Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Might Be The Middle Child If..

Your birthday post is two weeks overdue.

And it is being rolled into one with your baptism post.

Your mom looks stressed in every photo because the bag with all your dry clothes, towel and extra undies was left at home.

Plus, you know that traditional baptism shot of father and child looking pure and happy, all dressed in white? Sorry, didn't happen.

On the other hand...

You might be the favorite daughter if..

you are whisked away for a night on the town.

You get to stay up wayyyyy past bedtime.

Your grandmothers come to your Valentine party.

Your grandfathers watch you play ball.

Everyone thinks you are the prettiest, smartest, and sweetest girl around.

Because, of course, you are.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sitting in the Cinders

Cinderella by Sir John Everett Millais

So I spent hours yesterday at the elementary school with my paper snowflakes, helium tanks, balloon ribbons and spray snow. There were at least a dozen other mothers there, all united in a spirit of accomplishment as we transformed the spaghetti-scented cafeteria into a Winter Wonderland for our daughters and their dads.

It was a labor of love and, by the time we were finished, no one wanted to leave.

Mostly because we knew there'd be hungry kids and husbands at home. Possibly some dishes in the sink. And that, after we found the missing pink leggings and tied the ribbons around the pigtails, we'd watch the little girls go off to the ball with our Prince Charmings, while we sat looking into the ashes (or the greasy pizza boxes) with only the rats (and brothers) for company.

Anyone else out there ever feel like Cinderella? Without the glass slipper?

So much of my life is spent buying gifts for parties I will not attend. Practicing spelling words for tests I won't take. Driving to fun afterschool activities only to be left in the car.

It's a busy stage of life I'm in. My kids need (and want) my hovering presence a little bit less. But still require clothing, feeding, transportation and comfort on demand. Sometimes I feel like the unpaid event planner--scheduling the activities, gathering the needed supplies, setting up and putting away--but not actually enjoying the party.

Maybe it's just me. Or maybe I'm just due for a paradigm shift. I need to get over my Cinderella complex and realize that I'm not the princess in the story anymore.

Besides, fairy godmothers wear much more comfortable shoes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Paper Blizzard

Snipping, glittering, stringing, hanging up a storm for the Father-Daughter Winter Carnival.
Remind me next year to flake's gonna be summer before I get all the sparkles off my kitchen floor!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Laundry List

Today is laundry day. After an amazing three-day weekend (to be detailed soon...mark your calendars), it is time to reign in the freedom. Time to go back on the diet, back to the budget (I'm trying, Hun!) and, most of all, back to the washingboard.

After years of laundry loathing, I have finally made peace with the spin cycle. I've learned to love the April freshness of Downy mixed with the pungent tang of Clorox. I love the warmth and softness of a crisp, clean batch of cotton sheets. Give me a basket of folded towels instead of a Picasso anyday. A load of well-done laundry is a true work of art.

First off, let me clarify that I do NOT have a dream laundry room. Far from it. If my laundry room were a state it would be Rhode Island. Clearly, the only Ultra Tide the man (because obviously it was a man) who designed this house knew about was the kind that rippled onto the shore of his Cape May beachfront property. Still, I have learned that you don't need a fully-loaded laundromat establishment to enjoy cleaning your linens. All you need is a good system.

Here are a few tricks that really knock my socks off. (And leave them gleaming white and static-free...)
  • Laundry hampers. In every room where clothes are stored, removed or changed. I have them in every bedroom and bathroom. Some larger rooms have more than one.
  • Regularly scheduled wash day. I only wash twice a week. Period. Usually Tuesdays and Fridays. It works best if you are at-home most of the day. (Or have a helpful home-officed husband who doesn't mind shifting the loads, in a pinch.) Promise yourself that you will get all the laundry in and out within a 12-hour period. It takes discipline...but there is nothing more depressing than seeing yesterday's whites still molding away in the washer as you are digging through piles of clean, but rumpled, permanent press searching for the soccer uniform.
  • Individualized laundry baskets. Each kid has their own labeled clean-clothes basket. (Note: these are not the same as the laundry hampers...those are stationary, because there is always more laundry.) Depending on their age, at the end of laundry day, the kids will have either a pile of clean clothes to fold or pre-folded clothes to put away in drawers and closets. (Word to the wise: I don't advise looking in drawers too often. It can cause stomach upset.)
  • Fold as you go. This doesn't work for everybody, but I've found that if I drag all the clean laundry into the family room and fold while watching Oprah or other educational programming, it takes a whole lot longer to finish. Plus, I am annoyed if my kids trip over my work. Time yourself. Folding even the biggest load only takes about twelve minutes. Just pull it out of the dryer and deal with it while it's warm and sweet. Less wrinkles, too.
  • Bright whites. Sort and wash whites first while there is still plenty of hot water. For best results, rinse the load first with cold water. Tip learned from appliance guy: If you have an high-efficiency washer, it may fill with water before the water gets really hot. Before starting the hot cycle, run the faucet in your washtub or closest powder room to get the heat in the pipes.
  • Sock basket. My laundry room is also the mudroom. The kids keep their shoes in there. So it makes sense to keep a big basket of clean white socks handy. I don't even match them. It has streamlined our daily out-the-door routine...and every second counts.
  • Baking soda. Gets the stink out towels and socks. Can be used instead of bleach to brighten whites. Used as a paste will clean out a dirty washing machine. Cheap trick.
  • cute clothes. When apparel shopping, don't just look at cost and fit. When buying any top or bottom, ask yourself, Will I still love this after I've pre-treated, sorted and folded it 50 times? If the answer is no, put it back on the rack.

What's on your laundry list?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Seven Questions...Sister Strength

Do you ever wish you had a big sister who could give you wise advice? Or a cute little sister to keep you hip & happenin'? Meet the Bossy sisters. Five ladies who blog together sharing all kinds of sisterly wisdom. Today they share their style.

#1--First of all, please introduce yourselves. Who is the oldest, the youngest. Who is an in-law and who is a "blood"? Do you live close to one another or across several states? How often are you all together?
We are four sisters plus a sister-in-law. We all grew up in Boise, Idaho. Robin is oldest, and thus naturally bossy. She is also an awesome gardener, amazing cook, and the life of the party. She lives in Colorado with her handsome husband and 2 boys (her two older children have already left home). She takes credit for Bossy because she bossed us all around to make us start this blog. The rest of us wanted to do it but needed to be bossed to make it happen!
Robin, KK and David

Kristen is next, three years younger than Robin. She still lives in Idaho with her family. We sometimes call her KK because those are the initials of her first and middle names. Kristen is an amazing working mom who also manages to quasi-homeschool one of her boys! She is warm, funny, and strong, and actually not all that bossy. She loves swimming in her pool and is devoted to her sons.
Sally is 6 years younger than Kristen. She lives on the west coast with her family and would love to eventually move back to Boise. Sally has an MBA and recently left a career she loved to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. She is very happy being The Mom. She loves to read, travel (when she can), listen to music, and eat at funky ethnic restaurants.


Melissa is next in age—less than a year younger than Sally. Melissa does not share genetics with the rest of the Bossy sisters, but she is 100% family. She is married to our wonderful brother David, who (in birth order) comes between Robin and KK. Melissa lives on the East coast with her family. She is the mom most of us aspire to be: patient, loving, thoughtful, fun, and hard-working. She dresses her children alike in the most adorable way (she is not the only bossy sister who has this disease) and is a talented photographer. Melissa is a dancer at heart, Sally saw her perform many times back in the day, and the girl has moves.

Emily is youngest, 6 years after Sally. She lives in the Midwest with her family, where her husband is getting his PhD. Emily is artistic, loves music, and is a dedicated mom. She reads voraciously and recently finished a graduate-level literature class just for fun! She has lived in London and Tahiti. Emily is the most stylish and we adore her as the baby in the family.


Between the 5 of us, there are five mothers, three teachers, two Master’s degrees, 16 children from age 1 to 20, five devoted church-goers, and five great friends.
None of us lives in the same town, or even state. We are hoping that Emily and Melissa (and David!) will come back to the western half of the US.

We keep in touch three main ways:
  1. We have a private web message board that we use frequently—most of us post on it daily, it’s almost like a continuous chat board.

  2. We try to get together every year in Idaho on the Fourth of July for a big family reunion, but often someone is missing.

  3. Now we blog together! Our blog was inspired by our message board, which has been our go-to place for most of our parenting, relationship, cooking and all other questions over the years, and we thought it would be fun to do a blog that our friends and family could enjoy and contribute to as well.

#2--Sister relationships are often complicated. How do you deal with rivalries, competition and jealousy? What are your secrets for getting along?
Robin: I don’t think we are typical sisters. We are all very different, and those differences could cause conflict. But we value our friendships highly and that makes it easy to put aside annoying differences, ignore any hurtful things (all of which are unintentional), and be generous in our judgment of each other.
Kristen: Mostly, we don't compete. Although, I am secretly jealous of all of my sisters, what with all their amazing talents, intelligence, beauty, social competencies, and generally excellent home decorating skills. I mostly just do what they tell me to (they can be pretty bossy - there is one who is the bossiest, but I won't say who).
Sally: We are very good friends and we sincerely appreciate each other. When we are together we never have fights, we never exchange insults or mean looks, there’s never been any shouting, rolling eyes or talking behind each other’s backs. I think we owe our parents for raising us in a loving home where we valued each other, but we also each deliberately make efforts to see the good in each other and invest in our relationships. My only concern about our family is that I hope our brother David doesn’t feel left out. He is an awesome brother in a family of sisters and he has been a strength to each of us sisters at different times, and a great and fun friend at all times.

#3--How have you made new sisters (i.e. sisters-in-law) feel part of the fold? What have they added to your family?
Melissa: I am the only in-law. From day one, I have felt loved and accepted. This family doesn’t exclude. I think part of what made me feel so welcome is the Bossy-ness of these sisters. "Melissa, Come here. Sit by me. Shop with me. Chop these onions. Set the table." They helped me be involved by telling me what to do. Now they say things like "Come sit down, let the cousins keep track of your kids. Rest, Relax."
Melissa is the SIL and we thought she was perfect. So we were a little hesitant around her at first. (When she told me she loved mopping – I was worried that we would NEVER get along.) But then, one time, she cursed and then we KNEW she wasn’t perfect. We all fell even more in love with her.

Kristen: I think that letting our kids loose on Melissa helped her to feel like she belonged. What has she added to our family? Melissa adds the sugar. Goodness, she is sweet! I still haven't ever heard her swear. But I have seen her get angry which was so nice...I was worried she was a fairy tale.

Sally: I knew Melissa in high school, but not super well. I saw her a year or so before she met my brother and I remember thinking that I should set her up with David, but I just didn’t. David is really funny and smart, a good man who deserved a wife like Melissa! But I never followed up. When he told me he was going to marry her I literally jumped up for joy! She is the real deal. Fun to be with, smart, what is not to love? She is empathetic and understanding, and also inspiring. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a woman who so fully savors the daily pleasures of being a mother. I am so grateful for Melissa. (P.S. I also remembered when she swore. We were at Blockbuster and she was quoting a movie. It was awesome.)

#4--Sisters share parents, bedrooms, toys and clothes. Now that you are all grown up, what are your favorite things to share with one another? Will each of you name a book, a recipe, a tip or a secret that one of your sisters has shared?
Robin: One of the reasons we wanted to start the Bossy blog is because of all the great things we share. Sometimes my sisters will say “You need to buy that necklace for yourself”, or “This is the book that will change your life”. But more often they share their experiences, their emotions, their ups and downs. And it lets me know that I am normal and that they love and trust me to share.
One time we were talking about how we cry at the wrong time – like at a parent teacher conference, getting a speeding ticket, confronting an authority figure. Sally told us to take a big breath when that happens. Breathe deep, she said, and you will not cry as hard. It really has made a difference for me.
Kristen: Okay, I bet that my sisters will say they like to share recipes, but I don't like to cook. I occasionally do it, and occasionally use one of their fabulous recipes, but that wouldn't be a favorite thing to share. Good grief - they do share a lot of recipes! I love to share parenting stories, travel tips, spiritual experiences, and vacations. Vacationing with my sisters is the best!
Robin has shared her family's tradition of having a yearly family theme...which we have adopted.

The Bossy Clan

Melissa: My favorite shared thing is the parenting advice. These women are amazing parents and have such fresh eyes on the challenges I face. I can always count on them to sincerely think about the dilemma I have and give me an honest and sincere idea on how to handle it. My favorite book shared is THESE IS MY WORDS.

Sally: All of the Bossy sisters share valuable advice with me. On top of that, Emily has shared lots of great music with me (latest band: Chromeo). Emily also introduced me to my favorite pork recipe. Robin is an excellent resource for parenting advice and food! Robin also helped me landscape the yard of my last house and taught me quite a bit in an intense full-day gardening bonanza. Kristen has given me excellent advice about meeting the academic and emotional needs of my children, for one child in particular about 2 years ago. Melissa’s recipe for home-made rolls is now my go-to recipe and I make them all the time! Plus she gives great parenting advice and her personal blog inspires me to enjoy my children and laugh.

#5--Can any of you remember a time when a sister came to your rescue? How did it change your relationship?
Kristen: Many years ago, during a particularly bad time in my marriage I called one of my sisters while I was in London, it was about 3:00 in the morning her time. I was sobbing and desperate. She talked me through it and helped me through the following months of difficulty. How did it change our relationship? I guess that was when I realized I could call her about anything. I trusted her completely and I knew she loved me and was looking out for my best interest.
Melissa: Me, Me! I win the award for needing rescue the most!!! For all of our married life Dave and I have lived away from our families, but the past 7 years we have been on the East coast. When we were pregnant with Genevieve, our third, doctors told us that she had major problems and if she did make it, that she would have many physical challenges, but we didn't know what they would be. Eve was born with a Tracheo-Esophageal Fistula. After much fasting and praying, she had a successful surgery and was on her way to a healthy normal life. However, she was left with an extremely compromised trachea and very, very vulnerable to respiratory illnesses.

At 3 months old, Eve got very sick and ended up in the PICU at the local Childrens Hospital. (Via Life-Flight from the grocery store parking lot! Exciting!) We were there for a month, with her on a ventilator with a very uncertain future. Here is where my Sisters stepped in and Rescued us. Emily and Kristen each came to take care of us, they tended and played with Michael and Jane. They cooked, read stories, washed clothes and LOVED and comforted my children while I was at Eve's bedside.
During Kristen’s visit, while I was sitting at the hospital watching a machine breathe for my baby, I got a call from Kristen. She very calmly informed me that termites had swarmed in my kitchen, but she had things under control, could I remember the name of our pest control company?

We are talking THOUSANDS of termites coming out of a wall. She was trying to suck them all down with a vacuum, while she was dealing with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Amazing. Both Emily and Kristen sat with Eve in the hospital and worried with us.

These truly are my sisters. They all helped in the way they could--Sally used her frequent flyer ticket to get one of them there, and Robin watched KK's boys so she could come watch my kids and I think also gave FF miles. I still cry when I think of what their support meant to us in our time of sincere need. I remember when I saw KK after she arrived, she hugged me and I totally broke down and sobbed. It was like we had someone there to help hold us up and I didn't need to pretend to be strong.

#6--What lessons (direct or unspoken) have you learned from your sisters? Any good advice you can pass along?
Robin: My sisters have taught me the importance of being kind. Assume best intentions – don’t look for the slight. Have a forgiving nature. And listen – really listen to what is going on – and don’t be afraid to jump in and kindly boss a few people around.

Kristen: I have learned to not sweat the small stuff. I've also learned to prepare in advance for opportunities that may come up. Laugh whenever you get the chance, it is good for you in every aspect. Plant in the spring, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot - it will make you feel better. Any good advice I can pass along? Remember that other people are not thinking about you, talking about you, or judging you nearly as much as you might think they are, in fact, they are probably not doing it at all.

Kristen & Son

Melissa: HAVE FUN. These women don't take life too seriously. Being with all of them together is a delight. I laugh till I cry.

#7--Finally, how can we help our daughters/nieces/cousins form strong female relationships? How do you encourage the next generation of Bossy girls to interact and get along?
Robin: This comes from looking for the good. Build nurturing relationships where people are safe from criticism (a little gentle teasing can happen after people know they are really loved). Let your sisters know how wonderful they are. They probably don’t hear that from very many people, and they need to hear that. You can be a light and bring love and joy to them by simply loving them fully, and not being afraid to show that love. And once they know you love them…then you can be a little bossy.


Kristen: Be compassionate to each other. Laugh together. Realize that your reality and theirs may be very different, don't judge.
Melissa: I think we do all we can to foster friendships. We set the example that near or far we can be there for each other and stay close. I also think, that these little and big cousins realize that being FAMILY is more than being a friend. When we have had a chance to spend time with cousins, they jump immediately into playing and loving each other. It isn't like with a new friend that takes some time to settle in. I think these girls (and boys) know that families are there for each other, unconditionally. At least I hope they do!

Emily with Sally

Sally & Emily: What they said.

Thank you, Bossy ladies!
p.s. Will you adopt me?
To be bossed around on a daily basis, add the Bossy website to your daily rounds. This post of Robin's was one of my faves.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

State of the Family: Hair Report

True story: When I was 19 years old and engaged to be married, I went in to a new salon for a cut and style. For the entire duration of the appointment, my new stylist complained about my hair. The color, the texture, the length. (And you wonder why I have hair issues, people?!) It was humiliating. Clearly, the gal was in the wrong profession and, clearly, I left her a very tiny tip.

The final straw was the moment she asked about my fiance's hair. "I hope his is better than yours," she burbled. "Otherwise, I feel really sorry for your future kids."

Well, happily, I have driven past that quasi-salon on subsequent visits to Utah Valley and found it shut down. Surprise surprise! But, sometimes, I wish I could track down that stylist and introduce her to my four beautiful children and their delightful heads of hair.

Instead, today, I will share with all of you...

Jake has the best hair in the family, hands-down. Thick, blonde, cowlick-free. Of course, he shares none of my genetics, so I can brag without sounding vain. This week Jake got a flat-top and he is obsessed with it. He will do anything we ask if we promise to spike his hair afterward. Powerful parenting? Oh yes.

Em is equally blessed with good hair. But, in true female form, she already has a love-hate thing going with her golden locks. Loves to comb the front. Hates to comb the back. Em is in the in-between stage. Not long and not short. She sustains a few curling iron injuries every Sunday morning. I speak the words my mother spoke to me, "Beauty is pain." It's never to early for womanly wisdom.

Sam looks best with almost no hair. The Buzz cut works with his square jaw and broad shoulders.

On the other hand, the same cut makes his twin brother look slightly criminal. But hey! Luke likes it.

Brad's hair has improved with age. The grey at the temples works like natural highlights. It makes his face look even younger. But don't even think about using his hairbrush. He's territorial.
To achieve the glamorous 'do pictured above, follow these easy steps:

  1. Shampoo at 9:30 pm and blow-dry using overpriced spray mousse. Smile into mirror. You look great!
  2. Fall asleep immediately. Toss and turn. Drool, if possible.
  3. Wake up at 5:00 am, finger-comb and assume that Seminary students aren't really looking at you anyway.
  4. Survive morning mayhem.
  5. Work out. Sweat profusely.
  6. Since you're already out of the house, grocery shop-visit library-help at school-drop off preschoolers. (**Note: The funkier you look, the more people you will "run into.")
  7. Avoid mirrors after 4:00 pm.
  8. Rinse and repeat.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It Must Be Time for Botox...

Conversation this morning while combing Em's hair into pigtails:

Me: Wow, Emmie. I can't believe you are turning eight this week. You're getting so grown up.

Em: Do you remember when you were eight?

Me: Yep. I remember my friends and my teacher and even the cute boy who sat next to me.

Em: It was Dad, huh?

Me: No, I didn't know Dad back then. This boy's name was John.

Em: Oh! I know! John the Baptist, right?!

Motherhood moments like these are a study in conflicting emotions: pride that my daughter knows important Biblical characters, shock that she thinks I was actually hanging out with them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Few Bloomin' Items of Business

First things first:

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with your dieting/deepcleaning suggestions. I took them all to heart and am feeling a whole lot more motivated in all directions. Congrats to the three winners:
  • Andrea--who suggested visualizing junk food as grease oozing on my counter. (Actually,'s not too hard to visualize...there is plenty of oozing going on around here.) Andrea also gave me a bird's eye view of her organized afterschool routine. Helpful!
  • Martha--who reminded me to "Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables." (It's working for Martha, I've met her in person. She's hot.)
  • Melissa Mc--who still has a headache since giving up white sugar last month. (No worries, Melissa...I'm not sending any refined carbs in your prize package!)


Remember when you were a kid and you couldn't wait until Friday? Now, I am a mom and the weekends are looming large. So many places to be. On time. In Webelos uniform/with a wrapped gift/ready for team picture day. It's enough to make me pine for a Monday morning.

Just this month on the weekend calendar: a bridal shower (at my house), a Broadway musical, Emmie's baptism & confirmation (out of town company coming to stay), the school Daddy-Daughter Winter Carnival (Decorations Committee) and last but not least--the PINEWOOD DERBY! (Luckily, I am allowed no where near the car. Thank heavens for the mechanically-gifted men in my life.)

I am truly looking forward to each event. I chose to take each one on. But seeing them packed so tightly on the calendar is hyperventilating me. (Please don't be offended if you have been invited to any of the above activities. YOU are not stressing me out. It just helps to write my thoughts down and read them back to myself. Think of it as cheap therapy.)


My sister, Marta, made the cutest announcements for our favorite Valentine girl! Check them out here. If you need any cards, journals, gift-tags or other paperphernalia, go to She is quite amazing, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This morning we celebrated half-time in Seminary. Pretzels, popcorn and a mock free throw challenge, just like the NBA. In a somewhat-mixed sports metaphor, we compared (loosely) Simon Peter to Santonio Holmes. I forgot that we were supposed to do The Wave, too, but it was still a pretty good lesson.

We are midway through the schoolyear and have made it through the first half of the New Testament. Definitely time for a pep talk and refreshments.

The hardest thing about being a Seminary teacher is that class is every single morning. At six.

The best thing about being a Seminary teacher is that class is every single morning. At six.

There is something very vulnerable about that hour. People are just more real before dawn. Words are harder to muster and, therefore, a lot more valuable. Just like my daily workouts--some days I come away on a complete high, other days I'm just tired. But everyday, I'm glad I made the effort. And I know that consistency is the key to strength and success.

Teaching Seminary is stretching me into a better person, reminding me how hard high school can be, helping me gear up for teenagers of my own. I've found a group of good friends--some in the seats and some in the pages.

And, yes, I think we deserve a half-time cheer.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Good-bye, Good Riddance and a Good Giveaway

This January has not been my favorite. I was not sad to rip its messy page off my calendar. In fact, I'm quite happy to see it crumpled up and in the can. Smack. Smack. Smack. That is the sound of me dusting the last crummy bits of January off my hands. I'm ready to embrace short, sweet, heart-shaped February with gusto.

The problem with the whole month-long drama was that it completely distracted me from my two favorite January activities: deep-cleaning and dieting. I mean, usually, at this point in a new year, I have scoured my way through a whole mess o'closets and have already lost a few Christmas pounds--enough to fall off the wagon and make sugar cookies or something.

This week, I finally mustered the strength to face the filth in my pantry. It took three hours. By the time I had finished, the kids were watching unapproved tv and the whole house was trashed, but all 40 cans of Campbell's soup were lined up like perfect little soldiers and I remembered the sheer joy of creating order from chaos.

As for the dieting...still not feeling it, folks. Why does it have to be so hard? I exercise religiously. I spin, I lift, I run, I crunch. My blood pressure is low and my heart is strong. Still, I am more Build-a-Bear than Barbie as far as body types go. I know my eating could use some editing...but I don't want it to be a full-time job.

This is where I need your help, friends. Will you please write in with your favorite diet/healthy eating tip? Easy, cheap, and reality-based would be appreciated. And if you are one of those don't-hate-me-I-just-have-a-fast-metabolism types, you can send in your favorite home-organization idea. I need those too.

All participants' names will be dropped into my empty cookie jar and three winners randomly selected at week's end. A little gab-love will be sent just in time for Valentines Day. Thanks in advance for your participation. Swimsuit, here I come.

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