santa Clarita, CA
2. Exeter, CA
3. Provo, UT
4. Bakersfield, CA
5. Tehachapi, CA

5 favorite musicians/bands
1. George Strait (He's a legend)
2. Bare Naked Ladies
3. The White Stripes
4. Weezer
5. Ben Folds Five

5 Tagged Friends
1. Meredith
2. Diane
3. Eliza
4. Emmylou
5. I'm all out of blogging friends, Amanda was my 5th and she's already done it (Isn't that sad?)

17 Bags of Poop

Alright, so if I were really a grown up I would say "17 bags of manure." But where is the fun in that? We have had so much more fun using the word poop in all of our discussions. "Boy, the poop stinks!" "We need to go to Home Depot and buy some more poop!" "Ben, can you help me carry the poop?" "Kids, stay out of the poop!" See, it's kind of catchy. Now don't you want to plant a garden so you can talk about poop all day too?

17 bags of poop later and the garden is planted! And we will probably have to retire the word (except when referring to potty topics) until next year. At least we have something to look forward to!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sibling Secrets

97.2% of the time, I absolutely love being a parent. And I've said it a thousand times, the most enjoyable part of being a parent has been watching the kids interact with each other. Whether it is just Ben and Sarah, or I am lucky enough to have all 4 of them. I delight in their relationships. Today, I was lucky enough to sneak a glimpse into their "secret" world of imagination. This is a clubhouse/hideout that they set up between our shed and the fence. It is about 18 inches wide, but offers enough room for them to create their world. They spent hours in there and were so wrapped up, they never even noticed me taking the pictures.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Car comparison

My trip to Texas caused me to compare many things. Please bear with me for just one more. While I was there I had a rental car. The car provided to me was a Honda Civic Hybrid. I was super excited to try out a Hybrid and see what all of the hype was about. As I drove through Dallas in the Honda the first thing that surprised me was the lack of power. I didn't like that. Then when I got in to town and tried to pull away from a stop sign I noticed the car rolling backward when I took my foot off the brake pedal. It was a little scary. The car tracked my gas mileage for me, that is what excited me to most. Over the course of my trip, with mainly highway travel I averaged 36.2 mpg.

Ok, so that didn't impress me at all! My very own Toyota Corolla that was waiting at home for me has incredible power and gets 38 mpg. Alright, so I love my car! What's more, the sticker price on 2009 cars is significantly different between the two.

Here is the Honda Civic Hybrid with a starting sticker price of $22,600.

And my favorite car in the whole world with better gas mileage and a much better starting sticker price of $15,250.

So, in conclusion, I don't think the Hybrids are quite all they are cracked up to be. Go buy a Corolla.

Texas vs. Hawaii

I returned from Texas yesterday. I was very glad to be home. Looking back on my trip, I would like to take a moment to further examine the similarities between Hawaii and Texas. The humidity factor was the first thing that was obvious to me, but there is oh so much more.

First, there is the ocean front property:

Texas...and Hawaii
Almost identical, huh?

Next, there are the world class golf courses.

First in Hawaii

And then in Texas

There are the food crazes

In Hawaii

and in Texas (where everything is bigger)

The crazy street names

In Hawaii

And in Texas

And finally, there are the wind turbines

In Hawaii

And in TexasI know, you are stunned by the similarities. I can sense your amazement.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Trip Starts Here...

I woke up at 3:50 this morning to start my trip to Texas. A few turbulent trips and one long trek across Phoenix airport and I had arrived in Texas. The first thing I did was check a mirror to see if my hair was pasted down on my head from the extreme humidity. It made me feel like I was in Honolulu again, only without the ocean, or the flowers. Yep, besides that Honolulu and Dallas are just the same.

Next I made my way across town to my cousin's house. Where I was immediately impressed by the fancy lawn mowers these Texans have. Definitely much cuter than our lawn mower.
The next thing that impressed me was the extreme cuteness of her baby. I was so absolutely overcome by this, that I wasn't even able to snap a picture.

Then we proceeded to talk as fast as possible to squeeze absolutely every word possible into a very short visit. I think our mom's would have been impressed by our ability to talk so much. I think cousin's hubby (who might rank on the top hubby list right behind my own Superman) might have been a little overwhelmed. I had so much fun, laughing and talking... and I wish we could visit more often. But alas my visit could not drag out too long because a long drive still loomed ahead of me.

When I arrived at my hotel, I discovered that today I am a VERY lucky girl. They lost my room reservation and had absolutely NO choice but to upgrade me to the jacuzzi suite for the duration of my stay.

I know, you're thinking poor Tina, huh? Well it is a little sad, because the room upgrade would be so much more fun if Superman were here!
And now, this tired traveller is going to climb in bed, before passing out.

Sarah's 4

Sarah is 4 today! The time has gone so fast. I know, all mom's say that, but I reiterate it. She is so much joy and fun. I love every minute of being her mom. I just thought I'd share a summary of the last 4 years in pictures. These are some of the pages pulled out of her scrapbook.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ooohhh, Strawberries!

My dad showed up for Sarah's birthday party with two giant flats of fresh picked strawberries. I'm leaving town tomorrow and knew I must act fast to preserve them. After some thought I decided to make a syrupy preserve out of one flat and strawberry jam out of the other flat.

The method for making these was quite simple. After all of the strawberries were hulled ( a very long job) I did the following for each batch:

Strawberry Preserves-

I simply boiled the strawberries with an equal portion of sugar. Once the mixture came to a boil, I continued to boil it for another 10 minutes. I then filled the washed jars with the whole strawberries and the juice that was formed, put the lids and bands on and allowed them to self seal. I continued to periodically shake the jars for the next several hours as they cooled to ensure the strawberries were well dispersed in the syrup.

Strawberry Jam-

To make the jam, I ran the strawberries through my food processor. I processed small batches on Medium speed. To this strawberry puree I added sugar in about a 3 to 4 ratio. I also added about 3 tbs of lemon juice and boiled the heck out of it. Once the mixture came to a rolling boil, I continued to boil it for 20 minutes. I filled the jars and put the lids on.

All told, both jobs took me about 3 hours. They look so pretty in the jars. I continue to be so impressed with how my canned products look in the jars. I can't wait to dig in to these and have the jam on top of some Grandmother Bread, and eat the preserves over white cake or ice cream. Yum, that sounds good!

Let it Snow

For Sarah's small birthday party yesterday, she requested a snow party. It seemed like a very random request coming from a 4 year old. However, I must say, this was the best theme ever for a kids party. Ben and Sarah participated in creating party decorations. In the end the grand total cost for decorations was $4. And Sarah was just as excited about the final results as any little girl could possibly be.

We were able to use Christmas paper to wrap her presents. And had a bouquet of snowball flowers, cut from a friends yard.

Her cake was white and sat on a tray with a coconut snowflake that was lovingly created by Big Ben.

I would be thrilled if she requested this theme again. It was simple and fun for the whole family.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Check it out


I'm listed on tipdiva! I'm there under home tips. There are about 60 other great tips posted there. Go take a look!

Thanks TipDiva!

Mother's Day

I've been meaning to sit down to the computer all day, but haven't quite made it. My day was filled with church, celebrating Sarah's birthday and my dad's gift to me was enough fresh strawberries to can 6 quarts of preserves and 5 quarts of jam. A task that needed to be completed today.

However, I didn't want the day to pass without a word about Mother's Day. My mom is out of the country and I wasn't able to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. I know it is likely to be a few more days before she is back in the states and able to read this, but when she does I want her to know that I was thinking about her today. I am incredibly grateful for my mom, for the strength she has given me and I am grateful that she taught me to be a mom myself. More and more often I hear my mom's words coming out of my mouth as I speak to my kids. It is a right of passage that makes me smile when it happens.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I love you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Good News and Bad News

Remember when Ben auditioned for the talent show? We completely put it out of mind, knowing that he had auditioned completely unprepared and we could move on to preparing for next year.

I NEVER in a million years expected what happened yesterday. When I picked Ben up from school he was grinning from ear to ear. "Mom, know why I'm so happy?" He hardly waited for an answer before telling me, "I made it for the talent show!" and pushed a note into my hands. We jumped around and cheered for a minute like we were both excited kindergartners. Then I looked at the note and reality sunk in.

The note dated April 24th, that I got yesterday(if I'd gotten it on April 24th, I'd be telling a different story) outlined the details of the show and practices. The dress rehearsal and show are next Tuesday May 13th. This causes trouble on three different levels:
1. Tuesday is Sarah's birthday and their Dad has planned a Chuck e Cheese party for her that night.
2. I am flying to Texas on Tuesday for company business (after celebrating Sarah's birthday with her on Sunday)
3. How can we ever get something REAL put together for him to perform in less than a week?

Come on... the kid wasn't supposed to make it. And he wouldn't even have been disappointed by it.

Just try to explain these things to a six year old who believes that God put him on this Earth to perform. I tried to explain that it will be such a surprise to the whole school next year if he is totally prepared and just wows them. That explanation didn't go so well because he thinks he's so good he will wow them no matter what. He is insisting that Sarah's party can just be after the talent show.

In the end after talking to his dad about it, it is clear that we are just going to have to take the hit as parents and tell him that he can't do it. It is painful when circumstances make it so dang hard to be a parent! I am proud of him and I hate to have to disappoint him.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Day late and dollar short

I hate it when I have a positively fabulous idea, but I just don't quite have the idea soon enough!

Recently, I've been looking for locations around town that would be artistically pleasing backdrops to use for pictures of the kids. Location is very important when you have no artistic talent. I've spotted some wonderful prospects. However, they aren't all super practical. Some involve tossing children over fences, some involve making children trespass on private property or trek long distances. Then there was one location that I honed in on. I've been driving by it every day. It is right off the road. Oh, my goodness... perfect.

This is an old Apple Shed located here in town

Wouldn't pictures in front of that be shabby chic cute? I was loving the idea! I just had to wait to get all four kids here and I would force them to humor me while I posed them randomly, resembling a 1960's music album cover picture (maybe not really, but that's what 1960's album covers look like in my head).

Then Saturday, there was a huge plume of smoke over town because of this:

Please... a moment of silence for lost plans...

And today, there is just an empty, burned piece of land and a sign saying that the land is up for sale for residential use. According to the newspaper this was a planned burn and the fire department was allowed to run training drills while executing it. I am sad that this landmark was burned in favor of what will probably be cookie cutter residential housing. Mostly though, I'm sad I didn't get the picture that I had been dreaming of!

This just isn't quite the same, is it? Maybe if I squint real hard, I can pretend those little stick figures are my children's precious faces.

Oh, look! Superman made my dream picture a reality!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Some very special people

So, I am going to apologize in advance for what might be a very long post. But it is an important one! Last night I was laying in bed, not sleeping at 1 am and thinking instead about my Friends and Family blog link list. I realized that my list is not comprised of "just anybodies, " but instead they are all people who have been very important in my life. That being said, I thought it would be fun to introduce you to them...

Meredith and I have been Best Friends since we were Freshman in High School. Our first week in HS we were introduced probably 10 times. Everyone was convinced that we should be friends because we were both daughters of teachers at the school. I guess everyone was right, because the friendship stuck. We celebrated graduation together and didn't lose touch. We have seen each other through weddings, babies and divorces. Meredith and I talk on the phone almost daily. One of the best things my son ever told me was when he was about 3 and decided that we should call Sebastian and Milo (Meredith's sons) our cousins not our friends. It seemed very appropriate, because somewhere along the way Meredith DID become more of my sister than my friend.
Meredith 1996- Senior Picture
Me with Meredith 2000- My first wedding

Our children- 2007

Meredith, Me, Tracey and Bryn (The better wedding 2007)

Wilson Family Circus-

Eliza was the very first friend that I made when I went to college. She had the dorm room across the hall from me. We became friends right away and remained roommates for the next 2 1/2 years. Eliza was and is an AMAZING example to me. As I looked through pictures from our freshman year, I came across a picture of the time we tried to short sheet Eliza's bed and failed miserably, because it didn't seem to bother her one little bit. In fact I found hundreds of pictures from our first year at BYU.

Living the life of College Freshman 1996

Packing up our dorm room 1997

Me with Bryn and Eliza- 1998

(look there's Bryn again, don't worry... I'll tell you all about her sometime)

Sunny Days 2B-

I became friends with Aaron and Emmylou when I was pregnant with Ben. Over the 2 years that we lived near each other we had so much fun. Emmylou became pregnant with their son Garrett when I was 3 months along with Ben. Emmylou threw my baby shower and we compared notes on pregnancy and new motherhood.

My baby shower 2001

Our Boys- Ben and Garrett 2002

Our Boys- 2 yrs old 2004

Ryan and Amanda-

Technically, they are ex-in laws. But the relationship doesn't really work that easily. See, Ryan's parents, Ken and Debbie were my "Aunt and Uncle" long before I ever married in to their family and they will be my family long after the courts saying I'm not a part of that family anymore. Sarah was named after Ryan's younger sister Sarah McCarty. I had the honor of knowing Sarah the last 4 months of her life and it would have been impossible to think of anyone better to name our own child after. This entire family holds such a special place in my heart. Amanda is the perfect compliment to Ryan and my kids (and I) absolutely adore them both.

(Sorry, no pictures)

The Nelsons in Balston Spa-

I am absolutely convinced that Dave, Diane and Samantha were angels sent to me when I absolutely needed them most. I met them when I was entering the world of being a single parent. They became my family in a town where I had no family. They opened their home to my children and helped care for them when I worked, went to school and tried to spread my wings socially. The measly amount I was able to pay Diane, I'm sure didn't even make a dent in the expense that my kids added to their household. I will forever be grateful to them for the love that they showed us while I got on my feet again.

Dave and Samantha at Ben's 5th Birthday 2006

Diane, Sarah and Dave at Sarah's 3rd Birthday 2007

Sarah and Samantha

I hope you understand the reason for the long post and the need to introduce the VERY important people in my Friends and Family Links.