Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Dog?!

Utah Dad grew up in a non-dog household and when I say "non-dog household" I really mean a "despise and fear all dogs household". We will place the blame for this attitude squarely on the shoulders of his dad (I'm actually sure that he won't mind). When Utah Dad and I got married, my family still had our most beloved yellow Labrador Pete (we had many various dogs over the years but Pete lived with us the longest and became part of the family). Utah Dad tolerated Pete (and might be willing to admit that he sometimes liked him) but practically made me sign a prenup that we would not have a dog unless we had at least three acres of land.

So, you can imagine my complete surprise a few weeks ago to learn that Utah Dad had spent some time researching the best dog breed for our family. If he had just checked online I might not have been so shocked, but he went so far as to make a phone call to a local pet store and had a lengthy conversation with the owner. That evening he announced to the family that our perfect dog would be either a beagle or a Boston terrier and that he thought we should get one. Soon.

I made a quick note of the size of our back yard. Nope. Not even close to three acres. Not even close to one acre. I never thought that in our marriage I would have to be the heavy on this particular issue. I never imagined that I would one day tell my husband that we were not getting a dog. Because I actually like dogs. I recall a multitude of fond memories of almost all the dogs we had growing up. But I don't want one. At least not right now.

I grew up on a small farm. We had acreage and the dogs could do their business somewhere I didn't have to go. I didn't have to take them for walks. I didn't have to scoop poop from my lawn or my neighbors' lawns. (One of my "pet peeves" is when people let their dogs poop on their neighbors lawns or the sidewalk or the park or . . . and do nothing about it.) Frankly, I think I already deal with enough poop.

I recognize that having a puppy that loves you unconditionally and slobbers wet kisses all over your face would be good for my kids (and Utah Dad, who must be feeling unloved or something). However, my kids are still young and probably not ready for the responsibility of completely caring for a dog. I am the mom. And I know that I will have the primary responsibility of caring for the dog. And you know what, I don't think my kids even want a dog. When Utah Dad brought it up that night at dinner no one jumped on the puppy band wagon. Amberly said she wanted a cat (ew!).

I thought that the phase of wanting a dog was over and dead the next day when Utah Dad informed me that he had spent his afternoon watching the neighbor dogs poop all over their backyard. He hates the two dogs next door. They bark every time we go outside. (In our good neighbors' defense--we have a fence and they never let their dogs "go" on our yard). Then last week while Utah Dad was out of town for work, the local pet store called ("Animal Ark" flashed on the Caller ID). The woman asked for my husband and I told her that he was gone and I would be happy to take a message. She hesitated and then told me that they had just gotten Boston Terrier puppies. Utah Dad had asked her to call him if they got any. I laughed, thanked her for calling and told her that we were not getting a dog (especially not a Boston Terrier).

When I told Utah Dad about the call, he was upset. His words: "I told them specifically to ask for me and not to leave a message with you if I wasn't home." I had foiled his ruse.

And then the Netflix movie last night was "Marley and Me". I added it to the list months ago and forgotten about it. The movie, about a big crazy yellow lab, had varying effects on Utah Dad and me. I experienced a wave of nostalgia. I'm sure that anyone who has ever loved a yellow lab could completely relate to the experience of owning Marley. I laughed and I cried a little--really just a drop or two of moisture leaking from my eyeballs. My family had and loved Pete for twelve years. My dad rescued him from the pound as an over-grown, already house-broken one-year-old puppy. Our family lore includes thousands of Pete stories (just ask my brother-in-law). "Pete Stories" is an actual genre in the bedtime repertoire at my house.

Utah Dad, however, was mortified by the destruction that can be caused by a large, hyperactive dog/puppy. He didn't meet Pete until he was a middle-aged dog who spent most of his time laying around and farting. I can pretty much guarantee that Utah Dad will not allow a yellow lab in his future which makes me a little sad because they are my favorite. But the movie didn't completely deter Utah Dad from the idea of owning a dog. It may have actually had the opposite effect.

After the movie, he insisted that I take an online questionnaire that would tell me the perfect dog for our family. How much time would I be willing to spend grooming a dog? A few minutes a week. Would I be willing to take my dog to a professional groomer? Are you kidding? I rarely take my children to a professional groomer. What is the climate? Extreme--freaking cold in the winter and blasted hot in the summer. After answering a few more questions, the results were in. The top two dogs on my list were hairy and ugly and not at all what I would choose (were my answers to the questions really considered at all? Maybe just the extreme climate). Third on my list was the beagle.

Beagles are cute. And someday when I no longer have a baby in diapers, I can actually picture our family with a dog--maybe a beagle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I am rather opinionated. I come by it naturally but I also learned to develop stronger opinions after I married Utah Dad. You only have to meet him once to know that he does not back down from his opinions easily.

Before I had children, I had so many opinions on motherhood. The best way to do this and that. I observed mothers in action with their children and I had lists of things that I thought were great, good, annoying and then just plain wrong. Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut during these years and didn't get hit.

After I had my first baby, I realized just how ridiculous I had been and was very grateful to my former self for keeping my opinions to myself. The funny things is, that once I had one child, I was suddenly an expert on parenting. I'd read so many books. I had so many very strong opinions on everything--bedtimes, breast feeding, drug-free childbirth, television viewing, sleeping habits--you name it. And I talked about it all the time to whomever would listen or even pretend to listen. It seems like a life time ago, but I'm pretty sure I even thought that mothers who didn't do what I thought they should were wrong and would ultimately raise horrible children. Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut (to those failure-mothers) and didn't get hit.

Now that I have many children, I have realized how ridiculous I was then. I still have lots of opinions on motherhood. Some have evolved over the years. Others have stayed constant. And I'll share them occasionally. But I now know that the way I do something might work for me and might not (probably won't) work for someone else. And I don't care. I'm sure that the other mother who bottle fed her newborn or let her kid stay up until ten every night or had an epidural and watches hours of television will raise perfectly good children, probably even better than mine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kids Say . . .

Thomas (age 4, two weeks ago): "I think you should sell me off."
Daddy: "To whom?"
Thomas: "To Mamau and Gramps."
A few hours later, Thomas: "I was thinking about it and it made me sad, so don't sell me off."

Thomas (on Sunday during his interview): "How do they do baptisms for the dead? Who brings in the bones?"

On Saturday I bought a bag of pears at Costco.
Thomas: "Oh, awesome! Pears! Let's put them in a can."

Conversation at lunch:
Lilly, pointing to Amberly and Thomas: "These are my kids."
Amberly: "We're not kids. We're children. Kids are baby goats."
Lilly, pointing to Molly with a laugh: "She's a baby goat."

Thomas to me: "I used my finger remote control to turn off your singing voice."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crawlin' Molly

Molly is 11 months old today. She doesn't really crawl yet. She's still doing a modified army crawl/roll to get where she wants to go. But she's working on it.

Last night I heard Molly's frustrated cry and I discovered her half way through the tunnel. Her siblings were in bed so I knew that she had crawled in herself and wasn't just being tortured. I rescued her. This morning I heard the same discouraged cry and found her just inside the tunnel again. Her head was buried and she was ready to give up.

I got on the other end of the tunnel (with my camera and Thomas) and encouraged her to continue. She worked so hard--slowly moving forward. And she was so proud of herself.

P.S. She broke out in hives on Monday. I'm still not sure what caused them. She was covered from her head to her bum. Fortunately, the seem to have cleared up now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Easy Homemade Valentines

When Neal was in preschool, I completely forgot about Valentines Day. Utah Dad dropped him off at school that morning and noticed the other children arriving with their special Valentines to give to their classmates. Oops! I got a frantic call that morning from Utah Dad reminiscent of the call I received on Halloween morning when I didn't dress Neal in his costume. I was definitely after the "Mother of the Year" award that year. I kicked it in high gear; pulled out all my scrap booking supplies and whipped up a bunch of pretty darn cute Valentines for Neal's classmates. I arrived at his school just in time for him to hand them out. Phew!

Anyway, since then, I've been determined not to be such a mother-failure again. Each year, we have a little Valentine making party on the day before the party at school. I design an easy card (one that the kids can make mostly by themselves). We get out the (really dirty) art table cover and then we're free to cut, glue and color special Valentine cards for their classmates and friends.

Today, I made a quick card in Microsoft Word and printed it out. Thomas and I cut the white paper and background black card stock before the other kids got home from school. When Neal and Amberly got home we got busy. They glued the cards together and wrote their names and the names of their classmates. I punched a heart on each card with my Sizzix heart punchy thing (it requires a hammer and is really noisy. Utah Dad, who was working, was not thrilled) and then a small hole below it. We threaded a sucker through the holes. Voila!

While we worked, we munched on RedVines and the kids talked about which boys and girls they "like" in their classes. And they were quick to point out that "like" and "love" are very different (duh). They made a few extra Valentines since the kids they really "LIKE" are not in their classes at school. I suppose we'll have to make a few special deliveries this weekend.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I don't like running to the doctor for every cough and sniffle. But I've been hacking away with this cough for four weeks now. Last Friday my voice was completely gone (this might also be blamed on two consecutive nights of visiting with friends). My chest hurts and there is some serious constriction when I breathe. Then the others in the family have been coughing. Utah Dad and I laid awake Sunday night, unable to sleep because of our own coughs, listening to the children cough in their bedrooms. It was incessant even though the humidifiers were on full blast and they had Vicks Vapor Rub smeared on their chests.

So, Monday morning after Neal (he started the bug with a cough and ear infection at the beginning of January but is better now) went to school, we packed up the rest of the crew and went to the doctor.

The diagnoses are in and are fairly gruesome.

I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. I'm taking amoxicillin now.

Utah Dad has a sinus infection. He is taking amoxicillin now.

Amberly has walking pneumonia. She is taking amoxicillin now.

Thomas and Lilly are coughing and have excessive green boogers. They are taking amoxicillin now.

Molly has an ear infection. She is taking amoxicillin now.

So now that we're all properly dosed with the pink stuff, we're hoping for some speedy recoveries.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lilly and Piggy

When my first two children were small, my younger sister worked in the gift shop of a motel. Every time we saw her she gave my kids Beanie Babies. We ended up with piles and piles of stuffed animals. For some reason, neither Neal nor Amberly really appreciated all the cute little critters. Unless, of course, I threatened to throw them away--then, they LOVED them all and couldn't part with a single one.

Several years later, Lilly really does love the plush little friends. She carts around the giraffe and the zebra. The next day she's hugging the lamb, cow, and penguin. But her very favorite one--the one she must have in bed; the one she pushes in her stroller; the one she drags every where and the one that needs frequent baths in the washing machine is the pink pig. She calls it "Piggy". Piggy is often cold at night and has to be covered just right. I don't know how many hours I've retraced Lilly's daily adventures to find the little pig at bed time.

It's not terribly surprising that she picked the pig to be her best friend. She loves pink. She loves farm books. She loves the movie "Charlotte's Web" (the newer one).  The little pig from her Fisher Price Little People farm sometimes joins her on her activities. It's rather cute.

Just like most kids, all my kids have had something special that they especially loved. Neal has a blue fleece blanket with his name embroidered on it. It's been washed so many times and it's really pretty gross now but he insists that it stay in his bed. (I never did let him carry it around.) Amberly has a little doll named "Babya" that she keeps in her bed. Thomas picked a nubby little brown bear named "Fozzy" that he lovingly drags around by its floppy neck. (Fortunately Fozzy has a twin brother named Fuzzy that lives with the grandparents.) And now Lilly has "Piggy".

I suppose I can indulge her and make sure that Piggy is carefully covered up each night. I really don't mind.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Books

I don't need an excuse to buy new books. In fact, my kids rarely get new books for Christmas (except for the books they get from Grandma) because I buy them new books all the time. Yesterday afternoon when the kids were home from school and Utah Dad had a break from his students, we went to the book fair at the neighborhood elementary school. It was the "Buy One Get One Free" book fair which is our favorite and a pretty dang awesome deal. We spent some time perusing the selection and came home with eight new books. Utah Dad picked two historical books. Neal picked a mystery and a fantasy novel. Amberly, who is becoming an excellent reader, picked two beginning chapter books about princesses. And I helped Thomas and Lilly pick out two picture books (my favorite). Since I was holding Molly in one arm and keeping a second hand on Lilly, I didn't get to read through any of the books. I picked solely on the delightful illustrations.

When we got home, we wasted no time before enjoying our new books. Thomas and Lilly gathered on my lap so that I could read to them.

The first book is Queen of the Class by Mary Engelbreit. We've long been fans of her unique and nostalgic illustrations. Her style is unmistakable and beloved. I'm sure you're all familiar with it. I bought Engelbreit's illustrated version of Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses when my first children were small and it has consistently been one of our favorite books to read together. I was thrilled to see that Engelbreit has continued illustrating and writing books for children. Queen of the Class is a charming story about Ann Estelle who longs to play the role of the queen in her class play. Instead, she is given the role of stage manager. Disappointed, she resolves to do her best and ultimately saves the play. Ann Estelle is a darling character who is creative, energetic and definitely the star.

Next, we read The President and Mom's Apple Pie by Michael Garland. It seems a paradox, yet the computer-generated illustrations are folksy and hearken back to the simpler time of bunting, parades and marching bands one hundred years ago. President William Howard Taft, who was known for his immense size and appetite, steps from the train into the midst of a cheering crowd of small-town America. Led by a delicious smell, the President discovers the unique and tasty flavors that make up an assimilated United States of America. If the clever story doesn't make you chuckle, the pictures of a profoundly prodigious (a few more of Neal's vocabulary words) President Taft running down Main Street, U.S.A. certainly will.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Baby Girls

There has been a baby boom in my ward/neighborhood this past year. In the last year there have been at least nineteen new babies born (I might have missed some and two have moved away since they were born). Only four were boys. By June of this year there will be seven more babies born (that I know of). They are all expecting girls (and one anxious mom is still waiting to find out). That is A LOT of girl babies.

Today I had the privilege of meeting and photographing the newest baby girl in our ward. Baby H is just 12 days old and she is gorgeous. Really. She is beautiful. Since my own baby girl is ten months old and growing up too quickly, I could not get enough of the chubby rolls on this newborn. I had to share a shot from our mini session this afternoon. I think you'll agree that she is so so so cute.

You can see more pictures of Baby H on Cindi Braby Photography Blog.

If you happen to live in my ward and you happen to have a baby less than a year old (who doesn't)--I would love to photograph him/her. I'm offering free mini-sessions that include a CD with 3-5 images from the session. If you're interested contact me to schedule a session.

When scheduling the session, consider the best times to photograph babies.

1. Newborns grow up so fast. The best time to capture the newborn stage is during the first three weeks.
2. It's really great to photograph babies when they can sit up but can't crawl away yet.
3. I especially like to capture babies at their first birthdays.
4. Anytime is a good time to photograph a baby.