Check. Check. Check.

Family picture taken. Check. Christmas cards made and mailed. Check. Tree up. Check. House decorated. Check. Thanksgiving weekend shopping. Check. Luke 2. Check. Temple Lights. Check. Helping out with M's class party. Check. Helping 28 kids make ornaments. Check. Teacher gifts made and delivered. Check. School holiday program. Check. Goodies delivered. Check. Visiting teaching visits and gifts. Check. Presents wrapped. Check. Quick trip to California. Check. Annual bout of sickness and round of antibiotics. Check. Account overdrawn. Check. Check. Check. White Elephant parties. Check. Check. Christmas movies watched on TV. Check. Peppermint hot cocoa enjoyed. Check. Goodies eaten. Check. Check. Check. Handmade gifts agonized over for days. Check. Staying up way too late on Christmas eve. Check. Geotrax, a bike, a Didj, and more toys than I can count from Santa. Check. Treadmill surprise for Me? Check. Waffles on Christmas morning. Check. Prime Rib on Christmas afternoon. Check. Trip to Safford. Check. Casa Green Chili burro, chips and salsa. Check. Games with family. Check. Overstuffed, overtired, overindulged, overspoiled, overscheduled, overly grateful. Check.


A poem.

'Twas two days before Christmas, and all through the house,
all the females were crafting, like Cinderella's mouse.
Mommy was busy, photoshopping with glee...
Making everyone in the family look bright and pretty.
Allison was painting a frame for her sis,
While Manda was creating many little paper gifts.
Joshy was sleeping, although he complained
By the way, out car is DIRTY since yesterday it rained!
Mommy is flustered with a craft room in a mess,
And two demanding whiners today, both in distress.
Oh, Santa, I'm tired of Christmas break already.
Can you please bring some peace to this house? Keep it steady?
I need a little elf to help finish all my presents,
I'm running out of time, and completely losing patience.
I dread the trip to Walmart, where there are things that I still need.
Not looking forward to the fights tonight, about the dinner I try to feed.
Joshy scratched up all my ornaments, throwing them like balls.
He loves to scatter all his stuff up and down the halls.
Allison just lost another tooth, brushing pushed it away.
Next week we see the orthodontist, we'll see what he has to say.
So long for now, I've had enough of a break
Have too much to do to blog today, for sure, goodness sake!



Monkey. Stinker. Piece of Work.

Look what J's sisters helped him do last night! How cute, you think, he's on a shelf...

No, he was on the very TOP shelf of our linen closet, about 6 feet up! He was ALL set for bed, too, with blankets and pillows - he got ticked when I pulled him down!


Tamales for sale!

The lovely Vivian Alderete is selling tamales again this Christmas season ... want some? She will either give them to you frozen, or you can name your dats and pick them up, cooked or uncooked...anytime between now and the end of the year... OR, get THIS, she will deliver them HOT AND READY to your house on the day you choose! Seriously!

Price list is as follows. Either leave me a comment and let me know what you want and when, OR call Vivian at 602-710-0577 to give her your order. I know she's got RED tamales made already, so that means you could be eating them TOMORROW NIGHT if you wanted to... yum...

1 dozen red .......... $20
1/2 dozen red .......... $11.50
1 dozen green .......... $18
1/2 dozen green .......... $10
1 dozen plain with cheese .......... $15
1/2 dozen plain with cheese .......... $8.50
1 dozen sweet .......... $15
1/2 dozen sweet .......... $8.50

Again - leave me a comment, or call Vivian directly at 602-710-0577. And you're welcome!


Thanksgiving 2009:

Pictures? Not a one. Sigh. The tables, set for 17 - gorgeous, new plates - awesome, napkins, napkin rings, glasses and tablecloth - great finds, company - spectacular, kids - played together wonderfully, even though Bria "ruined M's life" again, food - WOW, it was good, if I do say so myself. And it was all hot and ready at the same time, on time. A feat in itself. For my memory's sake, I'll record what we served...

The menu:

Appetizers - Stuffed Mushrooms, Veggie Tray, Hawaiian Bread Bowl and Dill Dip, Wheat Thins and Purple Cheese, Queso Dip and Chips

Dinner - Amazing BRINED Turkey (Totally the way to go!), Stuffing, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Trader Joe's Salad, Twice baked Sweet Potatoes (need that recipe!), Green Beans, Cranberry sauce straight out of a can (my favorite), Awesome Rolls by Raedeen

Dessert - Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Denten's Apple Pudding-Spice Cake thing.

Maybe this hosting-Thanksgiving thing ain't so bad, because I've enjoyed some top-notch leftovers for three days now. I actually look forward to the turkey sandwiches afterward more than the dinner, I think... I also got to control the menu, including all my favorites and must-haves, and passing off all the stuff I didn't want to make to guests coming. Thanks everyone... it was great! And honey, I promise to make the lemon meringue pie this week!

Halloween 2009

Wait, wrong holiday - didn't we just celebrate Thanksgiving? Didn't I go Christmas shopping last week? I thought I should play a little catchup with Halloween first on this here blog, before I move onto the next holidays...
I have to admit, my standards were pretty low this year... I didn't want to go through the time and money and manipulation it would have taken to convince the girls to be a part of our family costume... so I didn't! A wanted to be Hannah Montana, and though her thrift-store makings didn't pan out to be the greatest costume, I didn't care at all... M was a witch, J was Buzz Lightyear, N was Woody, and I was Jessie. We didn't even get a pumpkin carved this year - shock! Our festivities consisted of going to our ward party the night before Halloween, and then trick-or-treating around our neighborhood on Halloween night (which is a downer, really, because 80% of the residents we visited weren't home!) Here are just a few photos of friends and such...Here's Woody - what you can't see is his cool boots or the pullstring on his back! I still intend to put my Jessie costume back on and take a picture, for scrapbooking sake...!Buzz actually had his whole costume on at one point!His costume quickly degenerated, though, losing the purple headpiece, the shoe covers, and the wings...Here's J playing the "skeleton squeeze" game. He was great at it, and got the clothespins in the jar every time! Yes, this particular skeleton went in too! I love his gansta one-leg-pushed-up look.We even had my Dad dress up as Stinky Pete, the prospector - sans the pick axe... *** Robinsons, do you have any pictures of my girls? ***
Jonas rocked the mummy costume, but Trent was a little too happy as Dracula...Jackie had the best.hair.ever. as the Bride of Frankenstein...creepy eyes and lipstick too...The Bride and her offspring...I don't know why sucking in your cheeks is "witchy", but whatever...Like Mother, like daughter... this one's a cutie as a "pretty witch!"

Here's Wade in the pie-eating contest - better him than me. Just the thought of cramming pumpkin pie in my mouth so fast makes me sick.


I am Thankful...

for my little man. He is SUCH a joy to be around, and communicates pretty well lately. He's my sidekick and is willing to be shlepped just about anywhere, even when Mommy's errands take precedence over his nap. He is sad to leave balls and toys at the store, but we just say "bye bye tar" or "bye bye ball" and then he's okay to put things back.
He is in love with his blanket, his Papa, anything sweet to eat, glow necklaces, "maeee" (money), Finny, Senny, Perper (Cooper), and running away from Mommy when it's time to brush his teeth. He also likes eating all the leftover snacks from his sisters' school lunches every day, playing with A, and growling like a tiger, monster, dinosaur - you choose, they all sound the same. He gets his feelings hurt and does a great pitiful cry when you tell him no. He wants to be a big kid so badly, and gets sad when his sisters leave him for one of their adventures. He loves to snuggle and often asks for a "HU!" (hug) when he wants you to pick him up. I love to hear his cackle and little padding feet as he runs throughout the house. When we ask, "Who wants ___ (fill in the blank, pizza, lunch, pancakes)??" he is quick to raise his hand and say "ME!!!" (Does he eat it though? That's a different story.) He is oh-so-coordinated too, and hops on and off of everything with both feet. He is so sweet with babies and younger kids, and always tries to pat them, rock them, and put his arm around them. Sigh... Did I mention that I LOVE this kid?

Would it be weird...

to get my two-year-old son a nutcracker? I swear he's obsessed with these things! He has found them in EVERY store we've been in the last couple of weeks...he seems drawn to them, when I don't even notice they're there! In Michael's he had them all set out in an aisle, lined up perfectly... he spotted them on TOP of the freezers at the grocery store, and knows just where they are up in front at Fry's and disappears every time I'm in the checkout line to go say hello to his tiny wooden friends... he settles down on his knees and carefully plays with each... what a cutie! I guess I need to add at least one to my lineup of Christmas decorations...


Happy Thanksgiving...

Enjoy those pumpkin pies!


I'm so irritated...

that my 8-yr-old knows how to add songs to my blog playlist. Now, instead of being pleasantly greeted by Bono, I've got Hannah Montana singing at me when I open up. Grrr...


Pride of the Desert.

Sun Devils through and through, us Carters LOATHE cats — all kinds — especially those nasty Wildcats from Tucson! As graduates of the great Arizona State University, we both come from entire families of Sun Devil fans, and grew up watching and attending games. We know that the rest of the season doesn't matter, just as long as we beat those CATS! This is THE game of the year! We are grooming our children to be Sun Devils as well - note picture at right! We would absolutely love to drive our car, aptly named "Sparky", over to our alma mater next weekend, with S sporting her Sparky jewelry, of course, enjoy the fireworks, see Sparky step on that BUS, and watch the Devils polish off the Cats to finish off their Thanksgiving meals! As payment for our "free" tickets, we offer any and all of the following services to the cutest and most generous couple we know - the Malones. • S will help Jackie assemble all of her handmade Christmas cards, or watch F/J while she makes them, as many hours as needed. • S promises to help process the 40 pounds of chicken next time so the Malones don't die of Salmonella poisoning. • S will come up with and create something crafty and fabulous for our visiting teachees' Christmas gifts, so all Jackie has to do is show up. • S will create an amazing custom header for the Malone Monkeys blog. • S will watch F/J so Jackie can go observe at all the local schools in January, so she can get J on a list SOMEwhere. • N will conduct in Sacrament meeting while Trent is enjoying time off on the 29th. • N will also act as the LONE member of the bishopric that Sunday, and teach the 5th Sunday lesson for Trent... • We will take all the excess produce off your hands from the Malone garden next summer... • We will happily show up and enjoy any and all FHEs or desserts the Malones feel like sharing... • Josh will gladly wear all of Finny's hand-me-down clothes that he wants to pass on... • And, last but not least, we will tell at least 50 people in the next month how cute and generous the Malones were, for giving the Carters a chance to attend the ASU/U of A game this year!

If it's a tossup between us and the Gregorys, please consider these points as tie-breakers. #1 - Our word count is higher than Scot's post. #2 - N will give Trent a ride up to bishopric training meeting tonight... and #3 - by the way, we didn't ABANDON you and the Vineyard ward like the GREGORYS did!!!!!


I am grateful for:

My self-cleaning oven, which is taking care of QUITE a gooey disaster right now.

My dishwasher, ditto for the reason listed above.

Lessons learned, that when you forget to add eggs to a recipe, loaves of pumpkin bread tend to seriously overflow their containers, yet never actually cook.

Kleenex. What did the pioneers do when they got a cold? Not like they could throw all of their handkerchiefs in the washing machine each night...

Sales on asparagus. I think I could eat it every day.


Last of the vinyl!

A "Be attitude" square, that you would put on a tile, and an "All this because two people fell in love" - for $5 a piece - - - who wants them???


Out of the mouth of my babe.

M: Mom, there are THREE kinds of crickets!

Me: Really? What are they?

M: There is the BUG cricket, there is the CUTTER Cricut, and there is the STORE Cricket!!

So right!

My daughter is a genius, and a future scrapbooker for sure!

Stuff I'm grateful for, week 2:

1. Exercise, even though it wears me out and pretty much makes me useless the rest of the day.

2. Peanut Butter. Man, I love the stuff. Maybe if I didn't eat it so often I would actually see some results from #1.

3. Teachers. My girls LOVE their teachers, even when they're not so fond of schoolwork sometimes. It's so cool to see M absorbing so many two-letter phonograms right now; she's a sponge.

4. Birthday parties. Seems we have at least one each weekend. I'm glad that my girls have friends, and that we get some pretty cheap babysitting hours out of those parties!

5. My mortgage. Funny thing to be thankful for, huh? It gives me a sense of accomplishment with every statement we receive, knowing that we're making actual progress, and paying more principle than interest each month. There's a light at the end of the tunnel!

Stuff I'm grateful for this week:

1.My cool visiting teacher.

2. Culture passes - I got one for the first time today!

3. My car, functioning perfectly at the moment.

4. Our school, which takes my girls away 7 hours each day.

5. Quiet afternoons.


It could have been worse.

After 11 years!

11 years, the anniversary of steel. Hmmm... I don't think I want any steel today, I'm all good on stainless steel appliances and swords and silverware and such, and I certainly don't want anybody stealing anything from me, either.

Two years ago on this here blog, I listed 9 things I loved about my husband. Those haven't changed.

Last year, I blogged about all the things we've experienced .

What to list this year?? The honeymoon has been over for a while. But in a way, I feel like we're just starting on this journey. I am thankful to be married to this man, and hope that we figure out each other, someday.


Feelings, nothing more than... feelings...

Do you know those people in your life that make you feel like a million bucks? Like you're oh-so-talented, or oh-so-funny, or oh-so-righteous, or oh-so-interesting-to-talk-to, etc? Go on, think about it... there's got to be some in your life!

I have lots of those people in my life. I consider them to be my closest friends (maybe I have self-esteem issues, and their affirmations subconsciously help me?? Who knows...)

What I've been thinking about lately is how, or even if, I reciprocate. I know I tend to lack attention in the listening department... SQUIRREL!... what was I talking about again?? Oh yeah. Since "Words of Affirmation" is not my love language, and I think words can be empty and meaningless (funny, coming from a journalism grad) I don't think I praise people around me nearly as much as I could, or should...

When it comes to blogs, I can't STAND those that are sappy love-fests. Comments in such blogs read like the following... "Oh you're SUCH a good mom!" "I wish I was as ( fill in the blank ) as you!" blah blah blah.... Again, my aversion to Words of Affirmation, I guess... hee hee...

What's the point of this here post? I guess I've just had this on my mind lately - how to be a better friend, a better support to those around me, a better visiting teacher... my new visiting teacher is so easy to talk to and STELLAR at making me feel good about myself. Maybe it's her yellow personality? Not sure, I just know that I want to be more like her! My old visiting teacher was no slouch either, let me tell you! I guess I'm just lucky lately!



Wow, I'm getting to be a pretty lame blogger, aren't I? I guess we've been busy, sort of, so how come I feel like I've still got nothing to blog about? Certainly nothing exciting like a visit from Super Nanny, and our Halloween costumes weren't even in the same realm of coolness as THESE were, even though Colman took the "TAMN"-garment-optional-approach, and I never got around to carving our pumpkin this week, so I don't have cool pictures like these, sigh... but I'll try to give you a rundown anyway.

N - Dressed up as Woody for Halloween, complete with boots and pullstring! Is uber-busy at work. Also busy running a networking group within work, plus starting up a local chapter of a networking group outside of work - if you ask he'll start throwing a bunch of acronyms at you in an attempt to explain what they do - be smart, don't start! Also busy with bishopric duties, basketball, his fantasy football league, Drudge report...

S - Is so not motivated to clean or finish any projects lately. Has been listening to Black Eyed Peas and U2 continuously since the concert. Got stuck throwing together a bunch of the details for Friday's ward party. Dressed up as Jesse for said party, and actually really liked the way our costumes turned out. Didn't get any pictures taken of herself in costume. Wishes more people would show up for volleyball on Mondays and Thursdays so it would become a regular event again. Wants Cricut cartridges for her birthday and Christmas. Is so excited for our California trip for my birthday, because we're flying and renting a car! Hello convenience!

N & S - Are having their 11th anniversary this weekend! S is going to Safford to scrapbook by herself to celebrate, hee hee... Just finished a "strengthening marriage" class, which we actually learned a bit from. Maybe I need to form a post with our takeaways from the class...

A - Is growing UP! Dressed up as Hannah Montana for Halloween. Will climb over our back fence and go play with neighbor kids for hours without telling Mom. Feels like she needs a "clubhouse" in our house, and keeps trying to take over closets, etc, to make her own. Like one bedroom, a closet, and a whole playroom aren't enough???!! Is defiant, and so independent it's driving her mother crazy lately. Testing the fence, if you will... I think that fence needs to be built up and fortified! Has started to sigh like her mother, and her grandmother, when she's irritated.

M - Dressed up as a witch for Halloween. Is a brilliant student in school, though she gets mighty frustrated when she can't form her letters PERFECTLY the FIRST time when she's doing her homework at night. Is getting so BIG! Eats like a horse, and almost always takes seconds of dinner. Has grown out of all her shoes, skirts, and pants she was wearing at the beginning of the school year- Sheesh! Is sweet and helpful most of the time. (She'd be sweet ALL of the time if her sister weren't around to fight with, or if we didn't expect her to take baths or brush her hair every day.)

J - Finally decided it was okay to put his costume on at the ward party, after he saw another little boy there dressed up as Buzz Lightyear too - hooray! Has a sweet tooth that is insatiable. Won't hardly eat any meals. Is starting to combine words more and more, and will mimic what anyone says, though he doesn't use the ending consonants for any of those words. Thinks he is hilarious when he wipes people's kisses off. LOVES to see and play with Finn. Will gladly sit on the potty, but hasn't actually USED the potty yet.


Count Your (Many) Blessings

Against my better judgment, I have ALL the wood and ALL the vinyl cut, and ALL the supplies ready to make these projects on Saturday, though only about 10% of the people signed up have paid me. This is the green version, as opposed to the RED version I posted previously. Sigh... here's hoping everyone shows up, so I don't have to take all this stuff back home, and hound people for two months trying to get rid of it...



Highlights from the concert:

Black Eyed Peas as the opener. "Let's get it started!" They certainly did.

Fergie's legs. HELLO! Who do I have to sell my soul to to get a pair??

"Where is the love" - that Taboo guy was the ultimate dork. Can you get any more cheesy? LOL.

Will I Am's colorful language and his strong feelings about his favorite song, Pump It.

Unbelievable, ginormous rocket ship stage.

Bono's introduction of the rest of the band. You could feel the respect that he has for each one of them, and could tell what a great camaraderie they have, especially with The Edge wearing his "post-apocalyptic gingham"...

The Edge. I'm in awe of him every time I go to a concert. The three different guitars he played, the 20 plus songs he led, his voice... Side note: This guy can probably go out in public any time and not get recognized, without his skull cap. You think??

Bono and the Edge doing "Stuck in a Moment" alone, without drums or bass. Amazing.

"Elevation" - Funnest song to sing along to...

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" - Can this song seriously be more than 25 years old? It was incredible, still. U2 ROCKED it.

The entire stadium singing "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" - Fergie tried to do this with "Big Girls don't Cry", but it didn't quite work... hee hee...

Bono pulling three girls up on stage and dancing with them while the crowd sang the "ooooh" part of (which song was it again?"

I swear, this guy is the ultimate performer. Everything he does, every move he makes is just COOL.

Sigh. Too bad they only come around every four years...


What's for dinner?

What do you make for dinner for your family on a regular basis? Not talking about your fabulous gourmet recipes you get from the Food Network - but what do you make for your family when your days are busy or when it's 5 PM and kids are gnawing their hands off, or climbing into the pantry to find nourishment...? Usually on those days, if I'm not terribly hungry, or N's at a meeting, I throw kid food at them - hot dogs, cheese crisps, and the like... but on OTHER days...

I was tagged by Ashlee - and I think this is a great idea, so here's a list of my go-to meals. I want yours too! I must preface this by saying that I buy Whatever's.On.Sale. meat-wise, so that tends to dictate what we have each week. Chicken is generally the cheapest per pound, so we most always have chicken. Nice and boring. I like to buy tenderloins because they're tender, (duh) quicker to cook, and have much less fat on them. And they're the same price as breasts.

We're not great at side dishes or veggies. Sometimes I throw canned corn at the girls and we can bribe them to eat it - but mostly N and me just eat salads with whatever we're having. M will eat tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, and spinach - but only raw.

A is a picky eater. And that is an understatement. As long as dinner includes some sort of meat as the primary ingredient, preferably left in big bite-sized pieces, and not covered up with too much sauce, etc, so that it may be separated out and dipped in ketchup... then she will join us for dinner.

1. Fajitas - I make them ALL the time. This is my only real "go-to" meal. I cut the chicken into strips, saute in some kind of taco seasoning, and then remove from the pan before cooking peppers and onions. That way, my kiddos can make their chicken tacos easily, without picking out all the "gross" stuff. Then I at least feel like we're all eating the same thing..

2. BBQ Pork - Crock pots are my friend. I either buy pork roasts when they go on sale at Fry's, or get the ginormous ones at Costco and freeze them into three chunks. Add a McCormick packet of BBQ pulled pork seasoning, a little apple cider vinegar, a little brown sugar, some hamburger buns... 6 hours later we're ALL eating it. Even A, with no complaints. Though she eats hers separate from the bun, and dipped in ketchup. Sigh.

3. Pork Chops - Again, these go on sale A LOT. Depending on whether they're boneless or not usually changes what I feel like doing with them. Sometimes they go in the crock pot with cream of mushroom soup and such, most times they get marinated and thrown on the grill. M loves potato pearls, so that is usually a side dish, or corn, or both... And A will eat these easily, and loves them.

4. Crock pot tacos - frozen chicken breasts, black beans, corn, salsa - I like to go get Carolina's tortillas to have with these when I can, which make everything better! These need fresh cilantro and sour cream to finish them off, methinks.

5. Stir-fry - Chicken, cut up into strips, sauteed in a little bit of garlic, and oyster or teriyaki sauce... I buy those huge bags of frozen stir fry veggies from Costco, add peppers, onions, whatever the produce basket has blessed us with that week... Rice in the rice cooker, and done. M loves the little corns! Even though A usually doesn't eat the chicken and veggies, the girls both love rice with butter and salt. Sometimes I throw in pineapple chunks and eat mine with sweet and sour sauce... N drowns his in rooster chili sauce, of course.

6. Roast - Crock pot. Onions. Carrots. A few potatoes. Seasoning. Ketchup. You know the drill. Usually only happens on Sundays. And then a couple days later, the container of cooked potatoes gets thrown away because no one wants them after the meat is gone. Does anyone else relate?

7. Pizza night - to my utter distaste, Friday nights are hot-n-ready at my house. Kids totally look forward to this all week. Which is okay, I guess, because they end up having leftover slices for lunch on Sat and Sun usually.

8. Soup - I consider myself a pretty good soup maker. Now that it's not so blazing hot, soup is usually my meal of choice! Hard to mess it up, really... My favorites are my White Chili, and a simple Chicken Noodle Soup - you can't go wrong with a crock pot and chicken, egg noodles, veggies and plenty of rosemary, sage and thyme! I like to use half chicken broth and half cream of chicken for the base.

Other recipes I really like:
Fish tacos, with mahi mahi fillets (I'll have to try Ashlee's blackened version), corn, cilantro, avacado, black beans and Kraft's GREEN GODDESS dressing ( I LOVE that stuff - use it on all kinds of taco salads, etc... )
Meatballs, when I have the time to put them together. I like meatball subs, with provolone slices and pasta sauce.

Black bean Enchiladas
Chicken Enchiladas
Cajun Shrimp
Avacado Chicken
You know I like you if I make Trader Joe's Salad when you come over. , or a version thereof.
I just bought stuff to make THIS this week, too...




Anyone who knows me, and my house, and my destructive son well, knows that I've needed and wanted new dishes for a WHILE now. Couldn't find any I loved (I like COLORS, and hand-paintedness, and weight), nice ones were always too expensive, blah blah blah... well those days are OVER! Check out all I found and bought today! White! And! Green! And YES! The green matches my dining room chairs and is beautiful! And YES! I plan to mix and match! FYI: There are 16 total dinner plates, square, and 16 salad plates, plus 10 cereal bowls, 8 pasta bowls (impulse number, I should probably go get more) and a couple of ramekins. Guess, just GUESS how much I spent. Keep in mind that I'm not Ashlee, who could have probably gotten all of this with CVS bucks and some lint from her pocket, and somehow come away with a giftcard to a spa too. I didn't do THAT well. Closest one to the right price gets to come have a dinner party with us!


The best Sunday of the year.

You know which one I'm talking about - Primary Program Sunday! We had such entertainment today, I loved it! A and M both did okay with their parts, though M was taken aback when she couldn't read the word "phrase" (We've been practicing her part without that word, I guess... "President Thomas S. Monson likes to quote {the phrase} ... The family that prays together stays together!" Bria stole the show with her boisterous, and only once in a while, off-key voice, gotta love her! She definitely had some competition with her classmate Caleb - hilarious - and M was ironically so not Christlike, as she was having a shoving match and arguing with her classmates, all during the song "I'm trying to be like Jesus" ... Hilarious. You just have to sigh and shake your head when half the kids that knew their parts inside and out yesterday were too nervous to speak at the podium today! It's so great not to have to sit with my kids during sacrament meeting - - why don't we do this several times a year???


I heart Photoshop.

and I'm in the mood to play with it lately. Want a new header for your blog? Email me and we'll talk price. Or, bring my family dinner one night next week and we'll call it even. Such a DEAL! shelliedesign at q dot com ...


Hooray -

Hooray for fall break being almost over. I don't know how much more of this fun togetherness I can handle.

Hooray for great weather. A/C has been off for several days now, and all of our windows are open. I actually wore jeans yesterday and didn't suffer a heat stroke. I even made SOUP yesterday!!!

Hooray for German pancakes. So much less effort, and so much more yummy than regular pancakes. Especially topped with fruit and sour cream sauce.

Hooray for the grocery store down the street. They've almost always got what I need, and have a super-fast delivery service. Sorry if you don't have one like it.

Hooray for the Children's Museum. After not being there for a few months, the kiddos really enjoyed it this week.

Hooray for Craig's List, and for Emily's yard sale. I'm slowly de-junkifying around here.

Hooray for nasal-spray type flu vaccines.

Hooray for Photoshop. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Hooray for J being able to communicate SO much better - yesterday we talked about riding bikes, to the park, maybe with Cooper, and he said "Bie... Par... perper" over and over again. He gets it.

Hooray for U2! Eleven days and counting!

Hooray for the truck, who at least is running at the moment. We're hoping to get another 6 months out of our new tires and registration before selling it and getting a car.

Hooray for Ebay. Things I've received in the mail this week? A super cute necklace, a new cartridge for my Cricut, and a Hannah Montana wig for A.

Hooray for Thursday night volleyball. It's been a while, and my muscles are feeling it this morning. Somehow it's a completely different workout than when we play in the mornings with just the girls...

Hooray for girls who play "school" even when they're on fall break. They obviously enjoy it while they're there, which makes me happy.

Hooray for a little 6-yr-old who made it on the principal's list (all A's) and for a little 8-yr-old who made it on the honor roll.


Projects, projects, projects!

I have a plan! Or several plans, actually -

1. I'm going to add a new valance and a cute scalloped paint treatment to the girls room. I also realized I have some cute green and white striped fabric I could use to re-cover their memo board and their chair in there too. I always get ideas when I lay in A's bed!

2. I'm selling old Halloween costumes, and everything else I can think of on Craig's List right now. Yeah for de-cluttering! Playpen is going away today!

3. I want desperately to re-do my downstairs, with new furniture and new colors, but since I can't afford for that to happen, I'm at least going to paint another wall red in my family room.

4. I'm going to make some "chore placemats" for my kids, and I SORT of have a plan. Want in on this project? It might help me finish faster...

5. I want to plan a birthday card-making party for our next scrapbook night. Everyone bring an idea for ONE card, and bring ONE sample, then enough supplies to duplicate it several times. Fun, huh? Who wants in? Let's say get stuff ready by next Thurs, Oct 15th.

6. I'd like to make one of Jackie's magnet board idea for my craft room, reminiscent of Ashlee's magnet board. J - what are we using for the metal sheet? Are we framing it?

7. I need to get sewing and make a new valance for my kitchen window, now that I have shutters in there... hmmm...

8. I am going to create "BE" attitude vinyl kits to illustrate Pres. Hinckley's Be's, to go on a 16x16 tile. Don't know how much they will cost quite yet...


Turning 8 is great!

This morning, Daddy found a note in A's handwriting:

"To Do List"

Go To School
Eat pizza

and in really big letters,


Not on her to-do list?

Wake up with a scorching fever in the middle of the night.
Be forced to drink her Tylenol, because we're out of pills.
Not want breakfast, even though Mommy made waffles!
Eat a pink starburst at school.
Have an allergic reaction after eating pink starburst at school, complete with swollen face and eyes.
Take benadryl.
Take a two-hour nap.


You made it your OWN, dawg.

Yes, yes, we certainly did. Including the Idol logos.

Welcome to Hollywood, South Phoenix-style. We had a red carpet leading from the front door and stars hanging from the ceiling, too...The girls totally got into the karaoke...They had a good time dancing, some of them even got dressed up...We played musical chairs...J had a great time being around all the action, and got plenty of love from Grandma... (plus Izzie was there, his very favorite person!)

The boys didn't care so much for the karaoke, though, lol...


Random thoughts.

The American Idol party turned out great! Well, except for my "microphone" cake, which looked way more like an ice cream cone than anything else. I was too embarrassed by it to even take a picture... Turns out that the boys wanted NOTHING to do with the karaoke, but at least all the girls had a great time singing to Hannah Montana songs, etc... I think everyone had a good time. I'm just happy that it's over...

M is turning out to be quite the excellent student in school. She got over her initial "I don't want to goooooo!!!" whining, and I think is having a good time now. She's up super early every morning, with her bed made, and dressed and ready for school, before A even wakes up. She's only been "on yellow" once, she gets every question on every assignment correct - seriously, and her handwriting is amazing! So proud. Turns out this school is the perfect fit for both her and A!

M is jealous of A being in the gifted program and everything she gets to do. A keeps telling her that so-and-so will come give her tests so M can be in gifted too... heaven help us if she doesn't get chosen to be tested, or worse, if she doesn't make it. (!)

J is starting to put two words together - "Daeee tar" (Daddy's car) "hurrr heh" (hurt head) and so forth. He has also started to respond somewhat when we remind him of things with a defeated "Tay..." like, okaaaaayyy, I'll stop doing this, because I know I'm not supposed to...

A is getting BAPTIZED ON FRIDAY! She's so excited. If any of you want to come, let me know so I can give you directions.

I'm so ready for the construction to be finished around our house. My car has been filthy for weeks! Looks like they're widening 27th and putting in curbs and sidewalks and such... should be good!

I'm not thrilled with Costco's "new and improved" baby wipes. They have that dry, Huggies-type of feeling now. Why mess with a good thing??? Time to potty-train!

I can't believe it's the last week of the month, and I have yet to set VT appointments. Again.

We totally dropped the ball on the latest school fundraiser. Anybody want a tub of cookie dough? we have to turn in money tomorrow!

I've done so much laundry today already that we're out of hangers. That's impressive, let me tell you.


Count your (many) blessings

I will be teaching a class for our Super Saturday coming up in four weeks... and making this craft:

There will be two color options - this red/chocolate/cream version, and a lime green/aqua/taupe/white version - a little more modern (I LOVE the other color combo too... I will be making up a sample of that one as well)

There will also be a size option - you can have a 24" board that will hang THREE frames, or you can have a 30" board that will hang FOUR frames, which will say "Count your many blessings".

If you want to pick your own patterns/colors, feel free to bring your own scrapbook paper.

Let me know if you want in on this. I have enough stuff to make about 10-11 kits up, and there are already three spoken for.


I'd like to duct-tape him to the wall.

Little Boy Wonder has struck again. This makes the fifth time in 12 days he has re-decorated our house. It wasn't with poop, or markers, or Trix cereal, or shampoo this time... his weapon of choice today was a brand new tube of Spongebob toothpaste. That stuff is BRIGHT blue. There were landmines up and down the hallway all over the carpet, into his room, all over Manda's shoes, into Mommy's room, all over Mommy's bathroom tile, and in the EXACT same place in Mommy's closet where the big shampoo incident occured. I went through about 5 gallons of water in our carpet cleaner on that one spot alone... and it's still coming up foam.



2nd Grade Angst

A gets along really well with boys. She chooses to play with boys over girls on a regular basis. She strictly wears pants or shorts to school, versus skirts, so that she can run faster and play easier on the playground, she claims.

She and a kid named "Rueben" have been BFFs since school started this year. I think they started out sitting together in class. He lets her get in lines in front of him, she lets him borrow our Magic Tree House books, they play together at every recess, you name it.

So of course, when it came time to make her guest list for the all-important birthday party this weekend, Rueben was at the top of her list. Since I've seen this Rueben kid all of once, and never met his parents, we didn't hand-deliver his invite to his home, but rather, A took it to school instead.

Rueben threw her invitation away. (!)

I was appalled, and I'll say it, yeah, a little miffed, especially considering I had designed the.cutest.birthday.invitation.ever. I prodded A to find out if this really were the case, and if he truly didn't want to come (Because HONESTLY, who WOULDN'T want to come??)


I finally got the whole truth out of A tonight. Rueben said people think he and A are "boyfriend and girlfriend" - and I LOVE A's response here - she said "but I just don't trust that!" "We're just friends!"

Sigh. Don't you just love her? While Rueben succumbs to elementary school peer pressure and shuns A left and right now, she is exasperated because she just wants him to stay her friend... I fear this is just the beginning of A's heartache and struggles with the opposite sex...

To-do List

Oh Mylanta, I have a lot to do in the next week and a half.

Practice baptism songs on the piano.
Finish baptism invites and send them out.
Get board cut for Super Saturday project (Deirdre - got anything 4" by 24" laying around?)
Finish registering for traffic school.
PTO meeting tonight.
Meet up with Lisa to get vinyl for SS project. Get to Michael's to buy frames while my coupon is good this week. How many do you think I'll need? Hmmm... how many people are going to sign up??
Sign up for produce basket this weekend.
Take cool, close-up photos of my kids this week, edit and print them.
Remember to set the DVR for Flash Forward on Thursday. Looks good...
Find time to finish SS project sample, and figure out a cost. Lisa, how much are you charging me?
Order cupcakes to take into M's classroom on Friday.
Plan b-day party agenda, games, etc.
Rearrange furniture downstairs to make room for a "stage"
Get party favors together for b-day party.
Buy M's gift for party, and figure out somewhere to put it (Amberly's house?).
Decorate the house for b-day party. Pick up red carpet?
Figure out what karaoke songs to offer for b-day party.
Find another adult to help run party (Janna???)
Take cupcakes into M's classroom on Friday.
Get supplies needed to make microphone cake, and frosting, plus candles.
Meet Nonnie and Papa for dinner on Friday night.
Pick up produce basket on Saturday morning.
Have 15 crazies running around my house on Saturday.
Entertain 15 crazies for 3 hours on Saturday.
Go pick up pizza for 15 crazies on Saturday.
Send them all home.
Work on DVD slide show. Get music to go along with it.
Go to D-backs game on Sat. night and try not to fall asleep.
Take finished sample of Super Saturday project to church on Sunday.
Finish programs for baptism and get them printed.
Coordinate musical number for A's baptism, find time for everyone to practice.
Help Grandma with A's dress??
Finish slide show.
Parent-teacher conferences next week. One on Wednesday, one on Thursday.
Early release from school Thursday and Friday.
Take treats into A's classroom next Friday for her birthday.
Arrange to have DVD player & TV for baptism program.
Make sure someone is going to fill the font...


You make my dreams come true...

My favorite part of 500 days of Summer.

Stuff to blog about.

Movies I recommend:

17 Again. If you rented this and didn't like it, well, I JUST don't understand you. Granted, Matthew Perry was abysmal, but Zac Efron was great. Loved the dance with the cheerleaders. The dinner scene where friend Ned and his date start speaking... well, I don't want to give it away... was the funniest thing I'd seen in a VERY long time. Laughing. Out. Loud.

Hannah Montana. I sat with my girls and watched this, and actually enjoyed it. How can you not like the "hoedown throwdown" song? True, you have to go in with sort of low expectations... but for what it is, I think it's entertaining.

Movie I DON'T recommend? 500 Days with Summer. What a waste of 2 admissions. I thought with the quirky, likeable lead actors - that Zooey chick, and the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun, it had promise... but it turns out neither can really carry a movie. Only redeeming quality it had was the dance scene. Hmmm... I think I'll see if it's on Youtube.

Crafty inspiration:

www.thepinkstamper.blogspot.com Has awesome cricut videos, how-tos, etc.

www.sherrywright.typepad.com Love the card and scrapbook-y designs. Will be scraplifting some soon.

Exercise to get:

PLEASE, someone, start showing up for volleyball! My favorite way to spend Monday and Thursday mornings has completely fizzled the last month!

Cindy's Strength Training class on Tuesdays will make you completely sore and sweaty. What more are you looking for from a workout?? Please join us!

TV Shows:

Is anyone watching this season of Project Runway? Let's discuss...

FRINGE. Wow, I'm liking this show more and more! Think X-Files meets Alias meets Conspiracy Theory. Love it.

On the fence about GLEE. Could be such a fun, colorful, cute show... but I'm nervous about some of the themes... especially if he ends up leaving his wife, even though she's a beeyotch. Did I seriously just type that?

DVDs to rent:

You've probably heard it from Rachel, and she's completely right. PUSHING DAISIES is delightful, even though it kind of leaves you hanging at the series finale...


I'm all about fast food dollar menus lately. I know, so healthy, right? But who can resist a double cheeseburger for a buck when you don't have to dirty any dishes?

Sonic drinks are like old friends. We've been meeting up more and more lately.

I forgot about this blog: http://fortheloveofcooking-recipes.blogspot.com/ but need to get reacquainted, methinks.

The State Fair:

I can get free tix for one Friday next month... does anybody want to go with me? I haven't eaten anything cooked on a stick for a while.


Juicy Green Helper

Yesterday, after lunch, I was downstairs, cleaning something (shocking, I know) while J was upstairs, I thought, playing with trains in my craft room. I was on the phone with N and he even commented "how well J played by himself". I agreed, feeling content that I had such a sweet boy. I came upstairs and put him down for his nap... and then went in to take a shower. After almost breaking my neck slipping on SOMETHING on the floor, I realized what my sweet boy had REALLY been occupying himself with. That tiny blonde blankety-blank piece of work had taken a mostly-full shampoo bottle and squirted it EVERYWHERE he could think of. All over the bathtub ledge. All over the toilet. All over our bathroom scale. Squirted all over the cabinets. A dozen little lakes of juicy green apply shampoo all over the tile. Each rug was soaked. A gooey mess on my cedar chest. Another gooey pile on the carpet in my closet. And, starting about 3 feet up on each doorframe, as if he reached as high as he could and squirted, just so he could watch it run down the paint. Sigh. What a sweet boy, huh?


Wouldn't you know it...

I finally decided to go with the overwhelming majority and get sconce #3 from Pottery Barn... I was going to get a different shade... and now, guess what, it's sold out. DARN IT!


Where were you?

There are those moments in history in which you will never forget the details of your surroundings, with images burned into your mind, the thoughts and feelings you had. It almost becomes an out-of-body experience, where you are off to the side watching yourself react, versus just reacting. Eight years ago today, I was 9 months pregnant with my first child. She was due in 11 days. I had stopped working, and was spending my days alternating between wasting time sleeping, and nesting, fiddling with things around the house. We only had one car at the time. I had driven Nick to work that morning, and was back at home. I was laying on the couch downstairs at our Fox Chase home in Maryland, dozing in and out of consciousness, watching the news - I believe I heard it first from Katie Couric, well, I think my subconscious heard about the attacks before I really realized what was going on. I saw the second plane go into the building on TV, and I remember being horrified when newscasters theorized that these were no accidental plane crashes. This was a coordinated, calculated attack on the U.S. I remember Nick calling, making sure I'd heard what was going on. I remember different family members calling to make sure we were okay... as it was unclear to where the third plane had crashed, "somewhere near Camp David" - and people unsure exactly where we lived, were fearing for our safety. I remember the surreal, slow-motion way in which everything unfolded that day. I remember being asked to keep off the phone, as emergency workers were being called to DC and all the lines were jammed. I remember being worried about friends in our ward, who worked in DC, and wondering if they were okay. I remember being glued to the television screen, watching the videos over, and over again. I remember all the airports being shut down, and all the planes in the country being grounded. I remember most of the businesses in our town being closed that day. I remember going to my checkup that afternoon, surprised that my doctor's office was still functioning as normal... knowing that life as we knew it in this country had drastically, horribly, changed that morning. I remember foolishly fearing my baby would come that day, and that something would go wrong with all of the stress. I hoped and prayed that her birthday would not coincide with the date of this tragedy. The abstract word "terrorist" was suddenly very, very real, and for the first time in my life, seemed dangerous. Later, when I heard how close some of our friends were to the attacks, I remember being amazed, thankful for their survival, and humbled by their stories. It's now a different world that my 8-year-old is growing up in... all because of that day.

Where were you?


Pick one.

The girls like to read in their rooms at night. The light in there is horrible, though, (or maybe it's just my poor eyesight that thinks it is)
Anyhoo, I want to get sconces to put by their beds... so pick one! This is what the lamp in their room looks like: and here are your three choices:

I like the shade on one, the pink base on the other, and the simplicity of the last one. And they're all about the same price, so that part doesn't matter... decisions, decisions...


SO - I'm supposed to teach a class at our upcoming Super Saturday activity. Usually, this would not be a problem... I just take whatever idea I already have for gifts for my peeps for Christmas, and turn it into a class. Well, this year I'm at a loss. Maybe it's my "simplify"ing that's been filling my head this year - I just don't want any.more.clutter. in my life or on my walls. It needs to be something fantastic that is worthy of my house, and worthy of gift-giving.

The activity is too late in Oct to do a Halloween craft - so something else is in order. Preferably not Christmas cute-sy, as I'm kind of over that. Perhaps a sewing project, or velvet pumpkins with real stems, or a scrapbook-type project, or some kind of jewelry-making, a vinyl something or other...

Any ideas? What have YOU always wanted to make, so I can plan it and do all the work for you? Hee hee... What have you seen in a store lately that made you shriek with joy? If there is something, and there is a pic of it somewhere online, please include the URL in your comments. Thanks much in advance.


Me went camping.

HA! As IF you'd believe such a thing. The thought was actually so ridiculous in my head that I couldn't even form it into a proper sentence for my post title. Hee. Hee. Tee. Hee. Hee.

So, no, I technically didn't camp. What I did, however, was cruise down to Safford on our 4-day weekend whilst my Safford-dwelling fam members were camping on the mountain. I decided that sure, we could go spend the days with them, but under no circumstances was I going to take camping equipment, nor sleep outdoors, nor even THINK about trying to put my two-year-old down to sleep while at nine thousand freezing cold feet up in the woods. Nope.

As ideas go, this wasn't a TERRIBLE one, but not one of my prize winners, either. Dad failed to tell me they were staying at the tippy top of said mountain, that it was frickin' COLD up there, that it would rain every day, and that the campground was an HOUR from their house. Sheesh. I ended up driving it back, and forth, and back, and forth. Good thing Sparky behaved himself.

My kiddos LOVED being up there. It was nice for me to not have to worry about where they were, who they were associating with. And bonus, there was no TV or computer to affix themselves to. They rode horses, made friends, got dirty, dug holes, watched a hundred horse shoe matches, and ate more junk than I care to know about. Josh also loved climbing and jumping off of stumps.

For the record, I am not opposed to the outdoors. I do place a premium on cleanliness and comfort, however. It's funny to me how this rag-tag reunion of inlaws, outlaws, friends, friends' inlaws, grandparents, and cousins came about - but now it has become a Labor Day tradition that they all look forward to every year. They even have church up there! {Which was a story in itself, with J during relief society...} Mostly all of the "Cunnngham crew" have acquired campers, toy haulers, etc... so technically, are they "camping?" Not sure. I guess they do sometimes cook outdoors, if that qualifies. Ha! My dear husband is thinking we should go again next year. I smile and laugh nervously.

Heaven help me if he throws a tent in the car.


Calling all Shoppers:

Since I'm hardly ever "out and about" - wondering if anyone's seen any bedside lamps, sort of like these (or cuter), that screw into the wall instead of clip to the bed. Or should I just deal with the clip-on thing and get these Pottery Barn ones? I want cute colors like these (preferably one pink and one light blue). Got anywhere to send me? Please don't just tell me to look at Ikea, unless you KNOW there are lamps there that are perfect. That store is WAY too much of a commitment for me.



"Please bless Josh to learn how to not play with the flyswatter."


Welcome, welcome...

to my new craft room! Or in other terms, The.Most.Amazing.Room.You'll.Ever.See. After being inspired by Amy and this post today, I decided not to wait 'til my room was completely finished to show it off. It's been functioning for a month now, and I love it. And hey, let's get real. This clutter all over the counter is minor as to what it has been, could and most certainly will be in the future. Which makes me my insides get all happy, by the by. There is still little bits to be finished, a little quarter round here, a little trim there, a touch up of paint here AND there, but overall I'm thrilled with how it's turning out. I'll take you around the room, from left to right. This monstrous thing on the counter is my ScrapRack, which is a file of all my scrapbook embellishments, rubons, etc... Above it is MOST of my scrapbooking ribbons (which in the future will all be hanging from WHITE pushpins, but this is what I had on hand the day I hung them up)... and above that is my latest addition of my CREATE letters, which I'm thinking I will paint polka dots on to match my curtains. Spacing on the letters is bothering me, just a bit.Here is my computer corner. Monitor fits nicely under the corner cabinet. All of the cords, routers, etc. are up in the upper cabinet. Imagine my printer stand painted the same green as the stripe above it on the wall.
This is the motherload, pretty much everything in one shot. Upper cabinets and countertop from wall to wall, with a wonderful length of WORKSPACE. Can I just tell you how great it is to throw some wrapping paper up there and be able to wrap presents so fast? And how great it is to have a place for my sewing machine, without having to lug it downstairs for quick repair projects? LOVE IT! Still deciding whether I want to hang decorative stuff on the wall between uppers & countertops...My other corner, currently housing the end of my happy birthday banner project, quite nicely, I must add. My two hanging 12x12 paper files roll and fit perfectly in the little nitch down under.
With the help of my lovely friend Lisa, I painted this green stripe all along the walls to continue the stripe of my curtains. I'll probably hang my clock here, eventually.
My fantastic curtains. Polka dot fabric was from Boca Bargoons, green was a special order from Joann's.
My incredible dad built me this bookshelf to house all my scrapbook albums. It is deeper than traditional bookcases, about 16", to accomodate my 12x12 books. It's awesome. Can I say that again? Awesome. There. You know you wish you had a dad like mine.
The sign above my closet doors.Stripe continues around to the door. This is a calendar that M made me in her preschool class last year.

SO - what do you think? AWESOME, eh? Don't look too closely at my corner seams on the countertops, or how out-of-square the cabinet doors/drawers are... and don't you dare even think about bringing a level over to set on top of the countertop... hee hee! What do you expect? I'm an amateur - but I don't care - I LOVE IT! Yep, I'm never moving from this house, mostly because of this room... It was YEARS in the making, so I have to pinch myself when I think about how wonderfully (and how inexpensively! Thanks CraigsList!) it came together in the end.