Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Pumpkins

October 29th - Ventures

Today is going to be an adventure. It starts off with getting the carpet cleaned in my living room this morning. Then Clara is going to my mom's for the day. Then I head downtown for a very important lunch meeting. Then I pick up the kids and head to a pumpkin patch to go buy two hay bales and a couple of cornstalks. Then I come home and start cleaning and finishing up painting my entryway. Then I take the kids over to the neighbor's house for a haunted house in her basement. Then I do some more painting.

Tomorrow morning I wake up, get the kids ready to go, attend two Halloween parties at two different schools, take the kids to Dave's office to trick or treat, head home to set up a photo booth for the school carnival, attend the school carnival and run one of the games, come home and clean, and collapse.

Saturday morning we signed up to clean the Church and then I have to spend the day getting stuff ready for the evening as we are having some friends over for chili before going out trick or treating.

If I make it to Sunday it will be a miracle and I might need to sleep the entire day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27th - The Great Pumpkin Hunt

Last night for Family Home Evening, we decided to go to a local Pumpkin Patch. This was our first foray into the Pumpkin Patch world, because until now I just haven't liked to take my kids anywhere due to meltdowns and tantrums. I have to say - this adventure was successful on many levels.

First: There were tractors. Any event with tractors is a good thing.
Josh "driving" the tractor.
Josh and Clara hanging out on the hay bale.

Second: There were pumpkins. The kids had been asking to go get pumpkins for weeks.

Josh finds a pumpkin
Clara finds a pumpkin
Amabuela, Josh and Clara
Clara "driving" the tractor

Third: There was a tractor pulled hay ride. Who doesn't love a good hay ride?

Clara and Dave
Josh and Amabuela on the hay ride.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26th - As Promised...

This is the wall to the left when you walk in the office. No, it doesn't make sense to me why they put a lightswitch in the middle of the wall. Had I been paying attention during my walkthrough I would have caught that. Anyway. This wall will eventually have my organizational stuff like a white board, corkboard, etc. You don't see it from the doorway, but I can see it from my desk. Perfect!
This is the wall that you do see when you walk into the office. In the corner there will eventually be a silk ficus tree. In between the ficus tree and the shelves will be a gorgeous, stunning, fabulous family picture (that we still need to have taken).
This is the wall next to the "organizational" wall. I had to do a Washington, DC tribute. Had to. It's in my roots, man.
This is what you see when you walk into my front door. It's all diagonal and inviting, right? Just think how cute it will look when I get the pictures and tree and all that. And don't tell me that my shelves look too crowded. I am aware of that. Some things you just can't part with.

October 26th - Adagios

Over the weekend we rearranged a lot of furniture. There is no tv in my main living area. There is no entertainment center in my main living area. My main living area suddenly increased exponentially in square footage and I don't have the furniture to fill it. This means more rearranging throughout the week. Rearranging is fun and leaves me sore and tired.

This morning I moved a very huge and large bookshelf from my office into the main living area and set up my cd player (remember cd's? They are those round disc thingies that look like dvd's except they play music). I have spent the morning decorating the very large bookshelf and listening to adagios. It is Fall. It makes me feel academic to listen to adagios while decorating. Seriously, I am now smarter. Ask me anything.

I woke up at 7am and got ready for the day and then walked out into my sparse living room and the kids were dressed. So we actually managed to read scriptures this morning (we usually do it at dinner) and I taught Josh a little piano. No, I don't actually play piano. Well, I play it, but not well, and definitely primarily right handed only. It definitely doesn't come naturally to me. I'm ok with that. I come from a family of rabid piano players so it's not like I am required to perform. It was really a peaceful morning, however, and one I would like to have daily.

I just took a break from this blog because my friend Lou came over to critique my decorating style and we decided to rearrange my office. Sorry, Dave. I am pretty sure that I am going to owe you on this one! I will post pictures when I clean up the aftermath!

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23rd

This morning I called my mom and said, "Wanna go check out the new Winco?" Because I can! Because I am not on such a tight schedule with work. It was really quite pleasant and lovely and I think my mom is liking the fact that I have this freedom so that we can play a little bit. We spent the morning checking out the store, picked up Josh from school, and then I came home and put the chicken that I bought for $.98/lb in ziploc bags, chopped up bell peppers and froze them, made Clara lunch, and am just enjoying the Fall day. Chili is in the crockpot for our ward Halloween party tonight. The house is a mess, but I'm used to that. One of these days I will get around to doing something more constructive, but this newfound freedom is taking over for the moment.

Yesterday we piled the crazies in the car and headed over to the Castle Park, which really looks nothing like a castle, but apparently everyone calls it that anyway. It is a huge park and my kids are gaga over the play area. Pictures don't do it justice, because it is just so gigantic, but it is the ideal park for a family reunion, and we just happen to be in charge of one Summer 2011 so we were elated to find it. It isn't very close to our house, so we probably won't go a lot, but it's something new and exciting at the moment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22nd - Lightning Crashes

Today is one of those days where a great many things happened in my family.

1. My dad and step-mom got married 33 years ago.
2. My nephew, Zach, was born 13 years ago.
3. My niece, Hazel, was born 4 years ago.

Zach and Hazel are cousins and the grandchildren of my dad and step-mom so this is an immediate family sort of thing.

I wasn't at my dad and step-mom's wedding so I can't reminisce about it, however I can say that my step-mom has been one of the most influential women in my life and I am grateful for her. I don't remember a time in my life when she wasn't part of it. She is funny, creative, giving, generous, kind, spontaneous, and knows how to do just about everything on the planet. Halloween is her favorite holiday. I was just at her house and you have never seen a place more decorated. My favorite memory of her (I think, ever) was one Christmas when I was visiting from Phoenix. They were building new condos after tearing down the beautiful cherry orchard that was next to our house. It was awful, but, as a result there were giant hills covered with snow. She brought out large pots, cookie sheets, and other appropriate kitchen stuff and we spent the afternoon sledding on them down the hills. We laughed and laughed and got soaked and probably slightly frost-bitten, but it was a wonderful day.

The first time I ever held Zach was a few weeks after he was born. He was born early and was a tiny little guy. Having taken care of my niece, Ellen, I was pretty confident around babies and just snuggled him, fed him, and was in heaven. I moved away the next year to Virginia and didn't get a chance to really watch him grown up. Now he is one of those teenagers so his interest in me is less than zero, but he's a cool kid who loves music just like his mom and dad. I'm sure it will be fascinating to watch where life takes him.

Hazel is a stunning beauty. Seriously. She looks just like her mama. She is funny and silly and girly and I love that my sister and I had little girls within just a few months of each other. They could almost be twins (fraternal, of course) with their blond hair. I love watching them play and fight and figure out how much fun cousins can be. I wish they could play more often! Clara calls Hazel "Baby Hazel" when she isn't around, which is funny because Hazel was born first. Hazel lives on a farm in Idaho with chicken.
So Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday to all of the wonderful people in my family that share this day. I hope it is a great one!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21st - New Adventures

Ahhh, remember how I thought that cutting back at work would make me less busy? I guess not so much. I can't say yet what is being added, but, it will be fun and exciting and crazy and stressful and hopefully I will be able to sleep at night. The good thing is that I will still be able to be more flexible with my schedule, which means more snuggles. In the meantime, the following conversation was heard while driving home.

Josh: Our car stinks because of all of the burps.
Clara: I'm going to burp in 10 minutes.
Josh: That's just rude, Clara.

We are coming up on Christmas and guess what? My bedroom is a torn up disaster with half the walls painted...sort of. My entryway is half painted. The shelves in the basement are half painted (shhh...don't tell Kelly), but at least the whole top half is done. My living room carpet desperately needs cleaning - like deep cleaning. However, until I get the other stuff done there is no point because when the other stuff is done I will be moving around furniture.

Today my friend Paige stopped by to pick up a little girl who I picked up from preschool because her mom is in Hawaii (different island from where I am going) and my only consolation about someone stopping by with such a disaster is that Paige is about 100 times busier than me and her house is crazier than mine. She just lets it roll. I need to learn that from her! I remember when I was her visiting teacher several years ago. She was pregnant with her first. Her house was immaculate. Her living room coffee table was pristine with cute decorations. Ahhh, remember the days of the cute decorations that little hands didn't break, smudge and chew on?
I would rather have snuggles from these crazy burping kids than those decorations. Any day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20th - Totally Random Tuesday

Today is overcast and rainy, which I love. Josh is at school working hard and getting smarter. Clara cleaned up her room and is chomping gum and watching The Secret of Nimh. I'm gearing up to....paint.

The case of "What is going on with work?!" has been resolved. I am migrating to straight commission, and that commission has gone up. I have a demo with a company today to make resume searching much more efficient, which will hopefully decrease my hours substantially. I'm talking with some peeps about some side ventures which could end up being a lot of fun and very lucrative. So all is well there. And I get to work whatever hours I want, when I want, because I'm no longer paid hourly. So this week I am taking it easy and focusing on getting some of my 1000 projects done.

Last night I went page by page through my "Big Island Revealed" book so that I could make a mental note of what we should do in Hawaii. Ya know, since we are going in three weeks. I started to get very excited and then I couldn't sleep. That's frustrating.

Friday Night Lights starts a week from tomorrow and since I am not watching any other shows on TV I can't wait for it.

Does anyone read my blog anymore? Just wondering.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19th

I am one of those strong, independent women that tries to do it all and really doesn't know how to say no. I often get really motivated and excited about things that probably don't matter as much, but take me out of the mundane part of raising children. All I wanted in my 20's was to be married and a stay at home mom, but 12 years of working makes me crave the validation that comes from a job well done.

But for the past several months I have been feeling way too stretched - too many projects plus work plus making sure the kids brush their teeth. I've felt like something has got to give. The only thing that really could go is my job. At the same time, it is definitely a good thing to have in this economy. I have wrestled with it a great deal and still haven't come to a decision.

About a year ago a woman worked for my company who was a bit of a whiner. She wanted to work from home because I did, she complained if someone called a candidate that she put into our applicant tracking system, but never called herself. She made excuse after excuse as to why she wasn't successful. It got pretty old. My bosses decided that she could work from home, but then could only work straight commission (versus a salary plus commission). I thought it was incredibly generous considering they really should have let her go. She wasn't happy with the option and filed with the Department of Labor.

As a result, and after a year of investigation, my company has had to make some changes to the employment status of everyone. No longer can employees be exempt - they all have to be non-exempt and stick to 40 hours a week or they have to get overtime. And the worst end result is that they can no longer employ independent contractors (like myself) with the same parameters that we have now. This has an impact on me and the boss's sister, who is a part-time indy who works from home and lives in Idaho.

Going to work full time is not remotely an option for me, and going to 100% commission isn't realistic, either. So maybe the decision has been made for me? I don't know yet how it will all play out. It would be nice to take some time off and work on the house projects that I have in the works. I have a ton of painting to get done. I never thought 2 1/2 years ago when I started working that I would go this long. But at the same time, it has been a huge blessing for us.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16th

"Dead Last Witch"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

High School Reunion Part Three

After a short nap I got up to get ready for the main reunion event, which took place at the Biltmore Embassy Suites. I picked up Regina and we headed to the hotel. I think both of us were a little nervous to see so many people. As soon as we arrived I ran into Bobby Greene, who was my very first boyfriend in 5th grade. He says 4th grade, but who has a boyfriend in FOURTH grade?! Ha ha. It was great to see him and a surprise because I didn't know that he was coming. Neither did he, actually. He jumped in his car and drove from San Diego as a spur of the moment thing.

I wandered around a bit saying hi to people I knew. I actually knew more people at the Happy Hour so it was a bit daunting. There was almost no one from the Class of 1990! My first thought was that we would definitely be doing our own. I guess people didn't really want to hang out with the classes that graduated ahead of us.

Eventually the wait staff at the hotel started getting irritated with us because they wanted to serve us dinner, so we found seats and started eating. The food was really not spectacular considering the price of the reunion. I would say that the event did not justify the cost at all.

Then we had a slideshow which, unfortunately, wasn't really well done. There were large clusters of pictures with the same people in them, although I guess that wasn't really the person's fault who did the slideshow since people were supposed to submit their pictures for it. It's just - you would think that people would cheer or laugh as pictures were shown, but it was largely quiet. Kind of unnerving.

Anyway, the dinner ended and a large group of people "crashed" the reunion and after that there was dancing and mingling and catching up so that was fun. Once people started getting too drunk, Regina and I headed out. I can definitely say that I have never been hit on so much in my life and Regina felt the same way. It made us alternately creeped out and sad that single guys we went to high school with wouldn't respect the fact that both of us were married. Yikes!

Overall the reunion was worth it and makes me more excited about doing one for just my graduating class. It was great to see so many old friends and be able to hug them again. I'm sure we will do another multi-class reunion down the road. It just tended to be one particular group from high school that attended so it would need to be advertised much better. My guess is that word will spread and people will make more of an effort to get to the next one!
Andrya and me - we joked about seeing each other at the reunion since she lives in Utah about 20 minutes from me and we never see each other!
Class of 1990: Shawna, Dan, Andrya, Dylan, Heidi, Terry, Tara, and Bobby
Bobby and me
Andrea and me - Andrea left North High my Sophomore year, but we stayed friends.
DeeAn, Brenda, and me - DeeAn and Brenda were on the Pom Line
Sali and me - Sali was a cheerleader with me for two years and she was a surprise as well! I was excited to see her.
Dylan, Regina and Dan
Dan and me - I've seen Dan over the past few years at other gatherings. We went to school together from 2nd Grade - Senior year.
Rhon and me - Rhon was a Senior when I was a Freshman and ended up marrying one of my best friends from high school.
Dan and Amy Ballard - Cute brother and sister!
Dana, Darren, and Regina - I love that Dana wore his uniform.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

High School Reunion Part Two

Saturday morning I woke up early, got dressed, and watched a bit of the morning session of General Conference before heading over to my high school for a tour. In the past 20 years they have made some seriously major changes to the school and I wanted to see what those were. It was almost like being in a completely different school as I walked through it. Very strange - strong memories for some areas and absolutely nothing for others. The strangest part is that the parking lot isn't the same - so my parking spot is gone. That area is where my strongest memories of high school are because there was a huge tree that we all sat under, and where I could find most of my friends at various times during the day.

Hallway - LA Building
1990 Basketball team - State Champions
The State Champion banner
The North High Fight Song
North Mustangs Banner
Members of the original "Cream Team" (1987) in the football locker room
The Old Gym - cheer tryouts and practice were held here
Championship trophy - Basketball 1990 (I actually teared up)
Science Building - my locker was down this hall
Collage from Mr. Dodge's first year at North High (my Sophomore year) - he is still there

After the tour, we all went to America's Taco Shop for lunch. America's is owned by Terry Bortin, who graduated with me. It was recently named the best carne asada in Phoenix, and it is. I could eat there daily! There was a perpetual line the entire time we were there and it was a Saturday. I highly recommend it if you ever happen to be in Phoenix.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

High School - Part One

*Note - this post will probably be incredibly boring to most people.

I am one of those people who actually really really loved high school. Loved it. Not many people say that, but I did and do and still love people that I went to high school with 20 years ago. In fact, some of them are still my favorite people on the planet, and I have met some wonderful people in my life. 20 years has just made them more interesting.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a multi-class reunion. They decided to have it be the Class of 1986-1990. I didn't know anyone from the class of 1986, but that didn't seem to matter. There was a lot of love and everyone was just introducing themselves if they didn't know someone.

Friday night kicked off the reunion with a Happy Hour at a restaurant called Aunt Chilada's. It's a fun restaurant, but the parking was an issue and it was super crowded because it was Friday night. It was hard to tell who was there for our reunion and who was just there drinking. There was a LOT of drinking going on. But, I guess you would expect that from a happy hour. I arrived around 6pm and saw my friend Claudia and made a beeline for her.
Claudia and me

Claudia graduated in 1989, but was one of my closest friends in high school. When she turned 18 we went to buy a lottery ticket and they made me hold it while walking out because she looked so young. She also got carded at a PG-13 movie. It was hilarious because I believe she was 17 at the time. My mom and Claudia and I used to go to movies together.
Jay and me

My Sophomore year of high school was an eventful year for me. I had made the cheerline so life got busier. I also had a class in the Science Building (picture in future post) after lunch. Every day I would walk down the sidewalk into the building and see a River Phoenix/James Dean look-a-like by the name of Jay Connolly. I went to drastic measures to meet him, and ultimately we became the very best of friends. When my mom would go out of town for work, she would have Jay come and stay with me! That seems hilarious now, but we were like brother and sister. He graduated a year before me, but took me to my Senior prom.
Jay and me - 1990

I spent some time hugging and catching up with several friends. I was surprised to see that I actually knew a lot of people there. Some people I had forgotten entirely about so seeing them again was wonderful. And then, across the crowded room, I spotted Amy.

Amy was a Senior when I was a Sophomore and Captain of the cheerline. I had actually had a "I like you, you like me, now what?" moment with her younger brother when we were in 8th grade, so I was convinced that she wouldn't like me. Of course we became very good friends, and spent a lot of that year hanging out. I hadn't seen her since my high school graduation. I pointed to her and literally hollered, "I cannot believe I am looking at Amy Ballard!!!" There are some people that you just wish had stayed in your life, even if that would have been impossible. Amy is one of those people. Claudia and Jay DID stay in my life.
Amy and Heidi

I saw many friends that night and I won't bore you with too many pictures. There were probably hundreds of pictures taken by all of the people there. I just have to add one more picture, however, because the woman in this picture had a very profound influence on everyone at my school at one time or another.

I met Regina the second day of my Freshman year in Spanish. She was a Junior and when she talked, she sounded like she had laryngitis. And that is how we met. I turned around and said, "Do you have laryngitis or does your voice always sound like that?" She laughed one of those throw back your head laughs and said, "I just always sound like this." That was 22 years ago and she still sounds like she has laryngitis.

Over the years I have tried to find her, and was successful shortly after I married Dave, because I literally called every Regina Battle that I found in Phoenix. I had no idea if she stayed there, but when I heard her voice on the answering machine I was ecstatic. She called me back and we got caught up and have stayed in touch ever since, but just hadn't seen each other yet. Of all of the people at the reunion, I was most excited to see her.

Regina is one of those women that lights up a room and makes everyone around her feel like gold. And literally - she knew every single person at the reunion and could remember specific details about them. I heard over and over again the statement, "Regina SAVED me in high school." I sat back enjoying the moment as I saw her soak up everyone's energy and love. Regina and her husband are ministers now and one of the major reasons she agreed to go to the reunion was so that she could be a missionary to her friends. There were many people there that simply needed to see her. Regina is stunningly beautiful - both then and now. I am very blessed to have had her as a friend and I am so grateful that we are back in each other's lives now!
Regina and me - 2009
Regina and me - 1989

Like I said, there were many other friends that I was able to see. Here is a mosaic for you!

Top: Amy Trottier and Michelle Ely; Claudia McNaughton, Amy Trottier, Michelle Ely; Amy Trottier and Tara Ruiz; Mina Cholas, Jessica Starr, Rob Hanse
Middle Top: Gen Barson and Shawna Sterne; Heidi Rasmussen, Carl Bisbano, Shawna Sterne, and Amy Trottier; Regina Battle and Claudia McNaugton; Glenn Noone, Danny Flower, Ron Sanchez, Mohammed Oliver, and Jimmy Satterlee;

Middle Bottom: Mike Devito, Michael Levin, Glenn Noone, Kenny Munoz; Mohammed Oliver, Glenn Noone, Todd Lehman, Joel Price; Mohammed Oliver, Ron Sanchez, Dana Andrews; A bunch of people
Bottom: Amy Ballard, Mohammed Oliver; Aimee Rogers, Sharon Newkirk, Tony Romanello, Amy Ballard, April Burke; Regina Battle, Heidi Rasmussen, Amy Ballard; Heidi Rasmussen and Robert Arellano