Mewwy Kwissmas.

Here's our Christmas card this year. Nope, no letter, no fancy poem. Maybe for new years. I tried to streamline this Christmas. Fat chance... I think the kids are getting more than ever this year. If I was supposed to send you a Christmas card and didn't, I'm sorry. I wasn't so much with the "organization" this month, and I've no idea who I sent cards to, or not. I still have about 20 cards left, so I must have left several regulars out. Merry Christmas anyway.


Try these. Seriously.

I tried these a week ago at my MIL's and thought they were just okay; maybe I just wasn't hungry or in the mood or something. I made them today myself for our ward party tonight and they were PHENOMENAL. Seriously. Maybe it was because they were fresh and still a little soft? Don't know, all I know is that this recipe is a WINNER. Yes, I bought the dark chocolate chips which made them even more awesome. Preheat to 350 degrees. Mine took about 10 minutes.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 12 ounce bag dark chocolate chips
48 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped (one 10 ounce bag)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together softened butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Meanwhile, combine the baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.

To prevent cookies from flattening out, refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until just set, but centers are still soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to cooling rack. Top each cookie with an unwrapped Candy Cane Kiss. Allow to cool completely, long enough for the Kiss to harden. If necessary, after the cookies have cooled, they can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to re-solidify the Kiss.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies



Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember folks, this is about supporting your home town Americans to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

When we care about our local businesses, we help provide for our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups -- throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?



Come on OVER!

See you there! It's off of Lindsay and Guadalupe... should be lots of fun vintage-redone-awesome furniture and accessories... and of course the Two Chicks! Get there tomorrow before all the best stuff is gone! The address is 717 E. Country Plaza North, Gilbert, AZ 85234. Look for the signs!



Whew, another holiday come and gone. Mine was great, how about yours? I hosted the big dinner this year, which honestly I love, because I get to determine the menu AND wear slippers to dinner. Of course we had all the basics: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc... and tried and true favorite recipes of garlic mashed potatoes, Trader Joes salad, stuffed mushrooms, dill dip with Hawaiian bread...I even tried to make Jackie's rolls, but I'll never be as good at them as she is. We invited my parents to come up, as well as had some favorite friends come over. Perfect sized group, great food, Mom's awesome pecan pie... what more could I ask for? I even made a lemon meringue pie this year, which was quite well received... here's our table setting... including Jackie's awesome turkey plates and vinyl-on-mini-pumpkins for our place cards.
After dinner I was so wiped that I didn't want to do much more than sit, so thank goodness Mom was there to clean up all my mess. I love my friends and family!


An Attitude of Gratitude.

Lots to be thankful for today, as I looked over at my husband in church and thought, MAN, I'm lucky. 13 years we've gone so far. Happy anniversary honey!

1. I'm grateful that my husband sits next to me in church now. The kids act 100% better and I don't spend sacrament meetings out in the foyer fighting with #2 and #3 anymore. I do tend to fall asleep more in church now, though.

2. Grateful that previously mentioned husband let me trim his hair yesterday, instead of doing it himself. It looks great!

3. Grateful that I was able to find coordinating head-to-toe outfits, shoes and accessories for the 5 people in our family for yesterday's family photo shoot. It took 4 days of running around to different stores and trying different combinations, and entirely too much worrying but I'm really happy of how our little family turned out. Got lots of excellent deals on things! I'm hoping the pictures reflect how well everything went together and how happy my kids were. (And that I don't look fat, of course)

4. Grateful that we were able to go out last night for our anniversary to see the Blue Man Group. I needed a night of laughing - - it was so totally entertaining! And even better that my hubby kept it a surprise from me until last night too! Thanks to Grandma, and the other Chick, for handling my kids to facilitate it.

5. Grateful that I was finally able to finish my book, the Son of Neptune. Oh wow, how I love this author and this series! I can't believe I have to wait a whole year for the next one to come out, ugh, that means I'll have to re-read all of the Percy Jackson series and these two Heroes of Olympus books again before I read a new one.

6. Grateful for food storage. I got up this morning and made minestrone, all from cans in my pantry, and homemade bread. Both were awesome, if I do say so myself! Will definitely be repeating that meal!

7. Speaking of food storage, I just recently bought and put in a huge can-rotator system in my pantry. Jackie, you'd be so proud. I'm not saying I'm OCD or anything, but it's just SO COOL to have everything perfectly organized! Now I need 5 more cans of Ranch beans, 9 more of tomato sauce, etc, etc. Ha Ha! Grateful for organization and the calm it brings me.

8. Grateful that my house is ALMOST FINISHED being painted. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, the big picture, whatever, and it's starting to look so good! Grateful that my husband and his friend have put so many hours into it.

9. Grateful that our winter grass got planted, though I'm NOT grateful for the hundreds of pigeons that have been eating it every day since.

10. Grateful that Halloween is over. I'm in full Thanksgiving/fall mode. Bring on the soup recipes and gratitude vinyl ideas!

11. I am so grateful for our house and neighborhood, and the weather. My kids get home every day from school and immediately jump on their bikes to ride around. Grateful that they've got some healthy habits for a change!

Oh Photo Shoot!

Can't wait to see the rest if this one turned out so well!



Yes, your majesty. You know, being the Queen of Hearts isn't that much of a stretch for me.
The girls loved their playing card costumes. Jackie's idea for foam heart headpieces worked perfectly!
And in honor of the Alice in Wonderland character-theme, this was the pumpkin I decorated for a contest at our orthodontist's office. Seriously, I can't believe I didn't win.
This was another one of out entries. "THE PUMPKIN ATE MY BABY!'"
We also hit a pumpkin patch for a little bit last week, but with no camera and a mostly dead battery on my phone. This will be the place we will never forget being LOST IN THE CORN MAZE for forever.
The rest of the last couple of weeks have been filled with painting, including my husband playing around on this contraption.
No, we're not done painting yet... but hopefully pictures of the finished product will be forthcoming in the next week or so...



Whew. What a month.

Things we've accomplished around here:
Trip to DC and Maryland without kids. (Thanks Grandma!) M turned 8. My big toe broken. M's bike fixed. M's birthday party. A turned 10. Piano lessons started by A & M. New teeth for me! Huge amounts of chicken prepped/canned/frozen. M baptized. Huge amounts of ice cream eaten. Staycation in Scottsdale for three days. Two orthodontist appointments. Three kids' dentist appointments with ZERO cavities found. (YEAH!) State fair visited. Fall break survived. Several books read. Teeth sensitivity finally gone. House pressure-washed. Cars 2 finally seen. Yard sale items eliminated from garage. Several Halloween decorations added to the collection. Getting "Boo'd" more than once. Progress made on costumes for the kids. N's car starter died. Goldilox towed to Tempe. 39 gallons of paint mixed and picked up from Home Depot.

Things on the horizon:
Making pumpkin bread. Trip to the pumpkin patch. Finishing costumes. Entering orthodontist pumpkin-decorating contest. PAINTING THE HOUSE. Service project. Fixing J's bike tire. Fixing A's bike (it looks like it got run over???? I hope it can be fixed!) Chili cookoff next weekend. Running booth with activity day girls. Selling stuff on ebay/craigslist. Family pictures. Our 13th anniversary.

Things wanting my wallet's attention:
Goldilox needs a new timing belt. A mixer. Countertops for my craft room. Shutters. A new office chair. A leaf blower. A functioning microwave, with a handle. Our home depot credit card. New sunscreens for the house. Paying off the water softener. POOL REMODEL before next summer. Ugh.


East Coast.

SIGH. And Double Sigh. Why, why did I ever move away from Maryland? I totally forgot how absolutely beautiful everything is, how lush and green it is everywhere, how stuff just grows by itself, how charming and detailed all of the architecture is, so not stucco and tracty....
We drove on roads like this...
and this...
and went by our old house, which is still as shabby and in need of a paint job as ever...
but there are plenty of beautiful houses everywhere, including this awesome one... I know it's not the best camera angle, but you can still see the gray wood siding, white trim, red door, brick path, and wrought iron gate... Are you kidding me?? SWOON.
If my husband dies before me, I get to make the choice on where we're buried, right? So here it is, an adorable little church and cemetary on the side of the road in New Market. I love this.
Come on, don't you want to lay your body to rest here too? Awesome.
And of course, we went to our favorite restaurant while we were in Maryland too. You know there's some places you build up in your mind, thinking they can't possibly be as good as you remember? Yeah, this isn't one of those. As excellent as ever.
Here's our half-eaten pile of seafood... oh, those scallops were delightful.
Try as I might, I'd never be able to take a picture of the decor in this place and do it justice. Beautiful. I could stare at the woodwork all day.
I can't even describe how amazing this cream of crab soup is. Seriously. This most assuredly will be served in my mansion in heaven.
This is the super cute family we stayed with for a couple of days. It was great to finally meet Amanda's kids and go to Mt. Airy ward again. Still have lots of great friends and memories there, even though the ward has changed a lot.
Me and my peep, Amanda.



Things on my mind:

This HOUSE. It will be fabulous and amazing someday... but right now it seems like a whole lot of headaches. And decisions. And worrying about making the right decisions when it comes to paint - and figuring out our priorities...and finding out weekly that something ELSE needs to be replaced.

Maryland. Yay! Going on a trip for a few days, where we're going to hang out with some old friends, and then head to DC for N's conference. I don't plan to do much once we're there except workout and lay around in the hotel reading. Aaaaahhhhh.....

Books. Speaking of reading, I'm three books into the Artemis Fowl series, and will start the fourth tonight. They're no Percy Jackson, by any means, but still pretty good. Speaking of Percy Jackson, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of "Son of Neptune" in the next month or so - going to be awesome. I need to re-read The Lost Hero to remember everything... I'm volunteering at the school book fair a couple of times in the next week, and looking forward to seeing the new stuff that's out. Selfish reasons, that's why I'm volunteering, yes.

Craft room - cabinets are up, curtains are up, all of the countertop I have is in... still need some details sorted out and then I'm planning to get a whole other 10 ft. of countertop ordered from Home Depot... once again, once of those "figuring my priorities" thing. Now the hard part begins - organizing everything into those cabinets and bookshelves.

School. The girls are doing great, and thankfully starting to make some friends. A has been bugging me all week to let her have a playdate with one of her classmates, but I haven't been able to coordinate with the other mom yet. Hopefully this will turn out to be a winner, though - they only live like 3 miles from us, she rides the same bus as we do, and AND, she's got a little sister in 2nd grade who M is friends with too! Perfect! Now call me back so my girls can have friends! haha...

Paint. I'm sick of it, but we've barely made a dent so far. (Wait, I take that back - we have painted 7 rooms since we moved in, there's just about 2500 square feet left to paint! Not to mention the exterior!) I need to sand and prime and paint four of our windowsills... and finish painting behind the washing machine... and sand and paint M's nightstand to match her room... yuck, not looking forward to any of those projects!

Exercise. Pretty much doing it every weekday morning now, alternating between different videos - P90, Jillian Michaels, and starting to run a little bit too... seeing progress in my legs but nowhere else yet. Sigh, I'm going to have to pull out my fat jeans when I pack for MD. Bummer. I need another fitness challenge to give me some incentive to stop eating desserts.

Teeth. I'm getting veneers next week - an undertaking that's been more than a year in planning and approving and root canaling and whitening and scheduling for. Looking forward to it. Anybody wanna watch J while I go? Now that all six of M's teeth that needed to come out are gone, we can move on with ortho work - - I'm hoping that at our appt. next month that they won't tell me she needs braces so soon, like A did... darn our small mouths and big teeth!


Life is good.

I slept under a super cool, functioning, silent ceiling fan last night. I swear I could have laid in bed all day and just watched it. And as soon as I organize the garage a bit I can start parking in there. AWESOME.



Help. This is the color of my house now. We need to paint, badly. And before that I have to get my colors approved with the HOA. Fun! (You can click on the pics to make them bigger) (Oh, and don't mind the orange tree in the front yard that's falling down)
I worked on some different color combos in Photoshop, I want to freshen it up and make it look a little more modern, but now playing with it I'm not so sure which direction to go. My color choices are limited because of the stacked rock around my entrance (which I love, don't get me wrong) - - because I need to match it, obviously.

Feel free to comment which is your favorite. What house are you most drawn to, and why? And it's okay to vote for the original color too!

SO what to do? Do I stick close to the original, dark taupe and keep the trim light (cream?) ?? I'm thinking the stone around the entrance pops more when there's a light color around it, versus dark?? I think I lean toward Option #4, which is funny because that's the one that's most similar to the original color - - Oh, I don't know. I like a lighter garage door color, slightly different that the body of the house - and I want a front door that pops. Blue? Red? (But this would only work if I could lose the security door, but my husband's not too keen on that idea...) Unless I went with black, which would be awesome - then we'd just spray the security door black to match as well.

Oh, and one more thing? That iron fence, in front of J's upstairs window? It's a gaggy rusty pink color at the moment. Do we paint it the same color as the trim, or black to match the front door??

Call us up, if you want gangsta

I love it when my kids play dress-up. But there ain't no princesses in this house.

Time for School! Time for School! Update.

My kids have started in their new schools. (Okay yes, it's been 3 weeks, and I'm barely posting this...) I think it's going pretty well. Both A and M are up to their usual tricks, getting 100%s on most assignments.
M's teacher left me the greatest message today, just wanted to let me know how well M was doing, excelling academically, adjusting really well socially, she's a joy to have in class... she went on and on about how much she liked her. The message made me very happy, considering we have such rough mornings getting to school sometimes.
A has made lots of friends of course, and has become a regular in the school library. We went and rented a violin from Milano's, and she started in the school orchestra... which she LOVES, but I can already tell that if we're really serious about wanting her to play, we need to get her private lessons. The green eyed monster rears its ugly head each time Daddy takes A to the early bus for orchestra, because a certain second grader wants to go so badly too, and be in orchestra. (hence the rough mornings 2x a week)
Both girls dig riding the bus - and I like it too, as I only have to drive 2 miles to the bus stop - - and I think it's awesome that there's an early bus for A twice a week just for orchestra! Franklin is a good fit for us right now (and will be even better when it cools off and it's not so unbearable wearing long pants every day) and though M always says it's so much WORK, and she gets SAND in her shoes every recess, the girls are getting to do fun things; aside from orchestra, A tells me every day about the books that her teacher is reading to them, M is learning poetry - - pretty cool!
I don't have a picture of J yet (charged camera and me haven't been in the same place at the same time lately) at preschool. I wish I could show you how excited he was to be there the first week! He was mad all day that Friday because there was no school... (he goes T, W, Th) A was identifying parts of a sentence on some homework yesterday and the word "sense" was used as a noun, and J piped up and said "hey, that's in my school!" because they're learning about the 5 senses. Good to know he's paying at least a little bit of attention!



makes me want to start scrapbooking again!!!
Check IT



Oh, what do you DO in the summertime when vacations and trips are finished, summer reading programs are long gone, we don't live close enough to friends anymore to have playdates, library events have ceased, you've seen all the kid movies there are to see, it's one-hundred-and-crazy degrees still outside, mom is completely out of money and it's still a week til school starts??????? We've completely devolved over here. The kids have watched more DVDs and old cartoons on hulu than I can count, and spent hours playing computer games. Projects in the house have stalled for one reason or another, mostly because Mommy has no motivation to do anything when it's so hot...

Kid Update:
J and M are doing pretty well today - they've dressed up like astronauts (which for some reason includes baseball hats, swim goggles and superhero capes??) and are exploring space and killing aliens upstairs (who knew we had such an infestation??) Have I mentioned what great big sister M is? Love her.
After a doctor appointment and chest x-rays last week, A turned out to have pneumonia (I know, right??) but she's been on an antibiotics for a week now and has all but stopped coughing. Still a little bit when she's going to bed at night. One thing they found in her chest x-ray, though, is scoliosis (like mother, like daughter!) and we have an appointment on Friday to figure out more about that. Hopefully hers isn't as severe as mine was, and she won't have to have surgery.
A's room has been a wreck for the past three weeks, and she's been a really good sport about it. We're still needing to paint a whole 2nd coat on her paint and get her furniture in there. THEN we can put the blinds back up!

House update:
We've spent a lot of un-fun money on the house this month- - new pool vacuum, A/C tuneup, and a plumbing repair. I was really hoping we'd be able to afford to get the house painted soon after we moved in, but it keeps dropping on the priority list. Last week we had a panicked moment when our dining room ceiling started leaking during M's bath... I had nightmares of having to rip the bathtub out and pay for a huge repair, but it turns out that we got a home warranty (THANK GOODNESS). Plumbers came this week with only a $55 service call and fixed it, (it was some kind of drain issue) and now we just need to get two small holes in the drywall repaired. Whew.
Our to-do list I made TWO months ago is still pretty much that - a to-do list. Little has been accomplished on it - but here's where we stand:

Projects finished:
Kitchen pantry painted, New garbage disposal installed, R/O system taken out, New sink cabinet floor cut and put in, Pool drained & acid washed, Rose bushes trimmed
Holes in the drywall patched (but now we have new holes to fix!), Doggie door removed, New programmable thermostats installed, Built-ins ripped out in craft room, Furniture left in the house sold on Craig's List, J's room and closet painted, master bedroom painted, Shutters installed in J's room and master bedroom, Block fence/gate repaired, M's room painted, J's ceiling painted, Laminate floor in craft room finished, Craft room painted, Most of upper cabinets installed in craft room, A's new ceiling fan installed

Projects in progress:
Painting A's room
Getting A's furniture (TONIGHT! Yeah!)
Installing rest of craft room cabinets
Figuring out new craft room countertop situation...
Building shelves in J's room niches

Projects on horizon:
Getting craft room unpacked
Finishing J's quilt, or giving up and buying one
Getting garage door fixed
Getting garage door opener wires installed
Spray painting several light fixtures
Buying new ceiling fans (finally made a decision on those)
Buying and installing water softener (okay maybe this will be moved down on the list - I had no idea they were so expensive)
Buying and installing a new microwave
Dead tree ripped out and taken to dump (I think we're going to hire someone to do one big cleanup instead)
Somehow weather-proofing all the windows and doors, and getting the broken/missing screens made and installed
Getting a functioning latch/lock installed on J's window
PAINTING the exterior of the house
PAINTING the interior main spaces


Seven for Saturday.

1. My parents were up here for the last three days, Dad helping on a myriad of projects and Mom watching and playing with my kiddos while I ignored them and worked on stuff in the garage. Things were going along swimmingly until Dad had a little shock from his pacemaker/defibrillator in the middle of the night last night. Thank goodness the paramedics were only 2 minutes away and took him straightaway to the hospital. Everything's fine, I guess that's what the defib thingy is for, but it kind of freaked us all out. He's out of the hospital and they went home to Safford this afternoon. Maybe I worked my 77-yr-old dad a little too hard hanging cabinets and working in my garage in 110 degree heat in the middle of the day??? Hmmm..... have I mentioned how awesome my dad is? You know you're jealous that I have such a handy, brilliant helper when he comes around. He brings the know-how, just call me Man-u-el. Believe me, this house needs lots of TLC and my dad is awesome at helping me bring the love! I promise I won't work him so hard in the future though...
2. The girls finished up swim team and their Camp GottaWannaSynch synchronized swimming this week. Swim team at Stapley wasn't so much fun, (I miss the waterdogs!) but synchro was great - we will probably do that again next year! They had their final show on Wednesday night. Both sets of their grandparents were able to come and watch - it was super cute! J is finally swimming without floaties as of this week. He's been a chicken all summer, thinking he needs them in our pool when he's just fine at swim lessons. This week we've turned the corner and put those silly floatie things out to pasture. And of course he can swim all the way across the pool, arms and legs and all. Yay!
3. M had two teeth pulled yesterday - she was supposed to have four taken out, but things got a little rough when the dentist realized how completely jammed her baby teeth are in there will all of those permanent teeth too. You can blame it all on her father with his huge teeth - (it's totally not her mother's fault with her small mouth!) We're going to try again in a month to get the other two out - this time with some serious medicine to knock her out - laughing gas just isn't going to be enough. The fact that she has to go in fasting is going to make things unpleasant as well.
4. I'm starting to think I've bitten off more than I can chew with this huge house, and everything that needs to be fixed/painted/replaced in it. Patience is a virtue I just don't have. However, we now have 4 1/2 bedrooms painted - yippee! At least the upstairs looks like we're making some progress... and now that my craft room floor is finished the cabinets can make their way in from the garage and become part of the family again. If only there were more than one Saturday in the week, we could be moving much faster on things.
5. I've inundated myself with Harry Potter the last month, between re-reading the last two books, watching almost all the old movies, and seeing the new movie twice in the last 8 days - including the midnight premier of HP7.2. And if you ask, I'll tell you yes, I really liked the last movie and how everything ended up.
6. My nephew and his wife are getting sealed one week from today, and their little family is going to become an eternal one. They rock - can't wait to see them plus all of my siblings that will be there too!
7. Just eighteen days 'til school starts. I think I can make it.



I knew there was something pulling me to Phoenix yesterday, other than getting my glasses fixed and picking up our lame summer reading prizes from the library. SO thankful Jackie and the boys weren't injured seriously yesterday in her accident - could have been ugly.

I'm kicking myself for not reporting the Dad I saw, schlepping his kids around in his little car with ZERO carseats. I could have easily told the policeman that was standing RIGHT THERE.

Jackie is amazing, did you know that? She wasn't hysterical and crying, like I would have been, she was honest with the police and took her "kid not in a carseat" ticket with a thank you. She even came home and hosted my crazy kids for a few hours while helping Lorena do a sewing project for the young women. I swear I would have cancelled everything, taken a valium and gone to bed.

I only splurge on pedicures a couple times a year, and my crusty heels were begging for some love yesterday. Even though it's under new management, and "Jimmy" isn't there, I can still recommend the place on 35th Avenue and Southern. "Essence Nails" I think.

I am literally losing sleep over ceiling fans - and not just because my master bedroom fan has taken to swinging erratically and CLICK CLICK CLICKING constantly. I know I'm ridiculous about these things, but I have very specific opinions when it comes to ceiling fans.
#1 - I want a Hunter fan. My dad swears by that brand, and we've had very good luck with them as well, so I'd like to stick with it.
#2 - I do not want to be able to see the light bulbs. Until they make cute CFL bulbs, not the swirly kind, I'm NOT buying any light fixture that displays bulbs.
#3 - I want the hardware to match everything else I have in my house (and since we've already got (mostly) oil-rubbed bronze doorknobs, that choice has been made)
#4 - I want all the fans in the house to coordinate with eachother. I know, I know.
#5 - Anything with this shape of blade looks totally dated to me.
#6 - Anything with this shape of light also looks dated to me, and cheap Walmart as well.
#7 - I do NOT want to see any pull chains. I'm short, and several of my ceilings are 9' or taller. Wall control and/or remote is a must.
#8 - This is my BIGGEST COMPLAINT with fans. I loathe what I call "nipple lights". You know what I'm talking about... something akin to this...
Unfortunately, 70% of the fans on the market, I think, have nipple lights on them. Another 20% have multiple shades where you can see the bulbs. Another 8% of fans are "novelty" type with weird kid themes, or overly designed with the funky blades, etc. So that leaves me with 2% to choose from - and those choices are three times the price of anything else. Grrrrr...... this fan, I think, is almost perfect (or would be, with a bright WHITE glass dome, instead of amber):
This one I could live with as well, even though I don't like the blade shape as much...
But again, both of these are more than three times the price of something like this: This is called the "Stratford" from Home Depot - totally affordable, love the shape of the blades, and the hardware is the right color. (But it's got a nipple light.) A Hunter rep that happened to be in Home Depot this weekend also told me that I could call the company and they would send me new free domes, so I technically COULD get the glass in white like I want, instead of this amber color...
I like the idea of having three of the dark-wooded 52" Stratford fans in my main areas - family room, loft, and my master bedroom, and having coordinating white 44" Stratford fans in all the rest of the bedrooms.
Bonus of this one is that the white version also comes in a bigger size of 52" as well, so I could put a bigger one in J's huge bedroom and have the 44 inchers in all the rest of the bedrooms, and they would still coordinate.

SIGH. What to do, what to do. I guess become a fan designer at Hunter, that's what. Anybody want to hire me?


Phoenix vs. Mesa, the showdown

So far:
Mesa neighborhood vs. Phoenix neighborhood - Mesa wins.
Mesa car insurance rates vs. Phoenix - Mesa wins.
Mesa commute to work vs. Phoenix - Mesa wins.
Mesa libraries vs. Phoenix - tie.
Mesa library website vs. Phoenix - Phoenix wins.
Mesa schools gifted programs vs. Phoenix - Phoenix wins.
Mesa Walgreens vs. Phoenix Walgreens - Mesa wins.
Mesa Fry's vs. Phoenix Fry's - Phoenix wins.
Mesa post offices vs. Phoenix's South Mountain Post office? - come on, you know the answer to this one.
Mesa swim team vs. Phoenix swim team - Phoenix wins.
Mesa's AZ Desert Dolphins synchronized swimming vs. Phoenix's ..... - Mesa wins.
Everything else is TBD ...



I had a dozen things on my to-do list today, most of them in SoPho. After making the trek over there and getting my hair cut, leaning once again on Jackie, letting J play with Finny, buying a bed frame from Craig's List, visiting the Meadows and returning stuff to CC library, I popped in to see our renters at our old house. Literally, popped in, with no notice. Not only were they totally gracious in letting me barge in and drill a hole in a cabinet door (don't ask) but they let me walk through and see what they've done to the place. And wow, was I impressed. Never, never, did I ever have that house so clean and put together. Their furniture is huge but very nice and looks great. They have pictures hanging in every room already. The counters were all clear and the tables had placemats set on them - it was like walking through a staged model home. (I mean really? Who lives like that?) They painted the brown dots pink in J's room and now it belongs to their little 6-yr-old girl, whose bedding and furniture and everything match beautifully. I'm so totally grateful. This family is awesome, and I couldn't have asked for a better situation. Hopefully they will stay there forever like they plan to right now!

Beach kids. Edit.

My cuties could stay at the beach ALL DAY LONG. As could their mother. We made a quick trip last week with the Foushees to California and spent two days at Newport Beach.  Aaaaahhhhh. J spent his time playing in the sand and collecting shells.
I.Love.This.Photo. Maybe I should make it sepia tone and print a big poster for J's room???
M and A played in the surf. Beach babes, these two! M says her favorite part was jumping over the waves with A.
I tried to get in as much reading as I could while still keeping track of six kids. A discovered the art of laying out though - she was just laying on the sand in the sun  "Oh, mom, this is SO nice. M you HAVE to come try this - just come lay down and relax!"  It.was.awesome.  Next month's family beach trip is going to be SO MUCH FUN! 

Slowly but surely...

Projects finished:
Kitchen pantry painted
New garbage disposal installed
R/O system taken out
New sink cabinet floor cut and put in
Pool drained & acid washed
Rose bushes trimmed
Holes in the drywall patched
Doggie door removed
New programmable thermostats installed
Built-ins ripped out in craft room
Furniture left in the house sold on Craig's List - YEAH!
J's room and closet painted
One wall in master bedroom painted

Projects in progress:
Shutters being installed TODAY in J's room and master bedroom
Block fence being repaired
Painting rest of master bedroom
Patching in rest of laminate floor in craft room
Painting craft room

Projects on horizon:
Installing craft room cabinets
Getting craft room up unpacked and up and running
Painting J's ceiling
Building shelves in J's room niches
Finishing J's quilt, or giving up and buying one
Getting garage door fixed
Getting garage door opener wires installed
Spray painting several ceiling fans & light fixtures
Buying and installing water softener
Buying and installing a new microwave
Dead tree ripped out and taken to dump
Somehow weather-proofing all the windows and doors, and getting the broken/missing screens made and installed
Getting a functioning latch/lock installed on J's window



NEMO party *edit*

I have a great kid. Actually I have three great kids. My baby turned four this week, and I threw him a big fun NEMO-themed birthday party today and invited a whole bunch of So Pho friends out to see our new house. I think we had 18 kids here? I admit it was a little ambitious to host such a big to-do after just moving in. Thank goodness the other CHICK was around to help me get everything ready.  Luckily my birthday banner I made last year for Josh still sort of matched our theme, so I was able to use that again. We decorated with fish nets (courtesy of my kids' already fishy-themed bathroom) seashells (courtesy of J and our beach trip last week) and sand buckets. I also brought our goldfish in their bowl downstairs to be a centerpiece. Fun!  Soren I think had the best quote of the day, while watching our fish "I just can't stop watching them! I'm trying! I just can't stop!"  I also bought a big coral reef mural that went in our front room, where we played "Fish Fish Shark"  (instead of duck duck goose)  and read J's favorite book.  Also bought a big ride-on shark (Bruce) for the pool.
It was J's idea a while ago to have a NEMO themed party, because his favorite book in the world right now is "The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark" which we read every night. So, we called it a Nemo party and had everyone over to swim. Lisa did a dramatic reading of the book, and all the kids were enthralled.
  With orange and white napkins, plate, and orange striped cupcake pops (which were too expensive, next time I will make them myself) and lots of themey food, I think it turned out pretty well. We had Gil's Sea Shells (pasta roni shells and cheese), Dory's Doritos, Goldfish (which should have had a tag that said "Mr. Ray's school of Fish") ,
Swedish Fish (also should have been "Krill") , Peach's Peaches (we happened to have fresh peaches this week), Inky's octopus hot dogs with blue "ink" ketchup, (Can't you just hear it? "Aaaaaw, you guys made me ink!" )
and orange baby carrots with blue ranch dressing. Fun.
Finny enjoyed the hot dogs too!



Oh, man, what a process. It took more blood, sweat, tears and gas money than I want to calculate, but it's done.  We're out of the Phoenix house, and into the Mesa one. Whew. I never want to move again! My advice, if you're thinking about moving, ever? Don't buy food storage. Sheesh.

So anyway - here's what I've been up to since the 3rd of May:  closing on our house, getting carpet cleaned, hiring movers, cleaning, packing, cleaning some more, touching up paint, mowing grass, getting termites treated, getting my car window fixed, pulling weeds, taking cabinets down, filling lots of holes in walls, painting our pantry, getting paint in my hair, trying to organize my kitchen, totally losing interest in American Idol, cleaning some more, sending N off on a business trip for four days,  performing in a school talent show, sending off the boys to F&S's (or boy camp, as J calls it), meeting lots of new neighbors and eating all their treats, swapping stoves, going to Home Depot, moving sheds, draining the pool and getting it acid washed, finishing up the last few days of school, getting the exterior of the Phx house painted, coordinating with renters, selling a trampoline, grocery shopping, going to the dentist, going to Home Depot again, replacing a garbage disposal, picking out paint, spending a fortune on paint, being without internet service for WAY too long, eating lots of junk & fast food, patching lots of holes in walls with Papa's help, scrubbing tile and grout with seemingly no progress, ripping out built-ins and realizing now I have to patch in the rest of the laminate floor (ugh, not fun), watching kids swim, driving to California with the other chick and her kids, spending two days sitting on the beach, going to Home Depot some more, hosting several last-minute BBQs, trying to read my book that's overdue at Cesar Chavez library, going to a new ward, getting sustained in new callings already in that new ward,  borrowing tools, getting ready for a yard sale this weekend, starting swim team and swim lessons...

so you'll forgive me if I haven't blogged lately, or if I owe you vinyl. Hopefully by this weekend my craft room will be up and running......


Wanna go to Disneyland?

I'm in a pickle.  I booked our timeshare rooms 6 months ago intending for us to take a family trip to Disneyland just after school got out. Oops. Now we've moved, and we have other summer vacation plans, and I'm broke due to 1) new house purchase 2) car repairs 3) termite treatment 4) my gas bills 5) carpet cleaning 6) dentist stuff - - etcetera, etcetera.  If you'd like to help me out, and possibly save my marriage, please pass this on to ANYONE you know who might be interested.

We have both a 3 BEDROOM SUITE and a 1 BEDROOM SUITE located around the corner from Disneyland - reservation is for FIVE NIGHTS from May 22 to the 26th at the Peacock Suites - located at 1745 Anaheim Blvd. It's basically on the corner of Katella and Anaheim Blvd.

We are too late to cancel the reservation at this point, so MAKE ME AN OFFER. Check in Sunday afternoon/ check out Friday morning. You can take the WHOLE FAMILY, and FRIENDS, and GRANDMA TOO!!! I've had these rooms sold a couple of times, and the buyers have flaked out on us - so here's your chance to take advantage. I originally had the 3BR suite (3 bedrooms, 3 bath, living & dining areas, etc) listed for $850 or the 1BR suite for $450. Apparently i didn't market them well enough, and I haven't had any serious offers. I've also been way too busy to think about them, but now it's crunch time and I have to take what we can get.  At this point I'd take half that.

SO REALLY, Make me an offer I can't refuse and do it before a buyer on EBAY does.

This is 5 nights in Anaheim!!!!! This is much more than just a regular hotel room! Free breakfast every morning, upgraded, remodeled nice rooms. CLEAN, valet parking, pool, jacuzzis, great customer service - - - - CALL ME with serious inquiries only - 602-309-4093


Rough Life.

I.am.stressed.  As of today, we own two houses - hooray! I feel like my sanity is very fragile right now, with me trying to coordinate everything that needs to happen in the next two weeks... including packing, loading my car and driving the trek over to the Mesa house for the third day in a row, unloading, vacuuming (?), hopefully getting power and water turned on tomorrow at our Mesa house in time for a carpet cleaning at noon, getting back to Phx in time to pick up kids from school, orchestrating a big wood/vinyl project for the Young Women tomorrow night, cutting and weeding 10 VERY intricate blocks of vinyl wording (dang, why did I design it like that???) routing and sanding the rest of their signs, putting together another vinyl project for Janna for Thursday morning, preschool, more packing, coordinating a talent show practice for 13 kids on Thursday afternoon, (what am I supposed to do with J while that's happening???)  playing volleyball with our ward's team on Thursday night, more packing on Friday, maybe getting a moving truck Friday afternoon with hopes of moving most of our furniture over on Saturday (??), cleaning the Mesa house top to bottom so we can move stuff IN, hiring the pool guy this weekend? maybe? , at some point practicing the piano to accompany the primary kids on Sunday in sacrament meeting, (but am I still going to have a piano? Or will it be in Mesa?)  Part of my stress is coming from trying to plan out what's going to be moved, when, and how little we can live with for the next two weeks... when should we start sleeping at the new house? On Monday Daddy leaves for a 4-day business trip, and oh yeah, we need to get our renters squared away and sign papers before he leaves, I need to pick and buy paint, and get all three kids' bedrooms painted while he's gone next week, need to hook up with my printer friends on Thursday the 12th to pick up the t-shirts for all the first graders at Vista, deliver the shirts to the school on Friday the 13th, oh, are we going to get professional movers that morning or will it all be done by then? What painters are we going to hire for the new house? NO idea yet. Daddy will be home for less than a day before leaving for Father's and Sons, the girls and I have the school talent show that night, somehow I need to find time to get makeup and hair done for 13 zombie children  (where to find white makeup? How to make black eyes and bloody necks? Need to go get black nail polish and lipstick too??  What kind of shoes do zombies wear anyway?)  I'm going to SCREAM if we can't get our timeshare rooms sold by then - I'm totally starting to panic about that because our buyers flaked out on the biggest suite, my gosh, we're going to end up forfeiting all those points, doesn't anyone want to go to Disneyland? Because I stinkin' need the cash!   CRAIGSLIST YOU HAVE TOTALLY LET ME DOWN LATELY!   ACK, I need sleep too. Goodnight.  I know, rough life, I've got a busy husband who has a great job, three active, involved, talented kids, and a big, beautiful new house I have to decorate.


Don't cloche your eyes - you're going to want to see this.

Okay, I'm in love with these things... my MIL has several that I was oohing and aahing over a few weeks ago, and being the lovely that she is, she went out and bought me one of my own. There's just something so fun and new about them, but yet sweet and retro too. Awesome. I finally got the motivation/inspiration today to put stuff inside of it - who knew dollar store ceramic birds and some spray paint could turn out so cute??
Here's my question - what should it sit on? Do I need an elevated stand? Do the birds need to sit on something higher inside of it? How about the white plate it's on, (I did that because of the white birds?) Would a clear glass plate, like my cake stand next to it, be better? Something silver and vintage-y looking instead? Oh, and I'm thinking I should turn the birds to face eachother - it looks like they're having a fight. Ha!
And the cake stand with eggs and moss... yay or nay? I kind of like it, but now I feel like I need many more cloches in various sizes and heights, to create a better vignette, not just two random ones... oh, what have I started. Looking on Ebay and Etsy, these things aren't cheap. *cheep!* Here they are together: