Friday, June 27, 2008

Hanging with the Boys

I was doing my end of the day sweep through the house on Monday evening while Jake played on the computer and Cooper watched. Karcyn loves to climb up to the bar and just perch. Sometimes it's to watch me cook. Other times it's to check out her brothers on the computer. I had made one pass through the house and saw three older kids all enjoying each other's company. It was a nice sight to see after a long day.

I walked back to the other end of the house finishing up my sweep and came back a few minutes later to see pretty much the same thing. Except that's when it dawned on me! There was no chair back behind Karcyn. She must be on the stool, I thought. Wrong-O! This was what I found....
Karcyn had actually started out perched on the bar stool. But her stinker of a brother, Cooper, had taken the chair literally out from under her so he would have something to sit on. Poor Karcyn! The chair was gone, but Karcyn dangled on. What's funny is that she didn't whine or cry. I had no idea she was just hanging out. What a trooper. I guess with two older brothers, you do what you can to survive.

Caution: Dangerous Party Favor

About a month ago, Cooper attended a birthday party for one of his little friends. In his goodie bag was a small, light-weight plastic ball that was covered in tiny suction cups. The day after the party he was demonstrating how the ball worked on flat surfaces to some friends that we had over for dinner. We were in the kitchen and Coop was standing in the family room off the kitchen. He threw the ball at the family room window to show how it sticks. Except that it didn't stick. And the window cracked. What's scary is that when he did it, though we weren't watching him, we didn't HEAR anything suspicious...just the thud of the ball hitting the window. We didn't hear it crack. The kids were pretty stunned and the visiting couple was relieved to discover that it wasn't any of their kids that broke the window.

I just stood there and looked at it. Then I said "Oh well." My friend was pretty surprised at my reaction. That's when I told her we were replacing that window and a few others before the end of the year anyway. (We've already replaced the windows in the bedrooms/bathrooms on the south end of the house as well as the big front picture window. We were planning on starting the second phase of replacement in the fall to complete the project.)

Ironically, this particular window has caused nightmares for me on more than one occasion. I've dreamt that evil people have broken into our house at night through that very window. It's the furthest from the bedrooms and the easiest one to access on that end of the house from outside without a ladder. I've worried because if those evil people with evil designs broke the glass, surely we wouldn't be able to hear it. My fears were confirmed when the glass was broken within feet of us and no one heard it break or crack. It was that brittle and thin.

Our small table sits right in front of that window. A few days after Cooper cracked the glass, Karcyn climbed up on the chair nearest the break and pushed on it. She successfully pushed a large shard of glass outside to the grass below and somehow managed to NOT cut herself! So now we have a hole in the side of our house. We thought we could get along through the summer with the crack before replacing the window, but with the hole, we knew that wouldn't be as easy. I didn't want to replace the window with a quick fix (that would still cost money) if we were just replacing the rest of them within 6 months anyway. I called Sears to see if we could replace only the one window and not all five remaining windows we have still to do. They said they could and would, but there is a minimum charge for the crew to come out so if the charge is more than the cost of the window, they suggested doing two windows instead of the one. So that's what we're doing on Tuesday. It's definitely sooner than we had planned, even just replacing the family room window and our kitchen window. But surely this is a blessing in disguise. 1) The windows will actually help keep heat out of the house, so there's a plus right there (with no A/C) as summer is beginning here in the northwest--apparently we're supposed to hit 100 degrees this weekend. 2) My house will be more secure and hopefully my nightmares regarding this weakness will stop. 3) And if nothing else, should there ever be more party favors (or baseballs or light sabers...) that go hurling through the air and collide with the window, Sears will replace it for free.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Birthday Blues

My birthday is April 29th. Which translates to 4/29. Is it just me or do the numbers of your birth date jump out at you, too? Whenever I see 4:29 on the clock, I do a double take. (Here's some useless Jenn trivia--I set my alarm clock in high school to 4:29am. I needed to get up by 4:30 for early morning seminary,which started at 6:00am, so why not just get up one minute earlier with my special numbers?)

My point is...I'm doing a whole lot of double takes when I get in my car and go places. I never, NEVER thought I'd see my birth date representing the price of gasoline!! Currently in my area it's now $4.29 a gallon. We're not even talking about premium or diesel. Just plain old regular octane.

Me and my big mouth

We had flop #3. I was hopeful we wouldn't, but we did. I was making Jared's Father's Day dinner which consisted of steamed rice. I got out our brand new rice cooker (our old one of 6 years recently died) and proceeded to make the batch of rice. I plugged it in, pushed the button down and the red "cook" light came on. I continued with my dinner prep and about 10 minutes later I happened to glance over at my cooker. There was no light on. I knew I was in trouble because even if it were done cooking there should be a yellow indicator light on. Ugh. Dinner was almost done, I didn't need this delay. Besides we were hungry.

I first checked the outlets. Our plug-ins are extremely loose. (Anyone know how to remedy that?). I plugged in another appliance and it worked fine in all the outlets in the kitchen. So then I checked the plug in where it attaches to the cooker. It was secure. I took the warm inner pot out and readjusted it in case it wasn't sitting in there right. Still no red light. I was totally stumped and had 5 cups of partially cooked rice to deal with. Sooo, I transferred the rice to a pot on the stove and continued the cooking process there. But I still had a brand new, useless rice cooker.

On Monday, I found my April 1st receipt. Then I called the number on the user's manual since they advise you not to return the product to the store where you got it. Which was fine because the box it came in was long gone by now. The service rep that I spoke with on the phone said they'd send me a new one...with no receipt of purchase verification, no questions asked. I told her I bought it a couple months ago and she said it was still under factory warranty. But how did she know I wasn't just making it up?? I didn't even have to return the broken one. Wow...hassle-free for me, but I won't say I wasn't surprised. I guess they figure if I'm taking the time to call and go through the process of getting it replaced, then I must be telling the truth. Interesting...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day Flop

Yup, you read correctly. It's not yet Father's Day and it's already been a flop.

Flop of our traditions is to do Father's Day fondue for dessert. I purchased everything I needed for it on Wednesday (my predetermined shopping day) except for the pineapple and strawberries. I was going to get those for a better price at Costco. However, after going to my local grocery store I realized I wouldn't be going to Costco. It was my "off" week. I only go to Costco on paydays and that won't be again til the 20th...after the fact. (Yes, yes, I'm a creature of habit, or as Jared likes to tease, I'm OCD. But he refuses to "medicate" me because he admits that this blessing--or curse--makes his life much more tolerable in many ways). Back to my flop. Turns out my dear friend Stephanie was going to be going to Costco on Thursday. So I asked her if she would pick up the fruit for me. Of course she did and I was ever so grateful not to have to make that extra trip. The strawberries were beautiful and ripe. However, I guess conditions inside my house sped up that aging and deterioration process tremendously because this afternoon, (one day later), I noticed unmistakable fuzz growing on my strawberries! ACK! I went to wash and slice them hoping to salvage at least half of them and only got 4 good ones off the top. Only 4 strawberries out of 4 pounds! All the others were a soggy, furry mess. So now we're going to have a very bland looking platter of fondue dipables...bananas, pineapple, and pound cake. I'm so bummed! Strawberries smothered in chocolate are most divine. *sigh*

Flop #2. I took the kids with me to Fred Meyer today. I had some errands to run and they all wanted to come. I decided to get Jared some shorts for Father's Day. He's been needing some new ones to replace the haggard ones that he just got rid of. I found a nice beige pair that were 50% off. Bonus! After purchasing our things, Cooper had the responsibility of carrying the plastic bag the shorts were in and making sure they stayed hidden from Jared. Cooper assured me he wouldn't let Jared see them. When we got home, I totally forgot about the bag with the gift in it, but Cooper didn't. Jared was in the kitchen when we came through the garage door. Cooper went to great lengths to keep the bag hidden by holding the bag behind him and keeping it behind him even if it meant walking backwards so Jared wouldn't see. I congratulated him on remembering to keep it a secret and instructed him to put the bag in my closet. A couple hours later, Jared was working on his Sunday School lesson on our bed. I went in to check on him and saw the plastic bag on the foot of our bed, less than 2 feet from Jared's line of sight. I eyed Jared. I eyed the bag. Back to Jared. He caught on and said he didn't even notice it. (Eyes rolling here.) Thank goodness for his perpetual nonobservance. And I chucked the bag in my closet. Although, with a little thought, based on the weight and shape of the bag, I have no doubt Jared could have guessed what was in it. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end here. A couple hours after that, we gathered the kids on our bed for family prayer. Jared was on his side. I was on my side. Cooper jumped up by Jared's feet and Jake was by mine. (Karcyn had already crashed for the night). The kids were going on and on about a movie they had just watched. We finally got a word in and said it was time for prayers. Cooper had to have the last word and said, "Dad, can I ask you something?" (Which, with Cooper, usually means "Can I tell you something?") Then he said,"I know what we got you for Father's Day, but I'm not going to tell you!" while waving a finger slowly in front of his face. I smiled and said "Good job." That's when Cooper looked down and noticed the beige pair of pants Jared wore to work that day folded up on the edge of the bed closest to him. And he loudly whispered across the bed to me, "Psst, Mom," pointing not so discreetly to the pants, "Are these the shorts we got Dad for Father's Day?" I froze. How do you respond to that? We were beyond a cover-up. The element of surprise could not be recovered. And then I busted up laughing. I couldn't believe the irony. We were so close to keeping it a secret.

I'm not even going to wrap the shorts.

Hopefully there will be no more flops for us this weekend.

Friday the 13th

Spring finally decided to show itself here in the Portland area. It was almost summer-like today, highs near 80. The sun was shining early this morning and it was just beautiful. The kids celebrated with popsicles out in the backyard after declaring they had worked up a sweat in the late afternoon.

This was also the first official day of summer break from school. Jake told me last night he was going to sleep in til noon. (I'll believe it when I see it). I scoffed at his comment and said "You don't know how to sleep in." Sure enough, true to the form that I know so well, he was up at 7 o'clock. I asked him "I thought you were sleeping in til noon?" He said "I thought it was that late." To his credit, however, sleeping til 7am IS sleeping in at our house. He's out the door by 7:15 to catch the bus.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Forgot!

On Friday, May 30th, we decided to take a departure from the plain PB sandwiches (with no crusts) and have spaghetti instead for lunch. I pulled out the pot, turned the stove on, went to go fill up the pan with water and told Cooper "Don't touch the stove, it's hot." I had just turned the water on when I heard Cooper yelp "OW, OW, OW" while he was forcefully jumping up and down. That stinker had touched the stove!!

This was total de ja vu for us. Two years ago, about this time of year, Cooper laid his hand on a hot burner and burned his 4 fingers on his right hand. He was 3 at the time and much harder to explain things to, like taking the chewable Tylenol will HELP his hand feel better. I don't know what was worse then. Dealing with his burn or his refusal to take something to ease the pain because we "suffered" too having to put up with his moaning and whimpers all night long. Cooper reassured us after that ordeal that he wouldn't ever touch a stove again. I was convinced he wouldn't either. He spoke of it for weeks.

So it was kind of comically ironic that he did it again. Lest you think I'm a horrible mom, I did feel badly that he was in pain. Those burns are excruciating. I raced him over to the sink and ran his hand under cold water for about 10 minutes. He was screaming bloody murder the entire time, of course. I told him I'd call Dad and let him know what was happening. This was around 12:30 and Jared was at lunch. He laughed at the repeat incident, too. (See? It's not just me!) I held the phone up to Cooper's ear so he could talk to Jared, who I heard reminding Cooper about not touching the stove whether it's on or not. Cooper kept blurting out through his sobs, "I just forgot!" (He uses that excuse a lot around here and it doesn't fly). We hung up with Jared and I filled a bin full of cold water so Cooper could soak his hand in it. He finally stopped wailing after 15 minutes or so. He screamed and cried for so long he lost his voice that night. Then he started lamenting "I wish we didn't have a stove". I told him he'd be very sad if we didn't. He just needs to learn to respect it. Then he moaned that it was the same...4...fingers he burned last time. I told him I thought he wasn't going to touch a hot stove anymore and he wailed "I just forrrrgoooot!"

Needless to say, we didn't have spaghetti for lunch. I was going to make it anyway, but with Cooper's right hand out of commission, I figured it was best to just eat finger foods. Which meant pizza for dinner.
*Blistered fingers...

*Soaking the fingers...

*An hour later...

*And an hour after that...

*Dad to the rescue. Jared brought home some bright blue and hot green bandage wrap figuring Cooper would like green and if not, the blue. When Cooper chose the blue Jared said "Coop, I can't believe you didn't want the hot green bandage. I thought for sure you'd want it." Cooper enlightened Jared. "I didn't want anything hot!"

*When all the bandaging was done, Jake tried to comfort his brother and said, "Look Coop, I've got an owie, too." Then we declared Cooper the winner of owies for the day. Cooper was fine with his new hand because he said it kind of reminded him of Anikan Skywalker. (I didn't see the resemblance, but if he did, all the more power to him!)


When he was born, Calvin reminded us of Cooper. But now he reminds us more of Jake because of his eyes. In fact, as a newborn, Jake's peepers were so big the nurses at the hospital called him "Sparky."

Jared thinks Calvin always looks "freaked out." Must be those eyes. Here are some facial expressions we see often when he's awake...

Mr. Seer-wee-us

Here he is...Little Calvin. According to Karcyn he's "Nigh-nine". According to Jared, he's Mr. Serious. According to me, he's Mr. Mellow--my perfect little Caboose!

It's been 4 weeks since he joined the rest of the Houghlings and I've never felt better. The transition with Karcyn was easy for me, but this time around has been the best post partum experience. I figured the more kids you had, the harder it would be. I remember avoiding going out in public alone with ALL THREE of my kids after having Karcyn for as long as possible. I think I went as long as almost 2 months before I had to. And it was fine of course. But 2 weeks after Calvin was born, school was out for conferences, the boys needed new shoes, Calvin had a doctor's appointment and we had to run to the store. It didn't phase me one bit. I guess if I could do it with 3 children when I'm already outnumbered, what's one more?

The kids all love him too. The boys enjoy holding him and Karcyn has reacted well to the change. My only problem with her is that she's 2.

I've never once felt sleep deprived or tired enough to nap during the day (minus the first week). Calvin isn't picky about where he sleeps (thank goodness for huge blessings) and didn't confuse his days and nights like Karcyn did. There's only 1 of 3 reasons why he cries...he's hungry, he needs his diaper changed, or he's tired. And he actually screams the loudest and saddest wail when he's tired. He is so good natured. I just love him to pieces and snuggle him lots and lots....and lots more. He's a GREAT baby!

This picture cracks me up. The only thing I can think of is:


Bargain Buy

Betcha didn't know that there was more than one use for an athletic cup?

Besides a chew toy, Karcyn uses it for a couple of things like...

a hat

and a shoe

Happy Mother's Day

May 11, 2008--Mother's day with my four very special children. I couldn't ask for more.

three out of four looking at the camera and actually smiling. That's a bonus!


It's about time...we had a fenced in yard at our rental house and the boys NEVER went out there. It was like pulling teeth or a punishment to have them play in the back. Very frustrating.

We obviously wanted and needed a fenced yard with our new house. With the torrential rains this winter and our lovely mud pit out back, we've actually had to keep the boys inside against their will. We have a great climbing tree, too. But in the last 6 weeks or so the weather has since turned nice and we're finally getting some sunlight through the backyard. Now that the debris from the "makeover" has since been cleaned up, we can finally let the kids go free. Karcyn LOVES to play outside. Too bad I have to give her a bath every time she comes in. Dirt doesn't bother her. We find it in her hair, under her fingernails, in her diaper!

Another one of our favorite spring pastimes is baseball. This is Jakes's 3rd season playing...his second with the Reedville Organization and Cooper now joins the fun with his first year of T-Ball. It does my heart good to have Jake come in from school and race to the backyard to play baseball with his little brother who's already out there. I don't ever put a time limit on that. Homework, piano, and duties can wait until later...

Spring Surprises

Another "fun" thing about moving into our new home in the middle of winter is that we had no idea what to expect, if anything, from our surrounding foliage. But we found ourselves pleasantly surprised by the beauty. Unfortunately it didn't last very long. Cooper exclaimed a couple of weeks ago...

"Hey, it's not fall!"
I said, "You're right it's not. It's spring."
"Then why are all the leaves falling?"
Very good question.

Sadly, our pretty blossoms on our trees (the big pink one is a 'flowering plum' or so we're told) in the back and on our big rhodi (rhody?) up front didn't last long. The winds have blown them all away. But new things have since come grass in the backyard, roses and irises (which we mistook for tulips--oops) and we're still hoping for those apples. Anyone know when to expect those???


Calvin found a comfy place in Grandma Lee's arms while she and Grandpa were in Oregon with us.

Brotherly Bonding

I can't think of many other better ways to spend time with your biggest brother.

Backyard Makeover

Moving into our house in the dead of winter at least meant we didn't have to worry about our yard...just yet. But once March rolled around, Jared was dying to get things done. We have sooooooooo much more we need to do, but I cannot believe the difference between then and now.

It was a jungle in our backyard, dark and drab, even on days when there appeared to be sunlight, which made our bedroom, the kitchen and family room (all located in the back of the house) very cave-like. Not to mention we had very little grass and too much mud. Well, no wonder. There was plenty of water, but not enough sun. We were plagued with what we believe is a horrible excuse for a tree...the arbor vida or whatever the heck it's called. (It's not even worth my time to google it for the proper spelling and usage). It lined our back fence (along 209th, which is understandable since that's a busy road) but also along both sides of our house making me feel a little cut off from everyone else. And they were overgrown and uhhg-lee! Those shrubs were put in shortly after the house was built making them as old as me....taller too. Jared was going to hack them down along the back fence, but he started his project by "shaving" them and we liked the final result, so we spared the lives of a few. There was enough thinning to give us more light, but enough to still have a barrier as well. We didn't use the same restraint along the sides of the house, however. But that's what we needed since there's not much space between the house and the shrub-lined fence. The "trees" were starting to interfere with our roof. That's how close and out of control they were.

Below you'll find pictures from before and after. I was shocked when I went back and saw the pictures from just under 3 months ago. Now the only jungle you'll find at this address is within the walls of our home, not without!
Next 3 pictures=BEFORE

Next 3 pictures=AFTER

Farmer Coop, part 2

On April 30th, my friend, Nicole brought me some flowers & goodies for my birthday, just minutes before I went to the hospital to have Calvin. Obviously, I wasn't able to plant them right away. But fortunately for my flowers, I have a 5 1/2 year old who has caught the "green thumb bug" (Grandpa Hough, aren't you proud?) and planted them for me. There is joy in seeing his enthusiasm as he becomes one with the Earth and knowing the potential that can come from good soil and good seeds.

What a poser! These flowers are planted to the LEFT of his beloved apple seed.

Cute Girl

Karcyn, the mountain goat, discovered my parents' bag of ZAP! dice and took each one out, lining them up very carefully on the counter. I'd never seen her take such great deliberate care in any activity. I love her intent looks of concentration.

Farmer Coop

*Incident retold by Grandpa Lee (whom I find a very reliable source) as I laid low this day.*

Sunday, May 4th, Cooper came home from church and had his favorite apple. Unfortunately Cooper is notorious for eating 8-10 bites of his apple and then proclaiming he's done. In this particular instance, Cooper had eaten just enough to know he was close to the seeds and started digging them out of the core. For some reason he was on a mission to plant himself an apple tree. (We think we have one apple tree, maybe two in our backyard, but aren't sure yet). Seed in hand, Cooper abandoned his less than half-eaten apple and decked out in his church clothes (and Spider-man sandals since he can get those on himself), grabbed a shovel from the shed and proceeded to go plant himself an apple tree in our back yard. He even watered it. I'm not sure this was an appropriate Sabbath day activity, but I'm sure Heavenly Father got a kick out of it.