Saturday, February 28, 2009


I have a medical mystery for you. Does anyone know what the heck is all over Camp's arms? At first it was just a few main bumps that Camp kept scratching, but now it's like a full blown rash on both arms. I don't think it is an allergic reaction because it isn't on the rest of his body (although there are a few bumps that he scratches on the base of his neck in the back). Could it be extreme eczema? Please help!

And I'm just curious--Does every 16-month-old swing on a regular swing (and yelp until I push her higher) and do dog imitations, or is mine just gifted and talented? Yeah, that's what I thought.

And oh my heavens. I had the worst nightmare last night. I dreamed that one of my friends had asked me if she and her family could stop in at our house on their way to the temple this morning (or at least that is what I understood). I told her that would be fine, of course, but when i awoke the next morning (in my dream), I realized that I had somehow missed the details of her request. My entire family room and kitchen were filled with all of the members of her ward who were attending the temple trip--and they were expecting breakfast! Oh, crap! It was only after I totally panicked that I realized I was wearing my g bottoms and a sweatshirt. Oooh, that's cute. And I knew I only had enough milk and cereal for two or three people if I were lucky, so I began to get out the stuff to make waffles. After realizing that I didn't have enough of that stuff either, I sent Brian to the store in the hopes that he would return before everyone had been waiting too long. At some point, one of the youth asked me if they could make popcorn--to which, I replied, "Heck, no!" I knew that forty people, including youth, eating popcorn in my family room could only lead to grease all over my carpet and furniture. Later I realized that the group had brought along a huge carpet and coverings to cover up my carpet and furniture, so as not to dirty them. So nice! Luckily, it wasn't too long after I realized I had accidentally put a bunch of eggs into the drink that I awoke--moaning with relief.
As you would probably guess, this dream reveals a great deal about me. Namely, that my worst fear is having there not be enough food when I've got company over; that I'm kinda particular about what gets eaten outside my kitchen (hence, my kids rarely get popcorn) because I try to protect my carpet the best I can; and third, that I am going to the temple today, and I'm having people meet here to drive up with me.
But anyway, aside from that gruesome nightmare, my week has really been quite good. Brian's and my anniversary was on Tuesday, so we went out to eat here in town and then headed over to Eugene to see a movie, look at TV's at Costco, get Pizza Pipeline bread sticks, and spend the night. Did we leave the kids with babysitters? You're darn right we did! And it was fabulous! And like I said, I'm going to the temple (three hours away in Medford) today with the relief society while Brian stays home with the kids, so I've been pretty lucky.

Oh, and I have a really personal secret to share with you. If this doesn't make you feel close to me, I don't know what will. There is some sick part of me that kind of likes the taste of the flem that comes up my throat when I have a cough. Gross, huh? Maybe even a bit grosser than the fact that Janey has started to eat butter right from the container! Yuck!

Hope everyone else had a good week, too...

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm almost there...

Welp. I've almost made it. I only have to wait four more days (my anniversary) until I can spend money on myself! The strange thing is: I'm not sure I'm going to want to. I've actually began to feel somewhat empowered by my efforts to save money. Meg, do you remember me coming over to hang out at your parents' house shortly after I was married? I remember sitting in the front yard while your parents were having a yard sale and talking to you and your sisters about how hard it had been for Brian and me to make and stick to a budget. I remember Sarah saying that at first it was hard for her and Lane to commit to a budget, but that once they did, it really made them feel more free and more secure. I wish it had been before now that I was finally able to really understand what she was saying. To our credit, living on a budget has been significantly less feasible for Brian and me than for most others because we have never been on a fixed income. Not only have we made different amounts of money every single month since we've been married, but we get paid totally randomly as well. So what I'm finally realizing is that we need to decide on the minimum amount of money we need to live for one month and keep at least that much money in some sort of revolving account--so that at the beginning of each month, we can deposit it into our checking account and budget it out, and then replace it as we get paid (assuming we do get paid.) Do you know what I mean?

So anyway...This last month or so was the first in my married life (or single life, for that matter) that I have ever put an honest effort toward staying within a budget and trying to save money. There have definitely been months where we have had to spend less money--simply because we did not have any to spend, but this is the first time when we made an effort to spend less money despite having the option to spend more. And I still didn't figure out a complete budget, but I certainly progressed. When we last got paid, I put into our checking account only that amount that we decided was reasonable for us to live on. Then, I left enough money in the account to pay the bills that are automatically withdrawn and took the rest out in cash. Brian and I decided on a monthly allowance for each of us to spend as we choose, and then I set the rest aside for groceries, gas, etc. We agreed that if we wanted to spend money on anything that wasn't a need, we had to use our own allotted money to buy it. The outcome, of course? We've both been saving up our money to buy something big, instead of wasting it away on little things like drinks, fast food, etc. Brian is saving his money for an LCD TV, and I'm saving mine for a bunk bed for Camp's room, a bed for Danin, new dining room chairs to go with our awesome table, and eight or nine inch baseboards for our next house. Yep. It looks like I'll be saving for a while. But man, I just never thought saving money could be so satisfying. (I better not speak too soon. My chickens are not hatched yet. Saving for one month is just not going to cut it.) Oh, and don't you worry. I am making sure to put money aside each month for savings and our Roth IRA's. It's not a ton, but we'll pay more as we are able.

So do you want to know where I have been cutting out spending? Well, the biggest one is fast food. This means I have had to be better at planning--ahead of time--what to make for lunch and dinner instead of just dropping by McDonalds or having Brian grab some tacos on the way home. We really don't eat a lot of fast food anyway, but even five or six trips a month for a family our size saves us around 60 or 70 bucks. And I have cut back the amounts of food I make for dinner. Specifically, I try harder to make only as much as we will eat that night, and not so much that we have tons of leftovers. That way, I get a lot more dinners out of--our meat, for instance--So I don't have to spend so much on groceries. Having leftovers of cheap stuff is good, but having chicken or steak for lunch is just too expensive. And I have cut back on the snack foods I buy. AND I have not given in to sales...(I'm still kinda sad about that rug I missed out on, though.) AND I have avoided going to any stores where I might be tempted to buy something. AND I have really tried to be more conservative in the number of baby wipes and toilet paper squares I use. Yep. This is the big time. So anyway...I think this has been the most boring post I have ever written. Please don't disagree with me.

Oh, but you know what?! Two weeks from today is my mom-and-sister reunion! Ah, yeeeahhh. Oh my heavens. I cannot wait. This time I'm flying to my mom's and then my sisters are all going to meet me there. And it is going to be fa-bu-lous. And do you know what I AM going to spend some money on while I'm there? Some men's Hanes v-neck whitey tideys (shirts, not underwear). I have DESPERATELY needed some new work-out clothes, but I have even refrained from buying those until I am in Vegas and can go to target.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boo hoo

Is it just me or do turtlenecks (cute ones) and pull-over sweatshirts make your hair look cuter?

Oh, and you know what else makes me cry? Taxes. I'm sure glad Brian loves what he does, because being self-employed really bites.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Brian gave me the go-ahead.

So as I was saying...

This weekend Brian is in Vegas to attend the funeral of his high school football coach--Greg Spencer. Not everyone would feel compelled to attend the funeral of a person by whom they had been coached 12 years ago--especially when it means buying plane tickets to do so. But Brian told me that in some way, Coach Spencer influenced every aspect of his life. I would guess that Brian's past coaches are partially responsible for his incredible work ethic--the quality in him that I most admire. That being so, I guess Coach Spencer--in a significant way--contributed to the food on my table and the roof over my head. I feel sad for his passing and grateful that Brian was able to attend his services.

Thinking about Brian's deep-rooted feelings for this and other past coaches reminded me that since I have known Brian, there have only been two occasions on which I have seen him really cry--and both times, the circumstances centered around sports. The first was at the conclusion of wrestling season our senior year of high school.
I remember that Brian had recently asked me to be his girlfriend and I had gone with Meg to watch him wrestle in the Zone Tournament. Brian had done well and needed to win his sixth match to qualify for State. His opponent was someone whom he had wrestled (and beaten) before, so Brian was hopeful of victory. Unfortunately, things did not go as expected and Brian finished his high school wrestling experience disappointed. My mother-in-law*, especially, was devastated for him and we all sat around him telling him how well he had done. He seemed to be handling it alright and we (well, at least I) left that day not knowing just how hard this situation was for him. But later that night, Brian took me on a walk to Angel park and there broke down in tears. I didn't know how to console him, as I had never seen a boy cry this way before. He described to me how hard he had worked for four years to be in that spot. He had never worked harder for anything, in fact, and had practically starved himself--all for such a devastating return. (I decided to add so many details because I don't know that Brian has ever recorded this experience, and seeing that it was something that definitely ended up shaping his life, I want my posterity to know about it.) So anyway...
The second occasion--as chance would have it--also concerned wrestling. This time, though, Brian and I were married and living on Spruce Street and Brian had dedicated a good many hours as a volunteer coach for the high school wrestling team. He came home one day, obviously upset, and I questioned him about what had happened. It turns out that this day ended up being somewhat tragic for me, too--because he began to tell me of something difficult that had happened at practice, and as I continued to question him and grill him about the details, he broke down in tears again, asking me, "Why can't you just listen and be supportive?" Oh, man. What I wouldn't give to do that day over again. I hope I will never forget it, and that if something like it ever happens again, Brian will give me another chance to be the wife I should've been that day...
At this point, you're all probably thinking, This is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with the differences between men and women? Well, it's just that when I think about the hardest times in my life--or the times when I have cried the hardest--I think about my first year of marriage, and about Brian. And that's not to say that Brian has done all these horrible things--rather, that because I love him so much, I care more about my relationship with him than with anyone else. And sometimes (because I am a girl) I get caught up worrying that if Brian really loves me, why do I not have the power to make him cry? Twisted, I know. But I also know that most of you girls are saying, "Oh, no. We hear ya." But I just have to laugh and remind myself that men and women (boys and girls) are just different.
And you know what? It turns out that this post has been somewhat therapeutic for me, because it has got me thinking that maybe there is more to this whole thing than just the difference between men and women. I'm thinking that maybe for some of you girls, sports have been the reason behind your greatest pains, too, and that maybe it has less to do with your sex, and more to do with what it is you have had to work the hardest at in life in order to be successful. I know Brian put every ounce of his physical (and most of his emotional energy) into his performance in wrestling and football. According to him, he was not a natural athlete, so he had to put in that much extra effort to compensate. On the other hand, it does seem that Brian is naturally a good husband to me, so maybe that is why being a husband doesn't lend itself to so many tears. And maybe because being the best wife for Brian doesn't come as easily for me, the work required to get there has caused a few tears. Hmmmm...interesting. That may not be quite right, but it's a lot better than thinking that Brian doesn't love me as much as I love him...
On a bit lighter note--I do have an example of how boys and girls are typically different. When I was in eighth grade, I liked this kid named Patrick Hutchinson. And, oh, man, guys--it was pathetic. I remember sneaking away into the office to call him on occasion because I couldn't stop thinking about him. Did he call me? No! So should I have been calling him? Double no! Should I have been calling a boy anyway?! No! Thankfully, by the time I was a sophomore or so in high school, I had learned that in general, it is not cool to call boys--that your luck will be considerably better if you insist they call you.** Still, I was pathetic when my first boyfriend broke up with me. I had maintained my dignity considerably well while we were dating, but I guess I didn't realize how much I liked him until after we broke up--because when he stopped calling me and taking me out, I crumbled and became a pathetic groveling mess. I would call him from time to time and invite him over and...oh, makes me sick thinking about it now. Two years later, when Brian and I had been "together" for a couple months, I decided to break up with him for various reasons. I thought, however, that if Brian really liked me, he would continue to call me, or at least respond to my invites to come over. Nope. That was not the case. If he had liked me during those couple months, you sure wouldn't have known it by the way he acted thereafter. He moved right on without a second thought. I would call him to come over and he would tell me that he couldn't because he and Justin were going to play Frisbee golf. Whaaattt? So it killed me, and I wrote in my journal every night how much I hated it. And you know what the outcome was? That I wanted him all the more, of course. And then after his mission when he told me that he wanted to marry me, I had determined at some point that I didn't think it was right. But then when he seemed to have moved on again, and didn't call me for a week, I decided that oh yes, it WAS right and that I could not live without him. (Thankfully, he did take me back this time.)
Anyway, the point is--girls tend to be much more pathetic in the way they pursue guys--and especially in the way they handle break-ups--than guys are. So it would do us all well to teach our girls to LET THE GUYS DO THE WORK and spare themselves their self respect.

* I want to say that just as my mom saved me by being my best friend through junior high school and the beginning of high school, Brian's mom (and family ) probably saved him in some ways in the way they supported him in his sports. I am so thankful to them for that.

**I did, in fact, conduct an informal study in high school and college where I questioned numerous guys about whether or not they liked it when girls called them. Do you know what almost all of them said? "Yes." But then I asked them to try and remember the girl whom they had liked the most, or for whom they had had the strongest feelings, and I would ask them, "Did she call you?" And do you know what they'd almost always say then? You guessed it: "Nope."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus

You know what is totally hysterical (and embarrasing) about girls? The fact that we take pictures of ourselves.

I've been thinking lately about the differences between men and women. You know those people who will say that men and women are basically the same? Oh, no. They're not. We're different, alright. Totally different. More on this later. I need to check with Brian before I say a few things. Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Have good dreams, and don't forget to say your prayers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This is the best I can do right now.

Man, Sarah--I was doing so well at rewarding your patronage there for a while; but as of late, I just have not had a thought in my head. This is the best I can scrape out:

So my ward is having a Valentine's dance. It was originally going to be just for couples, but at the last minute, they decided to make it for the whole family. And I have to admit that I was a bit dissappointed. (In fact, I think I will likely STILL try to find a babysitter for my kids.) I mean, I think it's totally reasonable to have a few activities every now and then that are just for adults, and Valentine's Day seems like the perfect occasion for one. But anyway, this situation has me wondering about something I have wondered about many a time before: Why are some people hesitant to get a babysitter? It seems like I know more than a few couples who rarely leave their kids with a babysitter in order to have a date together, and I just cannot understand it. Over the past year or so I have seen so many instances where there has been this awkwardness surrounding the question of whether or not kids should be invited to certain parties/get togethers. To me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving your kids behind in order to enjoy a night out with your spouse. In fact, I think it is a necessity that couples do so. And yet, so often I hear couples asking, "Can we bring the kids?" I think part of me is jealous because being away from my kids at times is something I NEED in order to stay mentally healthy, preserve the 'magic' in my relationship with Brian, and be the best mother I can be. Seriously. When I come back from a date, I come back a better mother--one that is again ready to adore and take care of my kids; one whose patience lasts a bit longer and whose compassion goes a bit further. So I wonder, do mothers who never get babysitters just not need the break that I need? Are they just naturally more patient and kind and long suffering? Are their kids just better behaved? Are they just able to maintain the spark in their marriages without ever getting away? I don't know. And you know what? I am totally willing to respect and appreciate couples who prefer to always have their kids with them, but I do not think it is fair or appropriate for any of us to complain when the kids are not invited, or to ask if we can bring our kids when it is clear that the purpose of the occasion is for adults. Now don't misunderstand me. I think it is TOTALLY important for families to spend a lot of quality, fun time together. In fact, I think that "wholesome recreational activities" really do make up a good part of the glue that holds a strong family together. However, I also feel like it is crucial that couples spend time together away from their kids. And yes, I know there are times when it would be better to insist on taking our kid(s) with us--namely, we live in a town of only child molesters, we JUST moved to town and therefore do not know anyone well enough to ask them to babysit, we can barely afford to put food on the table--let alone pay a babysitter...and the list goes on. And I totally get that. I have been there before. And as you know, Brian and I do not have parents, siblings, etc., living here whom we can ask to babysit. However, I think it is our responsibility as parents to do what we can to create a situation where it will be feasible for us to get a babysitter every now and then. This might mean cutting out some fast food in order to afford a babysitter, or making a bunch of phone calls in order to find out which youth enjoy babysittng and come recommended, or GETTING to know other couples and then setting up babysitting swaps. It might mean that we have to put forth a significant effort, but I think it's important. I also know that it is hard to leave our kids a first time..and a second...and a third. But soon we realize (and so do our kids) that it is not the end of the world for us to be separated. And since I no longer seem to be having any trouble thinking of things to say, let me add this: that it is totally wrong (in my opinion) to ask someone to babysit for free if you will not be giving them the same (or another equally valuable) service in return. So there.
Oh yeah. I need to say that young nursing babies are fair game when it comes to bringing them along to otherwise adultish activites. Does everyone agree?
Also, please do not worry about the welfare of my kids' upcoming Valentine holiday. I have treats prepared for them and we will be making treats to give away, so they WILL get to share in the festivities, and they will also likely receive the valuable reassurance that mom and dad love each other so much that they make it a point to spend time together--alone.