Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness

I can't believe it's that time of year again. March Madness has begun! Our family filled out our brackets, some of us using a little more strategy than others, and we eagerly awaited the results of the games as the channels jumped back and forth between games. C'mon, there's a lot at stake here....the winner gets to go out for ice cream!

After the first day the standings are:

*Dad's Dominators--14/16 (Clemson and Illinois lost); rank 94%...his winning pick: LOUISVILLE
*Mom's Madness--14/16 (Akron lost--I was pulling for the underdogs-- and there was a 5/12 upset with Illinois losing to West Kentucky, bummer--however, I'm pretty happy with my score after the first day, considering my strategy is dumb luck); rank 94%...winning pick: OKLAHOMA
*Jacob's Steelers--13/16 (BYU, California, and Illinois lost); rank 78%...winning pick: MEMPHIS
*Cooper's Blazers--12/16 (California, Butler, Illinois and Clemson lost); rank 50%...winning pick: LOUISVILLE
*Karcyn's Kuties--13/16 (California, Illinois, Clemson lost); rank 78%...winning pick: VILLANOVA

Should prove to be VERY interesting!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Family Pictures

My girlfriend Stephanie took these pictures in her home for us on Saturday morning. She did a great job. It was the "subjects" that had trouble. (How hard is it to a) look at the camera and b) smile so it doesn't look like you're sitting on a tack?) At least there were no meltdowns. That was definitely a step in the right direction for our family.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mom's Tirade

After homework and chores were done, I told Jake and Cooper they could play with some neighbor boys until 6:30 this evening. Jared was working at the Urgent Care until late and then was going to work-out after, so we weren't on a real time crunch. Except that the boys didn't get home 'til 6:45. This wasn't a total problem, but it did mean that they couldn't mess around and play anymore. After dinner we had to get down to business getting cleaned up and ready for bed. Unfortunately I let Cooper go outside before I checked his room. He had left a big mess of trains and tracks in there.

When Cooper came home and checked out the pans on the stove trying to figure out what dinner was, he let out a few moans of disgust and went to his room. When he came back, I told him that he needed to start cleaning up the mess if he wasn't going to eat. This sent him into a spiraling clump on the floor of whiny crying. He wanted to play with the trains some more. I told him there wasn't any more time and reminded him of the rule that we clean up our messes before bed. He finally stomped in there after I started counting which meant he'd lose the trains to an indefinite time-out if he didn't get going.

When Jake finished eating his dinner I asked him to go help clean up the mess that he didn't make. Amazingly, he went and did what I told him to without complaining to me or Cooper.

When Jake came back out, chore done and pajamas on, he asked if he could have some ice cream. To his surprise, I said yes. But he earned it. I appreciated his willingness to help me out when he could have been doing something else. Cooper came out shortly in his pajamas and asked if he could have a little bit of dinner. He got his little bit. Then I fluttered around the kitchen tidying up and tending to Karcyn and Calvin.

A few minutes later I saw Cooper finish his meal of 5 bites as he looked longingly at Jake's ice cream. I knew what was coming. Without fail, Cooper ALWAYS asks for treats or privileges that he KNOWS he's either lost of hasn't earned. And it's not like we throw out random rules with random consequences. He KNOWS! But the little stinker asks anyway and then when we say no, he throws himself in another round of sobs as if we had just committed the worst treachery known between parent and child. We even have him tell us why he can't have a treat, for example, and he tells us, perfectly. So really...I'm not sure where the synapses aren't connecting in these lessons of actions and consequences. Or if he just thinks one of these days we'll cave.

So when Cooper put his fork in his bowl, I saw it in his eyes and I started preparing myself for Cooper fit #4 when I told him no, yet again. He looked up at me with a sigh and said, softly, but confidently, carefully choosing his words, "Moooom, can I have..." but I cut him off.

"Cooper! Since the moment you got home from playing you have been throwing one fit after another. You turned your nose up at dinner, you stomped off and then threw another inappropriate fit when I asked you to clean up a mess that you made all by yourself, which, by the way, your brother ended up cleaning for you. Do you really think you earned ice cream? No. You didn't."

I didn't even wait for the response. I scurried off to finish my task of tidying up and then I heard it. The dramatic Cooperesque weeping.

"Cooper, we go through this every time. You know you can't have a treat when you hardly ate any dinner and especially after the way you behaved." He just kept crying, slumped over his bowl. As I stood at Calvin's high chair, Cooper tried to mumble through his sobbing. "Cooper, I can't understand you when you cry." So he choked back the tears, took a deep breath, looked at me with big puppy dog eyes, glossy with tears and pathetically mumbled, "But you wouldn't let me talk."


So I stood there, my body turned straight at him and said, ""

He said, "I...just (*sniff*) wanted...a drink." And he continued to cry at the injustice. I laughed so hard. Yes, laughed! I could not keep it in. I tried apologizing with a straight face, but it couldn't be done...the straight face, I mean. I did say I was sorry. But I could not stop laughing. Fortunately, it only took a few moments for Cooper's sob to turn into a laugh, too. Man oh man.

*sigh* And I thought I knew my kids so well. I definitely messed up. I have to say, however, that's the funniest mistake I've made in a long time.

Oh NO!! I just realized--that I never gave Cooper a drink! I was too busy laughing. Great. The kid's gonna be scarred for life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Jake's Talk

Jake volunteered to give a talk in Primary this coming Sunday. The topic: "I will obey my parents."

When we got home from church yesterday, I started on dinner and told Jake that there was no better time than the present to get working on his talk. So he grabbed some paper and a pencil and started writing. It wasn't until later that night, after I got home from "Virgin" rehearsal, that I found his talk. This is what he wrote:

Obedience is when you do something the first time without argueing. I've "experienced" a lot of times when I have been obedient and when I have not. When you obey you get to do other stuff. When you don't obey you have to go to your room. Its happened to me many times. Infact, it's happened so many times I am use to it. I just hope that all of you will obey your parents this week. And, I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Article in the Oregonian

My friend Jan called me Thursday and said she was reading the paper that morning and was surprised to find Jared's picture in it. Ohhhh yeaah. A couple weeks ago, practically in passing, Jared mentioned someone from the Oregonian was coming to speak with him about Pacific University. Then we both totally forgot about it and it completely slipped my mind to even follow up with him about the interview when he got home...until Jan reminded me.

She was kind enough to send us a copy of the article because, ironically enough, we don't take the Oregonian. Ha! We think it's too liberal. Although Jared was in the Metro "Washington County" section which has the births and obits and other un-slanted articles in it.

Jared had several comments that were mentioned a couple times and even got his picture taken in one of the exam rooms at Dr. Hicken's office. On the day of the interview, the paper people were late getting there and the patient whom they were going to get a picture of with Jared had to leave and the next patient Jared was seeing did NOT want their picture taken. Too bad. So...he's kicking back in the exam room like he has all the time in the world :). His picture isn't posted on the online version of the article, however.

If you want to read it, here's the link:

Otherwise, just google the "Oregonian" website and go to "Metro" and then "Washington County" and type in February 26, 2009 (or select it actually) and then look for the article "Taking Pacific University's Pulse."

Oh and if anyone has any extra copies of the article in your garage or recycling pile, we'd love to get our hands on a few so we can send some to our parents and siblings. Thanks!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Home For Sale

Let's get one thing straight...the Houghs are NOT moving...I PROM-ISE! Not for a long time if we have any say in the matter.

The house for sale belongs to our friends from Forest Grove. They are getting ready to graduate from optometry school and are moving on. They are in the midst of interviewing for real estate agents but figured if they could sell on their own in the mean time and save everyone some cash, why the heck not?

My friend has created a blog to send interested parties to with pictures and contact information.

If you know anyone that is looking for a cute house "in the grove" send them to....

Cake Contest

February is the birth month of the Boy Scouts of America. We celebrate the birth of the scouting program with the Blue and Gold Banquet.

I thought it was really cool that this year, the boys in our pack were challenged to a Birthday Cake Contest. Each cub and his mother were to make a cake together and "bring it to the banquet to be judged."

We regressed at the Pinewood Derby last month (poor Jake...but bless his heart, he did 90% of that car on his own), so I thought this might be an opportunity for him redeem himself a little with the cake contest--even if it was just "honorable mention". We sat down together and planned it out. We came up with a theme--a hot air balloon that would say "Soaring into 100 Years of Scouting" (since next year marks the 100th birthday for scouting) and we went and bought supplies for it. The day before the banquet on Tuesday, 2/24, Jake baked the cakes after he did his homework and before his piano lesson. It was even baked from scratch.

The day of the banquet was a crazy one. Jake had auditioned for and made the school talent show which was that afternoon at 1pm. After crumb coating the cakes with homemade butter cream frosting, the three other kids and I went up to see him perform around 12:45. He was the second to last act and the only piano player. Karcyn wasn't happy to be there because she was tired, so I spent 45 minutes out in the hall carrying her around trying to get her to sleep. My back and arms were killing me. Fortunately Calvin was in a stroller next to Cooper and fairly content. Jake did a great job (he's got more guts than me! I'm so glad he's getting these experiences early in life). It was early out for the kids at school so I just took Jake me after the talent show. Then it was off to Costco for rolls and individual pats of butter that I said I'd get for the banquet that night.

Costco had the rolls, but of course, I couldn't find the pats of butter that I had clearly seen before at one point when I didn't need them. Before we left though, we treated ourselves to a swirled frozen yogurt to celebrate Jake's accomplishment.

Then we hit two more stores looking for individual pats of butter before settling on the regular cubes of butter.

Once we got home, Jake tackled his homework quickly while I frosted the cakes again in preparation for our decorating. We were going to work with fondant, a new experience for both of us. We rolled out the yellow fondant for the basket and realized that we barely had enough for the basket part of the cake, let alone the balloon part which was going to be solid blue with different colors as accents. So we had to be MacGuyvers and think fast for another alternative to solve our problem. We decided to use some card stock and trace the bottom part of the cake pan. Then Jake drew the balloon sections that would be different colors and cut them out. We rolled out the fondant and used the card stock pieces as patterns and Jake used a knife to cut around them. I placed them on the cake. And I think, considering the circumstances, it turned out really well.

I carefully moved the cakes and arranged them on the blue background. Jake separated the strings of Twizzlers to act as the cords between the basket and balloon and we attached them to the cakes. Jake then used an edible marker to write the theme on the basket. He also thought he should put marshmallow clouds on the background. I think the marshmallows TOTALLY made the cake. They were perfect. Not symmetrical either which I love. And here's a picture of the final product:

We finished with about an hour to spare. Just long enough to get the kitchen cleaned up and ready to go to the banquet. Jared had his own YM stuff he was doing that night and couldn't help or go to the banquet. Plus he was on call. So I was on my own again.

It was pouring rain when we got to the church. Jake took the rolls inside. I got Calvin in the stroller as water poured onto his face and Cooper took him in for me. I let Karcyn out and directed her to the door, while I got the cake. Phew...we made it.

Imagine my surprise--and honestly, my deep disappointment--when I found each cake, many of which looked just as time intensive as ours, being given tiny little ribbons with different titles. Jake's cake got "Most Cheerful". Wow...what is that, like, the Miss Congeniality of Cub Cakes? I was really bummed. Jake was let down as well. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the process and working with Jake but when someone says "contest" and that the cakes will be "judged" not given participation ribbons, I can't help but think of a "real competition" with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. And if that had been the case, we may not have won anyway, but AT LEAST...our work wouldn't have felt like it was done under false pretenses. I probably would have done something a little LESS labor intensive had I known that everyone was going to get a pat on the back. Fortunately we're both over it. I'll just make sure I clarify next time.

Interestingly enough, that same night Jared was planning activities with his young men at our house. They were talking about doing some kind of Iron Chef type activity where they get in groups and make or bake something to be judged by the Bishopric. One of the young men raised his hand hesitantly and asked rather sheepishly, "Will there actually be a REAL winner?" Jared said, "Absolutely!" You gotta learn how to be a gracious winner just as much as you need to learn how to be a good loser.

Privacy Please!

Just as it has happened in the past with Jake and Cooper, out of the blue, Karcyn decided she did in fact want to sit on her potty after asking her for the kabillionth time over the last few months. Music to mommy's ears! She's been doing it for a couple weeks now and having enough success that I'm still hopeful for a summer with just one set of diapers, not two.

In this process, I've learned that if she's "done" something, she usually gets off the potty and comes to find me. And secondly, she won't "do" anything with me in there with her. So once she sits down, I get Karcyn her "I sat on the potty" treat and then leave to go do some other things until she says she's done (when she hasn't done anything) or until she comes to get me.

One day, I found her like this. Hiding or playing. I'm not sure.

Then a little while later, Jake found her like this:

I guess she got a little too much privacy.

King of the Couch

Calvin reached 10 months old yesterday. My goodness...I just can't believe it. I was lamenting to a friend the other day that it seems like the more kids you have, the faster the babies grow up.

A couple weeks ago I put Calvin up on the couch to look out the front window. We watched the birds and squirrels and cars go by. He was in seventh heaven and was so proud to be perched up there like a big man.

He's also a mini-machine. He eats ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we give him on his tray. He can't shovel it in fast enough. It's pretty impressive with just two little chompers. We all but skipped the baby food stage, which was a first for me. He loves big people food. Below was taco salad night. He had just about everything but the chips and green onions.

(I do loathe the baby-feeding-themselves there anyone else who feels the same or am I alone in that?)

And then, later, for our family home evening treat, he had a taste of a fudge bar. Jake was kind enough to share, but boy, Calvin wasn't so sure about it for the first few bites.

Then he decided he liked it after all and wouldn't stop mauling Jake!

Two Cakes with Candles

Two days after Christmas, Jake actually got candles on his birthday cake and didn't have to pretend to blow anything out like last year. I will always claim pregnancy brain and let's not forget, we had just moved in a few weeks before.

This year, Cooper was a big help. He frosted and decorated the cake and he even arranged the candles in the shape of the number 9.

For Jake's friend party, as we always do a month later, we went to Pump It Up. A party zone with two arenas complete with jumping and sliding inflatable structures. It was the PERFECT place at the end of January for a group of boys.

Heck man, I wanted in on the fun too!

Karcyn wasn't so sure about the inflatables. She wouldn't even open her eyes for the first 10 minutes we were there. She finally took a peek and I coaxed her up the ladder. Once she went down the first time, she was hooked and we couldn't stop her. She was a sliding freak! She wasn't very fast climbing up those ladders either and the boys were REALLY great about helping her to the top. She looked so funny coming down because she was so little.

After our hour of jumping we moved into the party room for...DRINKS! Wooo...we were hot and sweaty. I'm so glad I brought a jug of ice water in addition to juice boxes. Jake took his royal place on the inflatable Birthday Throne.

We sang to Jake, had yummy Costco cake and opened gifts! It was so nice because the staff set up the party room, provided all the paper products, cut the cake, served everyone, packed up Jake's gifts, toted them to the van for me, and cleaned up the mess we left behind. Now THAT'S my kind of party.

On the way home, Cooper announced he wanted his next birthday party at Pump It Up. Yeah....shock-er.


Yeah...the snow we got the 3rd week in December was wild. I had to post it just for posterity's sake if nothing else. And for anyone who doesn't live in this area, you wouldn't believe it unless you saw it. Apparently the Portland area hasn't had a snow storm like this in about 22 years (or so I heard). It started Sunday the 14th which caused school to be out every day that next week. Then another system moved in, a bigger one in fact, and we got hammered with more that following weekend.

Jared didn't get to do the snow cream with us during the week, so I put a bowl out there on Saturday morning 12/20/08 as the flakes started coming down heavy and thick. By that evening, the bowl was buried...I've NEVER seen that much snow here. If we do get it, it's usually gone in a day if not sooner. With the arctic blast of temperatures on top of the sheer volume of snow, we knew it was going to be around for longer than just a day.

Calvin got to enjoy his first taste of snow cream. Yummy!

Below are the pictures Jared took Monday morning, 12/22/08 while I was inside trying to get rid of what I thought was a gas cramp that really ended up being my IUD perforating my uterine wall. **I'm going to get off the snow subject for a minute. I've had several friends ask me if I would recommend getting the Mirena IUD as they are needing to make such a decision this year. My can't live your life in fear. With that said however, I have since received all the statements from the medical treatment I was given that snowy day. The grand total that insurance was billed....drum roll please....$15,300. (I recall being quoted $7,000 for a C-section with Calvin if it came to that--go figure!) The charges that insurance ALLOWED, were actually $9,000 and we will be obligated to pay a small percentage of that, thank goodness. So, I guess my best advice is, if you don't have an extra $10,000 laying around or insurance to pay for getting a wandering IUD out of where it shouldn't be, then I would go with a different form of birth control. The pain was more in the pocketbook than it was in my abdomen.**

This is the front of our house and then below that is the view looking south from our house. Everyone was pretty much snowed in, which made the IUD ordeal even more interesting. This was also why Jared and I were so giddy to be getting out of the house, even if it was to go to the Urgent Care, then the ER. I had been cooped up for much too long!!

This is along the north side of our house in the back.

And here's a backyard shot. I think this is way more impressive. This area would have been a great start for making some fun snow forts. Unfortunately, we were grossly unprepared. We have NO snow gear whatsoever. None of us. I had to take the kids to Fred Meyer the first day they were out of school due to the weather to get gloves and even then they weren't that great. Jake and Cooper both suffered from some minor frostbite a couple times, mainly in their feet and toes because they wanted so much to play outside. I felt so bad they didn't have any snow boots (they discovered rain boots don't cut it). Instead of feeling guilty, though I pretty much told myself that unless we go skiing or sledding every other weekend up at Mt. Hood (which we don't), I just can't justify buying snow gear that my kids will grow out of in 2 months for a snow storm that only happens once every 20 years.