Sunday, October 30, 2011

Down right awesome.

A couple of weeks ago we went to our first down syndrome walk. We weren't sure what to expect. We got there an hour and half late for check in. And thank goodness! We checked in, got our t-shirts and had another hour to kill. Thankfully they had music, bounce houses, hair coloring and face painting to do.


Good thing they will always have their mother to think their cute.

Lily is a 10 on the cuteness scale.




The boys got boatloads of candy and tiny foam footballs. We lost count after Luke had collected eight.

Shelly and Cavin

Now we don't think we should walk down the street without crowds of people cheering for us. It's just how life should be.

We celebrated with the ASU crowds. Walked the parade route down the center of ASU. Got to the end and promptly turned around and went home.

. . .yeah we're hard core.

We love.

Skipping school, first grade style.

Last Friday I sent Luke off to school only to go and pick him up an hour later. Checked him out for the day, a little vague to the secretary.

"Look! Something shiny over there, check it out Jackie!"

Slinks out the door.

Luke, Lily, Jack and I were bound for the zoo.
Luke has always been nuts for animals. He'll even pick up gross bugs, at which point I do self talk and try not to act disgusted. Jack and Lily came along for the good time. Luke and Lily were both really good too being as I had to stop and nurse Jack twice. They stayed together and got to get a really good look at the Baboons and Reptile house.

The longer stay at the Baboons brought up some really good conversation about animal breeding habits. To which Lily did her signature "Ha ha haha ha" laugh. A laugh that she let rip on me the other day upon seeing me naked while coming out of the shower.

I'm trying to not take it personal.

I'm going to try and take each child out of school once or twice each year and spend the day doing something that interests each child. Goals, people, goals.

Maybe some one on one parent time will cut down on future days of skipped school. Even though I have such fine memories of cutting class. Many I will not share (I want my kids to not be social deviants after all). But one of my favorites took place my Sophomore year of high school. My friends, Cassie, Brooke, Laniya and I got the great idea to go over and pay a visit to our rival high school. Kamiakin. Ohhh, the evil rival high school, but I actually liked our rival high school. I mean, there were a bunch of cute guys who went there.

So, we stared off without a plan but over the course of the ten minute car trip we came up with a plan. We'd pull their fire alarm. Imagine how evil it could have been if the car ride was twenty minutes! I was the driver and we were in my trusty first car, snot. Lovingly given that name by Heather McCain because every time you turned left antifreeze would shoot out the passenger side . It also didn't have any heat. A beaut, let me tell you, a beaut.

We pulled up in the back area by the kitchen. I used my amazing mad driving skills and backed my car right up on the curb. Right next to the four double doors leading in to the school. I can't remember who got out and pulled it, probably Brooke but pulled it she did! We made a clean getaway and it was so much fun we did it again a couple of months later.

Hopefully by the time my children are teenagers they will think I'm so lame that they won't read this. These days if kids do anything remotely like this they are just about sent before a firing squad. What a shame. Some good ole fashion community disorderly conduct.

Lily up a tree. Where she belongs.

Balance, balance do not look down!


Where's Luke?

Jackie boy was so good. His first time to the zoo outside of my body. We went when I was six months pregnant on a field trip for Luke's class. Above 100 degree temperatures made it so miserable that within the hour I had collected up Luke and Lily and we were outta there.

Zoo in October = pleasant, I don't want to kill myself or you time.

Spooky houses, some with garages.











In an effort to win mother of the year award. I got my craft on with a project I found online while doing some very important internet research. Yahoo, Facebook, Google Reader, . . .you know the 'important' stuff.

Arizona has been making up with me so we did it outside even!

EVERYONE!!!, use those SPRINKLES!!! Now is your chance!!! Seize this moment!

And seize, seize she did. Using four entire bottles of sprinkles. Good to get that out of the system.

Jack came out for the entertainment and Luke ate just about as many candies as were put on his house. One for me, one for you, one for me, one for you.

Chicken faijtas. We eat lots and lots of chicken round here.

Chad served his mission in Venezuela. Land of beans and rice and very very little, seasonings. In fact, according to Chad zero seasonings. He came to a greater understanding of how wars were fought over spice, that people risked their lives to obtain them. That's how important flavor is. After two years he was probably dangerously close to similar drastic actions.

And for those of us who've had a plain baked potato we totally get them. So, Chad ate plain rice and beans for two years straight. When we met he mentioned (about a thousand times) that as long as he lives he will never eat rice or beans again.

He probably now feels that way about Chicken Fajitas.

They are a staple in my, "Crap it's 5:00 and I haven't got an idea of what to make for dinner!"

Chicken Fajitas to the rescue! Dun dun a dun.

It is down to a science now and I can whip em out in under fifteen minutes. First you (I just had the Winnie the Pooh clean up song race through my head, "First you pick it up, put it in the bag, bamp bamp.")take a skillet and put in a T of olive oil on med-high heat. Add in as many frozen chicken tenders as you like. Sprinkle each side generously with Djardines Fajita spice. Cook till they look like the picture above for ultimate yum factor.

Remove from heat and place on cutting board, then sigh at the mess on your cook top. Resist the temptation to clean it while it is burning hot. I cannot tell you how many friggin times I have to learn that lesson.

Cook tortillas in a bit of oil on griddle till almost crispy. Look and coo at the delicious baby while doing this.

Set them aside and get fixings ready. Sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, cheese and pico if you've got it.

Serve to very grateful children. They love this meal, no matter how many millions of times they've had it. Nourishing them one day at a time. I mean, don't get me wrong, I actually love to cook. For enjoyment, I look through cooking books. But. Feeding people three times per day plus snacks day after day, gets old.

So, on days where I'm just not inspired, Chicken Fajita's, it's your time to shine!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

I hope they remember things like this and not my obsessive cleaning.

--me at around age four--

For those of you who know me at all or have visited my house you know how I heart clean. Oh, how I love clean. I want to sit and write love songs about clean. It just soothes the savage beast within me. According to my mom and my many many memories of childhood, I just came out this way. My mom remembers often coming home to find that I had organized, cleaned and re-arranged her furniture. Funny yes, made even funnier when you factor in the fact that I was five.

My passion for clean grew with me. When I was a teenager I would enlist my little brothers to help surprise my parents on Saturday morning when they went on errands. Okay, pretty much only Josh would help. Jay would drag his feet and take ALL DAY to do one tiny little job (yes, I visualized hurting him many a time). One time I actually did and oh, it felt soooo good. I had just finished cleaning our huge family kitchen. Jay went into the kitchen to get cereal. In true Jay fashion he left the box opened on the counter top, rice crispies on the counter that he had spilled and even some on the floor.

Enter Jamie who was whipped from cleaning for hours and this, this was just too much. Jay was standing there over his mess smirking at me. So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I walked over to him calmly so as not to alarm him as to what was coming. My hand reached out beneath the cereal bowl he was eating from and guided it gently up towards his face. Jay was covered in milk, rice crispies and. . .shame. Boo-yah.

Yes, I had to clean that mess up too.

But boy it felt good. Still brings a smile to my face. Jared and Justin would try to help clean but they were both so young that they made a bigger mess by trying to help. Occasionally my older brother Jason would help but usually he didn't, he wasn't about to let his little sister boss him around after all.

Funny thing, once I left for college and got married shortly after both my parents shared how much they missed me being home. Independent of each other too! I was touched, then they expressed how the house just hasn't been the same since I moved out. Oh! You miss, Jamie the maid, m-kay. Yeah, I thought that was a bit too touchy feeley for you dad. :)

All this to say, I heart clean, always have.

Well those of you who have little children (who aren't weirdos like me) know how they heart messes. They love to help cook, do crafts with glitter and glue sticks, build forts all of the living room pillows and leave toys always within close reach on the floor scattered throughout the house. I mean who knows, they could get a hankering for playing with that toy car and barbie while in the guest bathroom. Good to be prepared, and leave it on the floor, just to be safe.

Enter the struggle. They are all working together to mess make and I am alone in the dark and dreary world trying to keep clean. CLEAN!!! I could look at the positive and remember, they are at least working cohesively on something. Without fighting too! But, I am me and thus I cannot. So, I walk around all day, everyday picking up that barbie doll and toy car. I give out chore lists when they get home from school and generally ask them to put away this or that about twenty times a day at least. You may think I am exaggerating. I AM NOT. And that is the sad part.

I know that my passion for clean is probably a wee bit over the top. It's my problem, something that I try to be aware of and intentionally compensate for. I'm like a crazy person, doing self talk.

. . .(In my mind)

"Good mothers let their children cut out the cookies and decorate with sprinkles."

"Good mothers play in messy rooms with their children without trying to clean them up at the same time."

"Children have happier childhoods if they are allowed to paint on perfectly clean kitchen counter tops."

"Children who get to add the ingredients to recipes commit less violent crimes than those who didn't."

"Children who were able to quickly find toy car and barbie on bathroom floor are less likely to view porn."

But seriously, I am trying. Trying to remember that they are young for such a short period of time. That soon, no one will be fighting to add the eggs (eggshells included!), or want me to play in the fort of pillows they created in my perfectly clean living room. That what we do together each day slowly, gradually, day upon day forms what kind of person they will be. How they look at the world and treat others. How they will feel about themselves.

May sound like a bit of an overstatement but, I know that it is not. That as a mother, these precious years we have together are critical. These are the days that I have real, lasting influence over my children. And if I spend all my time tidying up to have my precious CLEAN! I will forever lose the most important opportunity to make meaningful impacts in the lives of the people I love the most.

So, that is why I try, and fight against my natural desire for CLEAN! Forgoing what I think is most important today (CLEAN!) for what I know is what is most important forever, my babies. That, I alone as their mother have the opportunity to do more good through how I choose to spend my time.

As was said in the movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, "Choose, choose wisely."

Thoughts on other people's emotional baggage and plants.

I think I've mentioned that Chad and I like to lay in bed and talk. Sometimes it's just for a few minutes and other times it's for hours. Then we both hate ourselves in the morning for the few precious hours of sleep we got. But. Those talks have brought us closer together over the years. They have also revealed some startling confession from the guilty of heart. Not me of course, I am perfect and would never do anything wrong.

Well except for that time that I totally screwed over a used car dealer by selling him a car that wouldn't run anymore. I'm probably going to go to hell for that one for sure. I was just twenty one years old though. And he was after all a used car dealer, I mean, he probably totally had it coming, right? How did I do it you wonder. . .

Well, we're way off the subject of other people's sins but since I've peaked your curiosity. . . We were thinking of selling my Hyundai Sonata a car that was the bain of my existence. This piece of sh** car was ALWAYS breaking down and stranding us. My impulse purchase of this car when I was eighteen has been thrown in my face countless times by my loving husband. Even today! He will still bring up my bad purchase as a legitimate reason why we should get something what he wants to. People.

Anyways. It was a terrible car. But, it looked nice. It's only redeeming quality. So, one day we thought about maybe selling it and cutting our losses. It was running fine but we knew another expensive repair was just around the corner. I took it into a used car dealer where he checked it out from top to bottom and then offered me a paltry $2000 dollars for it.

Offended I rejected it outright and said, "Good day, good day to you sir."

Fast forward one week. The radiator blew up (again) and the automatic windows wouldn't roll down or up and the drivers window would fall down and not roll up. So, ehummp, I. . .did something, something kinda bad. I, um, had the car towed to a window repair shop, where I paid a guy $20 bucks to just put the drivers window up, not fix it, just put it up so it looked alright. Then, umm, I. . .had the car towed again.

This time, I had it towed one block away from the used car dealer (I can already sense you judging me, btw.) Paid the tow truck guy and for those of you who have a shared history of driving crappy cars you understand why just one block away. Cars with bad radiators will drive fine for a few minutes, until they start to "heat up". Literally, smoke, etc.

So, one block away from freedom at this point. I didn't even hesitate. I drove straight up to the used car lot. Parked it, walked in and said casually, " yeah, I think I changed my mind and want to sell it to you after all."

Used car guy getting screwed, "Oh, great! Sit down and I'll get you a cashiers check. Or do you prefer cash?"

. . ."you'd better make it cash."

I walked away with a cool $2000 dollars in my pocket, literally walked away. Called Chad from a pay phone to come pick me up. You can probably imagine his surprise to hear of my little outing. What can I say, I come from a long line of fiercely independent women. And, possibly some criminals, given my panache for it.

So now you know my one and only sin, it was a pretty big one. And occasionally I've thought about going back and trying to make it right but that dealer is out of business. Correlation? . . .no. Now ya'all just remember that great line from Raising Arizona, "you who is without sin can cast the first stone." I know, I know it was also written in the bible but Nicolas Cage really gave the line that extra umph.

Do yourself a favor and the next time Raising Arizona is on TNT, watch it. Then you can see one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. The part where Holly Hunter holds and looks at their new, stolen, baby. She looks at him, and immediately sobs, "I love him soooo much. Aghhhh."

. . . movie hilarity. Also watch Overboard and Baby Boom if they come on. For some reason, no matter how many times I've seen those three movies whenever they come on I can't resist.

This post has gotten way off subject. Back to things my husband has done wrong in his life.

You're probably wondering what pictures of all these houseplant have to do with; Chad's sins, me essentially stealing thousands of dollars from innocent people (be honest, you'll never look at me the same, right?), and movies from the eighty's. Well, a lot! Okay, only for Chad's sins. See, when Chad was a teenager his parents divorced. It was very sad time for him, a period of some hard years. Worsened by the quick remarriage of his father to an evil woman.

I've never met her and only seen one photo of her, but everyone (Chad, his sister and dad) agree that she was a terrible person. I bet she was even evil enough to sell lemon cars to people. . .

Well, this terrible, horrible, awful person that Chad's dad remarried a year later moved into Chad's childhood home. This person, brought her furniture, nick nacks, and, brace yourself, houseplants. Yes, this woman, this horrible horrible woman liked plants. Apparently, so much that she brought in multiple plants. The horror.

As with most relationships with pure evil people go, they eventually divorced. Thankfully, years later Chad's dad remarried a non horrible person. One that we all love. But, the damage was done. Chad hated plants. An emotional reaction Freud would call displacement or transference.

--Luke photo bomb!--

Had it, he did! Fast forward to our first years of marriage. Little, innocent Jamie in efforts to make her surroundings beautiful would bring home a nice houseplant. She would go to great pains to see to their survival but would always futilely fail. Frustrated, she would try again and again with more and more houseplants. Always to the same demise, and so quickly!???

Naive, trusting as she was she would blame herself. Then to cope, she would go and buy herself a new outfit. Years passed, through the stability of a happy fulfilling relationship (except for those first few, phew!), people (Chad) began to quietly heal old wounds. Here is where those pillow talk confessions come in. Apparently, those scars from his parents divorce/remarriage manifested themselves in plant murders.

Many many many plant murders were committed before Chad was able to overcome some of his emotional baggage. He would pour bleach onto my houseplants until they died. I never!

We'll we had a good laugh at some of the stupid stuff we used to do. Like when I would hide Oreo's in old shoe boxes (people from big families will totally get this and those of you (like Chad) from not big families will not).

But as you can see from our blooming house, Chad has recovered.

. . .and I even trust him enough to ask him to water for me from time to time. Cheers to progress!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jack's first bath.






I must really want to preserve memories if I am posting photos of me looking the way I do. You would think with all of the inane details I am sharing of Jack that he was our first child. I think somehow knowing he is our last child makes us pause and savor him much more than we might otherwise. Monday his umbilical cord fell off so it was (drum roll please). . .bath time! Hooray! Chad was my assistant and part time paparazzi and we'd like to report that Jack loved his bath. That is all.