Sunday, March 6, 2011

Neanderthals and Cupcakes

Yesterday, I read a post on Facebook by a friend who had recently fallen down in front of the grocery store while holding her toddler.  There were no serious injuries, with the exception of my friend's favorite jeans (may they rest in peace), but my friend and her baby both spent a few moments shedding some tears on a bench in front of the store. 

My initial reaction was sadness that I wasn't there that day to help my friend up off the ground and give her a hug.  But, what bothered me even more was the fact that some dude saw the whole thing happen and he didn't even pause to help her up or ask if she and her baby were ok.  Seriously??!!??

I have since come to the conclusion that Neanderthals still exist and and walk among us, and this uncaring grocery-store "dude" was one of them.  My guess is that he looked something like this:

I had my own encounter with one of these prehistoric oafs a few months back on Savannah's birthday.  Savannah had been attending preschool at Snow College, and she would be celebrating her 4th birthday.  So, I thought it would be adorable to bring birthday cupcakes for her to share with her friends.  I spent hours the night before baking, frosting and applying sprinkles to scads of mini cupcakes.  I carefully packaged them for their journey to preschool the next morning. 

However, when I arrived, I realize that I would probably need some help carrying the cupcakes and Vivian through the double-glass doors leading into the school.  As I examined my plight, I met eyes with a college-aged boy who was volunteering that day.  He did nothing but stare at me with an expressionless face while I tried to balance hundreds of cupcakes and a squirmy toddler.  I sensed right away that he wasn't going to walk two feet to open the door for me, so I convinced myself that I could do it on my own.  Nope. 

Viv wiggled just as I was getting the first door open, and naturally, the cupcakes went crashing to the ground.  I prayed in vain that at least a few would be spared.  Again - Nope. I glanced up at the boy who had watched everything without a so much as an eye twitch, and the focus of my prayers shifted to keeping my composure so I wouldn't be tempted to ram the cupcakes up his nostrils.

I found a gross cupcake substitute at the nearby Wal-Mart - cupcakes with blue frosting.  But let's be honest.  Preschoolers don't care about quality.  A cupcake is a cupcake, and it always tastes better when served on a Tinkerbell plate.

The kids sang Happy Birthday to Savannah, and we played in the beautiful leaves before heading home. 


Met any Neanderthals in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Small Town Livin'

Living with my family in Mayfield, UT has learned me taught me a lot about small town life.  Although I lived in an even smaller town until I was 12, I had forgotten what can happen to a sociological group when imprisoned in small clusters by miles of pasture land and a limited dating pool.

Just in case you ever find yourself in a farming town with a population of 400 people or less, here is a list of things you may not be adequately prepared for:

1.  Everyone knows everything about everyone else...or, at least, they think they do.

2.  The bigger the truck, the bigger the jerk.

3.  Big trucks are actually really, really fun to drive.  (Try not to think about #2)

4.  If your car goes off the road....

you have about 30 seconds before Brawny men appear out of nowhere to assist you. 

5.  If you want your mail, you must drive a mile to the post office to pick it up

6.  If you don't want to fire up your big truck just to get your mail, simply drive your four wheeler.


Please note:  Driving a four wheeler instead of a big truck to the post office does not preclude you from obeying the speed limit of 15 mph assigned specifically to four wheelers and snow mobiles

7.  Mullets will always be in style, so start growing yours now so it will be nice and thick by the time you pull into town

8.  Livestock outnumbers humans by at least 100 to 1

9.  Everywhere you go, warning signs for deer crossings line the roads.  However, as I ponder the landscape, I can't help but wonder if the deer are just trying to commit suicide by leaping in front of big trucks????

And last but not least, 

10.  It is more shocking to discover that your neighbor is a Democrat vs. a Polygamist.

Here's a bonus vocabulary lesson!
  • The use of proper grammar is unnecessary and sometimes confusing to others - over time, you will notice yourself using words like "aint".  Don't fight it.  Just go with the flow.
  • Tuesday is pronounced "Toos-dee" and Wash is pronounced "Worsh"
  • Vegetarian = you will eat the mashed potatoes that accompany your enormous steak
  • Vegan = "V-Gun...what's a V-Gun?  Got to get me one of them!"
  • If you come across a group of men, refer to them as boys.  For example, "Heya boys!"  If you are talking with a girl, always refer to her as "hon".

Hope this list helps you feel more prepared when you visit me in Mayfield.  Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Been gone for awhile

I've put this entry off long enough, and with a New Year's Resolution to update the blog every week, I can't put it off anymore. The last few months have been painful, and I haven't wanted to write about them. But, some day, I know I'm going to look back on them and find something to be thankful for. It always works like that, doesn't it?

I'm currently living in UT with my 2 kiddos, my mom and two sisters...and no Hyrum. No, we're not separated, and yes, we DO want to live together. That's the first thing people ask (or at least they think it and don't dare ask) so I thought I would just get that out of the way.

It all started about a year ago when Hyrum was looking for a better job and came across the training programs offered by the National Guard. He decided to apply and begin taking their litany of tests and physicals to see if he would qualify for anything interesting. We were excited to learn that he scored in the highest percentile on the basic tests. Consequently, he qualified to take another rigorous test for language studies, which he also passed! We found out later that only a very small percentage of people pass this test, so Hyrum definitely had something to feel proud of.

What an answer to our prayers! Not only would Hyrum get some training for a career that he would really enjoy, but he would be well paid during training!! It felt like such a miracle, and we made preparations to change our lives accordingly.

The plan was for him to go to boot camp on Aug. 2nd, then Military Intelligence training in October, and finally Arabic school in Monterrey, CA for 18 months. We were SOOO excited for this adventure and the opportunity for Hyrum. I've never been more proud of Hyrum or happier for him.

So, when he left for boot camp, we both quit our jobs and ended our leases for our car and apartment. Everything was lined up for the next two years. However, when he got to boot camp, they found a tiny problem w/ one of his eyes, and told him he would need to be discharged. The Guard knew about it before, but thought it wouldn't be a problem. Apparently, the Army was far more picky.

He spent weeks in limbo at boot camp hearing the Army say he was disqualified, and also hearing the National Guard say they would fight to keep him in their program. When we learned that the Army was overstaffed already by 115%, we knew they were just trying to weed people out, and that he would definitely be coming home.

I've never been more deflated, depressed, angry, worried, frustrated, disappointed, confused, and hurt in my life! Our miracle was suddenly gone in a flash. Instead of our adventure, I was enveloped in chaos of thought. What now? Should I go back to work? Should Hyrum go to school? Should we move in with family? Should Hyrum look for a new job?

The worst part was not being able to discuss any of this with Hyrum, because he wasn't allowed to use the phone. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I felt completely alone and helpless. Worst of all, I felt abandoned by God. Why did He open the doors to this amazing opportunity for us and then slam the door once we started to walk through?

By the time Hyrum got home, we only had days to figure out what to do. We simply didn't have money to start a new apartment least or to buy another car. We tried to renew our lease for the apartment, but there was already a new renter in place. We decided that I would find a full-time job, and Hyrum would go to school full time. But every time I looked for a job, I got a sick feeling that it was the wrong thing to do.

So, we decided that he should stay in Seattle with his family and keep working for UPS, since he gets great benefits there and is next in line for a full-time driver position, and I would live with my family in Utah. My dad drove up to Seattle in his truck and drove the kids, our meager belongings and me to the tiny village of Mayfield, UT. And here we've been since the end of August.

Many people can't understand why I'm being so "selfish" and not using my CPA license to support us. But I know what it's like for kids in daycare, since my mom did it for 18 years, so I can't do it to my kids. And I can't deny the sick feeling I get whenever I look for a job, so the other option is to stay faithful that Hyrum will get a better job or a promotion soon, and we will be together again.

In the time I've been here, my dad passed away, and I have learned a lot about living in a tiny town. More about those things later...

Anyways, that is an update on where I've been and where I am today. Everyone tells me it's all for a reason. I know that in my head, but my heart is still hurting. I'm still have a hard time trusting Heavenly Father or staying positive.

Have you ever felt really, really let down by God before? If so, how did you deal with it? How did you recover your faith?

Monday, May 17, 2010

One item off the list

I've been feeling a bit down on myself lately, because I have such a long list of things that I want to do, and not nearly enough time or energy to do them. I often feel as though I would be a truly amazing person if I just had another hour to sleep at night and another hour to cross things off of this list.

One of the list items is to maintain a regular blog in lieu of having to make scrapbooks. I've tried time and again to psyche myself up to make adorable books for my kids filled with pictures adorned with fancy borders, witty captions by each picture and stickers a plenty. But let's be honest. I'm a boring accountant with little-to-no creative abilities, so it's never happened. I still don't even have so much as a photo album of anything I have done since my mom stopped making books for me when I was 8. All I've got is a few shoe boxes of pictures from college, summers in Alaska, and my mission in Holland. And worst of all, the vast majority of the pictures I've taken of Savannah and Viv are still living in files on my computer. Ah...the guilt.

In our Beehives class on Sunday, we talked about Family History and why it is so important to keep records for yourself. (I wasn't planning to be there, because someone needed to stay home and wipe the runny noses that Viv and Savannah inherited from the neighbor kids. Hyrum offered to stay so I could enjoy a full 3 hours of church without having to deal with a single melt down. What a gem!)

During the lesson, at first I could only feel guilt that I had not been more perfect at keeping records. I kept having flash-forwards (is that a word?) of Viv and Savannah whining, because they were the only kids who didn't have thick scrapbooks with every one of their precious quotes in calligraphy. But the teacher, Debbie, whipped out the most amazing book that she had published herself using her blog entries. She also had photo albums with just pictures - no witty captions or stickers -- and simple writing on the back listing the date, place and who was in the picture.

I had a Forrest Gump moment!! (From the scene in the movie when he is a child running away from bullies and his leg braces fall off. His face is priceless.) I thought, "I can do this! It can be simple. I don't have to compete with all my Utah relatives and their entire rooms dedicated to mountains of scrap-book stickers and tiny bits of paper cutouts."

So, here I am. Adding to the family blog. And I am going to do my best to update it at least once every week.

This week, we got to battle Viv's wild orphan hairdo. Savannah thinks it's just hilarious.

Wow. Better go find the comb. She's starting to look a bit feral.

Much better.

Hyrum's sister, Sage, is on her high school water polo team, and we got to see her play against Mercer Island. The game was rather exciting to watch, and I have a whole new appreciation for the sport. Did you know that the players are not allowed to put their feet on the bottom of the pool during the entire 45 minutes of play? I was exhausted just from watching their warm ups.

Sage did amazingly well against the aggressive girls of Mercer Island. We enjoyed cheering for her, and we are very proud of her for taking on such a challenging sport.

See ya next week!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What happens after April 15th

Like every year during tax season, I start compiling a list of things that I want to do, but that have to wait until after the April 15th deadline. And every year, the list grows until I feel more busy after April 15th than during. (I also swear that every busy season is my last, and this time I mean it!) The list usually includes things like: go to the dentist, clean out closets, get haircuts, update my blog, lose the 15 pounds I gained from 3 months of continual sitting, re-introduce myself to Savannah and Vivian, and finally watch one of those dusty Netflix movies that I ordered back in early January.

One item that has been on the list since I moved here 6 years ago is to visit the Tulip Festival in Mt. Vernon. According to the website and everyone who's been there, visitors are treated to endless rows of colorful tulips as far as the eye can see. I served my mission in Holland, and tulips are my favorite flower, so naturally, I have been very anxious to visit. But every year, the other items on the list preclude us from making the journey. There was NO WAY that we were not going to make it there this year!

The anxiety built through the first couple weeks in April as numerous friends on Facebook posted beautiful pictures of themselves and their families all squatting besides gorgeous tulips. I could imagine myself there too - struggling to get at least one good picture of everyone smiling.

We decided to go on Monday, April 26th, because it was supposed to be the only day that week with good weather. Additionally, the website said tulips would only be there through the month of April, so we had to hustle. We got everyone dressed, packed and ready for the journey. Last thing we needed to do was to print off driving directions. Yay!! We were really going!!!

I checked the website for current conditions. What? "Long rows of tulips are now gone." Ahhh!!! Nooooo!!!!! How could they do this? They said the tulips would be there through April. Unbelievable.

Since we were all ready for a day outside, we decided to go to the zoo instead. Viv has been obsessed with Signing Time - The Zoo Train, so we thought she might really enjoy it. Turns out to be a great choice! The weather was perfect and hardly anyone was there.

Instead of trying to get pictures with everyone smiling in front of pretty flowers, I spent the day trying to get everyone to smile in front of various animals. I swear they were excited to see giraffes, but you would never know from this picture.


We got to see an array of beautiful owls, hawks and eagles.

Viv's favorite - the bears

She's trying so hard to say "bears".

Savannah's favorite - the carousel

This peacock really liked Viv. She got nervous with it so close. I had to shoo him away.

He was a little offended that I tried to get rid of him, so he showed us his finery. Then, a guy waked between him and Viv, and the peacock honked and chased him. The guy screamed and ran. It was pretty funny.

The penguins put on quite a show for Savannah.

The gorillas were the most memorable of the day. We were really excited to see the first one until we saw that he was busily eating a handful of his poop. He just tasted it at first, then he wolfed down the rest. Savannah was completely aghast, so we had to move along. We were all relieved to see that this one was feeding her baby milk and not poop.

Last stop was the petting zoo. The kids loved being so close to the farm animals. Just as we were packing up to go, it started to rain, and we made it just in time to the car.

Overall, a perfect day. We decided the kids probably had a much better time at the zoo than seeing the tulips. But we are DEFINITELY going to see them next year!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The day after Christmas

With the arrival of Christmas came the arrival of the much-desired bike. Unfortunately, no one told Savannah that she would actually have to learn to ride it. After watching other kids at the park breeze past her on their bikes with huge smiles on their faces, she naturally assumed it would be that simple. However, she soon realized that riding a bike takes skill, coordination and a bit of courage.

Hyrum demonstrated the proper facial expression when riding a bike. She was pretty amused by this and commanded him to "ride it!!" with his feet on the pedals. It took awhile to convince her that this was physically impossible for daddy.

And there's Viv watching everything in stunned silence.

In addition to a bike, Santa brought mommy a few extra lbs. To combat this, I've been doing torturous workouts. Savannah patiently waits for me to finish so she can have a turn. She carefully watches the instructor and lets me know when I am doing anything wrong.

I keep thinking she will give up after the first two minutes, but she does the entire 40 minute workout with precision.

After exhausting workouts and scary bike rides, it's time to kick back on a Princess sofa and watch a movie with your best friend.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Christmas Ever

As always, I have to begin with a picture of Viv.

Now, on to Christmas. I really think this has been my favorite Christmas since being married, which is probably because it's the first year I have a child who understands the magic. Savannah fully embraced the concept of Santa Clause for the first time, which is good for bribes, but not good for sleeping on Christmas Eve.

Savannah has a book called The Sweet Smell of Christmas. It tells about a small bear whose Christmas experiences are chronicled by scratch-n-sniff stickers. We've read the book so many times that the stickers have no more sniff, but we still love it. I thought it would be fun to bring the book to life this year by recreating the bear's experiences for Savannah...starting with...

Sugar cookies! Grandma sent Christmas cookie cutters, so we had no choice.

Apple pie came next. It's the first time I made pie from scratch. The crust recipe called for 1 1/2 cubes of butter, but I read 1 1/2 cups. I was so proud of my pie until I realized what I had done. Now, when asked what my favorite flavor of pie is, I will say butter.

Then, we made gingerbread men. Most of the men were decapitated soon after they were decorated. It's their own fault for having 5 M&Ms per face. (If you need a visual aide, there is a poor little cookie corpse on the table.)

Next came the part where we hung candy canes on our dead tree. How dead was it?? It was so dead that the branches snapped off when Savannah touched them.

The dead tree put Savannah in a melancholy mood, which probably explains why she was not excited to show off her dilapidated gingerbread house. On that sad note, she quickly went to bed after biting the head off of each cookie she left for Santa.

Santa came! Look carefully at the dolls in the dollhouse. They are crime scene evidence.

Savannah woke up at 4:00 ready to go. However, Hyrum and I were not so willing. We told her she had to wait. She chose to "wait" on our bed and didn't fall asleep again until about 6:00. Ugg.. When we finally went out to see what Santa had brought, we realized that she had already been out, because the doll family was in a different arrangement. Gotcha!

Good thing we hid her main present behind the recliner, so we were able to see her face when she saw her bike for the first time. For months, she's been saying that Santa was bringing her a bike and a "hat" (helmet). Luckily, a very generous person left a gift card to Toys R Us on our door, so we were able to make her dreams come true.

Savannah wasn't the only one who got what she wanted from Santa. Vivian got a cool new book from Jake & Danielle, and Hyrum and I got matching Snuggies. If you think a Snuggie is nerdy, it's because you don't have one. Ever been working at the computer, and your blanket keeps slipping off your shoulders -- leaving your arms exposed? You need a Snuggie!!

After presents, we went over to see Grandpa Berg and the family.

Then, we went over to the Torgerson's for Christmas dinner. They had also invited the McFaddens and the Rolls. Marty taught us how to make amazing snowflakes. It took me about 30 minutes to cut one out, and anyone could see that a boring accountant had done it. It was nothing like the ones Marty made!

After dinner and snowflakes, we sat around and talked for awhile while Bella played with Savannah and her princess dolls. It was a Christmas filled with love, excitement, friends, family, and magic. I'm already excited for next year :)