Travis Stratford. A Birthday Quiz.

No one loves a birthday more than Travis. Not because of the presents... oh no. Although we did manage to surprise him this year with a few things. New towels and about 5 umbrellas (he's a big umbrella loser), and my mom got him a keypad for our garage door opener which will be very helpful since he refuses to carry a house key. No, Travis isn't in it for the gifts. He loves the attention. His grandma always had everyone go around and say something they like about the birthday boy or girl, and this is a tradition Travis has kept going strong on Dec. 27th, each and every year. Our friends now know what is expected of them, and they come over prepared to heap praise on Travis and try not to repeat anything that was said in years' past.

This year, the ante was upped by none other than Erin Wright, who delivered not one but THREE Travis haiku poems. I wish I had her reading them on camera... it was hilarious. First she gave us a bit of information about haiku poems. Of course we all know they should contain 17 syllables, but she also told us that they should mention the weather and have an abrupt ending. So she would read one, wait for the laughter to die down, and then pause and say, "I'll read it again." They all really did need a few readings so you could get the full meaning. Here is my favorite:

A Ride to the Train
I'm late, driving
Max singing hard behind me
look! there's Travis

Oh yes, it was awesome. I think next year we can expect our friends to walk in with powerpoint presentations and all kinds of stuff to proclaim their love for Travis. And he deserves it all!

In honor of his special day, I thought I'd do a Travis quiz. This way, you can test your knowledge of the man we sometimes call Trav-Ass. When we think we're being funny.

1. Trav's hair color is:

a. brown

b. blonde

answer-b. Regardless of the color it may appear in these photos, everyone knows that deep down, where it counts, Travis is a blonde.

2. Trav's favorite movie is:

a. First Knight

b. Twilight

c. Star Wars

answer-c. Please. Of course it's Star Wars. We have a Religious Only movie policy on Sundays, and this includes Star Wars. One afternoon Travis spent about an hour explaining the parallels between Star Wars and the gospel.

3. Travis's favorite food is:

a. candy

b. chocolate cupcakes

c. mac n cheese

answer-a. Candy, candy, and more candy.

4. Travis is addicted to:

a. candy

b. caffeine

c. Chinese massages

answer-c. He can't resist getting at least 1 Chinese massage per week.

5. Travis loves New York City, but if he could live anywhere else (and be an undercover agent for the CIA), he would live in:

a. Boulder, CO

b. anywhere in Sweden

c. Lake Arrowhead, CA

answer-b. You've never met anyone as devoted to Sweden. Except maybe Pippi Longstocking.

6. Travis has which of the following on his bedside table:

a. the Book of Mormon

b. biography of Ingemar Bergman

c. a box of kleenex

d. some chapstick

answer-none! Trick question. If you know anything at all about Travis, he's a minimalist to the core. He doesn't have ANYTHING on his bedside table... in fact, he doesn't even have one. But this doesn't stop him from asking me to fish out my chapstick from my bedside table so he can use it.

7. Travis just discovered he has a hidden talent for:

a. spelunking

b. playing the guitar in Rock Band 2

c. ballroom dance

answer-b. He rocks! We've been having so much fun with Rock Band, we're considering becoming the next Osmonds. Wish us luck.

8. Travis spent his birthday this year:

a. eating pomegranate with Scout

b. installing dimmers on our light switches

c. playing the Wii

d. taking down the Christmas tree, and painstakingly removing each and every pine needle from the living room

e. diagnosing himself with a sinus infection

answer-all of the above. He was a busy guy yesterday! Although he was able to successfully install the dimmer in Scout's room, we now don't have any light in the dining room and our bedroom. Luckily we have an electrician coming next week.

9. Travis is an excellent athlete. The one sport he's not good at is:

a. skating

b. snowboarding

c. volleyball

d. mountain bike riding

e. motorcross

f. baseball

g. bowling

h. long distance running

i. kickboxing

answer-h. Although really, he could be a great runner if he'd train. Really, there's no sport he can't do.

10. Travis is a closet:

a. grammar nazi

b. cross-dresser

c. thespian

answer-a. Thank goodness!

Hope you did well on your quiz, and maybe you learned something new about him. Like, maybe if you've met him in the last 12 years you didn't know he was blonde! If you were unable to tell Travis something you like about him, leave a comment here. He'll love it!

Movie Review 2

Don't worry... this one will be a lot shorter.

I should have been typing up a post for Trav's birthday on Friday night, but instead I was watching this movie. (Or should I say, I was fast forwarding this movie?)

It started out all right, but as soon as the main girl left for Scotland it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. I mean, we all saw season 2 of friends, right? This was exactly the same thing, except the location was Scotland instead of England. And Friends was a whole lot funnier.

Overall, a total, complete, utter waste of time. I was really hoping for something like Enchanted. I think Patrick Dempsey may want to fire his agent.


Ward Choir Xmas Program: the rest of the story

Twas the Sunday before Christmas and with the sound of the alarm, I awoke to a beautiful clear Sunday morn. Granted it was -10 degrees and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my fleece sheets;But alas, it was the annual ward Christmas Program and I was due at the church in 28 minutes. I hastily schlepped from my fleeced cocoon, threw on some clothes, washed my hair [it had been a few days] and decided that indeed today would be a mascara day. I grabbed...

  • the two Cupcake Christmas trees for my visiting teachees
  • all of the props for learning the monthly primary song
  • the 15 extra large chocolate chip cookies i'd made for the senior primary
  • the music the senior primary was singing and
  • the kitchen sink

I raced out the door only to be welcomed by a blast of cold air and wind. Truth be told, I'm no big or even remotely small fan of winter.

I arrived at the church at 8:37 am for the 8:30 am choir rehearsal, sacrament starts at 9 am. One fourth of the choir members were seated and keep in mind that there had been no Saturday dress rehearsal. Our new choir director is the first I've had that recognizes that LDS ward choirs aren't cut out for Handel's Messiah or heavy 4 part Great Musical Works. We sing simple straightforward songs [the 3 S's] and practice is never more than 35 minutes. Yep, I love this guy. Anyway, we "talked" through the program which we had never actually ran through and then the prelude began. I was a little nervous especially since he had asked that the senior primary sing a song which we practiced last week for exactly 4 minutes and that was it.

As the congregation began the final verse of the opening hymn, suddenly the organ accompaniment changed drastically and a very high voice heavily laced with vibrato could be heard singing some sort of descant [emphasis on the some and the sort]. The congregation looked shocked and so did the choir director. The 'soloist', also a member of the choir who will remain nameless, had gotten to church late and unbeknown st to anyone, had been asked by the organist to sing said solo. Liz Strong's husband had to hold a book up to cover his face as he cried with tears of laughter. The conducting member of the bishopric started giving announcements. He asked two members of the ward to stand, one of which was his wife. She didn't immediately stand and he said "hmm, not here yet". He then noticed her standing and amended with "oh, she threw me off by not sitting on the regular family bench. I haven't recognized her since she started straightening her hair". She looked like the cat that swallowed the 4 calling canaries. It was hilarious.

When it was time for the program to begin, all the choir members [8 of which hadn't been to choir in weeks] filed to the choir seats and the antics began. Things surprisingly went pretty smoothly. I asked the senior primary to come forward and they miraculously sang the song with music in hand. Later in primary one of the boys who hadn't been here last week said "were we supposed to know that song?". Half way through the program during one of the speaking parts I noticed that a member of the ward who is handicapped and in a wheelchair had wheeled herself up to the front and was apparently participating in the choir. She had NEVER been to a practice but what the heck, the more the merrier.

All in all it was yet another testimony that the church is both true and very forgiving.


Movie Review

You know things are bad when the only full length movie you've seen in a month (not counting TWILIGHT... sigh) is Dora Saves the Snow Princess. I've watched it a couple of times while doing Tae Bo (yes, I'm super-talented). And I'd like to review it, since I have a good knowledge of Dora's body of work.

Overall, the music is a big disappointment. There's only one catchy tune in the whole show, which might be an accomplishment if I weren't so familiar with Dora's Pirate Adventure. Now THAT'S good a good musical. I could sing you any of the songs right now. "Isa turn the wheel? Turn the wheel Isa!" How about those silly songs they sing with the bridge? Awesome. Why not hire a decent songwriter to work with them. If we adults have to listen to this stuff day in and day out, why not make it palatable?

Another problem I have is that the actor playing Boots has been changed. Oz can't hear anything (tubes going in on the 30th), but everyone else in the family has noticed. If they're going to get a new Boots, why not go in a totally different direction? They kid they're using now KIND OF sounds like Boots, except his voice is fuzzy and he can't sing well. He must have been playing Backpack, too, because that voice is sub-par as well. Such a disappointment. I feel as robbed as I did when the voice of Barney changed. Or when Steve left Blue's Clues and we had to endure that Joe yahoo. What's with these people? Can't anyone make a commitment to a show anymore?

It's obvious to me that more than just Boots' voice has changed. His whole personality has gone downhill. [Spoiler ahead] At one point, Dora switches places with the Snow Princess, and so at the end of the show she's wearing a fancy-pants dress. Boots looks over at her, sadly, and says, "I wish I was wearing fancy clothes like YOU are, Dora" and the Snow Fairy works his magic and gives Dora and Boots both clothing upgrades. Um, excuse me? Since when does Boots even wear clothes? Or want fancy clothes, for that matter. Do we really want to encourage babies and toddlers to worry about what they're wearing? Mark my words, this new Boots is going to be the downfall of Dora and the rest of the gang. Next thing you know, Benny the bull is going to be prancing around in Prada. I can't wait for my son to tell me (if he ever learns to talk) that he can't be caught dead in anything from Old Navy. 

On the note of fancy wear, Dora looks totally wonky in both ball gowns. If you're going to draw a character with a head the size of Texas, you can't give her a thin body when she's in formal wear. It just doesn't work. Can't the animators see that her thin body would snap like a stick if it was really supporting that massive noggin? I miss the old Dora, with her belly sticking out of her pink shirt. Perhaps she was a tad immodest, but at least her chubby stomach matched her head size.

My last problem with this show is that after Dora and Boots get their new outfits, the Snow Princess awards everyone with medals. First of all, how did she get these medals? She's been stuck in a tower for the entire episode. Are we supposed to believe they were just laying around somewhere? Secondly, I'm not saying Dora and Boots and the Snow Fairy didn't deserve some recognition for all their hard work, but since when does Dora get ANYTHING for helping people? She's always been satisfied to just have them say thank you and be happy. The Snow princess is setting her up for disappointment from here on out. Then, after she gives Dora the medal, the Snow Princess gives her the crystal she was wearing around her neck. So what, now Dora is going to be the new Snow Princess? She doesn't have the time. Is she supposed to give up her exploring adventures to stay in the snowy forrest? And is she supposed to wear that crystal around her neck WITH the medal? Come on. She's going to look like Michael Phelps.

So there you go. I would NOT recommend this particular Dora DVD, even though my son has watched it every day (sometimes twice a day) for the past week. If you want to get a good Dora adventure, my first choice would be Dora Saves the Mermaids. Now that's a show I can get behind... they clean up the ocean and even teach a mean octopus to recycle. Plus you can sing that clean up song over and over, and your 6 and 8 year old might even join in and start cleaning with you. And nothing beats the joy of Superbabies, the all time best episode of Dora. You'll find yourself humming the tune all over town.

Snow day?

This morning, at 6.30 am, we got an automated call from the school that it was a snow day. I promptly went back to sleep, as did Travis, but S could not. She was so thrilled. At 8 am I came downstairs to get oz a bottle, and took a look outside. The above picture is what I saw. Yep, the same skiff of snow we've had on the lawn for the past 3 days.

Just in case it was a funky lake effect snow, I checked the backyard to make sure there wasn't a half foot of snow out there. Here is what I saw:
Which brings me to the theme of this post: New Yorkers are wussy. Maybe not about certain things, like extreme discomfort on public transportation, or braving massive crowds when shopping, but when it comes to snow, these people are as soft-core as it comes.

They essentially had canceled school yesterday; this morning's phone call was simply a formality. The first indication I got was an email I received from a woman at the district office. I had written her a note telling her I'd bring the deed to our house and a utility bill (things they've been asking for since August, but I haven't had the time to do) on Friday morning after dropping off the big kids at school. Her reply was to bring it in after the break, since she knew it was a busy time of year and there was a storm coming. I should have known then.

When I picked up the kids, their teachers were sending them home with their holiday gifts for the parents, and both kids had holiday parties today instead of Friday. Those poor class moms. If they are anything like me, they were probably planning on running around Thursday to get everything they needed for the parties, and then the teachers called and said the parties had to be on Thursday because of the STORM. I bet there was some serious scrambling around yesterday. Once again, very grateful I am not a class mom this year.

Since I had now 2 clues that school would be off, I decided we better go to the grocery store to get butter so we could make sugar cookies on Friday. The A+P was out of control. I recalled similar situations in Brooklyn, where a big storm was promised and all the bread and milk would be gone from the shelves. It was chaos in the store, heightened by the fact that my kids discovered that our grocery store had mini-carts. So in my cart I had oz, who likes to reach behind him and grab stuff out of the cart to throw to the ground, and behind me I had S + C, each pushing their own mini-cart, fighting over who got to put what in their carts. S was the one right behind me, and pushed her cart into me so many times I'm convinced I have a slew of bruises along both calves. Needless to say, the other grumpy shoppers were not entertained my by entourage. Neither was I.

In other weather-related news, the repairmen from our oil company showed up this morning at 8.11 to install our "aqua booster" and clean our coil. They have promised me that the lukewarm showers will come to an end, for the bargain price of 2000 dollars. Believe me, I'd pay double that to have taken my last cold shower. I had passed out with the kids last night, and darling Travis had cleaned the kitchen and turned the heat down, like we always do, to 60 degrees. I turn it up first thing in the morning to a balmy 66. Since the repair guy showed up about 9 minutes after I had switched it on, we didn't get to warm up the house at all before they shut off the boiler. So right now, in the dining room (by far the warmest room in the house, and where the thermostat lives) it's 60 degrees. When I went upstairs to get yet another layer (I'm adding a lined flannel shirt to my other 3 shirts), Travis was holed up in the bed, wearing a hat with his sweatshirt hood pulled up OVER it. I guarantee he's got his Ugg boots on under the covers as well. He decided to work from home today because of the storm. 

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


The KBVN Office: Season 1 Episode 1

I have a client who lives in the UK. He is an only child, in his early 30's and EXTREMELY wealthy [not b/c of anything he has done]. He is a notorious procrastinator which this year meant getting me his final information late Friday [I've been hounding him for it since August], finishing the return and giving it to the partner who took it home to review Saturday, she dropped it at the office Saturday night and I came in Sunday after church to make the changes and email to him to sign and postmark by 5pm UK time. Disaster averted until Monday at 4pm US time I get a call from said client:

Client: "It's 10pm UK time, I am walking the streets of London, it is cold and I can't find anyone who can postmark this tax return today. What if I send it tomorrow?"

Me: "Hmmm, looks like an $11,000 late filing penalty"

Client: "Can I fax you the signature pages and you mail the tax returns from there?"

Me: "Sure except wait, our fax machine is down"

Client: "You have got to be kidding me. You have no idea how many hoops I have jumped through today for these returns. This can't even be a coincidence.:

Me: "Can you scan and email me the signature pages?"

Client: "Okay I'll go to my office and do that:

This got me thinking about other joys of my job. Below are just a few subject lines of inter office emails:




  • Gift Basket goodies in the kitchen!! yum yum!

  • We just found out that the front elevator will be down all day for a part replacement.

  • AGGHH Clients are instructed to call us and we'll come down to get them.


  • elevator is now working.....


  • fax is working (maybe) now....


  • okay to print to the Xerox- WORKROOM !!! THANKS FOR EVERYONE'S PATIENCE


  • There is a client just relaxing in the lobby area, I think he may be a while :) Just a little heads up to everyone to behave!

  • The client has left, everyone- you can be normal again

  • Heat in the office…apparently there was a pump in the heating system that went out and they should have it fixed by later today! Hooray!

  • Well, the exact time is up in the air, but I was told around mid afternoon?? Hopefully that means earlier than 5…

  • Don't use the toilets!!! Water has been turned off in entire building!

  • Toilets are working!!!!!!!!!!

  • Did anyone request an automatic call back from "Log Me In" this morning???

  • Barack Obama's Comprehensive Tax Plan attached

  • Unexplained visitors on our decks

  • Anyone have two AA batteries?

Anyone??? Anyone????


Parent Teacher conference

I teared up during my conference with Scout's teacher yesterday. Seriously. I nearly cried with joy. Not since Kindergarten has she had a teacher that "got" her... all the wonderful, marvelous, fun, crazy, exuberant things that make my daughter special. This one does. As she sat there gushing about how much joy Scout brings with her to school every day, I felt my eyes burning. And then when she read to me excerpts from Scout's writing journal, I could barely contain myself. Her verbal prowess at such a young age is incredible. She was using alliteration, simile, all kinds of figurative language... and when we got home and she read me some entries herself, she KNEW what she was doing. It was intentional. She even knew what the techniques were called.

She has truly blossomed this year. She loves to read, and every night whines when I tell her to turn off the lights and go to sleep (she really lucks out a couple nights per week when I accidentally fall asleep with Calder and she can read as late as she wants). Her math skills are improving, and her attitude is outstanding. And to discover this new talent of hers, and ability to express herself and entertain people with what she's created, was a very unexpected thing. I kept thinking all during the conference how glad I was that we moved, drama-filled though it was, so she could have this teacher and be in a school where she can flourish. And at the end of the conference her teacher said to me, "I'm so glad you moved here so I could teach Scout!" 

It was such a nice treat to go and meet with her. And now, back to the Ward Christmas party. 


Room for Rent????

It is 12 am on a Monday night and I can't stop thinking about those 10 inches of snow piled up on my deck and steps. I have two options, dawn my blunnies, pull on my coat, leave my cozy coup and shovel now in the dark or wake up earlier and do it before work. For those of you who know me, I have one option; I pull on my boots.

Now let me make something clear, I LOVE LIVING alone but as I am shoveling the snow I started to think about some of the drawbacks to living alone. Here are just a few:
  1. The VCR stops working for some reason. I look at myself and say "where did you put that user's manual?" I look at myself and say, "I'm not sure but I am positive I kept it".
  2. During a particularly witty episode of the Office I look around to share my moment of mirth with…. the picture of the family at Sara's wedding sitting on the piano. Everyone is smiling so I'm sure they think it is funny too.
  3. Suddenly I can no longer connect to the internet. I call the Comcast people and they determine the modem isn't operable but luckily they can send someone out first thing in the morning.
    - Me: "Excellent what time?"
    - Comcast: "Sometime between 8am and 12".
    - Me: "great I'll just leave the door unlocked".
    - Comcast: "No, someone needs to be there".
    Perfect, except the fact that I have a fulltime job.
  4. The alarm goes off Sunday morning alerting me to the fact that I need to get to church and lead the primary kids in song. I turn off the alarm and open my eyes FIVE HOURS later.
  5. I hate the useless fan and light mounted above my stove. Feeling Maytagmanish, I unscrew the screws fastening it to the cupboards above and jimmy it out of its spot. Blast, there is a chord attaching it that goes into the wall. I yank the chord and drywall begins to crumble down so I grab the scissors and attempt to cut the wires. Looks like I need wire cutters [as if!], so I turn to my trusty Cutco knife. The sawing begins and suddenly there is a spark and a shock through my hand and all the lights go out.

    Yep, sometimes living alone isn't all that it is cracked up to be which is why I am so glad that I don't!!!

    Before heading out to shovel tonight my phone rang and it was my mom."I just wanted to make sure you got home okay. I can't go to bed until I know you are safe."

    I called dad Sunday night and asked if he was available for a date with the Comcast guy the next day. Without hesitation he was willing to sequester 4 hours of his day to help me out.

    Tuesday after a full day at the temple mom drops by with 3 freshly baked chocolate chip cookies she gets from the Temple - "sweet, now I don't have to cook dinner"

    Thursday while at work I talk to dad who asks if I shoveled before work [snow again Weds night]. "Nope, I had to be here for staff meeting so I'll do it when I get home". The steps and deck are clear when I return home.

    Thanks mom and dad. You are the best "remote roommates" a daughter could have. I LOVE YOU.


Picture perfect...almost

All 10 grand kids on Dave's side were together. It was a Christmas parade. There was a firetruck. What a moment to capture. But wait...Brig is strapped to his mom via the baby bjorn. No matter, "Carrie - go ahead and get in the grand kid picture."

So here I am. Trying to hide behind Brig which is difficult seeing as he is about 20 times smaller than me. And then there is the unfortunate bright yellow coat which I happen to be wearing, and is impossible to miss.

I have a feeling I'm going to regret this picture for years. I can just see it framed, hanging over my in-laws mantel.


Thanksgiving clean up

I really dropped the ball on my final two thankful posts. I had blogged about being thankful for basically every member of my family except for the lewisgirls (including Dave... and Brig) and Travis. I was going to save them for the day before Thanksgiving and the day of, but as it turned out... I was shopping like a madwoman (Stew Leonards! Costco! A+P! Stop N Shop!) to get all the supplies I needed for the the next day, which I spent cooking and cleaning like crazy. So, it left little time for blogging or, to be totally honest, to be thankful. Good thing I had the rest of the month to focus on what I was thankful for. I'll save my rant on Thanksgiving food for another day.

So yes, I'm beyond thankful for Carrie and Dave. Here they are about 3 days before Brig's birth, when they came along with Nana and the kiddos and I to the world famous restaurant, Casa Bontia. As I went through my iPhoto library looking for pictures, it became obvious to me that I really lagged on the blogging this summer and have many posts to make up for, one of which will focus on Casa Bonita. But suffice it to say that Carrie was a REAL trooper to come here with us, since it's not known for the food. The sopapillas were worth the trip though. In this photo progression see how she starts to laugh and loses it along the way. I think we were laughing because I could tell by the view finder that for some reason, in all these pictures she looks like she has no teeth. No idea why. So I kept trying to get one where her teeth were showing, but it wasn't working... and we were laughing too hard by the end to even try any more.

At least you can tell that Dave has teeth. And Scout.

I am so very, very thankful for Carrie and Dave. They are so much fun to be around, and we've shared many an excellent meal where their company and conversation far surpassed the food (the above photos do NOT depict such a meal, sadly. We usually don't document our meals because we're too busy eating, and spending Kathleen and Gordon's money, to take pictures). Both of them always make me laugh, and point out (in a non-offensive way) when I'm being ridiculous. Which practically never happens. If I had one wish it would be to move studioCase to Colorado, so I could live by them (and all the other peeps I love) and hang out all the time. They are the best. But then if you're reading this you probably already know that.
And then there's Yaya, the best aunt and big (older?) sister in the world. She loves us all so much, and showers us with treats and presents and kindness. Plus she has a wicked sense of humor and is always up for going on my many adventures. To the mall. To Target. To Denver. To hike with two kids who really don't want to hike, with one who has a broken foot and is in fact sporting a black cast, while I'm carrying a baby the size of Jabba the Hut in a backpack on my back. She's the best companion; always willing to help out and keep the good conversation going. She's also the world's best question asker, although Nana likes to give her a run for her money.
Here's a picture of Yaya when she drove the little train on the Pearl Street mall. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have volunteered to drive the train if the kids and I weren't in town visiting, but she was the belle of the ball. People were talking to her and flagging her down; it was like being driven by a celebrity. Luckily her fans couldn't see how totally sweaty she was from the heat coming off the engine. Yaya, we love you!!!
And finally. I think I've already posted this picture of Travis, but since he's the family photographer we don't have many of him. I don't even know how to put into words how thankful I am for Travis. Without him, my life would be incredibly different... and I like things just as they are. He works himself nearly to death to provide a wonderful life for his children and me, and provides endless love and support (and entertainment) at the same time. He's not the best at throwing away his candy wrappers, but it's a small price to pay for getting to spend my life with him. I love you Travis. I love you up to the sky.

Enough of that. Let's start talking about Christmas now!!!


What lies underneath

What you can't see is Grampa, Leslie, Omah and Opah who are also in the hot tub but submerged under water holding their breath for the picture. We had to get the next door neighbor to leave his bounteous Thanksgiving table to come and take the picture. He only charged us $5 and we threw in a pack of fun fruits just for his trouble.

It is so sad that none of Rand's kids resemble him!!!

p.s. I can't quite recall where Brig was???

Thanksgiving in the mountains

How many people can your family fit in a hot tub?


In case you don't know who Michael Chiklis is:

It's raining in NY...

which means it's a good day to blog and clean. But I'm not really in the mood for cleaning, so I thought I'd download the pictures off our camera. I came across this great "before" shot of Crosby (or, the baby of 1000 nicknames) in the tub, a day before he was shorn like a sheep.
His hair doesn't look that bad in front, but trust me, the sides and back were a pile of nappiness. So we whipped out the buzzers and I held him in a baby straightjacket while Travis worked his magic with the clippers. We tried to leave it longer on top, but try doing anything artistic on a squirmy, screaming 1.5 year old. So we ended up just buzzing the whole thing, and now...
Some of his nicknames are: Oz, the croz, master C, dr. crosby, crozzers, cros-berry, baby ninja master. But we're bringing back one his loving uncle Dave bestowed on him right after birth. Yes, sometimes we call him Michael Chiklis.

See the resemblance?


Yesterday it was about 45 degrees here. I know, I know... you people in Colorado are still prancing around in your bathing suits. But here in NY, the weather has been FREEZING. No, below freezing. Our temp on Saturday morning was 24 degrees, "feels like" 12 with wind chill. That's why I was shocked when Mark Pope showed up at my door in soccer gear with a trophy for Calder. He's C's coach for the kindergarten clinic, which we had skipped because, you know, it was colder than Antarctica out there. 

So on Saturday, I was thankful that soccer is finally over and that both kids got trophies. I don't know about your kids, but mine are obsessed.

On Sunday, I was thankful for our fireplace. That thing is awesome... and really warms up the 1st floor.

On Monday, I was thankful it was a balmy 45 degrees. We stayed after school at the playground, and then played outside in our backyard until it got dark. Can someone remind me why I live in New York, when I'm such a fan of good weather and being outside?


One sweet ride

On Thursday Dave took his jeep in to get the heat fixed. Apparently his heat hasn't worked for 6 months and he gets "cold" driving to work at 6am in 30 degree weather. Whimp.

They promised him the jeep would be done by the end of the day. When he went to the mom and pop shop to retrieve his car there was still some work to be done. So they handed over keys to their free, "loaner" car.

Let me tell you people, this was one sweet ride.

It is hard to choose my favorite thing about the car, so I will list them all:

1. The duct tape holding the ceiling up
2. The 20 other keys on the key ring. What are they to? Maybe they also have a loaner condo and a loaner storage unit.
3. The black plume of smoke coming out of the exhaust
4. The lawn mower-esque sound
5. The bumper stickers on the back Dave didn't see until the end of the day. One was a big rainbow sticker. One said, "DEFEND AMERICA - DEFEAT BUSH."


I sort of wish we could buy this car, store it for 15 years, and give it to Brig on his 16th birthday.


11.21.08... Happy Birthday, ENOCH!

Who knew, when I met Enoch 15 years ago, that we would end up living together 3 times? You could even argue 4 times, if you count the couple of days that he and Amy slept on our futon right after their honeymoon, waiting for their apartment upstairs from us to be vacant. I was terrified to go into the living room the entire time!

Enoch is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. He'll do anything for anyone. Need a ride to the airport? Enoch's your man! It's a blizzard and your flight leaves at 5 am? Even better! 

He's an amazing dad and husband. He is always taking his kids (and usually mine, too) on adventures to the movies, the pool, the skatepark, and Costco. He races around on the weekends, trying to pack fun into every minute.

He is also funny, handy, and super cool and stylish. If you have something you're thinking of buying, Enoch will exhaustively research your options and let you know the best one. He's an avid reader and loves information. Not to mention he's super smart... and an amazing designer.

He an awesome friend. I'm so glad when I married Travis, I also married Enoch. And then he married Amy. I am so thankful for the whole Palmer family! What we have is pretty special and unique, for sure. I'm so glad Enoch was born. Happy b-day, E!


Today I had C's first parent-teacher conference, as well as an ISP meeting for Oz. It was one of those days where Amy and I tag teamed all day with the kids, and I wondered how I manage to ever be a mom by myself without the help of my friends. Oh right, I don't. 

The ISP meeting went well, and Oz is going to start receiving speech therapy 2x per week. I don't think it'll do a whole lot for him until his tubes are put in, but it will be good to have him get used to the person so hopefully his talking will take off once he can hear. I'm sure as soon as he starts to talk, and is one more voice demanding things from me, I'll take back this post. But for now, I want the little guy to be able to communicate. We are both getting pretty frustrated with his inability to tell me what he wants. I'm so grateful we live in a place where he can get all these services, for free no less!

The conference went great too. C's teacher said all great things about him, and how well he's adapted. What struck me the most is how she's got him nailed... she knows exactly what his strengths are, and how to help him with his weaknesses. It felt great to know that his teacher really knows him, and enjoys him. My only complaint about the conference was that she didn't talk at all about Travis. 


On Wednesday, I was thankful that my kids have good friends. I invited both a friend for C and S, and their buddies who came over were such nice, well behaved kids. They stayed for dinner and we had such a great afternoon, both sets playing their own thing and not bugging each other at all. S hasn't ever been as social as she is this year, and it's been fun to have her getting more into "Friends." She kept bumping into people as we trick or treated that she knew, and she would tell me, "Wow, I just have so many friends at this school!" They have welcomed her with open arms, and I'm so, so thankful that she's settled in and happy.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

I struggled out of bed this morning, which was substantially harder than normal, since I attended at 10.30 showing of Twilight last night. As many of you know, 10.30 is right around the time I shut down, rendered completely useless until the next morning. I had been out late on Friday night as well (I'm such a socialite!) so by 8.30 last night, I thought there was no way I'd be able to stay awake during the movie. But OH! was I wrong.

The group of five I went with had quite varied reactions. Amy, who hadn't read the books but enjoyed the movie (but was very glad she didn't have Enoch next to her while watching it, since it was quite over the top). Erin, who read 1 of the books (I think... she might have read 2) and thought the books AND the movie were equally cheesy. Eryka, who liked the books all right and hated the movie the first time, but really liked it the 2nd time (yes, we forced her to go with us even though she'd seen it on Thursday night), Ashley, who loved the books and loved the movie, and me, who thought the books were horrible and painful to read (except #4) but loved the movie. I mean, how could you NOT enjoy staring at Robert Pattinson (don't worry... I had to google his name to figure out who he is. I'm not that into him!) for 2 hours? He is, as I said about 20 x last night, The Hotness. I thought they did a great job of having him smolder on screen... and the movie was totally clean, which was delightful. I can't wait for Scout to be old enough to watch it with me. Leave a comment about what you thought... I know you've already seen it.

Travis let me sleep in today, and when I woke up he had also cleaned up the whole downstairs, which had been a wreck the night before. Lovely! So we had a nice, peaceful Sunday morning and I got all dressed for church (I have quite a cute outfit on, if I do say so myself.) and Oz promptly fell apart at 11.02 (church starts at 11.30). 2  weeks ago we let him fall asleep in the car on the way to church and paid dearly for the rest of the day, so I put him down for a nap and am now finally finding some time to reconnect with my old friend, the MacBook:
I took in the computer on Tuesday, because Trav's power cord wasn't working so I thought I might as well have them replace the keyboard on mine, since it had been chipping off along the bottom. I thought they were just going to quickly replace it, and wish I had a photo of my face when the genius bar guy told me they'd have to keep it for "7-10 days". I was completely stunned and felt as if he had asked me to leave one of my children at the store for that amount of time. I grudgingly left it, and was so VERY thankful to finally get it back on Friday evening. Obviously, though, it made for quite a slow week of blogging. So since I've found myself with an unexpected free 2 hours (I'm hoping he'll wake up early enough that I can still get to Relief Society) I might as well try and play catch up on my thankful posts. Is it wrong to be thankful for Robert Pattinson? Just kidding. Kind of.


thankful bandwagon

I'd like to jump on the thankfulness bandwagon for a day. Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for today.

I'm extremely grateful Dave got around to cutting his toe-nails.

I put my finger by these clippings so you can clearly grasp the length, depth, and breadth of these mini daggers. Dave has a deep seeded fear of ingrown toenails, and as a result lets his grow quite long. It is like sleeping in a bed with Edward scissor feet. Brush up against his foot too swiftly or at the wrong angle, and you are likely to lose a little blood. These bad boys have stabbed and scratched me time and time again. It is nice that the foot of our bed can be a place of peace for at least a few weeks.

Anyone who lives in Colorado will join me in appreciating the most amazing fall, ever.

Winter is no where to be found. I would estimate the average temperature of November to be 65 degrees - with a nice 75 degree day at least once or twice a week. We have had the most beautiful weather. The leaves have never stuck around quite so long - which I really appreciate, since they are Brig's #1 form of entertainment.

Last, I am incredibly grateful for this little peanut.

Just when you thought the Halloween posts were over, here he is in costume yet again. Dave called me a few weeks ago and asked me to put him in the penguin costume and take some pictures. Apparently his boss wanted to see Brig in his Halloween costume, and Dave didn't want to send pictures of our son dressed as a thug. I wonder why?

I can't possibly begin to articulate the gratitude I feel for Brig. He is such a sweet little boy.

--He gives me a huge smile every time I look at him
--He loves to go on walks and runs with me
--He is learning to laugh
--He is extremely happy during the day
--He sleeps 11 hours in a row at night
--He patiently hangs out in his infant seat when I need to work - and then rewards me with a huge smile when I can get back to playing with him

I love him so much I almost can't stand it. I can't believe we only met 4 months ago.


Happy Birthday to Ashley!

33 years ago... or maybe it was 34?... this awesome lady was born, and the world has been a better place ever since. I would have posted this yesterday, on her actual b-day, but she was on a flight home from Mexico where she was eating guacamole on the beach and partying with Yanni. Cuz that's how she rolls.

Ash and I have logged many, many hours over the past couple summers in the above position at Lake Isle country club. Last summer was a real bummer when our babies started walking, and we had to resort to shouting at each other from across the pool. I wish I had a picture from last summer of her, instead of the picture of her 2 minutes after she had a baby, but I was too busy to take any pictures at the pool, as I was keeping my son from drowning. Needless to say, she's not the inventor of the jumprope workout for nothing. This girl is in shape.

In addition to jumping rope, here are some other things you might not know about Ashley.

1. She hates cilantro. What? I know... it's inconceivable. But believe me folks, she is still cool.

2. She is up for anything... and takes her kids on amazing adventures.
Here is a picture of our kids from the time we went to the Columbus Day fair... also called the biggest rip off on the planet. The babies loved every minute of it!

3. She loves Greenvale. ALMOST as much as she loves Waverly. Or at least she loves their t-shirts.
4. She is strong. Who else would challenge the bishop to a push up contest at the annual ward clean up? She didn't beat him in numbers, but some say her form was better.
5. Ashley loves food... which you'd never know by her size 0 body. Plus she's a great cook. You should taste her spaghetti sauce!
6. She is not me. There are still people in our ward, 2.5 years after we both moved in, who can't tell us apart. If you are one of those people and are reading this blog right now, here is your clue: One of us has freckles. Many, many freckles.

7. She is one of the funniest people I've ever met. She has a great sense of humor and messes up well known sayings in ways that are always entertaining.

8. She's a huge fan of reality TV. Who isn't? Her favorites are (in no particular order) Little People, Big world, So You Think You Can Dance, The Bachelor, and the Biggest Loser.

9. She's one of the best dancers I've ever seen. Nobody can break it down in a kitchen (or on a boat, or at Greenvale night, or in a library) like Ashley... even when she has a slipped disc. Just ask the YW about camp this summer!

I love Ashley and am so thankful (get it? I can count it for a thankful post!) she was born. And that she moved to Westchester and married Jon, who is so much fun, and had kids that match up with my kids perfectly, and who loves doing all the same things I do. Leave a comment and tell me something you love about her.

Happy Birthday Ash!!!


FHE sans the Family

So I hosted a appetizer/dessert soiree on Saturday. I usually do this post the October 15th deadline for three main reasons:

1 - It gives me an excuse to see all of my favorite people since I figure who can turn down free food where you don't have to tip
2 - I get to try all kinds of new recipes
3 - My dad "begs me" to have a social gathering that he can clean for, disappear for, and then reappear to help wash and put away all of the dishes.

Since dad's diagnosis in June 2007, I haven't thrown this biannual event for 1 1/2 years so I was overdue. I sent out invitations about 3 1/2 weeks ago to almost 50 people. I spent hours looking up and visualizing recipes, reading food blogs, and dreaming of all the fun I would have. When I had about 50 recipes I had a moment of lucidity and realized I needed to narrow it down. I carefully chose a mere 20+ appetizers and 10 deserts [don't worry, I didn't exercise any fasting or prayer].

For the past weeks I have made multiple lists and trips to the King of Soopers and spent many hours preparing the delicacies. Mom's freezer got fuller than a tick.

I learned a few things along the way such as:
  • I would rather have my teeth pulled sans Novocaine then work with phyllo dough
  • graham cracker crumbs can and do go rancid
  • Scott Davies is my hero b/c he went for the dessert first [he is still healing from the Obama win]
  • You can beat half and half till you are blue in the face but it will never get to "soft peak" stage
Soooo, needless to say after spending most nights for the last month preparing for "festivus", I was at a loss as to what to do tonight.

I planned to go to Denver to grab an evening with the Notorious B.R.I.G but Carrie informed me that Dave was having his first PPI with his son. I then called mom to see if she wanted to go and get a winter pedicure but she was headed to Broomfield for Tanner's basketball game. So, I decided to go hang with Courtney Davies and my adopted 3 nephews and niece since they are ALWAYS home. I stopped at Dairy Queen and picked up a ice cream cake and showed up. Ethan who is 4 greeted me at the door exlaiming "did you bring your swimming suit"? Seems they were on their way out the door for a family swim. Ethan urged me to drive home and get my suit. My reply was "I live pretty far and it would take too much time". "How many miles?" was Ethan's response.

The bishop lives a couple of houses down from Courtney but the last thing he wants to see on a Monday night is a ward member. What would I do?

Suddenly it came to me, I'll rent a romantic chick flick and lose myself in a romantic haze and go to bed feeling all warm and fuzzy. Back to King Soopers but not for food this time - the poor checkers were totally confused. The blue box informed me that my movie of choice "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants II" was checked out. Frantically I scanned the new releases and settled on "I am Legend".

Is that a giggle I hear?

For those who have and have not seen this movie, be assured that there is nothing "chick, flick, warm or fuzzy" about it. Coming from a girl who had nightmares after watching Little House on the Prairie, this was not what I expected. And get this, the movie kept freezing up and I would have to restart it and try to find where I had left off.

Now rest assured, I am not trying to solicit pity. I love my life as a Singleton but for those of you who at the end the day think you might strangle your kids or would give anything for a night all alone, remember that there is just something special about having the F to go with the H and the E.


Can you tell I'm losing steam?

Sorry, people. It's not that I'm not thankful... just thankful and BUSY! For the past 3 days...


I didn't actually hear this news on the 14th, I heard it on the 12th. As many of you know, my dad was diagnosed with leukemia almost 1.5 years ago. He has fought a great fight, along with the help and support of my mom and siblings, and on the 12th he had a blood test. The whole family always stresses out on these days, and they happen every 3 months. On the one hand, you want the test so you know he's doing well and the chemo has worked. But on the other, you are dreading what the results might be. I didn't realize until AFTER I woke him up by calling too early (oops, one of the hazards of the time zone difference), so I had tried to get off the phone with him as fast as possible. Then my mom mentioned the test was that day and I barely thought of anything else, until I got the call at 4.30 that his counts were good and all is well for another 3 months.

I am so, so grateful for every day now. His getting sick really put life and family and everything in perspective for me. Every day is valuable. I really look for those moments of joy in each day... and usually I get at least 1 per day! I'm so grateful for my dad and all the things he has taught me... either through lectures in the living room or by living as an example. I love you Dad!!! Keep fighting!


Finally... I got to be thankful today that soccer was cancelled. It looks like we've got one more week left, and I can't wait for it to be over. NO ONE in our family wants to be ANYWHERE at 9 am on a Saturday morning. Least of all a freezing cold soccer field with a crazy toddler running around, trying to steal the ball, take the cones, and get tangled up in the goal net. Oh yes, today I was very thankful for the rain so we could stay home. One more week! I'm praying for no night games to "make up" what we've missed. Let's just let it go, people. Let it go.


Oh this is going to sound evil... but I was thankful today that S is still a bit under the weather, and so am I, and so is Oz. We were just sick enough to rationalize skipping stake conference, which I heard was amazing. I wish we could have watched it from home. At least the attic got organized and we got some awesome hang time at home. And the Palmers fed us not one but TWO meals... crepes for breakfast and burritos for dinner. How can you not be thankful for that? We are lucky devils. And now I'm really thankful I can take this laptop up to bed and watch 30 Rock on it. Horray for laptops!



Today at 1 PM, Rand left (that's him on the left, roasting marshmallows with the boy in pink goggles). He was here for a short visit... about twice per year he schedules meetings in New York and we usually get him for dinner, and if we're lucky, an overnight stay. We've done some pretty fun things together in NY; we were laughing about some of them last night. Such as our ultra-deluxe accommodations when we went to the Jersey Shore and the Circle Line boat tour we took in the driving rain. I also recall a few years ago he was staying in midtown and had a morning break, so I left the kids and met him up at his hotel to run at Central Park and then have breakfast together. It's one of my best memories... running with Rand. We started running together the summer before he married Leslie, and it's something we really enjoy doing together. I especially used to enjoy it after it had rained. Rand would run ahead of me and pull the tree branches down behind him, so I would get showered. Luckily he didn't do that to me today (and he could have, since it rained last night) but he opted not to. So I'm thankful for that... and that he's my brother. 
He's such a great big brother, uncle, and father. He's completely loyal and devoted to us all, and expends great amount of energy on family vacations as the director of activities. Our first vacation with my family, Travis was exhausted and said, "You didn't tell me I would need to TRAIN to go on vacation!" Most of the activity is driven by Rand, who has energy in excess and doesn't like to see anyone sitting around when we could be out having fun. 
While I'm at it, I'll go ahead and mention how thankful I am for his whole family. I have the best nephews and sweetest little niece in the whole world. Here they are, all enjoying Dora with Oz. Everyone can be a Dora fan. They are excellent cousins to my kids;  always up for playing and sharing and going to various rec centers. 
I'm also so thankful for Leslie... that's her in the BYU sweatshirt. I had to swipe it off her Facebook page... she used to have the biggest hair you've ever seen! Now she's one of the hottest moms in Colorado... and so fun and easy to be with. She always makes awesome food and mentors me in Ebay shopping, jewelry making, and candle accumulation.
I love you guys... so glad we are related.


I had a crazy, frantic day today. It all started with a 9 am visit to a pediatric ENT, who we had been referred to by the audiologist Oz met with on Saturday. I've been concerned that he's not speaking yet, and decided to have him evaluated for possible early intervention. It came out that he had recurring ear infections all last winter, and his hearing test on Saturday revealed that he currently has fluid in his middle ear and thus has hearing loss because of this. 

So I took him, only to find out about the fluid and find out what next steps would be needed to get the fluid out. I was fully prepared to find out that tubes were needed, so that part of the visit was no surprise, but I was shocked that he currently had an ear infection. RIGHT NOW, when I never, ever would have thought something was wrong, my 18 month old has an ear infection. I was given a script for antibiotics and all I could think was, he constantly lives with ear pain. It barely even affects his life now, he's so adapted to it. And he can't hear well... none of the things that we hear. No wonder he's not speaking.

I'm so, so glad for modern technology. I can't wait to get those tubes put in (not till December) and find out how it improves his life. I've already heard many stories from other parents about how tubes changed their child's life. Hopefully his speech will improve quickly, but mostly I hope he won't be in pain anymore. I'm so thankful for doctors and health care. I wish everyone in the world could have it as good as I do.


I hadn't planned to do the kids back to back like this, but S was sick today and it very much made me appreciate the way she usually behaves. All day long, she was very whiny and mopey and emotional. Not typical behavior at all. So today, I was thankful for this wonderful girl... my daughter.
I can't put into words how remarkable she is. How if I had been allowed to make up a list of things I'd want my daughter to be, most of her attributes wouldn't have been on the list because it never would have occurred to me that someone could be like her. 
She is fearless. Fun and adventurous and TRULY up for anything. She is not emotional or dramatic, as most girls can me (including yours truly). She is independent, strong, confident, smart, capable, athletic, outgoing, daring, inquisitive, caring, deep-thinking, artistic, and loving... among other things.
Did I mention how funny she is? She has an excellent sense of humor, and can laugh at herself with glee, never thinking to be embarrassed if she makes a misstep. Here she is in Nana's extra high chair this summer. She took most of her meals right alongside Oz in the tiny high chair. 

She deeply loves her brothers, and is especially good at taking care of them. She is always watching Oz intently, sure he is going to die with every step. She'll yell out, "MOM!!! Are you watching him? Do you see where he is?" if he is within 100 yards of a road. I have to reassure her constantly that I am able to keep him alive all day long while she's at school, and she doesn't need to worry or watch him because I'm on it. She loves to play with both of them, and they adore her.
She loves, no she LOVES food. I've never met a child with more advanced tastes. She's a fan of mushrooms (fresh, not canned), basil and capers on pizza, fancy olives, blue cheese, and sushi. She wants to eat whatever the grown ups are eating and detests kid food like mac and cheese and PB&J. She adored working in the garden with Grampa this summer, and would eat most of the raspberries and many tomatoes before they ever made it back in the house. Her favorite food is probably fresh bread and tomatoes, and she's a big fan of ice cream.
I absolutely, completely, adore this little girl... on the cusp of being a young lady. I love hearing about all the things she's learned at school, her adventures, her daily highs and lows. I'm so lucky I get to be her mother. She is everything I wished I had been at her age... including having less freckles. I love you!!!