Sweet Valentine, bless her heart.

My husband's grandmother passed away today. She's been my adopted grandmother too for the last thirteen years. She would have celebrated her 90th birthday on Valentine's Day this year. (I think I'm remembering that number right) Instead, Grandma Valentine is now reunited with her husband who died many many years ago. I just told A about it as she was going to bed and had a tender moment with her as she cried with me. This is the first person my children have known who has died. A was Grandma V's first great grandchild. A knows as well as I do that Grandma is up in heaven and understands that she is happy now, and no longer sick or hurting. What a comfort and blessing that is, to have a testimony of Heavenly Father's plan for us, and for eternal families.
Things I will always remember about her? Her love of good chocolate, especially See's. Her impeccable wardrobe, with everything perfectly ironed and perfectly folded, always. Her absolute daintiness - she was a wisp of a woman. Her perfectly coordinated gold and white living room, complete with the three portraits (shrines) of her three daughters. Her stories of raising her girls, and calling them chickens. Her thoughtful cards and gifts at Christmas, including a nativity that I will treasure and for sure put out for all Christmases to come.  Her handwriting. The whole family mimicking (with fondness) her "Hello Doll" raspy voice whenever she was sick. The fact that she could make Chicken Divan better than anyone else, ever, and how she would go out of her way to make people's favorite foods when they came to see her. I think Valentine's Day will always be something special to our family, especially this year. Love you Grandma.


Spinning my wheels.

When I hear that phrase I envision a bicycle that's stuck between a rock and a hard place, and as hard or fast as the wheels may turn, it's unable to dislodge itself.  I feel like that's what January has been for me - four solid weeks of pedaling as fast and hard as I can, and still I have nothing to show for it.  I guess my treadmill IS a metaphor for my life right now.  Speaking of which, I'm well on my way to getting that 100 miles run this month, yet I've gained 3 pounds, my pants are tight, and yet again I hate myself in pictures. Riddle me that, Batman.
I may get a couple of rooms in my house clean at once, but it is fleeting and still feels as cluttered as can be. I can barely get any help in that department from the other residents of this house.
I really, really need to sell our Disneyland week at our timeshare in May, and can't seem to get that done either.
I can't even count the hours I've spent creating designs for, and thinking about, our vinyl business this month, but still have no orders on any of the new stuff I've done.  Seriously makes me question my talent. We're currently hosting a giveaway and barely anyone has entered! Sigh.
I still have unfinished craft projects lying around the house from Christmas, because I told myself I wanted to finish everything before I packed it away again.
My middle child is in a tantrum cycle again. Almost daily something sets her off, and sets us up for hours of screaming, fighting, kicking, threatening to run away and live with another family...  Right now on my front porch there is a message spelled out in rocks which reads "I HATE U"  because she was outside throwing a fit last night.  Each time we get to the bottom of her mood cycle I question everything we do as parents, and wonder if it's time to start seeing a counselor or something, and then after a few days she snaps out of it and things are fine.
Little things (and big things) are breaking all over the house - stuff like our water heater, dishwasher... I don't think our water softener is working properly, nor is my dryer working very well at the moment.  I spent $100 this week getting parts for, and then having to hire a repairman to fix, our dishwasher. At least it works now! Our back sliding glass door, and screen, are almost impossible to open - needs cleaning, oiling, all of the above, or something. Our yard looks awful, and needs some serious trimming, shaping, and raking. We never did get that orange tree planted that I wanted to, oh, four years ago.  I'm sorry, but both my husband and I really suck at yardwork. I need to bite the bullet and hire the painters to do the exterior of my house (if you've driven by our house in the last few months, you'd understand why)    My husband is too busy and tired all the time to deal with anything that happens within these four walls.
SIGH - enough complaining for the day.  Time to go get that useless 5 miles run.


I want to make stuff again.

Stuff like this:


and this:

http://projectsbyjess.blogspot.com/2011/01/owl-applique-tote.html  I want to make a library bag like this - - and possibly use one of those re-usable totes, you know the ones? I have some BRIGHT lime green ones that I think would rock with little owls on them!!!

and I'd like to spiffy up the red berry wreath on my front door for Valentines Day with something like this:

and Oh.My. do I love this mosaic - made out of squares of scrapbook paper and mod podge, of all things - - - I have a big IKEA picture that I might just use for my basse - sorry Janna I might have to have it back! Where oh where shall I put it? In what colors? Hmmm.....


I've been designing some lovey-type Valentine designs for our Two Chicks vinyl business lately, like this stuff - a few of these will end up on little plaques or signs - and I'm aching to cut some of them; want any??:

Next on the vinyl to-do list is some holiday-themed subway art, maybe something like this or this, but better, of course: (Can someone tell me why people doing these tutorials never just use VINYL? They make seriously hard work out of these subway signs!!!!!)



This is so interesting! I think everyone should do it. Reading Ashlee's and Amberly's though made me feel like a slacker... here goes... this should make you feel good and productive.

right now…

- I never know what to eat for breakfast. Nothing sounds good. I usually end up eating a bowl of cereal - this morning it was vanilla almond Special K.

- I do not get out of bed until I have to - I'm usually motivated when I hear some kind of crisis or fight, or realize it's after 8am. It's just too cold and dark at 6am!

- I'm into wearing my lounge pants again on a daily basis - not good motivation to eat right and exercise.

- I'm all done with Christmas goodies, now if only I could be done with the sweet tooth that accompanied them...

- I'm never in bed by 10pm. Between 9 and 12 is my time to watch MY shows on TV or design stuff on my computer.

- I also go in phases with what I eat for lunch. Today it was a chicken salad sandwich. Usually it's leftovers or a cheese crisp, while J eats a bean burro.

- My hair needs a cut. And a style. But I'm not diligent enough to keep up on my short-stacked do, so I'm thinking I should just grow it out and try some long layers again. Mostly I just need it long enough so I can pull it back to run.

- I never listen to primary songs and scriptures when I’m driving. Ever. I used to be a faithful talk radio fan, and maybe I will be again when everything having to do with politics and the economy aren't so discouraging. Right now we listen to silly pop stations. My girls unfortunately know most of the words to every Gaga song, Bruno Mars, Justin Beiber... and anything and everything on all the GLEE soundtracks. Including "Teenage Dream" and "Toxic". Lovely. Aren't I a good mom??

- Soups are my preferred type of meal these days.

- I have read a few more Shannon Hale, Sophie Kinsella and John Grisham books lately. I have the 5 love languages for children on hold at the library, per Ashlee's suggestion, but other than that nothing right now is on the horizon. Any suggestions? I prefer novels that don't really have any footing in reality...

- I have bought two pairs of jeans lately, but I'm not crazy about the way they fit. I guess I need to lose another 10 pounds and get myself into the next smaller size first, then maybe it will be fun to shop again.

- My mind is regularly occupied with how to run and expand my business.

- I will only buy plain white sheets. They are the only ones I can wash in the hottest water with the most amount of bleach. I'm a little germaphobic when it comes to sheets.

- Every time I wear earrings my earlobes hurt, so I usually only put them in for church. I do own quite a few necklaces, though, and am always on the hunt for more long, chunky ones to buy or make. They usually only make an appearance on Sundays too.

- Amberly hasn't had a pedicure since Thanksgiving, and neither have I. I think it's a waste of $$ until I'm wearing flip flops again.

- I do not spend one more second in the bathroom than I absolutely have to. It grosses me out that my husband will go in search of a newspaper before he goes in.

- My craft room is my favorite room in my house, I guess. Not because it is decorated oh-so-fabulously (even though I really DO LOVE it) but because it's just so flippin' functional. N would disagree, because my crafts tend to spread out to the downstairs quite often. But hey, he married me, and he knew what I was when he picked me up.

- We have a couple of throw blankets that always live on the couch, but I'm not a huge fan of any of them. I'd love to have a big trunk as a coffee table or a storage ottoman down there so I could store some comfy blankets nearby.

- I prefer my electric toothbrush.

- I am 36 years old, and for the first time in 20 years I weigh less than my driver's license says I do.


I give up.

Saturday - It started with A, who woke up with a raging fever. We spent a quiet day at home, all day. I finally got away in the afternoon to go grocery shopping.
Sunday - A stayed home from church with me while M & J went to church (and sat with the Malones), until Daddy came home and traded so I could go play the piano for primary. Sunday evening she was bouncing around and feeling much better, so we had some friends over for pie (the Malones).
Monday - Both girls woke up feeling crummy and coughing, and M managed to throw up her orange juice just at the right time to warrant a day home from school for both girls. By 10am all three kids were playing badminton outside, and I was wishing I'd just sent them to school. I tried to start M's book report with her in the afternoon - I ended up falling asleep on her bed, and she went and watched TV - so much for that idea.
Tuesday - sent the girls off to school loaded with some cough medicine. Everyone seemed to be fine. I was able to go play volleyball, and J played in the nursery with the Risenmay, Nielssen, and Myers kids. Even went to gymnastics Tuesday evening. Daddy thankfully helped M finish her book report.
Wednesday - sent the girls off to school again loaded with cough medicine. A caught up on all her homework she'd missed at school. M had begged to have friends over, so we called the Haynies and had their girls over after school. I escaped to an exercise class that ended up taking hours by the time I ran errands and got home - only to find out that M started feeling crummy and had spent hours on the couch asleep while I was gone. Great. Now we've exposed the Haynie girls too to our sickness.
Thursday - sent A off to school with some cough medicine, and J off to preschool with Finny. I took M to the doctor, to learn that she has strep throat. GREAT. Who else have we exposed?? Came home, loaded up again, waited and waited at the pharmacy for the Rx. At least we have antibiotics now, and M is fabulous at taking medicine. Doc said she because she would have 2 doses on Thurs and one on Fri morning, she'd be fine to go to school on Friday. After a mid-day orthodontist appointment, A threw a huge fit and refused to go back to class and just wanted to go home to rest - pleeeeeeeease! Fine. She obviously wasn't feeling up to par, so we came home and I let her read all afternoon. I spent all afternoon cleaning and doing laundry, oh, and barely being able to MOVE I'm so sore from the exercise class I took on Wed. In the middle of the night J woke up coughing, having a hard time catching his breath, so we spent a while trying to calm his breathing so he could sleep.
Friday - since she'd already missed 2 days this week, I was anxious for M to not stay home from school again. She happily took her Rx and went to school, even though she was grumpy. A took her cough medicine and also went to school. J was happy, not coughing, not wheezing, eating cereal, asking for a sandwich... so I assumed he was fine. After a lunch out with friends (and traveling in the car with the Malones, and playing with Finny for two hours) we came home and J instantly went to sleep on the couch. At 3:40pm he woke up with a raging fever and couldn't catch his breath again - awesome - so I called the pediatrician and raced up there for the second day in a row to get in before the weekend. Jackie saved the day, picked up my girls from school, and took them home to her house. After 45 minutes in the waiting room, we finally got to see the doc and learn that J not only has strep throat but an ear infection as well. Sheesh. Drove home through traffic, waited 20 minutes at the pharmacy to turn in the Rx. It wouldn't be ready for 2 hours because they were so backed up. I got home to find M coughing, feeling crummy, and in the sourest of moods, after she had spent another two hours at the Malones sick. Sigh. J wouldn't eat, but A ate almost a whole pizza by herself. Hopefully that means she's feeling fine! Finally got everyone drugged up and put to bed. Hopefully they stay in bed until morning, and I don't have any sick, feverish kids crawling into bed with me and coughing in my face. N will be gone most of the day tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

It will be a miracle if I make it out of this without getting sick myself. And an even bigger miracle if none of the Malones, Haynies, Myers, Risenmays, Nielssens or Eagars end up getting sick after being around us this week - everyone say a prayer for Finny. We will be hibernating until everyone is well - so don't expect to see any of us the next few days... what do you want to bet I'll be heading to the doctor again on Tuesday for either A or myself?? UGH. I'm so thankful I only have three kids, and I don't have a job. I can't imagine how a working mom, or someone with more children, can deal with and arrange a whole mess of sick kids.

Other than that this week, I've spent all my time on my computer designing vinyl ideas, making meals, paying copays, running to the pharmacy, cleaning up and listening to N armchair quarterback all my decisions on the kids' wellness. Sigh. What have you done this week??


Christmas Morning 2010

I didn't take many pictures, but here are a few at least. Nonnie and Papa came up to visit, and we were up BRIGHT and EARLY to open presents. J was excited to get his marshmallow gun and a bike from Santa, and a remote control Lightning McQueen car from Nonnie - which he couldn't keep up with as it circled around and around his feet. Too funny. Nice goose egg on the forehead, J. I swear he had a bump and/or bruise on his head the whole month of December. Family pictures were just doomed this year.
M got a didj to replace the one broken from last year,
and finally she got her PROOF that Santa exists - she had him "sighn here" on a note she left by his cookies. Does she look like a 90's rockstar in this photo or what? Notice that Santa left his initials "S.C." for her to see.
A couldn't have been more thrilled with her boxed set of 39 clues books.

White Elephant 2010

My SIL Robyn is awesome. At our family white elephant party this year, instead of just stealing the gift you wanted from another player when it was your turn, you had to fight for it. We played "Minute to Win It" type games each time someone wanted to steal a gift. Hilarious. Robyn I think defended her popcorn bucket and lottery tickets like 5 or 6 times, and she came out a winner every time. This is me kicking Aubrey's tail as the first one to blow up, tie, and then pop a balloon.
Cameron never had a chance against Carl. Maybe that was due to the fact that Carl's left arm was totally blocking his path??
Robyn I think practices these games at home with her kids. She was good at EVERYTHING, including this game where she had to carefully thread penne noodles onto spaghetti with her mouth. Nate would have won, had he not celebrated prematurely. No dancing in the end zone, Nate.
Aubrey was a genius in wrapping herself in toilet paper. Check out this action shot.
I will never have another white elephant party WITHOUT doing it this way. Made everything way more interesting and fun! Brush up on your MTWI skills if you're coming to a party at my house!

School Parties 2010

My kids are cute, if you hadn't noticed. Here's J at his little preschool Christmas party acting like he's singing, sort of, while Miss Janna sang a solo.
At the girls' school, there's an annual "winter" performance where each class or grade gets up and performs something. A's class did "Frosty the Snowman" and dressed one of their classmates up as he danced and skipped around the group. It was fun. I love the look on A's face here.
After making leis in school that day, M's class performed "Mele Kalikimaka" all dressed up in Hawaiian shirts and such. It was pretty cute, though I don't know why M's hands are up swaying in this picture when no one else's is...

This is a sample of the teacher gifts I made this year - cutting vinyl and then etching these jars. M and A's jars just said their teacher's name, and had an apple on them. Of course I had to put the "Happy Meadows" logo on J's for his teacher, though!

Gingerbread Houses 2010

Once again the grandkids put on the nativity at Grandma's house, and then we put together gingerbread houses. My kids sure love their cousins, and have a great time whenever they get together with them. When did M become such a ham for the camera?
Such concentration! Such symmetry! J was proud to show me the candies he'd lined up along the top of the roofline.
A didn't get very far on her mini house because she was working with Poppy. Ahem.
Layer, upon layer, upon layer... This was a far cry from Colman's masterful tree house gingerbread house from a few years ago. I guess his girls have a thing or two to learn from him as builders. Ha!


Our little unwelcome critter friends forced us to cut some hair. Here's J sporting his short new do to start out December. If there's a cuter kid out there in the world, I'd like to see him. Honestly.

Polar Express 2010

We had a super fun Thanksgiving weekend with all the Carters. We drove up to Williams and then took a train all the way to the North Pole to see Santa. We all wore our jammies, sang songs, drank hot cocoa, ate cookies, and then the big man himself came on the train to take photos with all the kids, and give them jingle bells. We also unknowingly exposed everyone in the family to lice. What can I say, that's how nice and giving we are. We like to share...

Here are most of the grandkids - I think this is the best I got, ha!
Oh how I love J's look in this photo. Isn't Livvy a doll?
Here we are getting ready to board the train...
That's a whole lot of Christmas jammies on a whole lot of Carter kids...
J sat on Poppy's lap to sing Christmas carols. I think this one must have been "HO HO HO, who wouldn't go..."
I can't decide which of these I like better - which do you think is worthy of the scrapbook page??
Santa was awesome... how is it he was the only one looking at the camera for the photo??


Christmas Recap. Pictures forthcoming.

Polar Express weekend with all the Carters. LICE. Decorating for Christmas. SRP's Christmas party and holiday boutique for the Two Chicks. Nonnie and Papa coming to visit. Ward Christmas party where the kids sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" beautifully. Treadmill. Shopping on Ebay. Dentist appointment. Birthday for S - number 36 - ouch. Lunch with friends. Trips to the post office. Wrapping presents. Swapping babysitting with friends. Another holiday boutique for the Two Chicks. Birthday/White elephant/Appetizer/Christmas party with old friends. Cutting vinyl. Another dentist appointment. Winter music program at the school. Trip to the Children's Museum. Dealing with tantrums. Treadmill. Shopping with Lisa. Dinner at the Grand Lux and my first taste of beignets - yum. White elephant party with the inlaws including "Minute to Win It" games. Awesome puppet show in Mesa. Being COLD. Cutting more vinyl. Using lots and lots of coupons at Fry's. Finding some awesome black BOOTS! Another dentist appointment. Candy cane Joe-Joe's. Sewing project. Nonnie and Papa coming up to visit. Bringing out all the pretty dishes for Christmas Eve dinner. Pie. More candy cane joe-joes. Santa coming and bringing a great bike for J. Marshmallow guns. Lots of presents to open. Gift exchange with the cousins. Prime Rib and more joe-joes - chocolate-covered joe-joes no less. Wow. More pie. Trip to Safford. Games. Casa. J riding his new bike all day long at Papa's house. Gila Valley Temple. Casa. Haircuts. Dealing with more tantrums. Home again, home again, jiggity jig - now where to put all this stuff... is it any wonder I didn't get Christmas cards out this year??