In Full Swing...

We're all about Christmas over here. Fall is almost completely put away, and Christmas is mostly up - including our tree! You know, for most of my life I pronounced that I'd never have an artificial one. Last year, however, I gave in, because it's just completely wrong to go pick out a half-dead tree in a grocery store parking lot wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops. I've trudged through the snow carrying two kids to cut down "the one" before, and until I can do it again, fakesies it is. I must admit it is kind of nice to be able to put it up so early. The girls claimed my little trees as their own this year, and insisted on putting their ornaments on them. Works out well, actually, because there's three kids and three trees, and now they'll leave mine alone to decorate it as I please. Yes, that's a mini Sleeping Beauty dress in the highest place of honor on Allison's tree. Of course. Christmas card-making is in process too... very tough with Manda helping right along side me. A couple dozen down, a few more dozen to go! We had our family picture taken last weekend, so as soon as I edit the photos and make myself look beautiful, those can be printed and stuck in!

Letters to Santa have been written, and although I'm still trying to steer Manda to the stuff WE ALREADY BOUGHT, she's convinced she wants this horrid fifty-five dollar talking parrot from Target. It's awful, and will never be in my house. Sigh - - my will against the will of a 4-year-old.

Several gifts bought, others ordered, and still more ideas for gifts are coming slowly but surely. Lights are forthcoming this weekend, though we've already been outdone by some new neighbors. I think their lights are actually timed with music they've got playing. How cool is that?

Thanksgiving pics

What's Nick so worried about?
Allison wouldn't try a bite of anything, of course...
Just a few of the mini pumpkin cheesecakes...and note to self for next time, the ones with the sour cream topping were better.


A quick Poll...

What does the term "sweet bread" mean to you? To me, it covers all the pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, banana bread, etc... varieties. And imagining such, I asked for "sweet bread" as part of the Christmas party breakfast signup sheet yesterday. Nick, however, felt compelled to direct me to wikipedia:

"Sweetbreads is the name of a dish made of the thymus gland or pancreas of an animal younger than one year old. These animals are usually lambs or calves." Sick.

Give me a break. No one actually knows or assumes this, right?


I think I'm Martha

This is from Elder Dallin H. Oak's conference talk, which was the RS lesson today - and it still has me thinking about all of the silly things I "choose" to occupy my time with, and especially my calling as activities chairman.

>>Elder Richard G. Scott said: " . . . Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. . . . Remember, don't magnify the work to be done—simplify it."7

>>In general conference last year, Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service "with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. . . . The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. . . . What is most important in our Church responsibilities," he said, "is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed."8

So - is my holiday who-bilation "too" much? As well as the TEN blockbuster activities I have planned for 2008?? It seems that everything I'm admired for - no, not just what I'm admired for, but what I truly ENJOY - cute craftiness, decorating, scrapbooking projects, fun recipes, these crazy activities I've been in charge of - all fall under the category of "embellished" and "frivolous". Sigh... I guess I just don't know where to draw the line, between what should be "adequate" versus what I want to be "fabulous".



Too bad Arizona's not important enough to spend money here. I think these ads are interesting...

Happy Anniversary to Us

Nick and I just had our 9th anniversary lately - which traditionally is "pottery"... SO, we went to Pottery Barn (makes sense, doesn't it?) and picked out this mirror.
It's ginormous and beautiful. At the moment, it is on its stand in the corner of my bedroom (matches my bedroom furniture perfectly) but after Christmas it will move downstairs and hang horizontally above my dining room table (which it also matches perfectly) Yeah!


I was curious...

to see if the press release I wrote a month ago ever got published. This is the only place I found it, so I'm not sure how widely it was spread. I think they did a little editing, but at least it's something! "Hang the Lights"



Today was a great day. I am so blessed to have my husband and kids that I do, for my great family and friends, my talents, our great jobs, our beautiful house... and I could go on and on.

*My husband is such a good man, who impresses me daily with his knowledge and strength and willingness to support me in all of my silly endeavors. He sacrificed his traditional turkey day football so I could go run a 5K this morning (mind you, I just decided to do this last night after jackie talked me into it) helped clean the house, took care of the kids practically all day, (I don't think I fed Josh even once), did dozens of dishes with me after dinner, and then put all the kids to bed while I went to a movie. Wow! I really feel like we are such a good team, and we can accomplish A LOT when we want to. I did well when I married him.

--- By the way, I LOVED the movie "Enchanted". Absolute must-see. I may even pay to see it again in a theater. And yes, I will take my girls to it.

*My kids are fantastic. Really. The girls are so independent and beautiful and helpful and smart and funny and polite and loving..... and Josh has to be the best baby that ever lived. The three of them TRULY enjoy eachother.

*I have wonderful inlaws. I feel sorry for people who don't get along with the inlaw family. I think to a point it's a state of mind, but mine really is great. And they put on quite a Thanksgiving dinner to boot! The deep-fried turkey was excellent! I am thankful that my husband gets along and enjoys my family equally as much.

*I have some really good new friends here in Phoenix. And a few really old ones too, who truly care about me and what's going on in my life, and want me to be happy. I have a few dear friends in other places too, and I get a lump in my throat thinking about them, because I miss being around them so much.

*I am thankful for my talents. I feel like I can tackle most any kind of project and be somewhat successful. I make a mean pumpkin cheesecake.

*We have the best jobs, and are so blessed that I can stay home with the kids without facing financial difficulties. I usually work in my pajamas in the middle of the night. I always have money to buy scrapbook stuff without feeling very guilty.

I'm also thankful to NOT have any plans to shop this weekend. Black Friday crowds? You can have 'em!



Today was Manda's preschool Thanksgiving party. They had a fruit salad that they all helped to make, and then the parents came to hear their little "program." The kids sang a couple of turkey and pilgrim songs, and then the teacher asked each child one at a time what they were thankful for. They all said things like "my house" "my mom and dad" "my friends" - - etc, and then it was Manda's turn.

Teacher - "Amanda, what are you thankful for?"
Manda - "My chapstick."

Have I completely failed as a parent?


There's got to be a better way

to design carseats, where bodily fluids don't leak through every crevice. And cars, in general... SIGH!
A bit of a bug has landed in our family, and though it hasn't gotten horrible yet, I'm bracing myself. Josh started with a fever and throwing up yesterday, and continued with other things leaking through clothes and his carseat today. Manda has also got something with the vomiting bug too... and now I'm washing carseats and floor mats and will soon be scrubbing the carpet in my car. Tell me WHY can't we forgo the upholstery altogether and just make rubber floors with a drain where you can just hose everything out...? At least we have leather seats, or else I'd have to sell the car and get a new one... hmmm.... actually, now that I think about it...


Can you spell your name with a calculator too?


Big enough for the ring.

And his first bath-mohawk.

Who says you need a Saturday to tackle a project??

7:30pm Thurs. evening: Cleaning the bathroom
8pm: Thinking hmmm, I should really finally paint this bath, as the paint can has been sitting here since Home Depot's Labor Day sale on Behr
8:30-11:30pm: Taping, Painting, and drinking diet coke
9am-10am Friday morning: Nick finishes project for me! Woohoo!
11am: DONE! It only took TWO years to get the last room in the house painted!


Angels among us

This morning on our way home from dropping off at school, Amanda realized something out of the blue. "OH! Angels are people, huh mom!?" I told her I wasn't sure, asked her what she meant. She told me that angels were Jesus' people who died, like Grandma Valentine's husband, and Nonnie and Papa's mom and dad. It warmed my heart. Sweet girl.


Reach and Pull

You wouldn't think carpet swimming would be that effective to get anywhere, but you'd be wrong...

The breast stroke...
The dog paddle...
The freestyle...
And something Josh likes to call "The dolphin"...


Happy Birthday to Kim

My bestest oldest friend Kim is celebrating her birthday today. Not that she's OLD, mind you, but she'll always be three weeks older than me. Bless her. I'd list all the wonderful things I love about her, but neither she, nor any of my college friends who know her, read my blog, so I won't trouble you. Ha!

No hard questions, PLEASE!

This is amazing. And even more amazing is how the issue was covered in the media. It's all about he said, she said about "planting a question" and the denial of such, etc... instead of getting at the real issue - - heaven forbid Hillary answer a direct, hard question. Here's the student's story.


I'm so grossed out.

Maybe I'll just start carrying ziplock bags around that I can change every day, instead of my purse. Bubble Boy had the right idea. Ewww...


A different kind of tag

My top ten songs . . .
(in no particular order... basically the first ten which come to mind. Hard list for me, the talk-radio fan.)

1. Glamorous
2. Mysterious Ways, U2
3. Love and Peace, U2
4. Pretty much anything on the Wicked soundtrack
5. Anything by Bon Jovi
6. Patience, GNR
7. Sweet Escape, Gwen Stefani
8. True Companion, Marc Cohn
9. Earl, Dixie Chicks
10. Don't want to close my eyes, Aerosmith - This is actually "our song"

Jobs I’ve Had:-Airbrush Artist (I painted those kid ride-on animals. Weird, I know). Waitress. Coomers Craft Store cashier. Secretary. Temp. Sun Devil Spark Yearbook Copy Editor. State Press Ad Designer. Graphic Designer & copywriter for AGC. Framer at Joann's. Hired Scrapbooker. Freelance Designer/Writer. Mom, maid, dishwasher...

Movies I can watch over and over again:- Singin' in the Rain. Cars. Monsters Inc. Clueless. Gladiator. Strictly Ballroom. My Fair Lady. Sound of Music. The Italian Job. Pretty much anything with Russell Crowe or Edward Norton or Will Smith. ANY sports movie - Remember the Titans, Invincible, etc. Bourne movies. Ocean's 11, 12 and soon... 13.

Guilty pleasures: Project Runway (NEW SEASON STARTS WEDNESDAY! YEE HAW!) Blogging. Ebay.

Places I’ve lived: Safford, AZ. Scottsdale, AZ. Tempe, AZ. Frederick, MD. New Market, MD, Showlow, AZ. Eagar, AZ. Phoenix, AZ.

What I first thought when I saw my future husband: Totally gorgeous. Out of my league. Aloof. Must be a snob.

Favorite foods: Watemelon. Green Chili. Chips & Salsa from Casa. Seafood. Dark Chocolate w/almonds. Diet Vanilla Coke Floats from Sonic. Prime Rib. Cream of Crab Soup from Dutch's Daughter. Bread from Outback. My Mother-in-law's chocolate chip cookies. Cheesecake. Raspberries. Good peaches.

First Kiss locations: The last first kiss is the only one that matters. In a jacuzzi at the Scottsdale Princess.

8 Things I am passionate about
1. Scrapbooking
2. Activities
3. Cleaning
4. Organizing
5. Trying to be a good example to my kids
6. Family/Friends
7. Church
8. Being Practical

8 Things I want to do before I die
1. Own a ski boat and jet skis
2. See my son complete a mission
3. Be with my children as they marry in the temple
4. Learn to snowboard
5. Ride in a limo
6. Design and build my own custom house
7. Write a book
8. Travel... everywhere

8 Books I have read recently
1. Parts.
2. More Parts.
3. Pooh's Heffalump Adventure.
4. Santa's New Jet.
5. Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark
6. Froggy Rides a Bike
7. Twilight Series.
8. Harry Potter 5, 6, and 7.

8 Things I often say
1. Oh Mylanta.
2. Is that where that belongs? If I pick it up, it gets thrown away.
3. You're so cute I can't stand it.
4. Hit me again and you go to timeout.
5. Girls who do "X" get a treat.
6. Are you acting like a princess?
7. Get buckled please.
8. We don't have soda for breakfast.

8 Things that attract me to friends
1. Easy to talk to/laugh with
2. Their creativity
3. The behavior of their children.
4. Laid back personalities
5. Same beliefs/standards
6. Their spontaneity
7. If I feel they need a friend
8. Similar hobbies, crafting, scrapbooking, etc.

8 Songs and Albums I could listen to over and over again
1. Harry Connick Jr. Christmas CDs
2. Anything by U2
3. Queen "best of"
4. Wicked Wicked Wicked! How could I have forgotten this??
5. Sheesh, I don't know, and I don't really care. I barely listen to music.

8 Things I learned this year
1. Not to try and fight a ticket again.
2. Not to go to Disneyland two days in a row.
3. How to make crepes.
4. You can never provide enough bacon at a ward breakfast.
5. That I LOVE trail mix. Have to resist buying it at Costco.
6. That boys are every bit as fun as girls.
7. Phonograms
8. Castor Oil does not put you into labor as rumored.

8 Random things about me
1. I can pick up almost anything with my toes.
2. I had back surgery while in high school.
3. I'm an energy vampire.
4. Just kidding.
5. My decorating tastes have completely changed the last few years.
6. I have an orange washing machine.
7. I'm actually still a pretty good writer.
8. I'm not a fan of carmel.

Look what I can do

I'm a master of getting things into my mouth and chewing on them,
Still working on the sitting thing,
Almost have holding my bottle by myself too...

But most of all I just like to look cute.

Our lives are in shreds.

Literally. I got a wild hair this weekend, and tackled our filing! Nick and I dove into almost every piece of paper in our home on Saturday and sorted, purged and most of all shredded! Still a few straggler files to go through, but for the most part, it's really quite a beautiful thing. Found some quite interesting stuff - the total cost for Amanda's birth (about $2500, we paid $50, I think) a paystub for Nick when he was making $6 an hour, and all of the design & copywriting samples I've pretty much ever done. Wow. I feel lighter already.

I would wear that T-shirt.

"My heart belongs to my husband, but my neck belongs to Edward." Too funny. Get a load of this. I'm almost 33 and a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids - - anybody got a great idea for a story I can write??

The first, second, third and fourth noel.

About a dozen of us crazy crafters got together at my house Thursday evening and made these cool blocks! I ended up making 4 sets of them for gifts. 3 are pictured. The idea was stolen (borrowed?) straight from Recollections.
Their Version can be made for $60, our version was $8. Love it! Thanks Deirdre, for all your hard work cutting/sanding/etc!


Smarter than I give them credit

Allison is learning to READ! It's the coolest thing! She knows all her phonograms, and can figure out most words by sounding out each one. She recognizes small ones like the, and, said, get, what, etc... and totally read me a book this morning about cows and dogs and the sun or something - I'm not sure, I was half asleep and had my eyes closed - but she would spell out the words she couldn't figure out - like "determined" for me to help her. Love it! I can foresee a day very soon when Allison is the one reading the bedtime books, instead of me! Woohoo! I love school!

Amanda is a great helper, really! This morning I asked her to go get "the purple stuff from Josh's room for me to wash my hands" and she asked me, "You mean the hand appetizer?" Yes, exactly.


On The Road Again

I think Allison was having much more fun than Gavin was.

Hey, at least our sidewalk was getting SOME use -- why is it so much more fun for my girls to play in front of our house instead of on our nifty little sidewalk in the backyard?

Ghost is a hard word to spell.

Okay, I KNOW Halloween was a week ago, but as I came across this drawing again today, I wanted to share it! If you can't figure it out, Allison has drawn a yellow cat, a red ghost, a black bat, a witch on a broomstick (bottom), and my favorite, on the far right, herself in her Alice costume - complete with apron, blonde hair with black bow in it, blue eyes, and holding her pumpkin trick-or-treat bag. Too cute!


Love Potion Number Nine

On November 6th, 1998,
we were married in the
Mesa, Arizona temple.

For forever.

I'm thrilled.


9 things I love about my husband ...

1 - He likes the same movies, TV shows, music and food that I do.
2 - He is practical and likes to save money.
3 - He is a great provider, and is dedicated to his work. In fact, he sometimes talks in his sleep about process mapping.
4 - He is a great Dad who is a great example and teacher, and has never been afraid of donning a tiara or changing a diaper.
5 - He has a fabulous sense of humor — not just funny, but clever, with good timing.
6 - He is not lazy, and is always willing to serve others. He is a good home teacher, and is faithful in all of his callings.
7 - He's intelligent, well-read, and always has a good, logical, gospel-based perspective on just about everything. He knows the scriptures.
8 - He's as handsome now as the day we were married, and has created three darn cute kids.
9 - He loves his family, and mine, too.

The Simple Life

This weekend took Nick and me to different worlds - - he, to Newport Beach, CA for his cousin's swanky wedding and reception, me, to Safford to my nephew Aaron's open house. While Nick relaxed and enjoyed crab, prime rib, shrimp, and the Balboa Beach club with its million-dollar James Bond-type yachts, I helped free a cultural hall floor of gum, set up tables and chairs, made centerpieces, and for hours tied bows, hung lights, tule (sp?), and a ton of silk flowers transforming the place. It was great! Sorry I don't have photos, I'm the one who took the camera, but was too busy to take pictures...
Every time I go home I appreciate how good the people are, and how unnecessary all of the "stuff" is in my regular life, with everyone so concerned about appearances and acquiring the latest greatest "thing" - whatever that may be. Just a lot of distractions, really! Got to listen to GREAT sunday school and RS lessons, and thoroughly enjoyed my kids enjoying the weekend, too. Though I'm not ready to commit to small town life, it's great to visit and get grounded every once in a while!


If I had a superhero power, his would be a great one...

You are Hiro. You can bend space and time with your mind. You always try to do what is right and you are very innocent. Maybe too innocent. You took a trip to the future and saw NYC blow up. Now you are focused on saving the world. You also love sci-fi.

Which Heroes character are you?
Your Result: Hiro Nakamura

You are Hiro Nakamura.
You can bend space and time with your mind. You always try to do what is right and you are very innocent. Maybe too innocent. You took a trip to the future and saw NYC blow up. Now you are focused on saving the world. You also love sci-fi.

Claire Bennet
Peter Petrelli
Matt Parkman
Issac Mendez
Nathan Petrelli
Niki Sanders
Which Heroes character are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Gruesome Grub

The "Brain" cupcakes didn't turn out so well...
Eyes of Newt
Mummy Pizzas
Cheese Fingers

Off with your head

We had a few friends over for Halloween last night - here are a few highlights:

Me with black hair? Scary.
Josh only wore his caterpillar costume for about 10 minutes...
Yikes. Dave is way too comfortable with a mohawk and painted fingernails.

Josh had Malificent's green makeup all over his head after cuddling with Janna.
Vader showed up - thank goodness Ethan was there to protect us.