December 30, 2011

Christmas High Low

Christmas Eve
Dinner High: A small enough gathering so we could use real plates, bronze-ware, glasses and cloth napkins. No plastic or paper products allowed. Me likey. 

Dinner Low: We got back from seeing Tin Tin later than I thought and our grass-fed beef roast went in the oven late...which meant we ate our salads first and sliced off a piece of roast here and there as it continued to cook the entire time.

Luke 2 Reading High: The shepherds were calm and gentle (read: not fighting). The rambunctious angel calmed down in time to act out her part.
Luke 2 Reading Low:  My dad forgot to bring the old family bible. 

Christmas Morning
Stockings High: Oranges are always a big hit. I'm not sure I know why. We had plenty the night before in the fruit bowl and have plenty there now.
Stockings Low: Sometimes I get confused between Jett's and Elliott's stockings. Luckily Santa always knows whose is whose and got the right gifts in the right stocking.

Presents High: Jocelyn loved her doll house...for about a minute until she saw the boys' aircraft carrier.
Presents Low: Santa went all out on the doll house and sets of Legos and I found a huge set of Rescue Heroes (heroes/aircraft carrier/planes/ships/etc) at a garage sale BUT the kids' favorite presents were all a few dollars and cheaper. Why oh why do we stay up so late getting everything ready? Tymon and I were in bed by 4am...only to rise at 9am - the official start time of Christmas.

Favorite Presents:
Graeden: a bow and arrow
Elliott: a stuffed animal from his grandma Coleen
Jett: Star Wars marshmallow candy stick
Jocelyn: an orange

Church High: Only an hour long service (no Sunday School) and Elliott and Jett got dressed before 9am.
Church Low: Not being able to chat with very many people at church after the service. There were several people home for the holidays that I haven't seen in years.

Dinner High: Dinner was at my brother's house and his wife did the cooking. I brought a couple of salads (Caprese with mango and an orange cucumber with butter lettuce). 
Dinner Low: I was so tired from having stayed up so late that I fell asleep during the puppet show that my boys put on with Nana and Bapa.

Nightly Scripture Reading High: All of the kids were interested in the story (we're reading about Jesus' New Testament miracles right now),
Nightly Scripture Reading Low: except Jocelyn....who usually runs around during scriptures or hides in my room watching cartoons on my iPad.

December 19, 2011


If she can't see me that means I can't see her. Or so she thinks.

I was laughing about Jocelyn "hiding" from me not too long ago when a friend (border patrol agent in Arizona) said unfortunately, it's not just children who do this. He'd been out on patrol not too long ago and saw a grown man trying to hide from him in a bush.

Agent: (in Spanish) Come out. I can see you.
Illegal: (crouches down, covers face with hands and doesn't move)
Agent: I can see you! Come out of there!
Illegal: (doesn't move)
Agent: (pokes him with his nightstick) Come out. I see you.

Really?! Ha ha ha. I want him to take a photo of this next time it happens. I'll put it side by side with Jocelyn's. That's pretty much the whole reason why I'm posting this. Some day she'll get a laugh out of it. Because yes, she truly believes I can't see her in this photo...I'm pretty sure this is the same thought process that tells her I don't know what she's doing when she sneaks open the fridge and take food to eat under her bed. Of course, if she bothered to hide the wrappers, I wouldn't have to know about it.
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December 18, 2011

Two Brothers

Have you seen Two Brothers? It's fantastic. The filmmaker (Rick Stevenson) followed a couple of brothers for ten years and interviewed them yearly and recorded portions of their lives. What I loved most was seeing how the brothers' relationship with each other matured over time. It gives me hope for my own children. No matter how messed up their relationships seem, there is a strong possibility that one day the fighting will cease and they'll become friends. Streaming the movie is only $2.99. Watch it. You won't be disappointed.

December 10, 2011

Santa Breakfast

One party down. Two to go. Today. Because we're party animals like that. 

Elliott saw Santa first. Before I knew he had arrived. So no photo. Graeden promised Tymon not to tell the other kids who the man behind the beard is. Jett looks good. It was all we could do to even get Jocelyn to be happy about seeing him. Kira was fine...until she started pulling on Santa.

Graeden and Jett helped Nana and Bapa do the puppet show "Grouchy Bear". They did well. Most of the time. Jett stood up and traced the stage with his hand toward the end and started waving his arms in the air. We're thinking he needs some more positive attention so he doesn't think he needs to act out to get it.  

Having the show after Santa unintentionally helped the logistics of party clean up flow smoothly. All the kids were in another room watching the show while adults got all the tables and food put away lickety split. With no kids running around the gym. Nice.

I got a good chuckle after putting the photos on my screen to find photos of urine in motion. Look at those droplets. Fascinating. I'm grateful that there were no private parts in the photos. Judging from the photos of furniture and door handles that came before this one and the back of Graeden at the toilet, I think that Jocelyn was the photographer.

December 3, 2011


It's not just creating babies. I like creating other stuff, too. I made a handbag for Jocelyn last night...because she was looking at messing around with my extra fabric from a second table runner I made. She loves her handbag. It's lots better than putting her drawings in a plastic grocery sack. The only problem is that she wears it around her neck. Maybe I should do a backpack for her next. 

I'm in love with my sewing machine. Not that it's anything special. It's not. But I like it even more than my computer right now. Of course that could also be because my identity was stolen yesterday. I saw a big charge on our online banking page from I thought it was Tymon getting me a birthday present. I got really excited. Then it occurred to me that either this is a really really great present OR it wasn't a valid charge. So I gave him a call.

Me: Did you make a purchase this morning at Piperlime?
Him: What's Piperlime?

Right. So my next step was to call the bank. Then Piperlime. Then the sheriff. Then file and FBI report. Ugh! Not exactly what I planned to do yesterday.  When I went into the bank, they gave me a temporary debit card that I can use in between now and when my new card comes. That was cool. So even though I should be okay against additional usage of my stolen card number, I was way more comfortable just shutting down my computer. Time for stronger security.

I wonder if cyber thieves feel as great creating ripples in our lives as we do creating items that are real and tangible.
Kira's Christmas Stocking I finished a few hours after this post.

December 1, 2011

Attn: Texans and East Coasters

I've got the perfect giveaway for you. $25 Advance Auto Parts Gift Card Can't use it? No matter. It's perfect for re-gifting this holiday season. Guaranteed to be mailed out next week.

November 30, 2011

The Gratitude Game

We played the Gratitude game for Family Home Evening Monday night. Here are the rules:
1. Sit in a circle.
2. Take turns saying one thing you're thankful for.
3. You can not repeat anything anyone else has said.
4. If you cannot say something within 5 seconds then you're out.
5. The last one out is the winner.

We didn't have a winner. Or rather we were all winners. After 10 minutes we stopped the game because no one had gone out and we still had plenty of things on our thankful lists. Elliott really surprised me. His family and faith were the first handful of things he mentioned. Not that I'm surprised that he loves me or Jesus. It's just that he didn't once mention the Wii. Or computer. Or toys for that matter. His heart wasn't focused on anything material. I just love that. Jett was the same. Jocelyn repeated that she was thankful for Jett on about 5 different turns. We let her keep playing even with the repeats. She is only three. :o) It's too bad Graeden fell asleep early. I would have liked to have heard what he said.

November 29, 2011

Graeden's Baptism

Graeden chose to be baptized last Saturday. I'm so happy for him and that he wants to follow Jesus. We had a beautiful service with family and friends in attendance. Graeden asked Cousin Roger to give the talk about baptism. I'm happy that the bonds we are nurturing with Roger and his family during our yearly camping trip have yielded spiritual fruits. Uncles Brett and JC and cousins Anjah and Amele sang the song "Baptism". Brett accompanied it with the guitar. I just love that song with the guitar. It sounded similar to this one. Cousin Breanna and Nana alternated playing the piano and leading the music.

I spoke about the Holy Ghost and about a few times that I've felt his influence in my life. I chose examples that I thought Graeden could relate to.

1. How I know that it's time to share my testimony on fast and testimony day in church. (My arm hair sticks up and my heart beats fast.)
2. I felt like I needed to correct the mistake of the scout office cashier. When I got to the car and looked at my receipt, I found that she mistakenly charged Graeden's $22.50 shirt as a $1.50 badge.
3. The distinct impression I felt as I read a newspaper ad seeking host families that we were that family for Jovana.

Every time we follow spiritual promptings, we receive blessings. Being blessed with courage and the words to speak when standing in front of others confirms the truth of what we say in our own hearts and minds. Choosing honesty when no one else would know any different builds integrity and trust. Inviting Jovana to live in our home even though we had a LOT going on yielded blessings I probably won't comprehend until the next life.

Mostly, I hope I shared some memorable stories with Graeden. I want him to know that the Spirit frequently guides me in my life. And I feel his presence in a variety of ways and in many settings. Not only that, but I hope Graeden will learn to follow promptings of the spirit as well.

I also did an object lesson about the Holy Ghost that uses refraction to teach how he guides us. If you haven't seen this and need to do a lesson on the Holy Ghost, check it out. Graeden asked me if it was magic after I did it. Nope. But sometimes that's the best way we have to explain how the Holy Ghost works. It's been 3 days since the baptism and Elliott mentioned to me tonight as I was making dinner that when he's baptized, he would like me to do the same talk. He liked it that much! What a sweet boy. It's times like these when I see fruits of my labors that I know something is sinking in and my boys are going to turn out alright.

After Graeden received the gift of the Holy Ghost and we opened our eyes, we found Jocelyn in the middle of the prayer circle. She was so cute. And just doing what we all would have liked to have done, too.

November 24, 2011

Cream Pies: You Must Whip It

Tina in Slovenia believes having a 20 pound turkey is like "Science Fiction". I've never thought of it like that. It seems so normal to me. I thought that's how all turkeys are. But maybe it's just in America. We have a tendency to take something of a perfectly normal proportion and then super-size it.

Like our family for example. Every year there seem to be more of us. Here are some of the Johns' cousins. I didn't realize that Jocelyn wasn't in this photo until just now when I was preparing this blog post. She was busy, I guess. It takes a lot of effort to eat all the candy in the house and terrorize the other kids. Ha ha. Large families are fun.

Last night I made a couple pies with my cousins. Chocolate peanut butter and blueberry cream. They were fantastic. In fact, I think I'll get a slice now while I finish working on this post. A few of you have asked for my recipe. It's not mine. But I'll share it anyway. Thank you Cousin Cathy for your excellent tutelage. I appreciate it lots.

Cream Pie Recipe
1. Pour 2 cups of heavy cream into a mixing bowl. 

2. When it's stiff with great ridges, 
add 10 ounces of cream cheese.
Now you must whip it.
Into shape.
Shape it up.

3. Add one cup of powdered sugar.
It's not too late.
To whip it.
Whip it good.

4. Pour filling into a pre-baked pie shell.

5. Spread a quarter cup of your favorite jam on top.
But don't whip it.

For the chocolate peanut butter variation, insert a cup of peanut butter after step three. 
Be sure to whip it. 
Whip it up.
Whip it smooth.

Continue with step four. Replace step five with chocolate. Microwave a half cup of chocolate chips with a tablespoon of heavy cream for maybe 15 or 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Make it a nice and smooth and spread it on top. And remember. Do not whip it. You're done whipping.

I love finding photos of events I didn't witness. I had no idea Tymon was facilitating the whipped cream funny business.

Breanna (next to Graeden above) captured a very cute Kira moment. I love the composition and framing of the shot.

In other news, what I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving day (besides my fantastic family, faith and freedom) is MY MISSING WALLET! Jett found it this morning. And just as I had suspected, it was in Jocelyn's room. Under her bed. Hmmmmm. That's interesting. She told me she didn't know where it was. I even offered her some candy if she found it. I hadn't looked in her room due to her negative response. Good thing Jett did while we were preparing this morning for guests to come.

November 22, 2011


Have I ever mentioned that the best part of bowling with kids is that the lanes have bumpers? Yeah, no gutter balls for me. In fact, I got a strike after my ball hit the bumper, ricocheted off and nailed that first pin. Love it!

Moving Along

 I should probably post a little about the last holiday before the next one begins...
I nursed Kira and roasted pumpkin seeds while my family carved pumpkins.
I did help Jocelyn with hers, though. 
And by help, I mean I did it for her.
She took a healthy bite out of the top of it. 
Bless her.
Tymon did his hardest carving to date. 
 I loved it.

We decorated our house.
Went trick or treating.
Bapa dressed up as Broom Hilda to pass out candy.
Graeden shot him with his new gun.
I'm pretty sure Spider-man doesn't carry a gun, though.

Kira is getting stronger and moving a lot more. 
It's been a few weeks since she started rolling over. 
She got pretty worked up over it.
But she does fine now.
Unless we ignore her for more than three seconds.
Occasionally, I've seen her get her bum in the air.
Wondering when she'll get her legs underneath to start rocking.
I just love this little girl.

Life keeps moving along at a steady pace.
Whether I'm ready for it or not.
Mostly, I'm not.

I just ordered a replacement driver's license.
I lost mine.
I think it's somewhere around my house. 
Or car.
It's hiding with my debit card.
And credit card.
And a pile o' cash.

On Friday Jocelyn had a melt down in the fabric store.
I wouldn't buy her a kit to make her own sock monkey.
Kicking and screaming we made our way to the check out counter.
While paying she grabbed a pack of M&Ms and ripped it open.
Candy scattered EVERYWHERE.
I couldn't pay fast enough.
I bolted out the door
With Jocelyn under one arm 
And Kira in her car seat in the other.

That was the last time I saw my wallet.
I noticed it was missing on Saturday.
I searched everywhere.
Prayed to find it.
Searched some more.
Went back to the store and checked out the parking lot.

No one has used my cards, though. 
So it makes me think it's somewhere in my house.
I haven't searched everywhere.
I could clean Jocelyn's room.
That's a chore that needs doing.
And usually yields great finds.

November 14, 2011

Tasty Flop

Last night, I produced this artisan flop.
At least the color was nice.

It tasted fine.
And we all had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

Tonight I await my next loaves...
It's called bird seed bread.
8 grain but no nuts. 
I ran out of yeast in the middle of the recipe.
I had to run to the store to get more.
I'm just not confident in the dough.
Just how good is a recipe with half the yeast added in an hour later?

Here they are.
Fresh from the oven.
I'll have to save my review for the morning. 
I really want to master this bread making business.
There's just so much to learn.

November 8, 2011

Artisan Bread

It's decision time. Will I continue to make a mockery of the staple food of life? Or shall I master the art of baking bread? Last week, I did Bread-Making, part one with a group of church ladies. I loved it. I've made it a few times this week and not in my bread maker, either. I know you've gotten some good laughs with Bunny Bread and his friends. But this class is helping fill in some gaps of understanding and moving me to the next level. I bought the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and love it. I'm already learning some of the scientific stuff around bread making. It's what I've been needing for a long time. 

Tonight was Bread Making, part two. We learned about sour doughs and this time our teacher was fairly technical in his descriptions and instructions. We got to sample a few different kinds of bread and I'm in heaven. I think if I made bread even remotely similar to what I experienced tonight that my kids would think store bought anything tasted like garbage. Look at these baguettes. We made some tonight that looked almost just like them. I'm leaning toward putting in the effort to learn the bread making skill. For both me and my kids.  

November 5, 2011


My situation is awkward and I don't know how to un-awkwardize it. That's not even a word. But it's about how comfortable I feel about what's going on. After three years of living in our home, we've decided to bite the bullet and get window coverings. Until we moved in, I didn't realize how many options were available nor how much they would all cost. Doing one or two windows is inexpensive enough. But we have 27. When we first moved in, I had the Costco Home lady come and do measurements...and found out I couldn't stomach the price of the project at hand. I've got a much stronger stomach now. Ha ha. We're ready to do it.

We've decided to do shutters. My neighbor got some a month or so ago and she showed me what they did. Since we have the same house model, I was able to see in real life what they'd look like in our house. They're fantastic!.I called a couple of places to get estimates on prices and she also told me the company she worked with was less expensive than Costco. So combined that's like checking out 4 places. I called her company and the guy came out to measure and give me a quote. We decided to do the project and verbally agreed on the price, but then I got to thinking. Customers don't know this, but merchants do, credit card companies make anywhere between 1.5% to 3% of each credit transaction a business accepts. I don't like to pay that. So I decided to ask if I could get a lower price if I paid by check instead of credit card. The business gets the same amount of money but we've cut Visa right out of the deal.

The salesman that came out said no, he wouldn't do that. He was concerned that the total of the project would be less and his commission would decrease. Well, that's not exactly what he said, but close enough. The reasoning didn't sit well with me and struck me as really selfish. But since it took me three years to commit to doing window coverings I didn't want to back out now.

I ended up taking my price quote to yet another company to see how they compared. They were about the same but wanted my business. I mean 27 windows is a huge order. So they worked their number magic and beat the original quote by $1500. Sweet. And company #1 is now grumbling. They'll match #2's price, but "don't know how #2 could possibly give such a low bid". I've got a good idea. They both use the same manufacturer for the shutters but #2 doesn't have to pay a sales commission. I love cutting out the middle man. 

Yet, here I am feeling some sort of an obligation to go with company #1 since they've actually been to my house but I like the personalities of company #2 better. Working with #1 could be awkward. Especially with the salesman whose commission is now way lower with the matching of the reduced price. Why'd he have to say something dumb that made me rethink the entire deal? And why is it so hard for me to tell one of the companies "no"? It doesn't have to be. It's just awkward. 

October 31, 2011

Take A Couple

It used to be one of my favorite holidays because of the candy. My siblings and friends and I would seriously walk around the entire town and collect candy in our pillow cases for three or four hours. We stopped about 10pm since most porch lights were dark about then. Our stashes of candy lasted for weeks. Ahh. Those were the days. Free candy.

But now, I realize that it's much cheaper for me to just go and buy whatever I want. And not be left with loads of Tootsie Rolls and Smarties. I did like the Double Bubble, though. Even though I would never actually buy it.

What really surprised me this year was this convo:

Me: Take a couple.
Costumed kid: Wait, what do you mean?
Me: Take two.
Costumed kid: Oh.

The surprise is that I had it several times. From kids of all ages. That was so wild. I'm making sure my kids know what "a couple" means. Some trick-or-treaters thought it meant "a few". Others thought it meant "several". One cute toddler thought it just meant one. I liked her best.

October 29, 2011

Being Eight Is Great!

My baby boy is eight. This morning we decorated the house. Made popcorn balls and pizza sauce. This afternoon we celebrated with a few of his friends. Performed puppet shows. Ran around the house. Jumped on packing bubbles. Made individual pizzas. Ran around around the house. Ate pizza. Opened presents. What a claustrophobic experience! He wanted pumpkin pie instead of cake. That's cool. And amazingly enough everyone finished theirs. Graeden's upstairs now. Putting together his new Lego pirate ship. Maybe I should make dinner. Nah. Would rather be blogging. And eating popcorn balls.

October 24, 2011

Brotherly Love

On afternoons like today, I smile and feel warm even though the cool autumn weather has arrived. I was on my computer when I looked over to see Elliott teaching Kira how to play Pokemon. The best part is that she seemed to be enjoying it.

That or she was filling her pants. And Elliott changed it. Without being asked.

This boy is seriously so sweet. Don't think he's like this all the time. He's not. In fact, he instigates trouble (like in this post) more so than any other child of mine. But where Kira is concerned, he is the best big brother in the world. It's days like these that give me hope for my boys' future. They do a lot of things right.

October 12, 2011

Amox Rash

Sweet little Kira's ears are infected...since last week. We got her on amoxicillin and she felt better for a time. She's also one of the lucky few who get to experience an amox rash. The rash doesn't necessarily mean that Kira's allergic to the drug. Apparently, it's more about the bacteria that's causing the infection and how it doesn't like the amoxicillin getting up in its face so they fight it out.

We got a new antibiotic today. I hope she likes it better. And sleeps through the night. She's been up the past two nights. I don't like that very much. Last night we lost her binkie. Of course it was after the other kids were in bed so I didn't want to wake them up to make a store run. So I was her binkie all night long. Ugh.

The exciting news is that Kira is gaining weight. Not a lot mind you, but at least she's not stagnant anymore. I bought a kitchen scale so I could keep track of it at home. She started eating better last Friday. The same day we got the "unfounded" CPS allegations letter. Makes me think s few of Kira's problems are stress-induced. And now that I'm breathing easier I'm making creamier milk. Yes!

October 11, 2011

Life After Death: The Impact of Encouragement

Check me out on Impact Week at the House of Sarager:

The first time I heard about Jovana I was reading an ad in our town's weekly newspaper. The writer was looking for host families for a few exchange students for the school year. Not planning on hosting, I read on. When it mentioned a girl from Serbia needed a home, I knew we were that family. I talked to my husband who was open to having an exchange student and within a half an hour I had emailed the coordinator to find out more.

I thought I wanted Jovana in our home because she comes from a culture that is similar to the one I experienced as a missionary in my younger years. Slovenia will always hold a special place in my heart. It used to be a part of Serbia back when the country was called Yugoslavia. Having a Serbian exchange student seemed to be just about as close as I could get to having a Slovene in my home.

I was wrong, though. Looking back, I don't think culture mattered. I believe God gave Jovana and I an opportunity to share a part of our lives together because He knew, as individuals, we would both need it. Especially, me.

A few weeks after Jovana arrived, our 15 month old son passed away. It was unexpected, sudden, and devastating. It didn't seem real to me. I couldn't believe I was living in this nightmare. Things like this don't happen. Not to me. Or my family. We're good people. No, this was not happening.

Except it did happen. And in these moments when I wanted to hide under a rock and never see the light of day, God had something different planned for me. My Evan died on a Tuesday. His funeral was on Saturday. What you may not know is that I was very pregnant at the time. My prayers pleading to hurry up and have this baby turned into prayers to not go into labor in the middle of the funeral. Baby Jocelyn was born Monday evening.

I needed help. With everything. My husband was amazing. He was able to take a couple weeks off of work and we grew stronger as we faced Grief together. When he went back to work, I should have felt alone. Just me, Grief and the children. But I didn't. Jovana came home every afternoon and we talked together. Sometimes, I'd help her with her homework. Other times, we sat together and remembered Evan. We laughed and cried at the memories. She loved and missed him, too. Her love for my boy touched my soul.

It didn't just stop there, though. Jovana saw what needed to be done around the house and took the initiative to fulfill the duties that I was seriously slacking on. Come hell or high water, she'd always have the dishes done before she went to bed. Even if she'd stayed after school for a debate practice or spent hours writing a paper.

Jovana is like a sponge. She wants to learn everything she can. We went shopping for groceries and I taught her about foods and nutrition. She wanted to know how to make American food and we cooked dinner together. When driving around I taught her the names of Magnolia tress and Rhododendron bushes. She wanted to understand my obsession with the Twilight series and I gave her the first novel to read. With each question or experience I helped Jovana understand, she gave me an added measure of appreciation, self worth and confidence in return.

Jovana strongly believes that everything happens for a reason. And I agree with her. Heavenly Father meant for her to live with our family. He knew the impact she would have on my life. I would not only need the love and support of my friends and family to face Grief, but I'd also need someone by my side, every day, gently encouraging me to pick up my life and live.

October 10, 2011

Uncomfortable Questions

I logged into Netflix the other day and found this "Recently Watched" screen. Since Tymon is out of town and I didn't watch this show, I was pretty confused. Especially, with the "Scary Suspenseful Psychological Movies" listed right next to it. If you look at Udaan closer you can read the words XXX, Lingerie, Power, Love, Sexy on the cover. It's also unrated. Oh boy! Apparently, I'm a little on edge. I asked Tymon about it. He didn't remember it. I sent him the screen shot. Nope, he didn't watch it. And apparently, Netflix isn't available in Europe.

That means our children, who access our Netflix account for all of their Scooby Doo needs, watched it. What kind of garbage have I allowed into my home?! They only watched it for 4 minutes, but Tymon and I both wanted to know why they turned it off. Did they just realize it wasn't a cartoon? Did they see something inappropriate? Since Tymon can't investigate, it fell to me to find out.

Turns out Udaan is not a cartoon, but rather a Hindi film...with English subtitles. Ha ha. They turned it off because they didn't want to read. Phew! What a relief! I decided to watch it, though. It's a coming of age story that's actually pretty good.

I'm still a little nervous about our computers remembering passwords to Netflix and other media at home. Especially, when my boys and I had a conversation last night about what sex means. I guess I handled that one okay because then they asked me if douche was a bad word. Because Alex and Devan said that it was. How many 6 and 7 year olds know that douche in French means shower? Ha ha. Mine do. I hope I did okay on that one, too. I would prefer they come to me with their questions rather than get questionable information from their friends.

It reminds me of the time when I was 12 and reading a book from the young adult section of the library. I asked my mom what oral sex meant. First, she asked me what I was reading. I think she wanted to know the name of the book. Instead, I read her the passage I didn't understand. Then, she told me what it meant. I don't remember if she took the book away or not.

I do remember a conversation about oral sex, though. She told me that when she went to BYU in the mid-1960s there was a popular saying on the dating scene, "if it's oral, it's moral." That shocked me. Now, after having been a young adult, I understand the use of justifications much better. I'm so glad that part of my life is behind me.

I'm grateful for my mom's example and talking with me about any topic I chose. I always knew I could come to her with my questions.

Impact Week

As far as I can tell (searching our email correspondence), I "met" Jackie Sarager about a year and a half ago blog surfing. Either she or I saw the other's comment on a third blog and then sought the other out. Funny how that works. I've actually never met her in person, but she has more power over my purchasing habits than any other blogger I read. Ha ha. I think I've only bought 2 or 3 things after seeing her post about it, but that's more than anyone else.

It's IMPACT WEEK at House of Sarager with daily guest posts on how God makes an impact on our lives. My post: Life After Death, The Impact of Encouragement will be featured on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. Go see it. Especially you, Jovana. I know you'll like it.

October 8, 2011

CPS Investigation: Unfounded

I couldn't scan the letters fast enough. And oddly enough, my anxiety didn't decrease after reading that "the allegations of abuse and neglect against you are unfounded." For both Kira and Evan. I should be happy. And I am. But the feeling of uneasiness is still with me.

I guess I also wanted an apology note attached to it. Something like this...

Dear Mrs. Johns, 
We apologize for trying to rip apart your family and for the undue stress our false accusations inflicted upon you these past couple months. We understand that you had to force feed yourself, had difficulty nursing Kira and ended up losing ten pounds. While this is regrettable, there is a bright side! At least you lost some of the baby weight. 
Because we don't have children and are consequently perfect parents, we felt it our duty to inform you of child-rearing best practices. We're sorry that we misinterpreted what you said about allowing Graeden and Elliott to pick up Kira. You are correct, that is actually not the same as allowing them to "rough house" with her. Thank you for your diligent research and the time and effort you spent collecting your family's records. If it weren't for that we never would have known how much certain doctors twisted the facts into their own false accusations.
Please be on your best behavior for the next 6 years. If you are, we will destroy these records. If someone else falsely accuses you, we'll have to keep them around for a while.
Kindest Regards,
Your Big-Hearted Social Workers

A letter like this wouldn't be too much to ask for would it? We've now gotten records from Children's Hospital. They kept them until after the investigation was keeping the payer of the bills in the dark is a great idea. That's not right. In them I found that my description of the our kids' interactions with Kira (Elliott carrying her) was translated as "rough housing". Really? That really irks me. Rough housing with an infant would cause serious injury and likely death. Kira has never been rough housed. 

Part of me just wants to be done with this whole ordeal. Another part, larger than the first, wants the record corrected. I don't want to meet these falsehoods down the road and have them bite us in the butt. I also wonder what the CPS and Sheriff's office reports say. Don't worry, I've requested those, too. 

The next line of our letter after the statement that the allegations were unfounded says that they either didn't happen or there was insufficient evidence to make that determination. I thought that CPS had a guilty until proven innocent mentality. I was wrong. I'm uneasy about our results because it's tainted with the attitude: if you're accused you're guilty. CPS has too much money to terrorize so many families. They shouldn't be allowed to do any investigations of child abuse or neglect unless law enforcement has investigated wrong doing and charged the parents with a crime. 

October 4, 2011

Plump Up

I think it's been about 2.5 years since I resolved to only buy candy for Halloween and Easter. It's been very positive for me. Less positive for my brothers since I eat all of their treats. But overall, I've drastically reduced my consumption and consequently my addiction to candy has just about disappeared.

I think it's safe to say that this week, I've fallen off the not-buying-candy bandwagon. You might even say I jumped off.

It all started innocently enough. With fetal-Kira, I was going in for weekly and then twice weekly non-stress tests. To "pass" a NST, the baby needs to have two accelerated heart rates. Those come from movement or in response to contractions. Well Miss Kira was always asleep during the tests. And I'd have to sit there with the monitor on for a long time. At least 45 minutes and once about an hour and a half. It was ridiculous. So I got the bright idea that if I ate some candy right before the test then she would wake up, move and I'd be out of there faster.

I bought some candy. It wasn't Easter. It wasn't Halloween. I justified it plenty. And the justification worked. It's too bad that the candy didn't work on Kira. They used a little buzzer on my belly to wake her up most times.

I don't go to Trader Joe's very often. Just a handful of times per year because there isn't one near my house. But a couple of weeks ago, I was there and remembered that they sell candy without food dye. That's so much better for you than the regular candy with Red #40 and other artificial colors. They also sell Panda licorice (ingredients: molasses, wheat flour, licorice extract, aniseed oil). This is almost "healthy" enough to serve for dinner. Ha ha. So, I bought a bunch of candy. And since it was dye-free, I justified it.

Tymon is in London right now on a business trip. The day before he left was Jocelyn's birthday. When Jocelyn and I were at the store, I picked him up some cinnamon bears (one of his faves) for the trip. And while in the candy aisle, the birthday girl wanted a treat, too. I obliged. And I got me some licorice and sour patch watermelon candy.

Somewhere deep inside of me, 
I had to rebel against my own rule.
It was time. 
I created it. 
I will destroy it. 

Yesterday I was at the store and decided that I needed more licorice. And since the box of mini-Charleston Chews looked good, I picked up some of those, too. In fact, I ate the entire box while writing this post. It's like my "I've had enough" filter is broken. I must consume everything.

Today I saw that Hot Tamales cinnamon candy was on sale for $1 a box. And yes, you guessed it. I bought some and ate them all afternoon while the kids were at school.

I even stay up later than the kids so I can be on the computer and eat candy to my heart's content. It's a travesty. The candy addiction has returned in full force.

I should be disappointed in myself. Except that candy gives me instant satisfaction. I've turned into a sugar monster. Ahhh! This can't be good! Then again, maybe Kira will want to nurse more and plump up with all of my sweet sweet milk.

October 2, 2011

Project Runway Conference Style

I bought a skirt a few days ago that I really liked and would have liked it more if it were a touch longer. Usually, I don't buy things that I have to alter. But it was on sale and just this once, I decided to do it anyway. Mainly it was because if I spent $50 in one transaction then I could get $10 off my next purchase. Since I didn't have $50 in purchases without the skirt, I had to buy it. I wanted to make sure I actually did alter it, so yesterday, I went to the fabric store and found some ribbon that I could sew along the hemline. So far so good. I have a plan and everything I need to finish it.

This weekend was to the worldwide conference for my church. A few years ago, going to the church to watch conference with all of my children would have been fairly stressful. Imagine my kids running around like crazies and me either trying to calm them or just sitting there trying to pretend that they don't belong to me. These days, I'm loving the technology that allows me to stream each session via the internet at home. What a blessing!

It's not all effective listening at home, though. Sometimes, I get my blanket and lay down on the couch. Occasionally my eyes close so I can really internalize the message. I tell myself I'm still listening. It's just so warm and cozy on the couch that sometimes my mind starts to wander. Once or twice I've even been known to start dreaming. It's really the most peaceful drifting off into sleep that I've ever experienced.

I've found that for me, the most effective way to hear each speaker is if I'm actively engaged in doing something. Yesterday it was organizing my room. Today it was making pancakes in the morning. And this afternoon, the Project Runway in me crawled out and wanted to express itself. And really, if I don't alter the skirt now, I probably never will.

It took me way too long to do this. I'm sad to admit that the tension on my sewing machine was whacked out and so my whole skirt was being gathered when I sewed the ribbon to it. My parents stopped by for a few minutes this afternoon, though and my mom un-bunched it. I'm grateful for my mom's help. She's quite the seamstress. I'm not so much. But I have been watching Project Runway this season and so in my mind my skills are greater than they really are. Ha ha. Here is my finished project:

Now what would be really cool is if I could tell you what any of the speakers said today...I can't. But I do remember one from last week in the women's session of conference. I was having a very hard time listening to the speakers. My mind was everywhere besides in the present. Then Elder Dieter Uchtdorf spoke about the forget-me-not flowers and it was like a fog was clearing from my mind. If you didn't get a chance to hear him, do it now. You won't regret it.

September 29, 2011



    adjective /disˈtraktəd/ 

    1. Unable to concentrate because one's mind is preoccupied
      • - Charlotte seemed too distracted to give him much attention
      • - she ran her fingers through her hair in a distracted fashion
    2. Troubled or distraught
      • distracted with grief

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. I just haven't. I've been preoccupied. It's not the same like it is when I'm pregnant. No, nothing like that. It's more similar to the time after Evan passed away. My mind was certainly elsewhere for a long time back then. 

This time is different. I'm having difficulty staying present in just about every conversation I have. Or with any book I try to read. Or any lesson I teach. Or post I plan to write. Whether I'm at home, work, or church; it doesn't matter. If I'm with friends, family, or strangers; it makes no difference. It's a struggle for me to focus. Or for my mind to clear.

Despite this, I've still managed getting together a small birthday party for Jocelyn. It wasn't too difficult. Just dinner at a local Mongolian grill and ice cream at Baskin Robbins. That was yesterday. And today, I got a new crown, went to a few clothing stores and we did family photos before going to curriculum night at school. So I can push through it. It just takes a lot of effort. More than I'm used to giving. And I'm tired.

My mind reserves being in the present with just one person. It's Kira. I like to hold her, nurse her, change her diaper, sneak in snuggles and kisses and even get her to smile. She is truly a gift. 

September 26, 2011

The Light Comes On

Tymon: Check out this light bulb. I just pulled it out of the package and it looks like it's rusted.
Bridget: Mm Hmm. (cooking dinner)
Tymon: Do you think the Pilot can hold my weight?
Bridget: Huh? (still cooking)
T: You know, the front panel?
B: I'd prefer you not stand on the car. Does it have a roof rack you could stand on?

T: That's not going to work.
B: Why don't you get a stool?
T: It's a foot too short.
B: Why don't you get the ladder out of the basement?
T: (walks away)
T: (comes back pleased with himself) Hey, come here and check this out! 

I didn't realize until going out to the garage that all he was trying to do was change a light bulb.

His too-short stool solution? Stacking the step ladder on top of two stools and a stroller (hopefully with the wheels locked). He's creative, that's for sure.
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