Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Travels with Charley - Book Review

A little over fifty years ago, author John Steinbeck sets out on a journey across the United States with his faithful dog Charley. As he views the incredible and changing landscape of the continent, Steinbeck offers details and insights into the people he meets and places he sees in his book Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Centennial Edition).


I am a fan of Steinbeck, who is a trained observer and is also wise in his interpretations of the places, people and situations he encounters on his trip. He has a delightful way of writing and I found myself reading a great many passages aloud to my husband.

His descriptions of his time in Deer Isle, Maine had me instantly craving lobster and checking flight pricing to Maine. My husband, who was born in Wisconsin, loved the glowing reports of his birth state. We both dreamed of moving to Montana. I felt the rebuke and the truth in the story of the very compassionate but evil looking man from Oregon. I reminisced on my own short but pleasurable trip to Carmel, California. I chuckled at his insights into Texas and the unique and devoted people that inhabit that land. And I ached at the racial struggle Steinbeck encountered in the deep south.

Steinbeck took me along for his journey. His writing is so beautiful and descriptive that I felt I was sharing the seat with his loyal but aging friend Charley. His sentiments ring so true and honest that they are still relevant fifty some years after his adventures.

I am so ready for a road trip. Too bad the gas prices make it impossible right now.

Why I don't usually share a room with my children . . .

Every room of my parents' home was filled with sleeping bodies this weekend. My generous parents even gave up their master bedroom to one of the families and slept on the couch. So, it was necessary for the kids to share a room with Utah Dad and I. We lucked out and got the "blue room" in the finished basement. With a window open that room is actually cool enough to sleep in my parents' otherwise overheated home. This room is furnished with one queen size bed and a set of bunk beds. There is also space to set up the Pack n' Play for Molly in the corner.

Even with so many beds, figuring out sleeping arrangements for a family of seven is interesting. Saturday had been a long, fun day so we put the kids to bed by eight pm. Amberly and Lilly shared the bottom bunk. Thomas slept on the top bunk. Molly was in her Pack n' Play. Privileged Neal fell asleep on the couch in the family room watching the NBA basketball play offs.

The adults were exhausted so our evening antics ended by midnight. Utah Dad and I fell into bed expecting and hoping for a rejuvenating night's sleep.

1:15 a.m. Lilly wakes up crying and coughing. I get up to give her water.

1:35 a.m. Lilly wakes up crying and coughing. I get up to give her water.

2:08 a.m. Molly wakes up crying. I get up to cover her up with blankets.

2:46 a.m. Lilly wakes up crying and coughing. I get up to give her water. She is also complaining about all her new owies. She wants band aids. I kiss her knees and hands better and give her some water.

3:11 a.m. Lilly wakes up. I help her go to the bathroom. We do not want her to wet the bed at Grandma's house.

3:30 a.m. Neal climbs into bed with Thomas. Thomas is crying because Neal is kicking him. Neal is complaining that Thomas won't make room for him. I get up and help them trade places so that Thomas is closest to the wall.

3:45 a.m. Neal and Thomas are now arguing over the one pillow. I get them another blanket.

3:52 a.m. With all the tossing and turning on the old mattress, the fitted sheet has come off the bed. I pull it back in place before I get back in bed.

4:06 a.m. Utah Dad helps Neal go back to the couch in the family room and finds him a pillow. Utah Dad is awake now and chatty. I shush him. I don't want him to wake up the girls.

4:32 a.m. The heat comes on. It's blowing right on me. I run upstairs to shut the window I left open in the room with the thermostat.

5:27 a.m. I smell skunk. Very strong. I get up to shut the window in our bedroom.

5:29 a.m. The sheet has come off the bed again. But I don't care this time.

6:05 a.m. I hear the water running. Someone is already in the shower. So much for a hot shower for me.

7:38 a.m. I wake from a deep sleep. We're going to be late for 9:00 church is we don't get a move on. Fast.

The longest day followed by the longest night.
There is nothing better than sleeping in my own cozy bed after a few nights in an uncomfortable bed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Second Longest (But Good) Day Ever

What do you do with 19 kids for the rest of the day when the Easter Egg Hunt is over by nine am? Here's what we did:

1. Make Great-grandpa's famous apple fritters for breakfast. Grandpa has taken over the tradition--to the delighted stomachs of us all.

2. The boys/men play some competitive "Lightning" basketball. Neal, recently obsessed with basketball, holds his own.

3. We head into the fields, attempting to avoid cow pies, to fly kites. Grandma has bought several kites from the dollar store. Turns out the breeze is perfect for flying kites.






4. The horses are curious about the kites.

5. The girls are more curious about the horses. Grandpa has a bunch of horse girls for granddaughters. The boys stick with the kites. Left to his own devices, Grandpa has struggled to name his horses (Gray, Tubby, etc). Inspired by Disney, the girls help out by naming Grandpa's new horses Maximus and Bullseye.






6. The kids try to tame the stray cat that took up residence in the barn during the winter. They give it a moniker too - Midnight.



7. I turn on a movie and several of the small children, including Molly, fall asleep on the couch.

8. The kids take turns on the swing in the barn. Dizzy.

9. The boys chase the girls. The girls encourage it.

10. Uncles tickle-torture their nephews. (Now you know where the term "Cried Uncle" comes from).



11. Nephews explain to their uncles that "Laugh Crying" is a sign that the tickling should end.



12. Climbing on the tree house further wears out the children.

13. Moms take pictures of the activities and spend time kissing the skinned knees and scraped elbows.



14. Several of the adults join the napping children and take their own naps.

15. One of my brothers and his wife go do a surveying job--qualifying the trip as a tax write-off.

16. We have hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner.

17. We all gather to pick our prizes for the Family NCAA March Madness Bracket Competition, sponsored by my sister and her husband. Utah Dad came in first place and chooses the four Megaplex movie tickets. I picked the movie August Rush and Neal was delighted to end up with a package of Vanilla Creme Wafers.

18. While my parents have us in one place we have a short devotional about the true meaning of Easter. We share our gratitude for the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And my mom gives the children their own pictures of Jesus.

19. We have cupcakes to celebrate the recent birthdays of Amberly, a niece and two nephews.

20. We say farewell to one brother and his family because they must be home for church in their own ward on Sunday.

21. We debate giving children their baths before they go to bed and decide to give them all a "wipe down" in the morning before church.

22. I put my children to bed because, frankly, they're exhausted and driving me crazy. Neal stays up to watch basketball.

23. My sister Kim brings glow in the dark chalk. The children who are still awake head outside to draw glowing artwork on the basketball court.

24. All the children begrudgingly go to bed.

25. Utah Dad and I read scriptures with my parents while my siblings put their kids to bed.

26. Neal finally falls asleep watching the Thunder vs. Nuggets game on television.

27. My mom goes to bed. The other adults stay up snacking on Easter candy and playing Skip-bo. Utah Dad spills his orange soda all over the Skip-bo cards. I now owe my parents a new set of Skip-bo cards.

28. We play Farkle instead until we are too tired and too silly to stay up any longer. We fall into bed hoping for some rejuvenating sleep before Sunday.

The day goes down in our Family Lore as the second longest day ever.

The Easter Egg Hunt

Because of stops to fill up with gas (the price rapidly increasing as we headed East) and then a restroom break, our drive to my parents' home Friday night seemed ETERNAL. We arrived around ten pm. My other siblings and their children were already there. The kids were so excited to see their cousins and it was awhile before we could get them settled down and in bed.

The adults stayed up until the wee morning hours talking, laughing and playing games. I never laugh as hard as I do when I'm with my family. This time, thankfully, I maintained control over my bladder and no one choked on candy and soda from laughing too hard. It was, by that measure, a fairly uneventful night.

Even though the kids had gone to bed so late they were all up bright and early by seven and ready to play. I woke up with the kids and jumped in the shower so that I could enjoy some hot water. It's always a race and this time I actually won.

We started our Easter egg hunt pretty early. Grandpa didn't even have a chance to change out of his jammies.

Attempting to be fair, there were all kinds of rules and stipulations to this year's egg hunt. Grandma provided six eggs per kid and each egg had something special in it. So each kid was allowed to find six eggs--one of each color marked with an X. They could also find three to five more eggs not marked with an X. These rules also managed to prolong the hunt.

The little kids (by "little" we mean anyone under three years old) went first. Molly was my only child in this category. It took Molly a few minutes to figure out that she was supposed to gather eggs. I think if she had known that there was candy inside the eggs before the hunt, she would have been more determined in her pursuit of the colored plastic eggs.


Before we let the big kids start their egg hunt, my parents wanted all the grandchildren to sit with them for a picture. It's always an amusing adventure to get 19 kids (2 grandkids were missed this weekend) to sit still for a picture. So far, we have had very little success. Some of the children have pretty strong aversions to posing for pictures.

I love how fast they run when they are finally excused.

But then they quickly gather again when Uncle W brings a rabbit to visit.
PETA need not worry.
We don't buy our children bunnies and chicks for Easter just to have them die a few days later from over handling and then neglect.
My brother has rabbits for their proper purpose -- to eat. 
I didn't include a picture of the rabbit. No one wants to see their food when it's still alive.

The dads were a little more diabolical when hiding the eggs for the "big" kids. Do you just love that Lilly qualifies as a "big" kid? Don't worry. She held her own. She just couldn't reach some of the eggs.


  More than a few of the eggs were hidden beyond the reach of most of the children. Mean fathers.



 The kids had to check to make sure they only had the correctly marked eggs. Much of my time during the egg hunt was "rehiding" the extra eggs my children put in their baskets.







 Once everyone found their eggs, then they could dig in and begin devouring their treats.


 Molly was very delighted to find jelly beans inside the eggs.
She sat in this spot for an hour eating as much of the sweetness as she possibly could.
The white jelly beans tasted suspiciously like Off Bug Repellent. Ewww.
Some of the eggs marked with an X included notes.
Like "Ask Grandma for a quarter" and "Ask Grandpa for a dime".
My brother quickly ran inside to create some new notes like:
"Ask Grandma for $100.00"
Unfortunately, that sneaky plan proved unsuccessful.
The weather uncharacteristically cooperated by being only mildly cool and slightly overcast.
The kids were happy and ultimately sticky.
Parents were satisfied that each child got his share.
Easter Egg Hunt success!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Clue

As parents we start to perfect many jobs : taxi driver, chef, janitor, nurse (you're familiar with the list). Among these many occupations, we also get to hone our skills as detectives. Utah Dad and I make a pretty good team. He, especially, has a talent for the interrogation.

Case Study:
Tuesday, April 19th
6:45 p.m.

Me: (Playing the bad cop--which comes naturally) Who squeezed all the tooth paste in the bathroom sink?
(Neil and Amberly drop what they're doing and go running into the bathroom to see the Ramona-style mess, thus building their case of innocence.)
Thomas: (remaining in the loft) Not me. I didn't do it.
Utah Dad: How many squirts of toothpaste is it?
Thomas: Six.

With one simple answer the culprit was caught red handed (cinnamon flavored toothpaste); apprehended, tried and sentenced to cleaning up the mess and then going straight to bed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Honoring Mom

The next few weeks are going to be very busy for us. Easter is coming up this weekend. Amberly will be baptized the next weekend. And the following weekend is Mother's Day. Did you remember?

I was visiting with a friend last night. She mentioned that her mother had been coming often to help her out. I expressed my own jealousy of several of my friends whose mothers live nearby and can come often to help with the children or just hang out.

To be honest, I've only called my mother crying twice (that I can remember--she may be able to remember other instances).

The first time I was in college. All but one of my roommates had moved out at various times during the summer. My lone roommate and I were left to clean the apartment by ourselves on the night before check-out. Of course we procrastinated and by two o'clock in the morning it was obvious that we were not going to finish in time. To make matters much worse, my boyfriend and I were fighting (seriously, my only "dramatic" relationship--good thing it didn't last much longer). I called my mom sobbing in the wee early morning hours when only college students and owls are awake. My mom lived three hours away, but she and my teen aged sister showed up at my door at dawn. They helped my roommate and I scrub down a really embarrassingly dirty apartment (hey, it was summer, we were too busy playing to clean). With their desperately needed aid we were able to check out on time.

The second time I called my mom in tears was just a few years ago. I had just found out I was pregnant with Molly (I hadn't told anyone but Utah Dad yet). I was sick, exhausted, run-down and trying to prepare for a Relief Society activity. People were bugging me and I had reached my breaking point (which is much much shorter while I'm pregnant). I hid in the laundry room (no one looks in there--they might feel compelled to fold something) and called my mom. To my delight and surprise, she came and rescued me. All she had to do was come. That was enough.

My mom really is amazing. I admire her so much. She had seven children before she was 29 years old. She went back to school and graduated with her degree in Elementary Education (with only one tragic B to mar her perfect GPA) when she was 31 years old. She has taught thousands of first graders how to read since then and more recently has been teaching third graders their multiplication tables. She is such a fabulous teacher that we often joke about sending Amberly to live with her during third grade so that Amberly can be in Grandma's classroom.

My mom always knows the perfect thing (usually a book, she is a teacher after all) to get my children for their birthdays. She just gave Amberly a friendship bracelet making book and kit for her birthday. Amberly is thrilled and has been creating bracelets for her friends with fervor ever since. My children love their "magic blankets" that grandma made when they were babies. She sewed her special "grandma magic" into each of the beautiful quilts that grace their beds. She loves every one of her twenty one and counting grandchildren and tries so hard to be fair.



My mom really is my hero.

Mother's Day is coming up and it's time to consider a gift for my special mom. I've given one to her for on a previous Mother's Day but I am considering creating a photo book from Shutterfly for her again this year.

Making a photo book from Shutterfly is simple and the results can be very stunning. I created one for my mom from the pictures that my sister and I took at a family reunion one summer. I made another one for my mother-in-law that included photographs of her with my children. The photo books are beautiful reminders of the love and fun our families share.

Shutterfly also has a wide selection of photo gifts -- from calendars to aprons -- that would be perfect for mom. I could give her a notebook with pictures of my children or even a puzzle of a picture of our family (I'd need to get one taken first).

I could even just go to Shutterfly to make her an individual and beautiful Mother's Day Card to give with another gift I might discover before now and Mother's Day. Essentially, Shutterfly has my back this Mother's Day. And I know whatever I decide to get for my mom, she's going to love it. Oh, and they're having a fabulous sale also!!!



Perhaps I'll drop some hints to Utah Dad. Using Shutterfly is so easy, he could probably make a photo book for me. Maybe.


This post is obviously sponsored by Shutterfly but is the honest truth--my mom really is fantastic. If you are a blogger click here to sign up for a chance to earn 50 free cards from Shutterfly.

The Four Ms. Bradwells - Book Review

Nicknamed the Ms. Bradwells by a professor during their first year in law school, the four women become fast friends. For the next thirty years they will be there for each other through thick and thin. Bett needs their support now. She has been nominated for a vacant seat on the Supreme Court. During the confirmation hearings, an anonymous blog post turns up a scandal involving the Ms. Bradwells during their college days--a mysterious death. Now, thirty some years after law school, the women must pull together to help their friend and themselves.

Exploring the ideas of friendship, secrets, and the rights of women, not to mention the relationships between mothers and daughters, The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton will keep you reading late into the night. Clayton is skilled at creating believable and fascinating women characters. Each of the four women is unique and yet it made sense that their shared experiences during college would bind them as lasting friends. The conversations shared by the women, while much more dramatic, reminded me of the bantering that sometimes goes on between my own friends from college and me. And just like my friends even though we are so close, these friends do keep secrets from each other.

Each chapter of the story is told from the point of view of a different woman. While it was initially confusing for me, I caught on quickly and the style was really an ingenious way to tell the story. Each woman knew different things and had various perspectives about the other women and their history. As a reader, it was interesting to learn things from one character and then read from another character who didn't have a knowledge of these things and see how her reality was skewed because of a lack of the entire truth. So very realistic.

The plot is also well crafted. The women's history unfolds slowly but with enough mystery and emotion to keep the reader and even the Ms. Bradwells guessing and doubting each other until the very end.

If your book club does not mind excessive swearing (which unfortunately is quite prevalent in some sections--not used simply as filler, these swears pack a punch in a very emotional and dramatic scene), there will be plenty of ideas to discuss about this book. Not the least of which, is the consequences we must eventually face for our choices and actions and the choices and actions of others with whom we are close.

Ms. Clayton obviously has a deep understanding of human nature and relationships. She weaves this gift into her characters and tells a most fascinating story full of pain, drama, emotion and ultimately redemption. Well done.

I received a free copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion. No additional compensation was received.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Break

We've been so busy during spring break that I haven't even had a chance to write down what we've been doing. So, now that I have a little time to breathe tonight here's our week:


Tuesday: We stayed home. I did laundry and some general house cleaning. Utah Dad took Thomas to Home Depot to buy the materials and then came home and worked on building the gardening boxes we are adding this year.

Wednesday: We drove to Salt Lake and went to Hogle Zoo. Utah Dad's parents live near the zoo and they have a grandparents' pass so we (the kids) go to the zoo quite often. I like the zoo only if it is not too hot or too cold, so the weather on Wednesday was nearly perfect for a zoo outing. I could have used a little more overcast skies, but I can't really complain.

The animals were rather active and we especially enjoyed watching the wolves, tigers and peacocks.

One year we went to Hogle Zoo at Christmastime to see the zoo lights. My children insisted that we go in the tropical zone/reptile house. It is their favorite. I cannot stand the smell. It is perhaps the worst smell I have ever smelled in my life. We came home from that trip and hung our coats in the coat closet. Only the zoo stink had permeated into our coats. Then it stunk up everything else in the coat closet. Everything had to be cleaned. I wasn't happy.

This time I casually steered my family away from the stinky tropical zone and captured their attention with the big cats in the Asian Highlands. By the time they realized they had been duped, we were too far away and almost finished for the day. Mommy success.

The nice thing about going to the zoo frequently is that you don't have to stay all day. We spent two hours leisurely walking around. We didn't insist on seeing everything. We can see the animals we missed next time.

I large portion of the zoo is under construction. While we missed the bears and penguins, the coming changes (spring 2012) look like they will be fabulous.
Thursday: My dearest friend from New Hampshire was in Utah visiting her daughter who lives in Heber. We arranged to meet at a centrally located McDonalds for lunch so we could let the kids play while we visited. The weather was chilly so it was nice to be inside.

We rarely go to McDonalds. I rarely go to McDonalds. Utah Dad goes to McDonalds every time he runs errands. It's supposed to be a "secret" but Thomas (his partner in crime) usually spills the beans.
 
Anyway, I don't take the kids to McDonalds. For years, I've told my kids that only grandparents were allowed to buy Happy Meals. And as much as possible we avoid the germy, bully-filled play places.
 
When I was a child my family rarely went to fast food places with play zones. I can only remember one occasion. I was about seven years old and the play zone was filled with thousands of balls (imagine the germs!). It looked like so much fun. My brothers all dove right in, but I was so shy and fearful of crowds that I stayed by my parents and longingly watched my brothers play.
 
Not one of my children is like I was as child. My kids all joined right in the crazy, chaotic, crowded play and they had a fabulous time. Even though Molly ended up with a bruise on her cheek. Hmm. Probably why the sign said it wasn't for children under three.
 
While the kids had fun, Utah Dad and I enjoyed our visit with our dear friend. We love and miss her so much. It's always so great to see her when she visits. Some day (sooner than later, I hope) we will be going back to New Hampshire to visit her.
 
I have to admit that I also really enjoyed my double cheese burger. It was just such a greasy, guilty pleasure.
 
Thursday night after the kids were in bed, Utah Dad and I stayed up until the wee hours of morning eating rich and spicy food and visiting with friends.
 
Friday: Utah Dad and I left the kids with a babysitter and went to the temple. We did sealings, which I very much enjoyed. Afterward, we went to lunch at Kneaders; casually browsed in Costco (miraculously I only spent $10) and then walked through some model homes just because (we're not moving).
 
The kids played the Wii and watched movies all day long without us. I think it was their best day.
 
Friday evening, I had my first photo shoot for this spring season. I hadn't seen the family for over a year and the kids are really growing up. There's a new one too. They're all so cute. We had a fabulous shoot. I'll be sharing the pictures soon. 
 
When I got home and helped Utah Dad put the kids to bed, I headed over to my friend's house for our neighborhood girls' night. So much good food. Just Dance on the Wii. Hysterical laughing and great great ladies. I crawled into bed before 2 a.m.
 
It was a really great week but I think we are all exhausted at this point and ready to return to our normal schedule. My youngest children definitely need their older siblings to return to school. We all need to sleep more and eat better. Good thing the fun can only last so long. We'll be back to the grind on Monday.
 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Day of Spring Break - Out and About in Utah

Because spring was kind enough to show up for the first day of Spring Break we decided that we better take advantage of the fleeting warmer weather yesterday. We woke before dawn which is way earlier than we usually get up to go to school. That doesn't seem quite right. But it is always easier to get up early for something fun (isn't this why my kids always wake up so early on Saturday but have to be dragged from bed in the morning for school?)

In the car, I started reading The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick out loud to the kids. We are all enjoying it and I anticipate that we'll finish it this week during the drives for our adventures.

Neal spent the morning skiing at Solitude. The weather was perfect. They had the slopes to themselves, got in eleven good runs and were home by noon.

The rest of us stopped at Corner Bakery Cafe on Foothill for bagels. I have enjoyed everything from the bakery and the bagels were good but the selection wasn't fabulous. In fact, I bought a dozen various bagels and the guy in line behind me tried to buy the same bagels. Neither of us were willing to wait for them to bake more. If you want a great breakfast sandwich or a giant muffin, the Corner Bakery Cafe is the place to stop. If you just want bagels, go to Einstein Brothers.

Once Neal got home from skiing, we headed to Temple Square in down town Salt Lake City. Even though the weather was beautiful and Utah Dad and I preferred to stay outside on the beautiful grounds, the kids wanted to go through the visitors centers. We weren't in a hurry so we did both.

We all enjoyed the virtual tours of the Salt Lake Temple and the cut-away model of the temple in the South Visitors Center.  I love that you can see a close up of the ceiling in the Celestial Room. It is so cool to focus in on the handiwork and art of the Pioneers. AMAZING!

We had a fun multi-cultural experience there yesterday. We talked about our favorite Bollywood movies with a sister missionary from India. Amberly told another sister missionary from Australia all about her upcoming baptism and about her first grade teacher who taught her all about Australia. We also visited with sister missionaries from the south of France, Milan Italy and West Virginia.

We enjoyed the beautiful flowers. It's been a cold spring and the tulips aren't blooming in abundance yet. But the hyacinths are blooming (love the fragrance) and the trees are blossoming. As usual, we had trouble keeping the children out of the fountains. Amberly rescued a drowning bumble bee and luckily didn't get stung.




After we spent several hours walking around, we went to dinner at Chuck-A-Rama Buffet (obviously, kids' choice). They love that they can try so many new foods and if they don't like it so much they can get something else.

The first day of our Spring Break was a fabulous success.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Odd and Ends

All the little things that have been going don't really deserve their own posts so I'm including them all in one post.

RIVERDANCE:
Last weekend, Amberly's grandparents took her to see Riverdance (the Irish dancing sensations). She LOVES Riverdance and had a fabulous time. They said she was so excited before the show started that she was literally shaking and she couldn't stop smiling. I took a few pictures before they headed out for the show.





WIND:
It hasn't been feeling very springy lately. Today it's overcast and ever windy. Tuesday night a gusty wind storm shook up my little town (we're pretty used to it) and ripped a big chunk of the vinyl siding loose from my neighbor's house. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the panels above the part that is actually hanging are very loose too and flap in the wind. Last night in the continual wind the broken vinyl banged against the house all night long. It's right outside my bedroom. Ahh! Between the banging and Lilly, who has a sore throat and woke up every few hours, it wasn't the most restful night.

I'm sure the banging was really driving my neighbors crazy too. At least they are renters and can call their landlord to fix it--hopefully soon.


PANTRY:
Utah Dad and I had a very productive day yesterday! We cleaned and organized our pantry/laundry/mud room. Over the winter this has become the room to stash everything. (I didn't take pictures--it was too embarrassing.) I found three very rotten acorn squash hiding behind the dog food (which we store in the house now instead of the garage so we don't feed any more mice) and some peanut butter coated spoons. So gross. We restocked the shelves from the food storage. We swept (apparently, a lot of chocolate chips drop on the floor when I reach in the bag for a snack) and mopped the floor. And I cleaned the lint and spilled detergent from the tops of the washer and dryer. We also cleaned off the Time-Out bench so now my kids have more room to sit when they get in trouble.

When we finished cleaning, we headed to the grocery store to buy more food storage. We filled two carts twice.

BOOKS:
Amberly and Neal have been fighting like cats and dogs this week. Neal will do something to bug her and Amberly will scream hysterically. It's very annoying. Yesterday evening, they were driving me crazy. Amberly was attempting to watch a Tinkerbell movie that she borrowed from her piano teacher and Neal would run in the room do a quick dance in front of the television. Amberly would scream and I would get annoyed. Obviously, Neal was very bored. (My boys have trouble entertaining themselves. Urgh!)

Finally, I told Neal to go alphabetize my books. He took me seriously and headed upstairs to take books from the shelves. He had a very random system but he refused suggestions from us and did a very good job. By the way, the books are alpahbetized by author. He was anxious to do all the books, but it was time for bed and some of the books are organized by size, shape and subject. I let him do two shelves. He is planning to organize his own books this afternoon when he gets home from school. Like mother like son.

I used to alphabetize and organize the books in my house when I was a kid too. I even wrote numbers inside the flap of each book and made my younger siblings "check" them out. I'm a bit surprised that my books weren't already alphabetized.





MISMATCHED DAY:
Today is "Mismatched Day" at Amberly's school. They're celebrating "Spirit week". I didn't have any trouble getting Amberly out of bed this morning. She was so excited to pick out her mismatched clothes for the day. She discovered and thought it was cool that her shirt and leggings have the same pattern just with different colors.

This is the first year Amberly has managed to match when she goes to school. Unless I insisted and battled, every day in first grade seemed like Mismatched Day. Today, she looks pretty adorable in a very goofy I-would-be-so-embarrassed-if-it-was-a-normal-day way. I remembered to snap a picture in the half-light of morning before she headed to school.


READING:
I hosted Book Club on Tuesday night. We had a great turn out and had so much fun visiting. Some of us even discussed the book, The Space Between Us for a few minutes. We actually went home at 1 am this month instead of at 4 am. Monday night, I fell asleep while Utah Dad was watching the NCAA Basketball championship game and only woke up to take my contacts out. I was trying to save up some sleeping time for book club. My body was prepared for a really late night. Even though everyone left "early" I couldn't fall asleep for several hours.

 I've been reading Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. I am a huge fan of Steinbeck but my eyes keep closing whenever I read this book. I put it aside last night and started reading Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown. It is a memoir of a family's painful struggle when their oldest daughter gets anorexia. It is scaring me!

I am looking forward to Spring Break next week. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate and act like spring. However, since Neal and Amberly will be spending a lot of time together, I better come up with some extra cleaning and organizing projects for them to do. Heehee (evil laugh).