Monday, October 20, 2008

Surprise in the Mail

Tomorrow is Cooper's sixth birthday so I wasn't surprised to see a box on our front porch this afternoon--even though I wasn't expecting one. But my interest was piqued when I saw that it was addressed to me and from my dear friend, Andrea, from our Kalamazoo days. I just couldn't think, for the LIFE of me, what it was that I was receiving.

Inside the box I unraveled layers of bubble wrap to find a plastic storage container decorated all cute with stickers. I opened the card first. Andrea wished me a Happy Day and said she hoped this came "in handy in an emergency--it's a Year's Supply!"

In the cute container were 10 boxes of birthday candles of all different shapes, colors and varieties! I laughed my head off. I have a thing about forgetting candles even when my children remind me. And she came to our rescue!

Andrea--you're the greatest! Thank you for making me laugh today and for outfitting our birthday treats with the most important of things...the age indicators! :) Just in time for Cooper's birthday too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An 8-year-old's perspective

As frustrated as we are with the circumstances and events leading up to this election, Jared and I were reminded of what's truly important as Jacob said our evening prayers the other night. As he was closing, he said, "and if Obama wins this election or McCain, thank you that we are allowed to choose our president."

I emailed this to Bill O'Reilly at Fox News. We'll see if I get a response.

Out with the old...Ring in the new

This afternoon, after Cooper's soccer game, I reached in my jacket pocket to retrieve my cell phone. It had been unusually silent. (For those of you that might not know, my cell phone also serves as our home phone).

When I glanced at it, the front screen was dark. I could have sworn I left it on during the night (a habit I'm trying to get into). So I flipped it open. Still dark. I turned it on. It wouldn't come on. Hmph. This wasn't a good sign because the battery had never gone completely dead on me before. Once we got back to the house, I plugged it into the charger. Even if the phone is off, there's still a battery charging light that will display. No light. Fabulous.

So I located the closest AT&T store, loaded up the tired kids, and off we went.

The gal at the store tried calling it, I think. But she told me the phone is 2 years old and that's about when they expire. (By the way, did you know toilets have about a 10 year life expectancy?) Before I could roll my eyes at the dreaded situation before me, the girl told me "but you have a free upgrade and can get a free phone with it."

Music to my ears!!

So I picked out a new phone. It's red. And in the end I will pay an $18 one-time upgrade fee. But we also get a $30 rebate. Sure the heck better than paying $300 for a new phone.

Ironically, I was just starting to get used to my dead phone. It's extremely small and took me forever to get my big stumpy fingers used to the keypad. Not a problem anymore. The only numbers. I don't have any. So, feel free to call me and then I can put you in my address book :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Curse of the Suit

This summer, I finally decided it was time to take Jared's two suits into the dry cleaners for a much needed scrubbing. It had been a while, like a year or two since they were last cleaned. It doesn't take long for the suits to get dirty with little ones who like to snack on things at church then snuggle up with him or who like to spit up. But we just can't afford cleaning them every month, which is why we try to sponge clean what we can in between these yearly professional cleanings.

I picked up the suits right before we went to Alaska the beginning of August. The Sunday after we got back, August 24th, Jared put on his olive green suit. (This is the same suit he bought for our wedding day...for the luncheon and departure to our honeymoon). We had been gone a couple of weeks, so we were looking forward to being back among our ward family and friends. It just so happened our stake presidency was visiting as well. (Since I've already had to speak in Stake Conference, I'm not afraid of them anymore.)

Like most Sundays, after the administration of the Sacrament, I went to the mother's lounge to feed Calvin. The other mothers and I had a short conversation about babies spitting up and I told them that Karcyn spent the first 7 months of her life, drenched with spit up. I had about 10 bibs and 5 burp rags and several changes of clothes in my diaper bag at any given time. People at church knew how to find me because they'd just follow the trail of spit up and they held her at their own risk. was disgusting.

About 10 minutes to the hour, Jake and Cooper rushed into the lounge. Jake was frantic and said, "Mom, Mom, you've got to come quick. Something's wrong with Karcyn!" In that split second, my mind rushed through horrible scenarios...a seizure? fainting? cracked her head open? What??

As I got ready to leave, draping Calvin over my arm, I asked, "What's wrong?" Jake said, "Karcyn threw up all over Dad." His news stopped me briefly in my tracks. I was relieved it wasn't anything more serious, but I was annoyed by the situation. I had always wondered what it was like for those few mothers I've known that have had children throw up in Sacrament meeting. I braced myself for what I'd find. We armed ourselves with wet paper towels, gobs of them, and tried to quietly go back into the chapel (from the opposite side of course) as the last talk was wrapping up.

Karcyn was sitting on Jared's lap, curled into him, her back to me. Most the vomit was all over Jared. I don't even know where the boys went. I just remember I couldn't do anything to help with Calvin in my arms so I turned around and dumped him on the Bishop's wife. I asked Jared if he could stand. We got them up and into the kitchen to get the big chunks off of them both. To my dismay, his suit was trashed. Tie and everything. NAS--TEE! That's what I was most upset about...I had just CLEANED his suit!!

We only brought one car, but I told him to just take her home and the boys and I would walk.

By this time Sacrament meeting was over. I couldn't find the boys. A friend across the aisle noticed what happened and threw a spare diaper of hers over the vomit on the floor. She informed me the boys already left for Primary, but it wasn't before showing their friends what Karcyn had done.

I found our building rep and asked where the disinfectant was. He showed me and I got to work. Another friend was sitting in front of our row when I came back and I asked him if he could smell anything. He said no and I explained what happened. He was kind enough to fetch a garbage can for me so I could dispose of the soiled paper towels. All in all, it really wasn't that bad...having a kid throw up in Sacrament meeting. Fortunately it was near the end and not in the middle of the Priesthood passing the Sacrament. least it wasn't in nursery. I would have felt much worse. It wasn't the humiliating experience I was expecting it to be. Thank goodness for that.

I wore a blouse to church that day, one where if I have leaked a little bit of breast milk, it would have showed very clearly. So I tucked in a pair of reusable nursing pads that I haven't used since Jake was born, all proud of myself for thinking ahead and being prepared. My milk production is pretty low. BUT...with me leading music in Relief Society, I wanted to head off any such embarrassment. What I really needed was arm pit pads. I was so hot and flushed from the experience and chore of cleaning people and pews up that I was pouring sweat and there were large wet spots under my arms. *sigh* Oh well, everyone tells me no one watches me when I lead the music anyway.

That next day, I took Jared's suit BACK to the cleaners. I forgot about it and finally picked it up this past Wednesday--over a month after dropping it off.

Jared wore the suit and same tie to church yesterday for the first time since Karcyn barfed all over it. I went to feed Calvin again after Sacrament meeting. I believe it was near the end of the meeting again, when we heard the knock of an adult on the mother's lounge door. The door cracked open and I saw Karcyn standing there. "Oh, does she need a change?" Jared stood there all miffed and held out his left pant leg, revealing a large dark spot and exclaimed, "She PEED on me!!"

That's IT! The suit is cursed! It can never be dry cleaned again. I'm afraid of what will happen when he wears it once we get it back. Nope. It'll just have to stay soiled. Sorry, Jared.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Give it up for....

Jacob Hough as....a NASTY!!

And Cooper Hough as...a Wallybird

in Butternut Creek's performance of the Missoula Children's Theater production of "Hansel and Gretel"! (FYI: the Nasties are the Witch's pets and the Wallybirds eat the cookie crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel).

What a show! All the children did a fantastic job. It was very entertaining. I was so impressed with the memorized parts and songs, the way they nailed their cues and entrances and exits off stage. These kids auditioned on Monday and then turned around and put on two performances TODAY...six days later. My kids were actually focused! (Amazing.) It was so cute and such a proud moment for all of us mommies and daddies.

Mrs. Garrett, the music teacher (and also in our stake) said that before the matinee show Cooper was curled up in a ball backstage and moaned "I can't do this...I'm too nervous." She looked at him and kindly told him to buck up :) Jake had informed me later that Cooper was freaking out. I asked Cooper why and he confirmed it was because he was nervous. I asked him "So what did you do?" He replied, "Oh nothing. I shook it off."

Coincidentally, the 6th grader that played Hansel is the only other Cooper in the school. The two Coopers have bonded. Cooper Jr. wants Cooper Sr. to come to his birthday party but I told him he couldn't come. When asked why, I told him because we didn't know him. So promptly after the final show tonight, Coop pulled me back to the dressing room and said "I need to introduce you to Cooper so you'll know him." He's a fine young man. I also met his parents. We sat across the aisle from each other this evening. Cooper Sr.'s mom said she asked my Cooper what his middle name was. His reply, "Coop". And then he added, "Sometimes people call me 'Super Cooper'." We quizzed him on his middle name on the way home and he answered with Coop again so we had to set him straight.

By the way, our PTC funded bringing the MCT out here for a second year in a row to do the musical. The Missoula (yes from Montana) Children's Theater has been around for 36 years. They travel to all 50 states and provide the set, script, music, costumes, and run the show. The only thing our music teacher did (other than oversee the production) was play the piano when piano parts were needed, so it was very easy for her. By the end of the year, 65,000 students will be cast in school musicals like the one tonight. If anyone is interested in getting this started in their school, let me know. I hope this tradition continues at mine. I'm MORE than happy to have my school spending PTC funds that will provide such a wonderful theater and music experience for the students.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Yesterday morning I underwent oral surgery. I had not three, but four gum grafts done. I went to the periodontist not knowing what in the world to expect. I was thinking they might knock me out but they didn't. It was as if I was getting a filling. I got the anesthetic to numb the entire upper part of my mouth by my gums. Fortunately Dr. Blizzard swabbed me with a topical numbing gel first so I wouldn't feel the needle going in. But then she had to numb the areas behind my upper teeth because that's where she anchors the gum grafts. I wasn't numb for those injections, but they only stung for a few seconds.

After that, I just closed my eyes and didn't want to know what she was doing. Ignorance is bliss, right? There was a lot of scraping on my teeth, which only bugged me because of the screeching sound it made. Ugh...that still gives me chills. Then was a lot of tugging, pushing and pulling, the occasional sound of a drill, and then I could feel the pressure of her threading the stitches.

The last time I saw Dr. Blizzard was in June of 2007. I had originally made the grafting appt. for October 2007, but then we got pregnant as we were hoping and though the OB said the drugs I had to be on were okay, we opted to wait until after the baby was born. A bigger issue was my dental insurance. They couldn't tell us for sure what our coverage would be because we hadn't been on it for a year. Anyway, in the past 16 months I guess I had another gum starting to recede so she did a fourth graft "just because" and still charged the same. What a gal. I really liked her if anyone needs a good periodontist.

I had been prescribed an oral sedative to relax me for the surgery but opted not to fill the prescription. Dr. Blizzard said I did fantastic during the whole procedure, especially for not being chemically relaxed and that I have nice thick gum tissue...just not enough of it. I might do a little research regarding the grafting. I do know they used cadaver gum tissue (I know, people think that's gross) as opposed to scraping the top part of the mouth like they have in the past which aids in a quicker recovery, too. Now that it's over I am a little curious as to what it all entailed but I really am glad I was clueless. It helped not knowing what she was doing for that hour and a half.

When I left the office with Jared at 11:30, my mouth was really starting to hurt. It throbbed and ached. I was starting to get feeling back too and it was like I got braces on my gums because I could feel the stitches and glue all over my gums and behind my teeth which were very foreign to my mouth. It still feels like I have food tucked up in the inside corners of my mouth and around my teeth and it's driving me crazy because I have the urge to get it all out but can't. Dr. Blizzard also warned me that I'm in the "ugly stage" for the next two weeks until I go back in for a follow up appt. at that time to see how it's going and to get sutures removed. I guess the gums will turn a few colors (black, white, purple...) before looking normal.

When I got home at 12:15 I was able to eat a little applesauce and some noodles and then took a mega Motrin and started icing my mouth (which is easier said than done) while I nursed Calvin. Fortunately the Motrin kicked in around 1pm and then I felt pretty good. I was able to make bread, finish dinner, do the dishes, and sort the laundry. I didn't have any more pain that night or even during the night. All in all, I was pretty happy with the first day.

But....when I woke up this morning...I discovered my mouth had morphed...I look like a duck because my upper mouth/lip area swelled up. Actually, as I dried my hair this morning and stared at myself in the mirror, realization hit. Has anyone ever seen the movie "The Dark Crystal"? I look like one of those characters. I don't even remember what that movie was about or what the "people" were called but I remember what they looked like. I could pass as one of them with the big protruding upper mouth. Ugly actually. And fun for me, I've got errands to run today.


Hooray!! Jake and Cooper both auditioned for the school musical "Hansel and Gretel" yesterday and they BOTH got parts! Jake is a Nasty who works for the witch and plays tricks on the old and new campers. Cooper is a Wallybird and gets to eat cookie crumbs the witch leaves. Honestly, I don't think I've ever read or heard the story of "Hansel and Gretel" so I'd better get familiar with it.

I was surprised to hear that rehearsals were Monday, Oct. 6th and the performances were Saturday, Oct. 11th. I thought that was a typo. Apparently the Missoula Children's Theater is coming with all their props, music and costumes to work their magic in a week, doing most the work. That's pretty exciting (especially for the music teacher) but also entails rehearsals after school til 5 and as late as 7:30 for Jake. It should be a really good experience for them though.

If any local friends are interested the performances are this Saturday at 3pm and again at 7pm at Butternut Creek Elementary (east on Stoddard off of 209th and then a right on Florence into the school parking lot). Tickets are $1 per person or a $5 cap for a family.

I'd love to videotape this...does anyone have a video camera we could borrow??

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Solution

My normal time slot for grocery shopping used to be on Tuesday evenings. I went at night because though I was tired and would rather spend time with Jared, it was worth popping in and out by myself in about 30 minutes to get the chore done. Every time I went with the kids it was at least an hour long ordeal...or longer.

But for some reason this summer, my groove got thrown off and I was forced to go Tuesday or Wednesday during the day. And that meant taking all the kids with me. I've been shopping at other stores, on errands, to soccer games and doctor's appointments with the four of them before, but never grocery shopping. And this presented a conflict. Karcyn is still just a tad too young for me to let her loose and have her "walk" next to the cart. Though she doesn't run off like Jake and Cooper did at that age, I know I'd spend more time trying to redirect her and protect the store items from her grabby little fingers than actually shopping. Not very efficient in my book. So if I have her in the seat of the cart, then what do I do with Calvin? Putting him in the basket part makes no sense either because then I'd have no place for groceries.

I contemplated putting him in the snugli or the backpack. I wasn't thrilled about these options because they seemed like so much extra work. I can't usually get that snugli thing on by myself-- let alone with a baby in it. The backpack is only a smidge easier. These seemed like my only options. Until I spied the umbrella stroller. And then a light bulb came on! I enlisted Jake and Cooper to push Calvin around behind or beside me (or even in front of me) so I could push Karcyn and the groceries in the cart. The big boys took turns pushing Calvin around and it worked so well. Such a simple solution, but a big relief. It also kept them from getting into trouble for annoying one another (and their mother) and gave them a responsibility other than putting items in the cart for me.
I couldn't believe the response I got at the store. Every aisle we went down, people stopped and commented on what big helpers I had or how cute it was that the boys were pushing their baby brother in the stroller. Some would do double takes and say incredulously, in a loud whisper to the others they were with "there's a real baby in there!" And without fail, we get a handful of comments every time we go.

Now that school's back in session, Jake doesn't get the pleasure of joining us on these trips anymore. But Cooper does. And I need him. Having less kids doesn't help me in this case. He goes to AM Kindergarten, so I wait til he gets home to go to Winco on our appointed shopping day. Of course, before leaving, Cooper always has to complain about how much he HATES Winco and refuses to go. Somehow the stars align and he eventually gets in the van albeit begrudgingly. But once he takes the stroller with Calvin in it, he perks up. We're not even to the produce section before he's getting compliments, for which I'm grateful. Surely these are boosting his ego and giving him a reason to keep coming back. And bless his heart, Calvin is soooo good. He usually sleeps. But if he's awake, he just hangs out. He doesn't make a peep. Doesn't even object when Cooper does wheelies or speeds down an empty aisle. (We're still working on grocery store etiquette).

To keep him interested in his new weekly responsibility, I promised this last time we went that I would take a picture of Cooper and would get him "published" on the blog. He got excited about that.

Whatever it takes.


Boy, I thought getting my van in the garage in January was cool. This is simply awesome! I never dreamed our two vehicles would fit. And I'll tell ya...I've only seen one house out of 10 on my street with no cars in the driveway or parked on the street. It doesn't seem to be a very common theme around here.
I think Jared is the one that's most excited, now that fall has arrived. No more having to warm up the car in the cold rain or scrape frost or ice off the windshield and windows in those early morning hours. He has finally arrived.

2 + 33

Jared celebrated his birthday last week. You wouldn't know it by the candle (which was actually left here at the house from a friend's son's birthday cake that was shared with us a couple weeks ago), but Jared turned the big 3-5 this year.

What is it with me and birthday candles? Last year Jake had none. Jared got one but it was used and off by a few decades. If I recall, I'm pretty sure I managed two candles for Karcyn's cake. I did tell Jared however, that at least he got a cake, which he did gratefully acknowledge. Because if Jared's left in charge (which is usually the case), I don't get a cake on my birthday. (My parents were here for my big day this year waiting for Calvin to come, so my mom and Cooper surprised me with one.)

Cooper's birthday is up next so maybe I won't botch the candles for him. Although, now that I think about it, the actual party is in question. Every theme I suggest to him that I can reasonably pull off for a cool party, he throws a massive fit. Why? you ask? I haven't the foggiest idea. But I'm kind of thinking maybe he won't get a birthday party this year if that's how it's going to be. Good grief. Cooper has yet to learn proficiently that a little gratitude goes a long way. And unlike what the liberals in this country believe, no one in this house is entitled to anything from me and Jared beyond their basic needs. They have to earn it.