Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good, Better, Blog

I'm hoping this comes across the right way. I've seen lots of posts on this and thought I would add my two cents.

So I love blogging. As I admitted in a previous post, I have an addictive personality and get sucked into things (cookies, books) to the abandonment of others. I hate to admit it, but I had days (not lots, Mom and Dad, just some) where THIS was taking way too much of my precious time. Many of you know what I'm talking about and I began wrestling with all the things in my life that seem good, but maybe not best (see Dallin H. Oaks talk of Oct. 2007). Like lots of babysitting trades, helping in classrooms, signing up for cooking the ham for the Christmas party, like making applesauce, like my books, like my TV shows, like my exercising, like my blogging.

So I decided to fast and pray about it. And I didn't want to, because I didn't want to do my life any other way (even though it wasn't working ...ever happen to you?). So in my prayers, I included a plea that I would be more happy and willing to submit...that I would WANT to change the order of things if that's what He thought was best.

I had lots of prompts to get me to this place:

Gift from the Sea recommended by a fellow blogger,

feeling generally yucky on days when I was so in a thousand places (mentally and physically),

Julie Beck's Mothers who Know talk,

kids who complained

and I finally stopped ignoring them.

So these are some Answers I got and that are working for me.

1. I remembered (during a prayer, of course) a talk my saintly sister-in-law had given, in which she discusses a Primary Sharing Time she witnessed:

The teacher had an empty jar sitting on the table. Next to the jar were two bowls. One was filled with walnuts and the other one was filled with sand. The walnuts represented those things we do to serve the Lord such as going to church, paying tithing, going to the temple, home teaching and visiting teaching, doing missionary work and so forth. The sand represented those things we do for our self such as the jobs we may have, relationships with family and friends, goals we desire, school, vacations, sports and activities that we participate in and on and on.
The teacher wanted to see if all of the sand and nuts could be contained in this one jar. She began by pouring the sand into the jar. It filled the jar about half way. She then took the walnuts and poured them on top of the sand, but in doing so it caused the walnuts to spill over the jar.

Because that didn’t work she then reversed the process by putting the walnuts (or things we do to serve the Lord) into the jar first. At a first look, the walnuts took up a good part of the jar. It made you wonder if there would really be room for the sand. She then poured the sand (or our personal desires) over the walnuts. Guess what happened? This time, both the walnuts and sand fit into the jar, and there was even a little room at the top to spare. Even with the walnuts filling up most of the jar, there was still room for all of the sand.
When put in first, the walnuts then dictated where there was room for the sand to be. It all fit together perfectly. Being a visual learner, it was so powerful for me to see how to make it all fit, and if reversed in process how it doesn’t fit.
Now there are some times in our life where we might have lots of sand- maybe even too much sand. Yet, it all seems like good things to us, so how do we decide how much or what part of the sand to get rid of.

I realized that I needed to figure out what my walnuts were and to do them first. I think they are individual but these are mine: a good morning prayer, scripture study, religious/inspiring literature (right now A Quiet Heart by Pat Holland), and 10 minutes alone with each child.

As I have tried to do those things first (and succeeded almost every day) ...guess what? I don't feel guilty about the blogging, or the extracurricular activities, or even the TV watching! And also guess what? I have truly truly had more time to do all the things in my life. The sand is fitting it (with room to spare). It's always humbling to realize that when we do things Heavenly Father's way, it all works so much better!

2. I set a timer on my hour a day and I try not to do it with kids around.

3. I pay attention (and pray for extra loud promptings) to how I feel as I complete the activities of my day. Making applesauce? Felt wonderful after good conversation and something to show for it. Helping in the kid's classroom? Felt great after observing Gabe in school and interacting with his classmates and teacher. Going over my time limit? Oh, whoops, only thing I felt yucky about all day.

So sorry that's long. Hope it's helpful, or meaningful. I'd love your feedback.

I know Heavenly Father answers our prayers and wants us to have fun and fulfillment in our lives. I know He will show us the best way when we humbly seek and follow His direction. Good luck in your search for the Best!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Winter of our Lives

Today, as I drove around in the sparkling first snow, I had this pretty Stie-ish post planned. Something about first snows, warm clothes, children and happiness. It would have been beautiful.

Then the kids got home from school.

And Gabe had grown out of his boots.

And they fit Jane but she didn't want to wear black boy boots.

And her socks kept slipping and messing up how the boots felt.

And Gabe walked around in my size 10 boots with mismatched gloves because he lost one on the way home from school today.

And Seth wailed in the house while I tried to wrestle the winter clothes tub down from our high shelf in the garage.

And then I had to try to shove his little hand into his mittens ("stick your thumb out! No, stick it out! Leave it out honey!" mittens thrown across the entry way).

And then I got a call from Ryan saying he had to work late (nothing to do with snow, but annoying, no?)

And Seth looked like a dork because, as the 4th child, he has to wear Emma's 24 month snowsuit, Gabe's gloves, his coat and some neighbor's lost/stolen hat. (Don't be fooled by how actually cute he looks in his real life it was much more ghetto, trust me.)

And he came back in the house approximately 7 minutes after the last button was snapped.

And Jane decided to take off the hated boots (because the socks had slipped again) all the way over at the neighbors and WALKED HOME with one bare foot.

And there are winter clothes strewn over the entire bottom floor of my house.

And Emma and Gabe LOVED it because they are 7 and 8. (And can clothe themselves and understand it's going to be cold and wet and have about 45 neighbor kids to play with.)

And so this is our life, right?

Beauty and mess, fun and frustration, tears and laughter...

why would the first snow of the year be any different?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Things you should try:

1. These pie recipes. (But make sure you use my crust, from the Lemon Meringue post). This will take you to Caramel Apple. And This will take you to Chocolate Silk (and make sure you beat the eggs as long as it says!).

2. These books.

Dream when you're feeling blue. It was predictable, kind of, but had really fleshed out characters, lots of interesting history, and was super clean.

I hadn't read John Grisham in a while and just thought this was lots of fun.

My favorite of the last month. Not quite as amazing as Kite Runner, but really really good. And really gratitude inspiring.

Oh my gosh. Best children's book ever. Please check it out, or buy it and read it and laugh.

3. This act of service.

Upon driving into our garage (after the 15 hour drive home) we noticed that my sister in law, Heather, who lives 2 miles away from us, and all of her fabulous kids, had left us a laundry basket filled with food on our doorstep. She knew we would arrive late Saturday, wouldn't want to shop that night and couldn't on Sunday and thought of some essentials we'd want on hand: eggs, milk, bread, muffin, cereal, OJ and hot chocolate. She also included an invite to Sunday dinner, which was yummy and fun. How thoughtful was that? WE LOVE THE DAINES.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Summary

Hey, this is great...I can write a super long tedious Thanksgiving trip recap and pretend it's a Sunday Summary and not feel like a boring blogger. Get ready, or stop reading now and just go comment on one of the pictures and I will think you read and enjoyed the whole thing!

On Monday, while in California, my dad and I decided to drive the kids to see us some California Redwoods. We were going to see the Sequoias, near Fresno, but Paige (who is the boss of me) told me they were too far away, so we went to Muir Woods. Except 44 miles into our trip, right in the middle of the freeway a bolt apparently came out of something in my engine and then the fan belt came flipping off, and the car stopped running. I just felt lucky it happened with my dad in the car, right by an exit, which had a car repair shop, which had the nicest, fastest, cheapest, honestest, candiest-having owner around. He fixed it in 2 hours and we were on our way. (Stop there if you ever need car fixing the Oakland...two exits south of the temple.)

Here's Muir Woods. They were extremely cool and Paige was totally right that they would be a perfect outing.
On the way home, Jane, of course, had to pee and so we stopped at the Oakland temple and Jane, upon seeing the Christus statue , said, "Mom, Jesus is so Adowhable." My feelings exactly.

Tuesday was beyond fun, because I got to attend my second Blog Bash at Celia's house. We ate lots of yummy food (Denae's Blog Brownies were a highlight), chatted about blogging for hours with people who get it and ignored our kids (except when they got near the blog brownies.) I will be announcing all my trips in the future, so we can plan other blog parties around it.

(Here are Celia, Audrey--Ryan's second cousin we realized, Paige, Brigitta and Denae. Click on their names if you want to see their fun blogs.)

Wednesday I just made lots and lots and lots of pie. But I had people to talk to while I did it, all the time in the world (so the kids could help without making me crazy) and a mother-in-law who cleaned up every mess I made. Here's me with Pecan, Pumpkin, Banana Cream, Chocolate Silk, Lemon Meringue, and Caramel Apple. (Chocolate and Caramel Apple were the crowd favorites--watch for recipes coming soon.)

If you've noticed no mention of Ryan, that's because he worked 43 hours Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (not even coming home one night) out of his company's head office in San Jose. He kept promising a really long Thanksgiving weekend as a reward to both of us, but realized that he was nowhere near done by Turkey Day and that we would have to leave early as a result. Boo for his job.

Thursday was seriously an ideal Thanksgiving. We started out with the Sherrill family tradition of doing Christmas puzzles.

Then we went outside for some kind-of kite flying, fishing (in my dad's neighborhood pond) and tennis. All of Ryan's family who were visiting came to my Dad and step mom's house and we just had a great time, eating, talking and playing games.

(Here's the fam, with Bart, Meridith and Paige)

Friday was Ryan's favorite day. We rounded up all the visiting family (my brother Nate and wife Kelsie, Ryan's brothers Grant and Greg and Greg's wife Christy, Ryan's sister Meridith and husband Bart) and did a day after Turkey bowl that was just about the most fun I've had in a long time. I'm most proud of the blocking of Ryan's brother Greg that allowed my brother Nate to catch a pass. I still can't feel my arm, but taking on Mr. 290 made me wonder if I've missed my calling...(So wish I had a picture here, all that vacation non-blogging was making me soft!)

The kids had lots of fun with the best Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins in the world and we were bummed out when we found out we had to come home a little bit early.

(Can you ever have a bunch of cousins in the tub and NOT take a picture? Here're my kids and cousin Paige.)

We drove home on Saturday and it was MUCH better with Ryan around. We're happy to be home and ready for the Christmas whirlwind to begin.

Quick Quote #16

A few weeks ago, Emma was wiping the table and she asked me, "Mom, how much do dishrags cost?" I said, "I don't know, why?" Emma said, generously, "Because I would be happy to use my money to buy some. Ours stink." Thanks for keeping the house in order, Em.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Summary

(Sorry no pictures, as we are without our computer, but aren't you thrilled I'm blogging on vacation?)

We'll do some of the week's highlights:

Parent Teacher Conferences
Besides the fact that the kids are on half days for like a month (okay, 6 days, but it seems like forever...nothing throws off your day like a half day), the conferences were enjoyable. Emma is a smart girl, hard worker and as her teacher said, "comes to school eager to learn". I read one of her journal entries and she was writing something and in the middle she wrote this: (deep breath) to illustrate feeling anxious about something. It was darling and I just saw future blogger written all over it. Gabe is also doing well...he's a young second grader, but I was happy to hear he's reading on grade level this year. He's good at math and got extra notice from his music teacher for being so well behaved in music's from all those hours in Primary Singing time, right? Basically, I just left that room feeling SO grateful that my kids are blessed with such good teachers.

Million hour drive to California
So we obviously arrived and actually it went really well. Seth buckled Elmo safely into his own chest buckle (kind of like a baby bjorn) and rode a good four hours that way. It's nice to know EVERYONE in the car was safe. A big Dollar Store toy hit was the frog guns that shot foam discs...bought me a good 45 minutes of happy violence in the back of the stopped when all of the discs had been shot up front at me, where they were un-retrievable. We only stopped for one meal and even for that meal, Emma suggested a drive through (again, following in her mother's footsteps). We arrived in 14 and 1/2 hours and then poured into my dad and Genie's house and proceeded to bounce of the walls for an hour (sorry, guys!)

Other notable events:
Seth thought everything was "a-skusting". "Mom, this owie a-skusting." or "Mom, Katie a-skusting."
Jane had the temper tantrum of her life (because she got a consequence for crying for no reason). Serious gurgling, kicking, screaming, ripping clothes off. Seth, of course, wanted to know "What wrong a Jane, Mom?"
A yummy Sunday dinner at Grandma Nut's house and church (Ryan's parents live in the ward I grew up in) where everyone told me I look just like my mother.

We're glad we're here on vacation and hopefully it will provide a WAY more interesting summary next week. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tips from the Road Trip Queen

**after posting this, I realized I neglected to emphasize: I WILL BE DOING THIS ALL BY MYSELF. Now, read on, appreciating me appropriately, please.**

Do: go to the Dollar Store and buy tons of $1 toys and books to give to kids every few hours so they have new stuff to play with.

Do: fore go your McDonald's weekly lunch date when you realize that you will be eating three meals at McDonald's tomorrow, because you'd rather gag down that food while your kids burn a bunch of energy on the GermTower/play equipment.

Do: buy a bunch of snacks because you'd rather have them eat in the car and play at the stops.

Don't: eat these snacks yourself, as you will be burning NO calories sitting on your rear end all day.

Don't: feel guilty when you do anyway, because a mom must have some small pleasures in this hellish trip.

Do: dream of the day when you will have an in-car DVD system instead of your bungee-corded, ancient mini TV/VCR that only works with the remote, because soda was spilled on it.

Do: wish for that DVD player again, when you head to the library to rent videos and realize they are truly phasing them out and all you have left are OOOOLD movies.

Do: download the following books so you can drown out arguing kids all the way to California:

Don't: Ever make a bathroom stop. Really. If they've been potty-trained for a year, they can hold it. Trust me.

Do: Make the unscheduled bathroom stop in the middle of the field while trucks whiz by so it's EXTRA un-appealing.

Don't: Worry about how many times your 2 oldest kids unbuckle to open drinks, clean up spills and shake a toy in front of the youngest 2.

Do: Thank Heaven for those oldest kids.

Do: Get a major oil change and say yes to every suggestion the guy makes because you are terrified of your van breaking down while you are all by yourself in the middle of Oregon.

Don't: Speed in Oregon. I am speaking from multiple experiences here.

Do: bring along some Mountain Dew and be thankful you never drink it normally, because that stuff is magical when your body is not used to it. You'll need it around 1pm when you are normally napping at home.

Don't: Allow your kids to pack for themselves. They are not aware of what constitutes cute-showing-off-your-kids vacation clothes. They will pick old soccer T-Shirts if you leave it up to them.

Do: Plan all your stuff in one stop. You eat, gas and pee ALL AT THE SAME STOP. Kids always have to pee, even when they say they don't. Make them.

Don't: worry that you have no stereo and wonder what in the heck you are going to do when they are all whining and crying and you really really want to blast some Gwen Stefani to get them to pipe down.

Do: be thankful you have a husband waiting for you who will clean out the car (because he's a little OCD) and will like the kids (because he hasn't seen them for 3 days).

Do: be thankful that so many fun relatives (and blog friends) are waiting to see you during your trip.

Do: check in soon to see if I survived!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Ladies and Gentleman! Welcome to our latest edition of "What can possibly be done to save this piece of furniture?" (applause)

I'd like to introduce you to Seth. Here he is holding some beautiful artwork that he colored at his family's dining room table. (oohs! ahhs!)

But folks....wait! We need to let you in on a little secret: He wasn't coloring with Washable Markers (gasp!) He was coloring with permanent markers and it BLED THROUGH the paper onto the table, in multiple locations. (boos!)

His mother rushed to action! She consulted the Internet, googling the phrase "get permanent marker off of furniture." She read about Magic Eraser --"will ruin the finish"-- and nail polish remover --"I don't think so!--. What is our mother to do? (camera pans blog readers with hands over mouths, shaking their heads)

The Internet suggested Antibacterial gel! It had great endorsements. "Won't wreck the finish" and "I am a professional house cleaner. Antibacterial gel gets out every stain."

The oldest daughter (relieved to not be in trouble) suggested Goo Gone! It also had great endorsements: "Remember when I was writing name cards for dinner with a Sharpie and it bled through onto the wood floor and Goo Gone got it off and I was allowed to continue residing in our home?"

Our hero/mother decides to PUT THEM TO THE TEST! (applause!)

Here are the stains before the product is applied. We used Goo Gone on the right and Antibacterial gel on the left.

They were allowed to sit for 5 minutes. Oh wait, 15 minutes, because the Mother had to get her pasta in the oven.

Here are the stains after (oohs!):

We have a winner! (Shouts and applause)

After applying lots of elbow grease...the Mother was able to completely scrub out the stain with Goo Gone(audience nodding and smiling), while the Antibacterial Gel did next to nothing and left a gray residue on the finish that made the mother sick to her stomach with fear (boos!).

She later used Goo Gone on the second stain and it faded a little and restored the finish slightly.

So act fast! DO NOT ALLOW THAT BAD TWO YEAR OLD TO RUIN YOUR HOUSE! Either throw all the permanent markers you have ever owned away:

OR GET GOO GONE!,(camera shows audience throwing their Sharpies into pre-placed wastebaskets, while getting their Albertson's cards out in anticipation of their next shopping purchase.)

Join us next time...cause THERE WILL BE ONE...for "What can possibly be done to save this piece of furniture?" (applause)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Okay, this post is definitely going to fall under the category : "Is she really publishing this for the world to see?" Before blogging, some things were private decisions made quietly between husband and wife and then announced with respectful fanfare. Not anymore, and especially not with me, the Queen of Saying Way Too Much.

No, no I'm not actually pregnant. Just debating. Actually no debate...I'm fairly certain it will be happening again soon. I'm ready and actually allowing the husband a little room to get on board. I really feel like we aren't done (and so does he), we've just had them all close and I'm willing to allow Ryan (a little) time to get really ready for the craziness that is pregnancy and that first year.

The thing is...I am going into this with my eyes open. Like, there is NO pretending I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I've had 4 pregnancies and 4 deliveries and 4 newborns and 4 years of nursing and NEVER getting your head above water. I know how hard it is. (At least for us...that stuff is just difficult and lots of work and I know there are others who just LOVE the new baby phase, but us...not so much). And so last week, as I walk into McDonalds for our weekly playdate, I think, as my kids run ahead, remove their shoes (and socks, I know HOW GROSS!, but I'm not fighting that battle) and I order their two happy meals and calmly fill their drinks and then sit them at a separate table where they eat and leave (and eat and leave and eat and leave) while I chat with my friends without a care in the world, why in the heck am I doing this all over again? Why, next year sometime, do I want to be lugging that obnoxious baby carrier, trying to balance the baby and the drinks or ask someone to watch it, nursing in public, standing and bouncing the fussy baby, loathing the post-baby body all over again??

I think it's because the end is in sight. Like, before I knew I was just slogging my way hope of relief and so I just kept on it. But now, like right before your husband gets home to relieve your crazy homework/dinner/chores/hungry chaos and you think you can't possibly handle it all for 10 more minutes (even though you've been handling it all day),'s within my reach and I'm getting ready to leave this all behind.

But not quite. And I guess that's it, right? Not quite ready to have all the other babies in the world be NOT YOURS, not quite ready to have the last first word or step or giggle, not quite ready to give up the only thing you've done for the last 9 years, not quite ready to look at the kids in your house and know that it's complete.

I've never felt like this before...wanting and mustering up the courage all at the same time.

But because I HAVE done this before: I know it will be okay. Way more good than bad, way more joy than stress, way more cute than ugly.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our cool Veteran`s Day!!!!!!!! ByEmma R.

Hi! Um, I'm Emma. This is my little pouch that I carried the camera in. Today is Veteran's Day and I am taking pictures and I'm going to write about it. And I'm going to tell you what happened, right now.
Even though it was a holiday, we still had to do our normal jobs.
And if we didn't do our jobs, we'd be punished and go sit on the not-listening chair (which as you can see is the toilet--very boring).
This is AFTER we got finished with our jobs.

Our mom made us a REALLY good breakfast: German Pancakes.
Next, Mom had her long long Family Home Evening thing, which took up a lot of the day. The moms made a Family Home Evening lesson. The older kids that they brought stayed upstairs with me and Gabe and colored the pictures that they were coloring.
These are the kids that the moms brought. Downstairs in the basement they made a lot of racket. Jane was really happy they came.

After everyone had left, Jane and Mom went upstairs to take a nap. So did Seth. Seth and Jane weren't too happy about me and Gabe getting to go downstairs in the basement and watch TV.

After we all woke up, or so I might say, Mom, Jane and Seth...we got our wiggles out and me and Gabe went to piano practice, while Mom, Jane and Seth went to run errands.
On our way home, we got the awesome, exciting, have-been-waiting-for-for-two-days,
"Meet the Robinsons" movie for Family Home Evening.

Here's some pictures of Gabe and Jane doing their jobs quickly so they could eat dinner. And then go down and watch Meet the Robinsons.
At dinner, I might as well tell you this, I hate tomatoes. They are disgusting. And in our dinner, it had tomatoes in it. I didn't realize this, so I took a big bite, with a biiiiig tomatoe. Ewh!
Finally! It was there! The moment we had been waiting for! Meet the Robinsons movie slash Family Home Evening night. It was sooo fun.
I hope you enjoyed our fuuuun day. And a little suggestion, if you have kids, get Meet the's really fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Summary

This is all Seth does, all day, every day. He takes these animal people and lines them up in various areas around the house and then carries them to a new area and lines them up. Grandma Dorrie wins for best present ever (Little People Alphabet Animals A-Z). He knows Vultures, and Ostriches, and Uriels (really!) because they had to have an animal for each letter. It consumes easily three hours a day and only causes a problem when another 2 year old thinks he should be able to play with one of the 26 animals. That 2 year old is sadly mistaken and Mom has many fights to break up.

Jane got congratulated by her Sunbeam teacher today for not showing her underpants for all of Primary. With accomplishments like that, we expect big things from her. She also can claim the title of "Biggest Tease in the House" and really can send Gabe up the wall any old time she wants to. She continues to be my "Nappy Buddy" M, W and F when she isn't at preschool and after reading a book and snuggling up next to her for an hour or so, I have no idea what I will do when my little buddy ditches me and goes to Kindergarten.

Gabe's big night was Wednesday, when he got to participate in the Second Grade music night. He was even selected to play the xylophone and his tones rang out sweeter than any of the other 15 xylophone players there. He got a shiner on his eye this week, but looks quite lovely with his new "purple eyeshadow". Austin (his cousin/idol) accidentally gave it to him, so he's probably hoping it never goes away.

Here's Emma reading the Laffy Taffy joke (yes, we're down to the crappy candy at the Romney house). She got to give the scripture in Primary, has started weekly Friday evening walks with her dad, and didn't forget her glasses at home one day this week.

You know how like, two times a year, you have a Saturday with NOTHING going on? Well, we had one of the rare days yesterday and, after getting the house cleaned, we played games (can you guess which one?), visited the Daines, went to the Children's Museum and went to the kids' favorite buffet restaurant (too embarrassing to name, but the kids get what they want and I don't have to care how messy or loud they get). It was a good day. Which is good, because after the circus that Sacrament meeting was today...all I want to know is: How old is your youngest kid, before you actually get to enjoy sacrament meeting again?

We'll be here, same time, same place, next week! Have a good one!