Wednesday, February 29, 2012


My friend, Megs, is so, so funny. She called me up one day and was like, "Hey, do you know if there is a safe place to bowl in Idaho Falls? Mark and I don't want to drive all the way up to Rexburg to go to a safe bowling alley."

I laughed and laughed. "Megs, I have felt safe in all the bowling alleys I've been to in Idaho Falls."

"But are there dudes in there smoking and swearing and stuff?"

I assured her that the days of smoking in bowling alleys are long in the past. I told her of two places that are still open (the one we used to go to for P.E. in high school has closed), and they chose one and had a good time.

Such a good time that she asked my fam to join her fam not too many days later. It was fun. If I recall correctly, I did ridiculously well at the first, but after my fingers got tired, I was getting zeros, zeros, zeros. :) That happens to me every time.

Megsie took these pics - I forgot my camera.

I think Sadie was lifting Brynnan up into the air. She and Brynnan play so well together. They are both very rough-and-tumble:

An interesting factoid about me - when I was eight, I decided that I really, really loved to bowl. I was going to be a professional bowler. My mom even made me a bowling cake. Weird. That was a weird phase.

Funny bowling story - like I said, in high school P.E., we had to go bowling. It was seriously like once a week. Crazy. So one time, I was bowling with this girl, Maren. And she swung back, and her ball FLEW out of her hand and BAM! BAM! BAM! bounced really hard on the floor behind her. It was so funny to me. It's one of those things that, when I visualize, I cannot stop giggling. I have lots of visuals like that. I'll have to share more of them sometime. Surely not as funny to everyone else as to me, but it's all good. I am my own best audience. And I'm okay with that.

Thanks for letting me blognap these, Meggie!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

They do some things right.

In my humble Kar opinion, there are a lot of things that the Chinese just need some...modernizing on. Some tutorials. Like, for instance, "How sanitation is important." Or, say, "Why we need to install P-traps in every bathroom in China." Or, "Why we need to perforate our toilet paper. And put it on rolls that attach to some kind of device on the wall." Or, "Tubs. Worth looking into." I could go on and on.

But there are lots of ways in which I think China has got it going ON. Customer service. Movie ticket-buying (you select your seat when you buy your tickets by touching a screen). And, as it turns out, kite-building. Those Chinese can really design a kite.

Ben got the kids some kites when he was in Beijing on a little business trip (this was when we were still in Baoding). Since there were really no public places in Baoding where you could safely fly said kites, we opened them when we got home. I can honestly say that the kids have never had kites that, They seem to have potential, but it always ends up being a disappointing experience. But not from lack of wind. As you can see from the damage to our city from a 75-mph wind storm last week, Idaho has PLENTY of wind:

I just think that the $1 kites we get at Wal-Mart aren't designed very well. My kids have never had that experience of their kite getting higher and higher and holding onto it and feeling the tug of it against the handle thingey. Which is sad. We rarely can even get them launched half the time.

Which is why I'm a fan of these. They are one-person launchers. I was free to take pictures from the porch while Dylan got his Chinese kite into the air all by his little old self. Success.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trick-or-Treating: Strike Two

Nat called me one day and was like, "Let's take our kids to this Trick-or-Treat Street thingey I've been hearing so much about!" I halfheartedly agreed. I was just being all kinds of Scroogey about Halloween this year. Oh, wait. I'm Scroogey about Halloween EVERY year. It's not my favorite holiday. All those costumes and makeup...and being so uncomfortable in said hopped up on candy for weeks's just not my bag.

Look, Micah actually decided to wear his costume!:

But by the time we got over there, he had shed almost all of it. So funny. He's a kid after my own heart.

Both Brock and Dylan were vampires, each with a different take. Brock was going for the purple look, and Dylan did more of a kind of iridescent baby blue look. So funny. Here they are, facing off (not really):

Brock's vampire teeth cracked me up so much. They were enormous inside of his mouth, but dang it, he was going to keep those suckers in his mouth for the duration of the evening:

Sadie LOVES wearing makeup.

Ivy was dressed as "Tangled":

I love how kids refer to Rapunzel the character as "Tangled." So, so, so cute.

It was FREEZING COLD that night. It was so weird, because it had been a really pleasant, jackets-only type of day, and it very, very quickly plummeted into the 40s or so. We stood in line for ten billion years, and we got more and more miserable with each passing minute.

Have I ever told you how much I love those hats Ben got for me in China?

This is one of my very, very favorite pics of Troy Boy:

Could you just die? I have the cutest niblets this side of the Pecos.

There were some really clever outfits there on the other kids and adults who aren't Scroogey:

Jake was a ninja:

Dylan did his own makeup again. I'm not sure where he learned that vampires have raccoon circles around their eyes, but whatevs.

Hm. His teeth were too big for his mouth, as well. Look at Brock's face in that picture. Hahahaha!

After waiting for, I don't know - half an hour??? 45 minutes? We'd had it. We had barely moved forward in line, and it was sooooo frigid. So, um, once again, my kids didn't get to trick-or-treat. Dylan was sooooooooooooo sad. Rightfully so. I promised him that I'd go to Walmart and buy him the equivalent amount of candy that he would have gotten on Trick-or-Treat Street. Which I then forgot to do. Like we've already established - I'm a rotten parent. :)

Mom and Dad wanted us to come over so they could see the kids' costumes and take pictures, and my mom showered the kids with loads of candy, which made them feel a little bit better about yet another trick-or-treating disappointment. Then we just kind of hung out.

Ben slipped Ivy's "Tangled" wig on Gage, and we laughed and laughed. These pictures still make me chuckle.

I think Gage is wayyy too pretty to be a boy. He's quite convincing in this wig. I mean, if you saw this picture and you didn't know him, you'd totally think he was a girl, right?:

Look at those luscious lips!

He kept examining the individual hairs, like, "What the crap IS this stuff?" He couldn't be any cuter.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Truth Is Thursday

Truth is...

I think I might have, like, accidentally fractured my cat's paw. She was doing that Cat Thing where she was running in front of me and then stopping right in front of my path, making me almost trip several times. So I checked her food and water. They were perfect. Full. Cold. Fresh. New. So I opened the front door - "Do you want out?" She did that Other Cat Thing where she sniffed the air and then kind of moved her head forward and then back, like, "Do I want that? No. Yes? No." So I shut the door. So then I have this big basket of laundry, and I'm going down my crazy-steep-from-1945-stairs, and she stops right in front of my feet again. I was like, "Dude, you are going to make me fall down these stairs." So I do that Owner Thing where I nudge her bumb a little with my foot. I swear, it was just a nudge. Remember. It's "Truth Is Thursday," not "What I Wish Was the Truth Thursday." So I did the nudge thing that I sometimes have to do when she does the Door Thing, like, "You know you want to go out, so just go already." And she fell HARD. It was so weird, you guys. She fell down like three stairs. She rolled like a log. She grasped. She meowed. After she recovered, she stalked off with her ears flat against her head. I felt really bad and immediately put down my laundry to go comfort her, which she readily accepted. But ever since that day, she's been favoring one of her front paws. I took her to the vet earlier this week - the vet couldn't see any scratches or infections or anything. She was hoping that it's just a soft tissue thing, but she said that, if by tomorrow, she's still favoring the foot, I should take her in for an x-ray. And guess what? She's still favoring it tonight. Sighhhhhh.

Truth Is...
I really don't want to spend money getting a cat paw x-rayed and perhaps fitted with a little cat cast. Sighhhhhhhhhh.

Truth Is...
I think I'm a failure as a mother. A complete and total failure. Especially in light of some very, very cruel things a family member said about my parenting yesterday. All I ever wanted to be was a mother. Turns out, I suck at it. And I sucked as a teacher. I'm wondering if there's anything I'm GOOD at. Maybe not. Sleeping? Making cards?

Truth Is...
It's taking every fiber of my being not to write an angry e-mail to this family member. Every fiber.

Truth Is...
I'm not as likable as I used to think. That's becoming more and more obvious as the years pass.

Truth Is...
Since the official end of my family's Healthy Living Challenge, I've been yukking it up. Drinking like two Cokes per day. Having cold cereal instead of a fruit-and-yogurt smoothie in the morning. Eating past 8 p.m. Yep. I feel deliciously rebellious.

Truth Is...
Sometimes I like to jog just because I want my outsides to feel as badly as my insides do. Does that make ANY sense?? I'm in pain in the inside, and I want to feel pain on the outside, too. So I punish myself. And run for like an hour. Until my knees feel really bad.

Truth Is...
I have to really work hard to convince myself to shower once per day. I always think, "But it's just so much EFFORT." I always end up showering every single day, but I do it grudgingly. What is WRONG with me???

Truth Is...
I'm enjoying reading our district's required book, The Trumpet of the Swan, to my kids, as much as they are. It's a kiddie book. And I'm relishing it.

Truth Is...
I have to put on flannel pajamas and fuzzy socks on at night, plus turn on my heating blanket, plus wrap myself up in my heating pad, in order to get warm enough to go to sleep. And sometimes that doesn't even work. I have to add a hot bath to the mix. Is that normal???

Truth Is...
Dylan is wanting to do extra chores so he can save up for a Lego set. And I'm making him do the chores that I really hate doing. Like cleaning out the litter box.

Truth Is...
I secretly like it when Micah wants to watch Scooby Doo, the live action movie, like ten times per day. I seriously LOVE that movie. And want to buy Scooby Doo 2.

Truth Is...
I desperately miss Ben. But our house is a LOT cleaner than it used to be. Is it because Ben throws his stuff all around the house, or is it because I don't have anyone to hang out with late at night, so I clean? Maybe a little of both.

Truth Is...
I desperately miss Ben, but I am SO GRATEFUL that he has a job, that I'm okay with this. That's how hard it is when your hubs is out of work. Never want to go back to that again.

Truth Is...
I'd rather be here, alone, than in with Ben in China. That's how uncomfortable it was for me to try to raise four kids in a place that was soooo different, so unsanitary, so.....smelly.

Truth Is...
When contract negotiations sometimes aren't looking so good over there, I secretly hope the whole project will go to pot so Ben can come home.

Truth Is…

Every time I see a family checking out the house across the street, which is now ready to be rented out again, I hope they decide against it. I’m terrified that we’ll get another family like the last one.

Truth Is…

I think I have a better relationship with my elderly neighbor than I do with my own grandfather.

Truth Is…

I know NOTHING about scouting. The pinewood derby is next month and I’m terrified.

Truth Is...

I think death masks are so, so cool. I'm obsessed with them. Will one of you make a death mask of me when I die? For reals?

Truth Is...

"Beauty is Truth, Truth is Beauty." That's something I really believe in.

Truth Is...

I don't remember which poet said that. Keats???

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trick-or-Treating: Strike One

Ohhhh, when I think of this night, even now, a few months later, I get sooooo mad.

Kay. So our ward has a trunk-or-treat every year for Halloween. It's usually a few days before Halloween proper. And we really get into it. Everyone decorates their trunks, and everyone (even the adults standing at their trunks) dresses up. And this is the coolest part - people bring candy for the kids, of course, but then they ALSO bring hors d'eouvres for the adults!!! Sooo cool. Brother and Sister S. dressed as members of the band, Kiss, last year, and served these meatballs that were to die for. Our Bishop dressed as a female witch and made homemade scones on his camp stove. I mean, everyone goes all OUT. So cool. Oh, how I love my ward.

So, two Sundays before the big trunk-or-treat, one of our counselors in the bishopric got up and announced that it would be such-and-such night at 7:30 p.m. Take note of that time, my friends. It will come up later. I remember thinking, "Wow, it will already be dark by then. Weird. But whatever. We'll BE there!"

And then I missed the announcements the following Sunday because Gage and Micah were being special and we were in the foyer and the little intercom speaker things don't work in the foyer.

So the night of the big trunk-or-treat came. We got everyone all ready. Dylan was a vampire this year, and he had all this makeup he had to put on and had fake blood to apply and everything. It was a big deal.

And I decided that I wanted to make a quadruple batch of homemade chicken taquitos, so that there would be enough for everyone. I cooked all afternoon. Hundreds of taquitos. So we get everyone ready and get our taquitos into our little warmer/carrier thing, and we start walking to the church parking lot.

And then I see Brother M., who dresses as Uncle Sam every year, walking home on his huge stilts. And I think, "Why is he leaving? It's just getting started!"

And then it hit me. The counselor had announced the wrong time. They had announced the right time the following week. I wasn't there to listen to the announcements, and Ben hadn't heard it, probably because he was helping Dylan or Sadie with some urgent matter, like retrieving fruit snacks from the church bag or something like that.

We had missed it. Everyone was going home.

I felt sick to my stomach. I was so ANGRY. Angry at myself. Angry at the counselor (which was bad of me, I know). Just SO MAD. I had gone to so much work making those taquitos! And the kids had been so excited!!! And all that makeup Dylan put on! For nothing!

I was so angry that I went straight down to my room and lay in bed, in the dark, in the fetal position for an hour. And I cried. I know. Dumb. But I was just so upset.

(Micah went as a disgruntled three-year-old. Haha! He refused to wear his costume.)

Luckily, there are many opportunities for kids to trick-or-treat, and my kids took the devastating news quite well. I should learn from their example. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Souvenirs for Ourselves

Maybe this is part of being grown up, but I get more of a kick buying souvenirs for everyone else instead of for myself. Ben usually has to kind of restrain me, because I'll be like, "Oooh, my stepmother-in-law's dog's best friend's owner would LOVE this!" It's ludicrous.

We bought oodles and gobs of souvenirs for friends and family when we were in China, which really was so fun for me. As for souvenirs for ourselves, Ben bought me three pairs of Uggs for only $30 each at the silk market, which I adore.

We're kind of displaying the fan Summer got Ben for his birthday - I really should mount it properly in a shadow box one of these days. It gets awfully dusty. I was dusting the wood on the handles and got a nasty sliver the other day:

(The elephant in front of the fan isn't from China - Ben's biological grandfather on his biological mom's side carved that, I believe.)

Maria got Ben a Chinese calligraphy brush that I need to shadow box, as well. It's beautiful.

Ben picked a souvenir for himself that I thought was kind of weird, at first - a tea set:

Why is that weird, you ask? Because we don't drink tea. But Ben wanted to buy a set for art's sake. He really feels that tea sets are beautiful works of art, in and of themselves. I agree. These were all hand-thrown (?). (Is that how you make china? I don't know. The gal just indicated that, somehow, they were sculpted by hand. I imagine on a pottery wheel. But you never know.) When Ben said he was going to the tea shop to buy a set, I envisioned something entirely different. Maybe more lacquered? And maybe red and black or something? Maybe with intricate paintings of flowers on them? I was surprised at what he picked out, but I like it very much.

He said the gal at the shop showed him all kinds of stuff about tea. There is so much custom about having tea with someone. The direction in which you swirl the tea as you are pouring it into a cup indicates whether you're happy to have them there with you, or whether they aren't your favorite guest. You serve certain people first. Certain people drink first. On and on. The woman that owns the shop is actually a professor of TEA ARTS at that university in Baoding. That is how much there is to the ancient custom of tea in China! Enough that you can MAJOR in it! Amazing.

There was one other cup with the set, but it broke in our bags on the way home, despite extremely careful packing. I swear those airline guys just throw your bags around... And, sadly, in my dusting extravaganza (the same one in which I got a nasty sliver), one of the cups dropped onto our hardwood floor and shattered. Luckily, that tea shop is right there in Baoding. Ben has strict instructions to go back there and get replacement cups to bring home next month (fingers crossed on him getting home next month for a visit).

Ben bought this beautiful finger painting in the silk market, and I got it matted and framed for him for Christmas:

I had to have a mat especially cut. I really wanted to double-mat it, but the single mat was $25 all by its itty bitty self. And I wasn't interested in doubling that amount for a double mat. Hopefully it looks alright. And yes, that is a finger painting. He used black paint and did that whole thing with his hands. He had one of those long, scraggly pinky fingernails that he used for detail work, and he used parts of his palm for fog, trees, etc. It's truly amazing. And gorgeous.

Have I ever told you how much I love it that Ben loves art as much as I do???

And finally, the piece de resistance, the Valentine's Day gift Ben got for me in the silk market:

Could you just DIE?? Gorgeous. Amazing. Perfect. It's a painting of a cherry blossom tree. And it's huge. I have a perfect home for it on one of my golden walls in my living room. It will be so happy there. Gotta probably buy another custom mat for it, but it's worth it. It, like the finger painting, is on a scroll, so it will easily transport home. I can't wait for it to get here.

Ben will probably be in China clear until December or so, with visits home every few months, so I've informed him that he needs to buy all of my presents this year in China, then bring them home when he comes - my birthday present, Mother's Day, Christmas... :) I love it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rotating Candle Plate Decor

We got these candle plates as a wedding gift, I think:

We had purple candles and black pebbles on them for awhile, but I got sick of trying to clean the dust off the pebbles. And we lit the candles and used them until they kind of melted onto the pebbles. I'm beginning to think that, if you want lit candles on your candle plates, you shouldn't have pebbles at the bottom. Unless you think it's fun to pick candle wax off pebbles. Those are my feelings on the matter.

So anyways, those plates have been just sitting there for years. I mentally decided to get some pretty candles and pebbles, and then just NOT light the candles. But I kept putting it off.

And then it hit me - I could use these candle plates to decorate for holidays! I LOVE decorating for holidays. A whole lot. So I put a plan into action for Halloween, the first holiday after we got back from China.

I found these beautiful black candles at Porters - they have shiny gold flecks in them and a really cool texture. Then I bought some purple ribbon to go around them, and I decided to sacrifice my spider earrings for the purposes of decor. (I only wore them once a year, anyways.) And the earrings, puncturing the candles, held the ribbon perfectly in place:

I saw these little styrofoam glitter balls at Porter's and just knew I had to use them as my "pebbles":

And here's the finished result:

So cute, huh? So when November rolled around, I decided to make my display all Thanksgiving-ey:

I found similar styrofoam-type balls to use, and then they had these metallic leaf pieces in the jewelery section at Porter's. Again, I just punctured the candles to keep the ribbon in place:

I felt like the brown on the candle didn't really mesh well with the brown on the styrofoam balls. I might go in search of different candles next year. And I ended up changing the ribbon, but forgot to take a picture of it. I got a thick orange ribbon to put behind an off-white ribbon layered in front of it that says, in brown lettering, "Grateful" on it, over and over. I liked that a lot better. But I still really want to get different candles next year. Less waxy and more chocolatey looking.

I forgot to take pictures of my Christmas decor. It was adorable. Lime green glitterey styrofoam balls, brown candles again, lime green ribbon, and a rusty brown metallic snowflake on each one. So cute. I'll snap a picture of it this next Christmas, I promise.

I really wanted to do a New Year's Eve theme, but ran out of time and money. I have these adorable white styrofoam balls that look like little hail stones that I want to use when I do it this next year, though. And maybe some light blue candles? Silver ribbon? So it's all winter-ey. We'll see when we get there.

This is what I did for Valentine's Day:

(Yes, the location of our little display table has changed. More on that later. There is a good reason for it, and it looks just as good under our big mirror.)

I found those adorable heart clothespins and Easter grass-type stuff in V-day colors at Michael's. I grabbed a light pink ribbon and red candles to go with it, and voila:

And here is my current display for St. Patty's day:

That's a thick lime green ribbon behind and a white ribbon with shamrocks layered on top. I got the glittery shamrocks for the front in the flower section - they were at the tips of flower-type wire. I just clipped the wire off and hot glued those suckers onto my ribbon. They had these adorable shamrock-shaped pebbles for the base:

They were running low on those pebbles, though. I bought all they had left, and I felt like the base was a little skimpy.

Dylan came up with an idea to help with the skimpiness - Irish pot-o-gold style gold coins interspersed among the shamrocks:

Do you think it's too much? I need your opinion. Should I stick with straight shamrock pebbles - just kind of sparse - or is the addition of gold coins a good thing??

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kind of like a double wedding, but, you know, real.

You know how, on old movies, part of the happily-ever-after is that both guys marry their girls in a "double wedding"? Or, like, in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where, at the end, they have a septuple wedding? Like that would ever happen!! I don't know one single woman who would want to share her big day with someone else. For reals, yo.

We had a double birthday party for my sister and mom in October, and they were both very gracious about it. In fact, I think it might have been my sister's idea. Their birthdays are two weeks apart or so.

Mom ordered a cake from Babe's Bakery here in town - it was AMAZING.

I love Lex's face in this pic:

I gave her this card - on the inside, it says, "That's what!" I thought it was funny.

Lex, opening my gift - jade earrings:

Isn't her hair pretty? It grew, like, a foot while we were gone for three months. I cannot believe how quickly her hair grows.

Mom, looking at my card:

And giving me a hug. My hair looks like a helmet:

So okay. My mom has this window ledge where she keeps knick-knacks from places where she or her children have been. It's really a cool little tradition. I wanted to bring her back a knick-knack of the Great Wall, but we were too busy when we were at the Wall, and then I sent Ben to the Silk Market one night to get one, but instead, he chose these three little buddha statuettes that have their hands in the "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" pose:

My mom liked 'em alright, but when Ben went back to China last month, she asked him to bring her back a happy family ball, like what we got for ourselves and for my dad as a souvenir. Ben just posted this picture on facebook with a happy family ball for his Idaho Falls desk on the left and my mom's happy family ball on the right:

Ben said that the one on the left was actually less expensive because the quality of the jade isn't as good as the one on the right. My mom is thrilled. It looks like Ben will be coming home next month for one week, so soon her happy family ball will be nestled among Big Ben, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...