Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween! What a blast!! Glad it's over!!!!

Party Party Party! It was one long continuous party today.

So, one guy we met put a twist on the whole give candy for nothin' but dressing up tradition, he made them tell a joke to get their treat. Of course, I cringed and backed away, hoping he wouldn't notice the parent of the worst joke tellers (although enthusiastic) he'd ever heard in their lives.
Eli spoke up first: Knock, knock (Oh no! Not a knock-knock joke!!)
Candy Man: Who's there? (so innocent! I should have saved him before it was too late!)
Eli: Doris (what's this? I've never heard this one before...)
Candy Man: Doris who?
Eli: Doris closed. That's why I knocked. (Ha! Who knew he had it in him!! He must have read it off a Laffy Taffy candy or something!)
Candy Man: laughed his head off. And gave Eli a handful of candy.

Of course, the rest of the night went like this:
"The guy a couple houses down gave us extra candy for telling jokes. Knock-knock."

Enjoy the costume pictures! We had a really fun night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top Ten Ways We Know Winter is Coming in Phoenix

10. We get cool air in the house when we open the windows at nighttime!

9. The A/C runs only 3 hours per day.

8. It's been almost a week since we swam in our unheated pool. (The water's still 82 degrees!)

7. As long as you're in the shade, it's possible to wear a black shirt outside.

6. You don't burn your hand when you touch your car.

5. Lizzie wore a long sleeved shirt to school the other day. With shorts.

4. We packed sweaters and blankets to go to a pumpkin festival. We didn't use them, but we packed them.

3. It's okay to have warm soup for dinner again!

2. We can go to a park after 9 o'clock in the morning.

1. Our electricity bill fell below the amount of the National Deficit this month.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pumpkin Carving Time!

Adam, Eli and Ivy carved their pumpkins tonight using patterns printed from the Internet...Ivy chose the kitty-cat and Eli picked the scary face. Ivy's job was to extract all the goop. Eli's job was to do the first scrape.
Look at Ivy!! She's smiling in a picture!! This might be a first...
These will look great at the Pumpkin Walk at school tomorrow night!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

When the Cat's Away, the Mice Will PLAY!!!

If your phone number is on the ward list, you probably received a phone call this afternoon from Lizzie and Eli. A general apology to you all.

I got home from the matinee performance at about 5:15, and everyone looked normal, but then, I got a call from Alyssa Pike (an 11 yr. old in our ward) who said she was returning Lizzie's call, and then I got an e-mail from Kim Tait, saying that Lizzie had called to talk to Ava (she's 18 months old.)

Well, it turns out that while I was gone and Ivy was taking her afternoon nap, Adam came up to Lizzie and Eli and said: "I'm going to take a nap now. Do NOT wake me up unless there is a disaster."
"Like if Ivy wakes up?" they asked innocently (they are known for loudly checking up on her and claiming she's awake, which she is by then.)
"No, like if the house is on fire," Adam says.
"What if the microwave is on fire?" they ask.
"Yes, that too." And then he went to sleep.

The two hooligans then proceeded to call every one of their friends and acquaintances on the phone list and tell them that Mom was at choir and Dad was asleep and they weren't supposed to wake him up unless there were fires involved, so they were just passing the time by going down the ward list and calling everyone they knew. When Adam came back to the land of the living, he found Lizzie chatting on the phone with Audrey Andrews. Apparently, when she noticed Adam, she rolled her eyes and said, "Well, I gotta go. Bye."

When did she turn into a teenager??

When questioned, Eli said he didn't call anyone, Lizzie pushed all the buttons. But he tried to talk to Andrew Sandberg, Nathan Cowley, and Max Andrews. Lizzie also called Sarah Hausmann and Dallin Dayes. And those were just the people they remembered to tell us about!

Don't worry, everyone, we had an improptu "Stewart Safety" lesson over dinner and discussed unauthorized phone usage.

I'll think twice before I decide to do another Sunday matinee performance right in the middle of nap time, I'll tell you that much!!!

The Brahms Concert

Our choir of about 150 singers got to perform Brahms' German Requiem this weekend with the Phoenix Symphony. The German Requiem is about an hour long, with two soloists, a soprano and a baritone, but it is mainly a choral piece. It is a spiritual journey of mourning for the death of a loved one; the comfort and the hope that comes from God, and the joy in knowing that they are at peace; praising the Lord that we will be able to join them again someday. What a wonderful experience it has been to be able to express those sentiments as a group of hundreds all with the same message! I will never forget it. Here's a few seconds of my favorite movement, #4:

Our soprano soloists had an absolutely incredible voice. Her name is Celena Shafer. I was telling my mom about her after our first big rehearsal, and then we figured out that she is a woman from Layton, Utah whom my mom had met when she sang as a soloist for the Salt Lake Symphony. She is LDS and a mother of three. How fitting it was that she sang the part of an angel saying she would comfort the mourner as a mother comforts her child. It was beautiful.

"And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." John 16:22
"Ye see how for a little while I labor and toil, yet have I found much rest." Ecclesiasticus 51:27
"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you. . . " Isaiah 66:13

An Explanation...(actually, more like a Confession!)

Well, friends, I have not abandonded you! I tell you, I had a crazy week. I hardly had time to check my email at all! Let alone post thoughtful and humourous blogs! What was I doing, you ask? Well, the Phoenix Symphony Chorus had a concert this weekend and we had rehearsals or concert every single night of the week except Saturday. We did our last concert this afternoon. And guess what? Rehearsal is tomorrow night! Talk about burn-out! But that's not the whole reason I have left you hanging. There was something else....

Twilight! You know, the book everyone has been telling you to read! I was determined to be the only female in my religion Not to have read the book. You know, just to be obstinant. But, someone caught me at a weak moment...I had started a book I didn't like and had no back-up. I was bookless, to be perfectly blunt! My friend sprang on me and dropped her copy off for me at my doorstep. I had no choice - I started it that night.

Let's just say that I picked a bad week to start a gripping, page-turning 3 part novel of about 1800 pages total. It was like I was a vampire and I couldn't stop sucking the words off the pages of these books! I mean, what was I thinking?? I wasn't getting home till 10:30 pm at the earliest every night, and then I would start reading. But, like a true addict, I told myself that I didn't need as much sleep as everyone else, and that I could hold it all together. Oh, and that I could stop reading any time I wanted to. HA!

That theory worked fine. For a while. But then, a deadline loomed. Friday morning was the day that a group of women were going to meet for brunch to discuss the ins and outs of the Vampire world. "The Twilight Zone," we called it. By Thursday night, I found myself three hundred pages short of the end and even though I was reading backstage before we went on, I had to stop to sing with the choir at the opening night our concert!

So, I got home and after watching the requisite taped television shows with Adam (the Office was not as good this week!), I started reading around midnight, and with 60 pages still to go, I stopped at 3:30 am. I knew I could finish it up in the morning before the 10am deadline. Now, normally, I would be able to handle this, really. But this kind of behavior had been going on for about a week, and I was totally exhausted. I woke up Friday morning at 6:45 as usual, and got Lizzie off to school. Then Ivy got up and I got her breakfast, and then Eli got up and wanted to watch PBS. With the two of them getting babysat by Caillou, I decided it was nap-time for me.




Then the doorbell rang. I woke up. I looked at the clock. It was 9:10. I realized that it must be Eli's carpool there to pick him up for preschool. OH NO!!! He was still watching TV in his pajamas! And I had bedhead and sheet marks across my face! Doh. I embarassingly answered the door in my pj's, apologized all over the place, and told Valerie that I would drive Eli to school.

After getting all of us out the door, it ended up that Eli was late to school, I was late to the brunch, and I was still 60 pages short of the the end of the book!!!

So much for being able to handle it all!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ode to a Vampire

Hello, my name is Dracula.
My clothing is all blackula.
I drive a Cadillacula,
I am a maniacula.
I drink blood for a snackula
With teeth sharp as tackula.
At dawn I hit the sackula,
Tomorrow I'll be backula.

- Douglas Florian

Monday, October 22, 2007

Depressed? Try getting a uniform!

At his last t-ball practice, Eli got his official uniform! He had changed into it before I even got Ivy's seatbelt on in the car to drive home. It's a smidgen big, as you can see, but that just means I don't have to buy a new one for at least 3 years! We got home, had a careful dinner and then it was time to go to bed. He changed into his p.j.'s, but when Adam got home, he had them ripped off in seconds, and put the entire uniform back on to show his dad. (The jersey even has "Eli" written on the back - how cool is that!) Of course, then we had to let him sleep in them that night. Two long days later, he had his very first ever t-ball game. It was at 11:00, which was torturingly late in the day, and he was dressed and ready to go and trying to put Ivy in her carseat at 10:15. (If any of you have ever seen me try to get Eli out the door, you'll understand the significance of this!) When we got to the field, I watched him walking out to his team with his bat over his shoulder and got a bit misty-eyed! He got to play 3rd baseman...
And then, when it was his team's turn to hit, we were so proud when he hit the ball at the first pitch thrown to him - two rounds in a row!! What a slugger. My All-American boy!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

ZOO Day!

Yesterday, we went to the Phoenix Zoo! We went with several other friends from our ward. The weather was perfect - mid 80's... I'm so glad it's finally cooling down!!
The Tortise and the Hare. You can tell Eli is ready to spring!
If you look closely on the rock, you will see a mother monkey with a little baby on her back! It was the cutest thing watching this mother jumping all over with her baby. I like the idea.... Just tell your baby to hold on tight, and you're hands-free! The original Baby Bjorn... I wanna Iguana!Among the rare, exotic, and endangered species, we found a Tree Swing! The first one we've seen since we moved to Arizona!!
What a fun day at the Zoo.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You know you've made it big when....

... you find yourself on YouTube without knowing some crazy has been filming you!!! Go Erin! She sang at Battery Park last Saturday at the Culturefest 2007. I love the super-attentive audience. Geez! You'd think she hadn't spent the last 10 years perfecting that voice of hers!! Listen to her already!

Anyway, hope you enjoy! She said her favorite part is when her name suddenly flashes on the screen, misspelled. Priceless!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007



My children have discovered Knock-Knock jokes. They have the format down, but the humor is grotesquely absent. This spells disaster at the dinner table!! Here's a sample of what we had to endure tonight. This joke had several inane variations; the others, thankfully, I have already forgotten:

Knock - Knock.
Who's there?
Asparagus who?
Is there a guy from Aspire and you can see his guts?

(Guess what we had for dinner? Yup, asparagus.)

The trouble with knock-knock jokes is that it is almost impossible to resist answering the "Knock-knock" with a "Who's there?" It is our darned curiosity that makes us hope everytime that maybe, just maybe, this joke will be better.

I have used up all of my fake laughs for the next five years and the kids are lucky if they only get an audible groan from me these days. Still, nothing deters them.

Even Ivy is in on it. To be truthful, her joke is my favorite. It's the same every time. It goes like this:

Who's there?
Yogurt-head who?

The joke ends here with Ivy bursting into loud, raucous laughter. That's my favorite one! I can't resist it!!

The older kids have no excuse.

Dad, I never thought I say this, but your infamous jokes are starting to look pretty hilarious right about now!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Holy Trophy, Batman!

Before I mislead you, let me say that this was the Team 4 Trophy - all 15 girls together won 3rd place! Lizzie got to take it home this weekend (the coach picked her because she was most improved!) and will bring it to the gym on Monday.But the medals Lizzie won all on her own! Lizzie's 2nd gymnastics meet was on Saturday and she did great! She didn't fall off the beam or the bars, had enough nerve to get through her floor routine, and scored her highest score for her vault again (8.25). We were so proud of her, and then we got a bonus: She got two medals! One for 10th place on the beam, and 14th place for All-Around. She was awesome!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Beetle Barn

As a mother who values education, I am always a sucker at stores that sell educational toys. Last August, when we were school shopping, we made our usual check-in at the Discovery Channel Store and saw that they were closing and everything was on sale at a deep discount! What good mother could resist? Well, one thing they still had plenty of on the shelves were the "Beetle Barns." They looked so cute with the bright plastic red barns and the clear silos. Witnessing metamorphosis - well that must be a milestone for every future scientist to pass! We bought it and a couple weeks later, sent off for the free live insects.

Well, they came as promised, mealworms in the mail, and there were dozens of them. We put them in the barn with their bran and sliced carrots. It was exciting to see them shedding their exoskeletons and eating and growing. After school every day, all three kids would gather around, watching them intently, renaming them, giving them their slices of carrots. Even Ivy was entranced and would walk around saying "Meeoh - wherm! Meeoh - wherm!"

What a surprise when we got home from The Grand Canyon to find several pupaes and a couple newly hatched darkling beetles. Now they were crawling and they were officially insects and my feminine side was getting creeped out a little bit.

One morning before school, Eli and Ivy had been analyzing the latest beetle stages at the kitchen counter, when an arm went flying, and the whole beetle barn did too! Larvae and pupae everywhere!!! Those mealworms crawl unbelievably fast, and the beetles are hard to catch.

That was when I decided on the "Mealworms on Wheels" program. I let the other kids in Eli's K-prep class each take a week with the Beetle Barn. I was sharing for educational purposes, of course. Truly, I am so magnanimous.

When we got them back last week, all the mealworms had turned into pupaes. And finally, a couple days ago, the very last pupae hatched into the adult beetle.

Yesterday, when no children were around I stuck the entire beetle silo in the freezer. That's what happens in nature when winter comes anyway, right?? And I'm not allowed to set them loose in the wild even if I wanted to because darkling beetles are registered pests. (No wonder they were free!)
Lizzie saw them after I removed them from their tomb, and was sad. "They didn't get to lay any eggs!" I told her they did, but they're too small to even see. She really wanted to see the whole life cycle start over again. I count it good enough that we made it through once!

Lesson learned: Mom is not ready for real pets in the family!

Homemade Vacation!

Lizzie and Eli got more than a week off from school for their Fall Break! Since Adam had an exceptionally busy work week, we decided to stay at home and relax. The weather was gorgeous - so we've been swimming every day, had picnics at the park, gone to dollar movies, went to the library, slept in, barbequed, went bikeriding, had playdates, and made carmel corn and snickerdoodles. What could be better! I even did a "Rasta Lizzie" to make it feel like a real vacation! She loves it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Do not read this book...

Last night, I just finished a book called "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" (Kim Edwards). A couple of days before that I finished "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (Betty Smith). If you are familiar with either of these books, read on. If not, all you need to know is to avoid the first and to check out the second.

Let me just start my first written book review by saying that The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a waste of paper. Not to mention time, words, and energy. I had to read it for a book club. But you don't have to. Save yourself.

That is, unless you like bland characters that all talk the same, even though they're supposedly from completely different parts of the country. Or unless you like a seriously depressing plot line. Or unless you like to read books that should have taken 75 pages to complete but rambled on for an extra 300 pages. Or unless you like books that use a clever analogy. . . over and over and over again. It was only clever the first time, Ms. Edwards! Or unless you like books that spend half their time explaining events and more than half of the rest of it reminiscing about those same events.

You say I sound bitter? Well, add to all of that the fact that in trying to find this book in time for the discussion group (yes, I'm planning on attending and I've got a mouthful to say!), I drove to the downtown library and picked up the Large Type version - the only copy they had left. (This begs the quesion: Who keeps recommending this book?) You should have seen me reading! It was like going to a movie theater and sitting on the front row - my head like a typewriter as I got to the end of each line. And the page turning! Argh!

So, perhaps the reason I despised this book so much was because I had just finished that other book so close before. From the outside, they could have been similar. Intriguing titles, story lines both about families growing up, both spanning about 25 years. But the outcome was so completely different. Reading "Brooklyn" made me feel like I knew someone personally who lived through the depression. That I was hungry, cold, and counting my pennies right along with them. (Oh, wait, that was when we lived in Connecticut!) And that I could recreate Brooklyn of the 1920s if I wanted to. The author created an entire neighborhood with flamboyant and grisly characters all within the confines of their class and status. I felt like I was part of the fight everyone was in just to survive with dignity. And even though every character had flaws, some of them major, I still rooted for them because they were so human. By the end of the book, I wanted to meet them because I felt like I knew them so well already. That is what a book is supposed to make you feel! Like you've been somewhere you've never been before and met interesting new people and like you've taken a walk in their shoes.

Ahh. I feel better getting that all off my chest!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Surgery at Preschool

Today at Eli's Kindergarten Prep class we learned about the Human Body! We started out with the book "Dem Bones," and we had my Halloween skeleton "Bonesy" help us out with that. Then we sang the song and danced with guitar accompaniment! Next, we had the kids all get on the "magic carpet" and shrink down and "fly into my mouth" to get an insider's view of my internal organs, with the help of another cool book I found at the library. After they returned to their normal size, we pulled out this velcro apron and removed all of Eli's vital organs. But the kids decided he was nice enough that they'd put them all back in for him. Erin, Andrew and Max were great surgeons!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who Let the Lizards Out???

When Lizzie moved a couch cushion for a fort she was building, I heard a blood-curdling scream come from the room. I ran in expecting a severed limb, but actually, a little gecko had decided to take a nap on the couch. He ran off when he heard the shriek!
When we found him, first we asked him if he could save us hundreds on car insurance, and when he didn't respond, we captured him, named him, watched him, and he posed for the camera. Then we let him free. As he was set free in the wild suburban neighborhood, we reached up and stroked his belly just before he jumped to the patio. FREE TIGER!!!