Sunday, June 26, 2011

Show and Tell

The second-to-last week of school, Sadie's kindergarten teacher wanted her students to do four days of show-and-tell. Each day had a specified part of the alphabet - the thing you brought had to start with one of the letters. For example, the first day was A - D, I think.

What better time than now to get Sadie acquainted with China? I thought. I asked if she might want to talk about different aspects of China each day for show-and-tell. I was surprised that she agreed. I thought for sure she would want to bring her Littlest Pet Shops, My Little Ponies, etc. Anything with "little" in the title is her favorite.

So Sadie and I spent that week doing research on China. I would give her several ideas for what she could talk about on each day, and she would pick one.

For the first day, which was letters A - D, she wanted to talk about Baoding. We picked up a map at Tools for Learning and made sure to point out where Baoding was:

The next day (E - H) , she wanted to talk about the Great Wall of China:

She and I learned that, if you add all the little sections of the Great Wall of China together, it's more than 5,000 miles long. We also learned that an estimated one million people died making it through the years. Oh, and one more factoid - you canNOT see it from space. That's an urban myth.

On the third day (I - P), Sadie decided to talk about pearls. China is the world's largest exporter of pearls. My mom was holding onto a pearl necklace to give to Sades when she turns eight, but she decided to give it to her early so she could show it to the class:

She LOVES her pearl necklace. She told the class what she learned about how pearls are made, with the mussels and the speck of dirt and the irritation, yadda, yadda, yadda.

On the last day (Q - Z), Sadie wanted to talk about train transportation in China:

She very, very much wants to ride on one bullet train and one sleeping train. That is her biggest goal for our time in China. She and I also learned to avoid train travel during the Chinese New Year - talk about crowded. The pictures I've seen of train stations that time of year give me a mixture of Social Anxiety Disorder and Claustrophobia. We'll stay put in Baoding during that time, I think.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Heeeere I am to save the dayyyyyyyyyyy!!!

That little Gage is so wiggly. The other day, I put him on the changing table, then leaned down to grab the baby wipes and a diaper from the floor, and the kid tried to dive off it. I took a flying leap to catch him. Thankfully, I caught him before he hit his head on his space heater and/or his crib leg, but I got a nasty bruise in the process.

The changing table has crazy-high edges on it - I honestly didn't think he'd be able to roll right over them. He's strong. I've always poo-pooed the straps that come with the changing table mattress, but now I have to totally use them to keep the Little Man contained while I'm trying to change him.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Downward-Facing Dog

Gage is a yogi.

The kid has freakish arm strength.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mikey's Three!

Mike turned 3 last month. Time flies. We had a little family par-tay for him. Here he is, opening his presents:

Giving a nice fake smile, pretending to care about getting clothes:

Ben and I got him a couple of Automoblox - the week before, all the kids had been fighting over theirs, and we thought adding a couple more to the collection might calm things down:

But whattaya know - nobody has touched those dang Automoblox since the night of Mikey's party. Sheesh. I'm sooo packing those Automoblox in Mikey's suitcase for China. He WILL play with those, dang it. I'm packing them for spite.

This pic of Gage makes me laugh so hard:

"What IS this thing???"

Monday, June 20, 2011

I guess I was gone?

I was going through pictures on my hard drive today, and I found some pics that Ben took, apparently.

They make me laugh. Especially Mikey's expression. My guess at the culprit of the chocolate smearage? Toast with nutella on it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Post-Nap Depression Rears its Ugly Head

Micah's in that awful stage where he only naps like half of the times I put him down for a nap. Sigh..... I hate when that happens. I also find, at this age, that kids have a harder time when they wake up than they did, say, when they were one. They cry and weep and wail and gnash their teeth, etc. I had a friend once call it Post-Nap Depression. Perfect name.

I'm still fighting the good fight. I reeeeeeeeeeeally need time away from Mikey for awhile every day, so I insist on putting him down. Sometimes he yells and throws things the whole time he's in there. And then I make him put away the toys he threw. Maybe someday he'll understand that it's counterproductive to do that. Sometimes he wakes up wayyyy too early and cries and cries and cries. I settle him down with a My Little Pony movie, and bam. He's down for the count:

Sometimes he's behaving himself and happy, so we go without a nap. And then he falls asleep in the car when we go pick up daddy from work.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My sisters are amazing.

I just think that all of them are so talented and funny and cool. And smart.

My sis, Nat, and her hubs, Pete, were in charge of their ward's roadshow this spring (Yes, I'm behind. I'm trying to catch up before we leave). It took a tonnnnnnnnnnn of time and work; I felt badly for her. I hope I never get a calling like that. The theme for the whole stake was "A Time Machine":

Each ward was assigned a time period - Nat's ward got The Book of Mormon. This is what they came up with:

Isn't Nat clever?

The whole time I was watching their show, I kept thinking, "This is soooo Nat and Pete." And I mean that in the best way possible. Cool opening dance number at the beginning to a very cool song I've never heard before? Check. Fake arms that the actors held from inside their shirts, then released when the arms got cut off? Check. The singing of "My Little Buttercup" from The Three Amigos? Check. A West Side Story-esque snapping and dancing number? Check. An angel that appears on really, really tall stilts? Check. A guy who does the perfect impression of David Caruso from CSI:Miami, complete with cheesy puns? Check.

And to top it all off, a Baliwood dance number at the end.

It was so cool. I was grinning from ear-to-ear. They did such a great job. I'm impressed by Nat, yet again. Good job, sis.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm going to miss these.

My Surrogate Sister lunches with Em and Lyner. Yeah, this pic was taken before my haircut. I just love these girls. We had mango chicken salads at a Mexican place (can't remember the name). They were FANTASTIC.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 22...

...of the 31-Day Blog Challenge - Your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Oh, this is a no-brainer:

Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip. Oh, bestill my little heart. That bittersweet chocolate is just perfect with the mint. Mmmm.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 21...

...of the 31-Day Blog Challenge - a photo of something that makes you happy.

Gardening. I love it sooooo much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 20...

...of the 31-Day Blog Challenge - the meaning of your blog name.

All I have to say is, thank goodness for thesauruses. (Or is it thesauri? Probably the latter.)

The thesaurus is my best friend. Especially when I'm writing poetry.

So here's the story. I wanted my blog name to basically say, "Kar's Family." But I didn't want it to be that boring. So I looked up "family" on an online thesaurus, and I saw "kith and kin." I was like, "What is 'kith'?" I knew what kin was, obviously. I found out that the phrase, "kith and kin," is an idiom meaning "flesh and blood." It was perfect because it's all Englishey, and what's most important, it's alliterative. Like I've said before, I heart alliteration.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I don't know why they love him so much...

Megs' boys adore Dylan. They always want to play with him. I don't get it.

I mean, I adore Dylan, too. I really do. But he just kind of...ignores them. So I can't figure out where the draw is. Maybe because he's an older boy? I don't know.

Dylan just kind of has his own agenda and goes forward with it, not worrying about what anyone else is doing, whether if he's hurting anyone's feelings, etc. It's all about him. If other kids are along for the ride, that's fine with him. But he's not about to coddle anyone or put forth any extra effort to be nice.

Which means that he is, like, the opposite of me. I'm too nice. I need to take a page from Dylan's book, really.

For example, he is so into himself that, when Sadie was born, he didn't really even notice. I think he finally realized that there was another child besides him when she was maybe six months old. Same with Mike. The other day, Ben was lamenting that Micah, um, prefers feminine things. He said, "It's all Dylan's fault, you know. If he had shown any interest whatsoever in Micah, then maybe he would like boy things." I rolled my eyes. "Mike is going to be fine, honey."

Ben has a flair for the dramatic. We have established this fact.

These pics are from when we were hanging out at Megs' house one evening.

Megs and her hubby are so funny. They're good friends. They've been so concerned about us being ready to leave that they have actually done some of the work for us. A gal I've met who is an expat in Beijing suggested that I bring my own deodorant with me, because she says there's not a huge deodorant selection over there. That, if I'm particular about my deodorant (and I am), I should buy enough to last me my entire time that I'm there. I mentioned this to Megs, and guess what the girl did? She used her coupons (she has madd couponing skillz) and bought me a ton of deodorant in my favorite brand. What a sweetheart.

And then her hubby downloaded Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur Mandarin lessons for us and burned them onto a CD. We put the lessons onto Ben's iPod, and we've been listening to the lessons quite a bit. I'm not a very good auditory learner, so it's been hard for me to pick up, but it's coming along, slowly but surely. I've listened to Lesson 1 four times now, and I can honestly say that I just about have that lesson down pat.

Want to hear what I've learned? I'm excited. I'm obviously spelling these things out phonetically, aiight?

Excuse me. - Toy po shi.
Can I ask - Chin when
Can you speak English? - Ni way schwah Yingwen ma?
No - Bo
No I can't - Bo way [This was easy to remember. It reminds me of "No way.]
I can speak Mandarin. - Wah way schwah Po tone quah.
I am an American. - Wah shi Maygwan zchen.
A little - Eee day-are.

Pretty cool, huh? I listen to the lessons while I jog. I'm sure I look special, jogging along, yelling aloud, "Po tone QUAH!"

Thanks for being such good friends, Megs and Mark.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Dude. I've realized something since my kids (and the rest of the kids in my neighborhood) have been out of school.

Apparently, I am a free baby-sitter. The mother of myriads. That has a nice ring to it. I love alliteration.

But I HATE being taken advantage of. It's so unfair that I be assigned Designated Neighborhood Mommy, for three reasons.

1. I hate baby-sitting.

I don't really like kids. Shouldn't someone who relishes children be Mother Earth of our neighborhood? I have hated baby-sitting for as long as I can remember. I always did it grudgingly. No amount of money was worth the torture of watching naughty, rude children. I'd tell them not to do something, and they would continue doing it. What was up with that??? I always told myself that my own future children would never be this naughty. Ha!!

I have an affinity for teenagers - I chose the perfect career for myself when I went into secondary ed. I just... get them. I love them. I think they're really funny. I loved teaching that age group. If you asked me to teach el ed, I think I would shoot myself.

I've lucked out so far and not had a calling in Primary or nursery. Knocking on wood right now. Whenever we move into a new ward and meet with our bishop, my husband always gives me a hard time by telling the bishop that I would really, really love to be in the nursery or primary. And then I always punch him and blush and say that, actually, that is the farthest thing from the truth. Kids are just not my schtick.

Why did I have four of them, you ask? I don't know. I'm crazy, I guess. And, like I said, I thought mine would never be like that. Which is funny. Mine are probably the naughtiest kids I know. I love them, but yes, they are NAUGHTY.

It's weird - I have a feeling that I'll get along better with my kids when they're teenagers. I'll probably be eating those words in 10 years, but I don't know.

2. I have too many kids as it is.

I can't keep track of the ones I have, dude. I cannot add any more to the mix. There is always one of them crying, needing me, while I'm attending to another one. I run from kid to kid to kid. This is why I never have time to clean my house. Or pee. Or paint my toenails.

3. I'm not a patient, kind person.

I'm like, "Leave me alone. I have stuff to do." I have little patience for childhood drama, tattling, boo-boos that aren't bleeding and therefore do NOT need a band-aid, etc.

4. Helloooooooooo. I'm trying to pack for China.

If anything, people should be baby-sitting my kids. I don't have time to baby-sit other peoples' kids when I have boxes to pack, insurance companies to haggle with, doctors to call, postmasters to have discussions with, etc.

Here are the pawns in the neighborhood adults' passive-aggressive baby-sitting chess game. A game that I am losing:

The Nappy Neighbors

You're familiar with the Nappy Neighbors. Their mom works all day; their dad works all night. The dad sleeps all day. So guess who gets to supervise them, for free, all day long? ME!!! I really, really love gardening, but I'm starting to hate it, because when I'm out there working, they think it's an invitation to come and talk my ear off about stuff. I can't even understand them half the time, because they have pretty intense speech impediments that their parents don't seem to care about. And then they tattle on my kids and on each other:

"Um, Dylan's Mom (they can't remember my name, so they call me 'Dylan's Mom'), H.B. pushed me."

"Wow, that sucks. Maybe you'd better go tell your dad."

"My dad's sleeping."

"Well, either wake him up or just buck up."


"Dylan's Mom, I'm thirsty."

"Wow, you'd better go to your house and get a drink."

"We don't have any drinks."

"I'm pretty sure you have water."

"But I hate water."

"Bummer for you."

Yeah, I'm super-nice.

Ashlynn, the youngest Nappy Neighbor, and the one I've had the most run-ins with, is hard. I think maybe there's something not quite right upstairs. When she does things she shouldn't, I'll try to kindly, but firmly, let her know it's not okay. For instance, the girl loves to climb on my porch railings and jump over my flowers onto the grass. This pisses me off. You know how I feel about my flowers. Sometimes she misses and lands right in 'em. It makes my blood boil.

So, the other day, she was at it again, climbing up my railing and jumping over my flowers. I went out there, said, "Ashlynn, no climbing on my railing. And no jumping over my flowers."

She just stared at me and then sat on my railing. This bothered me.

"And no sitting on my railing, either. Maybe go sit on your OWN railing," I suggested. I could have added, "And jump over your dandelions." But I bit my tongue. The girl continued sitting on my railing, staring at me.


Staring. Sitting.


Her older sister finally intervened. "Ashlynn, come over here and get off Dylan's Mom's railing." Then she finally moved. Sheesh.

The other day, Megs came over with her kids. We wanted to go to the local park (like three houses away from mine) to let the kids play on the big toy while we chatted and played Phase 10. It would have been so much fun, if the Nappy Neighbors hadn't been there. Megs and I are sitting on my blanket, playing, and all three Nappies are watching us, lying on their stomachs, hands on their chins, like it's the most interesting thing in the world. And they were like two inches away from our card pile. Major personal space invasion going on. They kept asking us how to play, and we just kept saying stuff like, "Why don't you go play on the big toy like normal kids???" I almost snidely said, "Maybe you should tell your dad to wake up and teach you." Again, I bit my tongue.

Pats and I were at the park a couple of days ago. Ashlynn kept coming up to us and telling us that H.B., her older brother, was lost. Nowhere to be found. "Wow, that sucks. Better keep looking," we kept saying.

Patty said, "So, Ashlynn, what does 'H.B.' stand for?"

Ashlynn looked confused. "What do you mean?"

Patty said, "Well, it has to stand for two names, his first name and his middle name, right?"

"Ohhh. Yeah. It stands for Hoyt Fudge."

Pats and I looked at each other.

"But if his middle name was 'Fudge,' he would be called 'H.F.'"

She just stared at us, totally not understanding the concept of initials standing for the first letters of names. We eventually encouraged her to go and keep looking for H.B.

After she left, Pats said, "There's something not quite right about that girl." Yep.


Not much more to say about Katie. Her mom is a meth dealer. Katie's over here 24/7. But not to play with Sadie. She likes to follow me around and talk and talk and talk and talk. If it was up to her, she would eat here for every meal, sleep here, etc. Finally, during the winter, I made a rule that she had to go home at five. And now that it's nicer outside, my rule is NO non-Kar's kids inside in the summer. I don't need them in my hair. And they need the sunshine and fresh air.

The other day, Katie came over and said, "Ummmm, my mom was wondering if you can watch me for an hour while she takes my brother to the doctor. He's REALLY sick."

Sure, Katie. Sure.

The truth is, I haven't seen their little one-year-old son in a long time. And I haven't seen Plumber (Meth's boyfriend) in a long time. I thought Meth herself was gone, but she just barely got in someone's car and drove away with them. Hmmmm.

Some lady I have never seen came over a few days ago, put all of Meth's belongings on the front lawn, and posted a sign on a piece of notebook paper: "Garage Sale." A little impromptu affair. She had the Nappy Neighbors help her hold these notebook signs and try to get people to come over. The Garage Sale lasted all of one hour. Sadie begged to help with the sale, and I told her, like I've told her a million times, that she is not to go over to that house EVER. That it's dangerous.

Then some dude comes over, talks to the lady, they pack the stuff back into the house, and they both leave. I haven't seen them since.

Could it be that Meth got kicked out??? That she's moving out? Crossing my fingers so hard right now.

Dylan M. and "Braid"

Dylan has a friend who lives like a block away named Dylan M. His little brother's name is Braden, but Sadie always calls him "Braid," which I think is funny. These kids are always over here. Traipsing through our house. I have to tell them like twenty times per day to stay outside. One night, they were in the backyard with Dylan like at 8 p.m., and I was bathing Sadie. Braden was like, "I need to go Number Two." I told him that Sadie was in the bathroom, so that wouldn't be possible. He couldn't believe that I wouldn't let him into the bathroom. I was like, "Walk like 50 steps to your own house and go poop." Grrrr.

He never ended up going home to poop. He just...held it.

They invited Dylan and Sadie to run through the sprinklers the other day, and I was like, "Good. It's about time they return the favor." I've met their parents and felt safe about it. So they get all dressed, and I get sunscreen on them, and they go over there, and they come back in half an hour. "Their mom said we had to go home," they told me. Neat. Thanks, Lady.

When the kids were getting ready to go running in the sprinklers, Dylan wanted to find some random thing in our storage room. Like a snorkeling mask or something. Like you really need something like that to go running through sprinklers. So he and Braden start digging in my storage room, going through stuff, and I find them in there and go, "Dude, what are you guys doing???" I had to shoo them out. Sheesh.

Tabby (name has been changed)

Her stepmom can see my backyard from her yard, so when she sees the kids are out, she sends Tabby over. Tabby is fine. She just asks for food 24 hours a day. I have to keep telling her to eat food at her own house. I don't have the money to feed the whole neighborhood. My own kids are eating me out of house and home right now.

And she comes in the house over and over and over again. Stay out, honey. Stay outside. Stay out.

And she doesn't ever want to walk across the alley to go back home. It's like she needs an escort to walk three steps from her yard to mine. I'm like, hon, I don't have time to be your personal escort. Just walk.

Tabby's stepmom keeps borrowing my vacuum, too, which really bothers me.

Payton (name has been changed)

Ooooh, this little girl frosts my cookies most of all. She comes over with her mom to visit her grandma on our street. And then she escapes and makes a beeline for my house. And then she just lets herself in. If the front door is locked, she lets herself in the back door. Hellooooooo????

If I'm fortunate enough to see her coming my way, I hurry and lock both doors, close my front window curtains, and don't go in the living room, so she can't see me if she comes around back. Yes, I am hiding from a three-year-old.

Once, I was walking out the door to take Micah to his speech class, and my mom was going to watch Sadie and Gage. This little Payton had let herself in my house, eaten some candy from our table, and was not about to leave. And my mom didn't feel like baby-sitting her. So I had to actually go down to her grandma's house, knock on the door, and say, "Hi, uh, your graddaughter escaped and is bothering my mom, and I have to go. Can you come and get her???" The grandma just laughed. And her daughter in the background was like, "What??? She got away? That little sh*t!!!" Like it was the funniest thing in the world.

It's not funny.

I was out on Saturday, planting marigolds, geraniums, petunias, and alyssum. Ben had the two older kids, and my two youngest kids were napping. I was so looking forward to a quiet afternoon of planting. One of my favorite things. And this dang Payton comes running out of her grandma's house, straight for me. My heart sank.

"Hey!" she said. [She always says that. "Hey!" "Hey!" "Hey!"]


"What you doin'??"


"I wanna help."

"Nope, I'm going to do it myself."

"But I wanna help."

"That's too bad. I'm doing it myself."

"What kind of flowah is dat?"

"A geranium."

"A what?"


"It wed."

"Yes, it's red."

"I wanna help."

"No. I'm planting them myself."

And on and on.

Kill me now.

She totally ruined my quiet planting time. H.B. saw her bugging me and chuckled. "Annoying, huh?" he called.

"Uh, yeah, H.B. Annoying." [Should I have called him "H.F."? :) ]

So there you have it. My rant. Sorry. I guess I had to get it off my chest.... I used to actually sometimes make up stuff to do to get away from our house, and therefore, get away from this apparently compulsory baby-sitting duty. I'd be like, "Oh, we really have to deposit this check right this minute." And I'd load up the kids, deposit the check, and then make up a bunch of other stuff to do, just so I could stay away from my house. Now that I'm car-less most days, I'm TRAPPED. It's a nightmare.

This is just one of the many reasons I'm trunky. I need to get outta here. The date has moved up to July 5th, baby. Buh-bye, nappy neighbors. See ya, Dylan M. & Braid. Find someone else to use, Meth and Stepmom. And may your mom invest in a padlock, Payton.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm wayyyyyyy too ambitious.

Hahahaha! Cooking with Pooh! Hahahaha!!! This makes me laugh so hard. I love it. What are thosebrown specs in the bowl? Hahahaha!

Kay. I'm good now.

Dude. I think I may have, yet again, bitten off more than I can chew.

But really, my intentions are good.

So I'm going to China, right? Right. Do I have room for my recipes in my bag? No, no I don't. We're buying an iPad (our main motivation was so that I can download lots of free children's books from the iStore for the kiddos to read while we're over there - English-texted literature isn't available in our future "small town" of Baoding - according to the Chinese, a city of one million people is a "small town"), so to me, it makes sense to get my recipes online so that, while I'm there, I can access them on my iPad, prop it up, and cook.

And I have friends and fam that ask for recipes a lot, so this is a way for them to have access, too.

It's just going to take some time to type them up. And the clock is ticking, my friends. I'm fa-reaking out.

Anywho, I put my first post up tonight, my favorite pie crust recipe. I'll put my new cooking blog over here on the side somewhere, along with Dylan's cute little blog.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Scarlet Woman

Sades had her spring dance recital a few weeks ago. These are her pictures:

She's there on the far left. Yes, she is the only one with bright red lipstick on. The last time we had dance pictures, Sadie was the only one without makeup on. She looked really out of place. So this time, I was like, "I'm putting full makeup on her. This time she won't stick out like a sore thumb." I asked her if we should curl her hair, but she was very against that, so I was like, fine.

As you can see, this time she sticks out like a sore thumb yet again, but for different reasons than last time - 1) She looks like a woman of ill repute with all that lipstick on, and 2) She is the only one with stick-straight hair. Sigh.

My mom made all these costumes. Isn't she amazing? I wish I had inherited her sewing skillz. I'm really, really bad at sewing. There's an unraveling seam in Micah's new blanket, and I'm so intimidated by my new sewing machine that I'm tempted to ask Mom if she'll fix it, along with an unraveling seam on my zipper on one of my couch cushion covers. Whattaya say, Mom?

Speaking of my amazing mom, she had the presence of mind to give Sadie flowers at her performance.

I didn't think to get her flowers until we arrived at the theater. I'm flunking Mommyhood 101. I have a lot on my mind, for sure.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dang thyroid.

Goodbye, size 10 pants. I don't fit you anymore. Nor do I fit your cousins, the size 12's. The doc has lowered my thyroid medicine three times now, therefore, I continue to balloon out. It's frustrating. I work out one hour per day, but for what??? I might as well sit on my ever-expanding arse. The end.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Under the moonlight, the SERIOUS moonlight.

Micah somehow got ahold of the markers again. And he managed to put magenta marker on his eyelids.

I'm pretty impressed with his makeup-applying skillz:

It took several days for this to come off. He looked like David Bowie:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

These shoes rule. These shoes suck. These shoes rule. These shoes suck!

I'm pretty sure Lex will be the only one who gets my title.

Dude, I bought these like two months ago, TOPS:
Can you believe this?? So I got her some replacements at Wal-Mart a couple of days ago - this time they were $10, instead of the $20 Payless Shoes price. Much better. But still not free. Shouldn't all kids' shoes be free? :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Whitey, The Selling of Cars, and Drug Dealer Drama

It's funny to see everyone's skin on the first sunny day of the year:

White central.

These pics were taken like a month ago. And it's been stormy and cold ever since. Although today is turning out to be really lovely. I already went out and weeded for half an hour this morning. I'm sorely tempted to plant my gladiola bulbs today, but should I plant something I won't be able to see in August?? Plus, I need marigolds to surround my glads to kind of hold them up, and 1) I don't want Ben to get mad at me for buying flowers that, again, I won't be able to see a lot of and 2) I don't have a car to go and purchase said marigolds.

Yeah, Ben sold our sedan yesterday afternoon. It's something he talked about like a month ago, something to the effect of, "It needs a lot of work, and I don't want to put all this work into it and then have it die within a year or two afterwards." I guess he felt like the timing is right, since we're going to China and won't be using our cars for the next eight months or so.

So he put the car on Craig's List, and some dude from a car dealership called him up HALF an hour later. He came to Ben's work and took a look at it and offered wayyy more than we thought it would ever be worth. Ben came home, told me about it, we drove to the dealership, turned over the title, signed some papers, and got a check. And that was that.

I'm kind of in shock. Goodbye, little Jetta. You were a really great car. And you were paid off. Sigh. I would have been just fine putting a little money into you so that you could still be part of our family.

And now I'm stuck here at the house. The good thing about being stuck at your house, though, is that you don't go spend money. I'm always tempted to go grab lunch at Fiesta Ole. I probably have funded one worker's entire yearly payroll with how often I go over there. So this will force me to stay home and eat Kraft Mac and Cheese (which Sades still calls Crap Mac and Cheese. Not because she hates it, but because it's easier to say, I guess. I think it's so cute, so I don't correct her yet). Vomit.

Back to the Whitey pictures:

I love watching Micah run. It's soooo cute.

Sadie and her compatriate, Katie:

Poor Katie. Her mom's boyfriend got arrested last week - I have a suspicion it was for domestic violence. He was screaming at Katie's mom (Let's call her "Meth." Because I think that's what she uses and what she sells) soooooooooo loudly one afternoon. Their windows and doors were closed in their house, but he was so loud that I could hear it clear inside MY house, with my windows and doors closed. I expressed concern to Ben, who said I should call the cops, but what would I say? "The neighbor is yelling." Heck, sometimes I yell at my kids, right? And no one calls the cops on me.

Soon after the yelling, Meth came running out of the house and ran around the corner. The boyfriend (Let's call him Plumber. Because he has a plumber crack that's always showing. It's gross) got into his car and took off after her, peeling out. He came back to the house in just a couple of minutes. I was like, dude, whatever. And I got back to my busy life in my house. I was talking to Lex on the phone, and I got up to do something in the kitchen, and I glanced through my front windows and saw Plumber handcuffed, struggling, screaming, being held by FOUR policemen. He was yelling at some lady on the sidewalk - I'm guessing it's Meth's friend or something? Maybe the one who called the cops? She stood there staring at him calmly, smoking a cigarette. There were five cop cars all over our street. Plumber calmed down enough to be put in the back of the cop car and sat there talking to the cops for a long time, also smoking a cigarette, from time to time standing to hitch up his too-big pants.

Some other guy (maybe Katie's birth dad, maybe a relative) led Katie out of the door, put her in his car, and drove away. She was crying.

And guess what? Someone paid Plumber's bail, because Meth came home with him early the next morning. Later that day, they could be seen cuddling on their front porch together. Ah, love. Neat.

We saw several drug deals going on between Meth and various people over the next couple of days. We called the police on some of the license plate numbers we could read and write down. Nothing happened.

Yesterday morning, there were seven cop cars on our street. Two guys I've never seen before (they looked and acted like tweakers) came out of Meth's house and kept gesticulating toward their car's backseat. Upon much spying, I realized that Meth was in the back seat of this car. The cops stood around a long time, talking to the tweakers and to Meth. An ambulance and fire truck pulled up. But then again, I had stuff to do, and by the time I could check back outside, everyone was gone.

Yesterday afternoon, Katie knocked on our front door, asking if I could watch her for an hour while her mom went to "group." I rolled my eyes, said "sure," and let her in.

I haven't seen Plumber in several days - I'm really hoping that he just left Meth. They make each other miserable. And they make our entire street miserable.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 19...

...of the 31-Day Blog Challenge - your favorite place to travel.

Oh my gosh, my computer is being so annoying right now. It's like both the mouse AND the touchpad mouse thingey in the laptop are activated, so if my hand brushes the touchpad by accident, all kinds of crap happens. I just somehow erased this whole post and had to start over again. Grrrrrr. Yes, I am a technophobe. I have no idea how to fix this.

Kay. So, what I'll say AGAIN is that I was thinking about this just the other day, because my friend, Pats's, parents are going to London this month, and Pats asked me to write her mom an e-mail of must-sees and any other good advice for the London tourist. I could remember several things that we did, but I wanted to pull out my scrapbooks and look through, just in case I missed anything. And the memories came flooding back. London is a blast. You can see a post I did about London here, but I also scanned a few more pictures for you for this post.

Me and two other girls from our group, Jenny, and Adrienne, in front of the Tate Gallery:

The Tate was my fave in London. It has a really good pre-Raphaelite collection.

Me, Tracy, and Kim in a phone booth:

Me and Wendy at the Open Air Theater in Regent's Park:

We saw A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Me and Lish at Trafalgar Square:

Me at Westminster Abbey, where Princess Diana's funeral was (just a day or so after my arrival there), and also where Prince William just got married. I wondered how he felt about that - getting married in the same church his mom's funeral was:

That stupid guy would NOT get out of the picture. He would act like he was moving, and then he would jump in at the last second. What a weirdo. There are a LOT of weird, scary guys in London.

Here's a snippet of my letter to Pats's mom:

1) Watch out for pick-pocketers. They're pretty bad in London. Always keep your purse at the front of you, with your hand over the opening. My dear friend got mugged by gypsies the very last night she was there. You're often all squished up in the tube trains, in the lifts (elevators), etc. Just always hold your purse that way.

2) Pedestrians don't have the right of way. I mean, they probably officially do, by law, but not in reality. These guys will RUN YOU OVER if you're not careful. I learned to be aggressive. And to avoid eye contact. If I was walking across a crosswalk, I would just strike out into it. If I looked at the drivers that were coming, it's like an invitation for them to try to hit you. It's so weird.

3) Tips are already included in restaurants. I didn't find this out until I was there for like two months. Sheesh.

4) Exchange your American dollars right at the airport when you touch down. And then use ATM machines (they're all over the place in London) and a credit card to get cash, cash, cash to buy things.

5) The exchange rate is horrible. It's like $2 = one pound. So it's like you have half your money. For example, at the time I went to London, a CD cost like $13 in America. In England, a CD cost like 13 pounds. Which is like $26. So be careful about that.

6) Men there are very, very sexually, verbally aggressive. It's...uncomfortable. Don't be friendly to them. Don't ever make eye contact, or you may get followed/chased home by a nasty pervert. Trust me on that one. I was so grateful to get home to American men who keep those thoughts inside their heads.

7) Pats asked me to recommend places to eat. It's so hard to remember. I ate a lot at kebab stands. London feels like Iran, I swear. Sometimes I was completely surrounded by Arabs and was like, "What country am I IN??" But they have fantastic food. Kebabs are awesome. Crepe stands are also everywhere, and they are wonderful, too. There were some good Italian places - a calzone place somewhere by Portobello road, but I can't remember the name of it. I remember eating at a place called Wagamammas - it's like very, very yummy Ramen noodles. There was a line clear out the door. I don't know. Food there is not the best, but the chocolate is to die for. My favorite cookies to snack on that you can buy anywhere are called Hobnobs. Oh yum. I lived off those. I know there are fish-and-chips stands all over, but I hate fish, so I didn't really pay attention. Don't get hot dogs at any stands. They're gross, like weird cooked sausage on a bun.

8) While I'm on the subject of food, be prepared - there is NO ranch dressing anywhere in all of England. That was hard for me. I put ranch on everything. Cookies are all hard and crunchy. No chewy cookies anywhere. Ice cream is really, really strange-tasting. The only good ice cream I had there was at Hagen Dazs shops all over. Their jam and jelly is weird. They have vending machines all over with "sandwiches," which are pieces of old, hard, thin bread with just butter in it. No meat. No vegetables. No cheese. Just butter. Gross!

9) There's no such thing as customer service. Waitresses all act so angry that they have to serve you. Women who work at clothing stores are the same way. Very rude.

10) British people think that all Americans are loud, stupid, and rich.

11) Invest in very, very good walking shoes. I wanted to look "cool" while I was walking everywhere, so I wore shoes that matched my outfits perfectly, and my feet really paid the price.

12) British people are very, very softspoken. They find loudness annoying. They're also polite. If they bump into you, they will ALWAYS say sorry. It's nice.

13) You walk everywhere. And everything is very up-and-down. Billions of stairs. You will probably lose a ton of weight. I know I did. (I should go over there again to lose more, haha!)

Just think. In eight months, I'll be able to write one of these types of letters about China. :) Oh, P.S., the departure date just changed AGAIN. July 8th. I'm sure it will change again tomorrow. This is getting really old. When Ben told me tonight that the date was moved up again, I could feel my blood pressure rising. Time's a-wastin'. I need to get my butt in gear and get more preparations made.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Mamaaaaaaa... THE MAMA!!!

This is my Mother's Day post. Really, really late, of course. We had a party at my parents' house, and it was fab.

Beads sent my mom a CD as her present - countrified LDS hymns. It was so thoughtful of her, really. My mom is really into what she calls "hick music." She put on her cowgirl hat to further add to the mood:

Mom with my sister, Nat Scat Could Eat No Fat:

Nattles won the genetic lotto. Yes she did.

We tried the hat on Gage:

Could he BE any cuter? No.

Me and The Benner:

Mike fell in some mud and was traumatized by wearing dirty pants, so he went pantsless the rest of the evening:

I am Gage's human jungle gym:

Holding him is a total arm workout. Our trip to China is going to be NIGHTMARISH. In many, many ways. (P.S. - our departure date has been moved back by about a month. We're leaving at the end of July.)

I am obsessed with Gage's feet:

Mom liked the present I made for her:

Lex was/is in Yakima for one of her clinicals, so Chris came up alone. Well, not alone. He brought Rocky:

Rocky is ADORABLE. And very, very hyper.

He wanted to be with Chris while we played Spontuneous:

He got tuckered out after awhile:

And I totally won Spontuneous - this was really exciting to me, because I hardly ever win games when I play with my fam. Too many Smarty Pants people. But when it comes to pop culture games, I do alright.
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