Saturday, September 22, 2007

You know you're in Wyoming when... walk into the kids area at McDonald's and instead of chairs, they have saddles!

So cool! The weekend before last we went to visit our friends Brian and Becca Nate in Cokeville, Wyoming. Dan had gone up earlier in the week to tag along with Brian for some bow hunting and the girls and I went up on Friday. We stopped in Evanston to get some lunch and while we have been to this McD's several times, we always go through the drive-thru. But this time we were forbidden from eating in the Xterra (who Lily has affectionately named Punkin) because Dan had just spent three days completely detailing the truck so we can sell it. So we went inside to eat and you should have seen the delight on Lily's face when she saw the saddles! Amelia, who had to sit in a high chair anyway, was far more impressed by being able to double-fist it with some chicken strips while Biggie bounced around the room.

As cool as the saddles were, Lily spent more time wandering around the room than actually sitting on a saddle.

Cokeville, Wyoming is about 3 hours from American Fork right on the border of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming.

We have been friends with the Nates for several years. Dan and Brian were mission companions in Virginia back in the day. For nearly 10 years we have enjoyed visiting Brian and Becca in Cokeville, a small ranching community of about 500 people. They have a little girl named Kamille that is the same age as Lily. The best part is that I like Becca as much as Dan likes Brian. It works out very well!

When the girls and I got into town we joined everyone else at the high school homecoming football game. Man, it is so much funner to go to a football game in a small town! Dan and I took the girls to an American Fork High School football game a few weeks ago and it was miserable. It was super crowded, we barely found a seat in the bleachers. The walkways were constantly jammed with teenagers scoping the crowd and there was nowhere for the kids to walk around or play. Now, in Cokeville, everyone pulled their vehicles right up to the football field and all the little kids played in the grass just outside the endzone.

Notice the guy watching the game from his front porch.

You could wander up and down the sideline along with the action. It was great for picture taking! Here's Lily and Kamille watching the game under the scoreboard. (Well, Lily's not really watching, but that's no surprise!)

Amelia is so funny when she sits in grass. She doesn't like grass touching her bare feet, so she always lifts one foot up, keeping the other down for balance. She'll put her foot down to rest after a few seconds, but then she always lifts it back up again. It's so amusing to watch!

(Katy- note that the girls are both wearing their reunion shirts. They have gotten a lot of mileage! Brian saw their shirts and was like, "where'd you get a shirt like that?" Dan told him my cousin had designed them for our family reunion and he was like, "Wow, those are nice. Reunion t-shirts are usually really ugly." Nice work, Kade!)

Here's Kamille and Amelia. Kamille loves babies. She has been waiting for a sibling for a very long time and will finally have a baby brother around Thanksgiving time. Yay!
They have a cool bell under the score board
and whenever the home team scores, all the kids ring the bell.
Dan loves having his picture taken.
Here's a little something for my artsy-fartsy side.

Why you should duct tape your kid's mouth in public restrooms

A friend of mine (thanks, Jen!) emailed me this fun little article:

A 3-year-old tells all from his mother's restroom stall...
By Shannon Popkin

My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we're in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window. People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just-turned-3-year-old. And you never have to ask him to turn up the volume. It's always fully cranked. (Gee, sounds a bit like my daughter!) There've been several embarrassing times that I've wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco.

Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you'd been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall:

"Mommy, are you gonna go potty? Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy? Oh! You gonna sit down on da toiwet paper now? Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?"

At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full . 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity.

Cade continued, "Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren't you? Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy! Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty? Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh ... Mommy! I'm trying to see in dere. Oh! I see dem. Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You are gonna get some candy!"

I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming newborn when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting. Trying to divert him, I said, "Why don't you look in Mommy's purse and see if you can find some candy. We'll both h ave some!"

"No, I'm trying to see doze more stinkies. Oh! Mommy!" He started to gag at this point. "Uh oh, Mommy. I fink I'm gonna frow up. Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!! Dat is so gross!!" As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall. I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reasonwith myself: OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue w ill be long gone.

"Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!" He grunted as he tried to pull me off. Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door. "Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy? You wooking under da door? What were you wooking at, Mommy? You wooking at the wady's feet?" More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation.

"Mommy, it's time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy." He started pounding on the door. "Mommy, don't you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!"I saw that my "wait 'em out" plan was unraveling.

As I sheepishly opened the door, and found an open sink, I thought, Where's the fine print on the 'motherhood contract' where I signed away every bit of my privacy? But as my little boy gave me a big, cheeky grinwhile he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little h ands, I thought, I'd sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.

(Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan , where she no longer uses public restrooms.)

Reading this reminded me of Lily. When she was about 3 years old Dan took her to the movies. During the movie she had to use the bathroom (more than once if I remember the story correctly.) Once inside the bathroom stall, Lily went potty and then proceeded to peek under the stall next to her and in her cute, innocent voice said, "Hi, hi" and waved. Mortified, Dan told her not to do that. She got up and said, "that guy's going poop, Daddy!" Dan rushed to have Lily wash her hands and they made a bee-line out the door before the pooping stall neighbor could identify them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dancing Queen (c'mon feel the ABBA beat!)

After two years of anticipation, Lily is finally in dance class. She's in a combination class that has 30 minutes of ballet, 30 minutes of jazz, and 1 hour of tumbling. It's a long class and she's usually pretty tuckered out by the end, but it's only once a week. By far, her favorite thing is prancing around in her ballet shoes and twirling in her skirt.

On the first day of class I stayed and took a few pictures through the window. This is totally typical of Lily:

All the other girls are studiously doing their ballet positions while Lily is just off in her own "I'm a ballerina" world. After I gestured at her through the window, she started paying attention.

She's been having a great time and she came home the other day, her face flushed with excitement. "Mama, I did my very first cartwheel!" I have yet to see it duplicated, but she's getting there.

This is what you get when you cross a Drama Queen with a Photo Mama.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tell me what you really mean

I found this on Tara Whitney's blog, another one that I frequent daily. Man, you gotta love New Yorkers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mischief Managed

I've found a new blog that I frequent daily. A couple weeks ago my friend Sara emailed me a link to this Ebay auction. After recovering from my giggling fit, I cruised on over this woman's blog and sat at my computer cackling for half an hour. Apparently the Ebay auction has been forwarded all around the world and now her blog gets 10's of thousands of hits a day. If you're a mom, particularly a stay-at-home mom, there's sure to be something you can relate to. And it just may be the cure to what's ailing you.

In the spirit of blogging about the crazy things our kids do, check this out: Amelia did the ultimate nasty last week. It's the thing that all mothers fear and that which causes dry heaving even at the mention of the incident.

It's my fault, really. We were out of liners for the diaper pail and for the previous couple of days I had just been taking stinky diapers straight out to the big trash can outside the garage. I sure intended to do that on this particular morning, but after changing a poopy diaper, I was in a hurry to finished getting ready and leave the house and I left the diaper on the floor. You know what's coming...

"Mama!!! 'Melia's eating a poopy diaper!"

Oh, crap.

Pun intended.

To my utter disgust, there was poop smeared on the floor, Amelia's hands were covered in poop, and as I yelled, "No!" she smiled up at me to reveal sticky brown teeth. Ewww, Ewww, Ewww (insert visual of my shoulders shuddering and my stomach collapsing with a gagging reflex.) Of course, this had to happen when I was already running late! I threw her in the tub and grabbed a toothbrush with lots of toothpaste and started scrubbing. Amelia thought it was all a funny game and kept trying to grab the toothbrush from me. I kept quietly retching and Lily was like, "what?" Um, your sister just ate poop. Totally nasty!

After I got her cleaned up and we got on the road, I called the camera store where I was headed to return a lens I had rented for the weekend. "Hi, I was supposed to return a rental lens at nine this morning, but I'm running late because my baby ate her poopy diaper and I had to give her a bath." Nice. Real professional.

Naughty bird!!!

Now, I know all you parents out there have an equally yucky poopy diaper story. Let's open up the comments for you to share. Come on, Katy, you can share the Avy diaper fiasco from a couple months ago; Becky, I know you have one; and Don, I seem to remember Rachel hiding in the corner eating an unapproved meal back when you and I lived together!

Let's all have a laugh at the expense of our children. Record it now before you forget it! You wouldn't want to miss out on the opportunity to retell the story as your child is leaving for their prom, now would you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007

I'm a Big Kid Now! (bom, bom)

I have a kid in Elementary School! Lily started kindergarten last Tuesday, the 28th. She has been looking forward to it all summer. We went shopping for school clothes on Saturday and Monday. At Walmart they had this dress and when Lily saw it she was like, "Aww, this is cute. Can I get this?" My first thought? Totally 80's. I think I had a dress like that. Apparently dropped waists are back in style. I tried to point out some other good choices (according to my finely tuned sense of style) but she just kept going back to the striped dress. The conversation went like this:

Me: "Do you really like that dress?"

Lily: "Uh-huh."

Me: "These capris are totally cute. What about this skirt?"

Lily: "Naaah."

Me: "Are you sure you really want to get that dress?"

Lily: "Why do you keep saying that?"

Me: "I don't know, it's not really my favorite."

Lily: "Well I LIKE it!"

Don't argue with a girl who knows what she wants! I conceded and you know what? When she got dressed for school and I braided her hair, I had to admit that she looked pretty dang cute!

Work it, girl! Show me some sass!

The coolest thing about Lily's kindergarten class is that two of her good friends from the neighborhood, Liesel and Megan, are in her class. And her teacher is in our ward at church and lives only a street over from us. Before school started I had to prepare Lily by telling her, "Now when you're at school you call her Mrs. Park, not Sister Park."

It was so cute watching all the kids waiting anxiously for their class to start. Lily was happy to see her friends and they excitedly compared backpacks and posed for a few pictures. Then Lily got quiet and Dan asked her, "Are you nervous?" She said, "A little."

We reassured her that it was going to be very similar to preschool. When Mrs. Park came out to get the kids, Lily excitedly waved and then began shepherding Megan into the door. It was so motherly!

Do you see what a giant our girl is? She's way taller than all the other kids. She gets it from her dad...

Have you met our mailman? He's like 6'3".

But I digress...When Lily went in for her kindergarten evaluation the week before school started, I was really pleased that she knew the answers to almost everything and could read all of the words Mrs. Park showed to her. While Dan and I would love to take credit for that, it's mostly due to the great reading program they had at her preschool, Learning Dynamics. They use the Frontline Phonics reading program and it has been awesome in helping Lily learn to read.When Lily started bringing books home to read (yes, there's homework in preschool now!) I thought it would be a good idea to get her some more phonics reading books from the library. Very few of them were as easy to read as the Frontline Phonics books. They are just so intuitive for children. They start with only words that use a single sound, such as Pam, Sam, sad, sat, etc. After a couple books with that sound, they introduce a new vowel sound and very gradually teach sight words that don't necessary follow the "rules", words that you use often and just have to recognize, like the, are, do, she, etc. After going through all of the short vowel sounds, they learn long vowel sounds and the two vowel rule: "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says it's own name. The second one goes to sleep." Man, we said that a lot, but now Lily can say "dook has a floot" instead of "duckeh has a fluteh." Very useful. We slacked off with our reading in the summer, so we still have to go through all of the books that teach blended sounds, but Lily is significantly ahead of most of the other kids on her reading.

If anyone from Frontline Phonics is reading this, you can mail my commission check to 238 West...

The reward jar has played a big part in getting Lily to do her reading. We started the reward jar back in February after I had gotten in the habit of letting Lily rot her brain all day watching movies because I was too busy working or didn't have the patience to listen to her whining. Dan got the idea for the reward jar from Super Nanny. The idea is that your child has to earn privileges like watching TV or getting treats instead of just doing whatever they want whenever they want. So Lily and I went to the craft store and got 2 jars and Lily picked out some pretty "jewels" to put in the jar. We decorated them with stickers and filled one jar with all of the jewels.

Each time Lily reads for 15 minutes, cleans her room or other parts of the house for 15 minutes, is especially helpful with Amelia, or gets herself ready without being asked we put one jewel in her reward jar. She can redeem each jewel for 15 minutes of a movie or for one treat (she gets one freebie a day, but after that she has to use her jewels.) It's been a great way to get her to do her reading or to motivate her to help clean her room or the office or the living room. Whenever we get movies at the library she'll ask me, "How many jewels does Scooby-Doo or Arthur or Dragontales take?"

I now have cramps in my wrists from typing. I'm totally out of practice! I will try to be better with my blogging so as to avoid the wrath of Liz and Katy!

P.S. Who can tell me what commercial the title of this post comes from?

OK people, put away your pitchforks!

It has been 43 days since my last blog post. The complaints from my fans have become increasingly disgruntled.

August 6: Email from Aunt Wiz: "Alright, I am complaining......It has been TWO weeks since you have blogged. Since the 22 of July... And we all look up to you to be the model. So what is keeping you??? And the Email about your birthday does not count unless you add pictures and tell depressing stories about your advancing age!!!"

August 9: Phone conversation with Lori (the BFF): I told her we were going to Missouri for 2 weeks and that I planned to do a ton of blogging while we were there. She said, "Oh good, cause I keep rolling my eyes every day when I look at your blog and there have been no updates."

August 28: Phone conversation with cousin Katy: "We're going to start leaving a bunch of nasty comments on your blog if you don't get with it!"

So...not a whole lot of blogging got done in Missouri. While I thought about it a lot and intended to write several times, I posted nothing but a big fat goose egg. Nice. What I had intended to do was blog from Dan's laptop, hoping that there would be a wireless connection at one of the family's houses or at the library. I even took two discs full of pictures so I could post a bunch of new photos. Well, the only place with wireless was the library and the one time I made it over there I spent the entire time working on an application for health insurance. Joy.

Since returning from Missouri I have been school shopping (my first-born is a kindergartner now! Stay tuned for photos), shooting, editing, working more on health insurance applications, and generally trying to get back in the swing of things.

I am disgusted with the amount of time the health insurance apps have taken. The insurance we had through Dan's graduate program expired mid-August and we are currently on a 30 day temporary plan that expires September 16th. I know what you're thinking- "what's the big deal? Just answer the questions and sign on the dotted line." Not so. I wish we had a health history that allowed us to answer no to everything and send it on it's merry way. But it seems that we have everything under the sun and they want a detailed description of it all, including doctors names and addresses. Been to the doctor in the last 12 months? Oh, at least a couple dozen times (and please ignore the fact that there have been 3 mountain bike injuries in that period of time.) Been to the ER or hospitalized in the last year? Sure, you have your 4-year-old with toxic synovitis, childbirth, and the post-partum hemorrhage that left Dan needing a psychological consult. Asthma? Yep. Eczema? Uh-huh. Depression? Bingo. Any prescription drugs in the last year? How much time do you have?

Would you want to insure us?

Fortunately, we have been approved for a policy with Humana. It's got a $1000 deductible so it's kind of sucky, but at least we have something to fall back on if the other ones don't get approved. We've applied with 4 different companies! I have spent hours at the computer trying to compile a list of doctor visits, etc, so I could just send the same printout to all the companies rather than fill out the same info 4 times. Unfortunately, their questions are just different enough that I couldn't use the same spreadsheet for all of them, I had to alter each one to meet their slightly different requirements. It's been one of those times that I've been happy that I am so anal about keeping track of all of our expenses in Microsoft Money. For the last 3 years I have detailed notes about all of our doctor visits and prescriptions.

With as much as we go to the doctor, I'm hoping for a low deductible plan, so keep your fingers crossed. I suspect, however, that there will be an audible cackle from the underwriting departments of Altius, IHC, and Blue Cross Blue Shield when they read our application.