Monday, September 29, 2008


I finally hit the big time. Because I actually know the woman on the cover of this month's Ensign. She and her husband are friends of ours. Here is the email he just sent us:

Dear friends,
We are receiving a few calls, so I thought this might be a great way to get the message out in a more time efficient manner. Yes, that beautiful woman on the cover of the October 2008 Ensign magazine is my wife Ani. The photo was taken by our Stake President Jerry Garns. Our family had an unforgettable experience serving and interacting with some of our less fortunate brothers and sisters at the shelter. We were grateful for the entire experience, and Ani was and is truly humbled by such an honor.

(The Ensign is the monthly magazine published by our church. It is full of articles talking about our doctrine and news of our church.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Third Week

We started out with picture day. Both got their pictures. This is Coach Anthony.

Right before they started their practice session, Monterey dropped her bottle of water and started crying as all her cold, icy water ran out on the grass. Well that was it. She was done, She cried and cried. She did not want to play.

She sat in between me and Madison while Maya went out and had a great time. After a little cajoling, she finally went out. Here is the cajoling:

Me: Monterey, what do you want for lunch?
Mont: 'Donalds
Me: If you go out and play, we can go there for lunch.
Mont: (silence)
Me: If you don't play, you can have crackers and water for lunch. What do you want for lunch?
Mont: Crackers and water.

At THAT point I decided to forget it. If she did not want to play, then that was fine. Maya was having a great time. All of the sudden, Mont got up and went out to play and was enjoying it.

When it came time to scrimmage, her and Maya were on the same field, but different teams. Maya played with all her usual passion. Monterey all the sudden was running and actually made intentional contact with the ball two or three times. It was like a whole new child.

After a few rounds of being demolished, the coach switched the best player and Monterey to even out the teams. Now that Maya and Mont were on the same team they were very happy. The team scored seven times. (I think both teams did.)

At the end we did the tunnel of love and the girls ran through the tunnel about four times giggling louder each time they ran through. Monterey appeared to be having the time of her life.

While walking back to the car, I explained that she could have 'Donalds for lunch. I was telling her how proud I was and telling her how happy I was that she was having fun. I asked her what her favorite part of soccer was. Her response? "when I was sitting down."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jonas Brothers' Chicken Pot Pie

Tonight, we had Jonas Brothers' Chicken Pot Pie. My girls made it with me.This is how you do it. First put on a Jonas Brothers CD and blast it so everyone can hear it throughout the house. Have someone draw a picture of the Jonas Brothers while you prepare the chicken.Next, take the leftover rotisserie chicken from the night before and boil the meat off the bones while making chicken stock. Strain the broth for later, pick the chicken off the bones and discard everything but the meat. Cut the meat in one inch chunks or smaller. Set aside.
Dance with the girls for one song. Add the meat back into the broth. Stir in one can of cream of chicken soup, a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, one potato that was boiled and chopped into small squares. Stir together and allow to simmer for about ten minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Dance with the girls for one song. Prepare the pie crust. (or buy ready made, frozen or use a mix or whatever. Roll out and put one crust in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan. Prick the bottom several times with a fork. Fill the shell with the chicken mixture, straining the gravy. Add in enough gravy to cover chicken and veggies well. (The rest you can freeze for another recipe.) With the top crust, roll it out. Turn on oven to 375 degrees. Using a set of alphabet cookie cutters, cut out Jonas Brothers in the crust, reserving letters. Place on top of pie and crimp edges. Place the letters over the other letters like a shadow (see picture.) Brush the top with milk (or egg to make it really shiny.) Put in oven on top of cookie sheet. Bake for about thirty minutes or until crust is brown and gravy is bubbly.While the pie bakes, dance and sing along to the remaining songs.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tot Soccer & Late Night Phone Calls

Week 2 of Tot Soccer: We convinced Monterey to try again. She was willing after we explained we were bringing LOTS of frozen water bottles and the spray bottle. Here they are at the beginning. I still miss the individual teams and the snacks. But this "no practice during the week" and not worrying who shows up for the game is great. We love Coach Anthony with his cool Newcastle accent and British ways. We like the way he teaches the skill and then focuses on it during the game.

Maya was upset that she did not score, but she had a tremendous block in the goal. She loves to win so it is traditional for her to cry really hard after the game. Kind of like when Federer wins Wimbledon - there is just too much emotion to deal with so there is an eruption after all the pressure is off. She tends to release all her emotion after the game in a bawling fit. It does not matter whether she wins or loses, if she is the best or worst, if she has a flawed or flawless performance. She just cries. She gets it off her chest and then is fine.

Monterey showed a few new moves today. There was the playing-with- her-hair move. The picking-the- old-fingernail- polished-off-her-fingers move. The I-need-a-hug- from-my-sister move. The "I'm not listening" move when her sister started yelling at her: "you're not even trying" "why don't you run?" "why do you have to be on my team?" "can you at least try to kick the ball?"

Oh wait, here is a run. What is that all about? Oh yeah, the water break. (That little worn off paw print on the cheek is a leftover from Mia's birthday party and she refuses to let us wash it off. There may be some late night recognisance work on that cheek tonight while she is sleeping.)

The night before, I got a late night phone call from my friend Laura in Taiwan. It was only 10:00, but I was in bed. Yes, it was a Friday night, but I was not asleep yet. She proclaimed me (pathetic/pitiful.) She usually calls between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning so I always know it is her. She wanted to know if I got a package that she sent me from an elder going home last month. I had not. He told her I lived close to him. When you are in Taiwan everything in the USA seems close, so we will see.

We chatted for a little bit. Never long enough. She is one of my best friends. We met on my mission, but I was not her missionary. She was already a member when I was there. Unfortunately we are separated by a rather large ocean, an impossible timezone, and a costly international telephone fee. Not to mention a little thing called language. But luckily we know each other so well, we can survive on our choppy language skills. You know when you know someone well enough that you can finish sentences or you just know what the other is thinking after two words into the story? That is what we have.

She came to visit about a year and a half ago. Hopefully they will come again soon. The girls grew quite attached to both her and her husband Michael. They even think they grew attached to one of the foods they brought last time: fishy rubber bands (that is not the real name, but it is what they taste like. It is actually dried fish jerky with a little spicy tang. McKayla said that they were so good. Laura figures that it has just been too long and she forgot what they really taste like because she remembers the girls reaction to it. It is Chinese "junk food" - you know what they would eat at the movies.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tot Soccer is HERE!!!!

A new day has dawned. All four girls are playing soccer this year. The older two do not start for another three weeks, but the big girls started this week. They are in a program called Jamboree. This means that all the girls from the same group are in the same uniform and a coach works with them on a skill and then they divide up into scrimmage teams. So no team spirit, no winners, no losers, no snacks (unless the parent brings it for their own child.) It is different. I'm not sure how we feel about it. But we got through the day.

The girls have Coach Anthony. He is from one of the British Isles. At least I think he is. Maybe he is just faking that accent so he sounds cooler and we get an international flair. It would be funny if we ran into him in Target and found out he is just a bloke from La Quinta. I'm just kidding, I'm sure he has an international passport. He is nice, but definitely British. He explained that if the girls touched the ball with their hands he would pull out his scissors and cut off their fingers. Ha Ha. Luckily my girls are used to sarcasm. Others were a little shaken.

So everyone is in pink. We told them they are the princess team. Everyone has the number 6, because they are U6. Wait a second, how could both girls be in U6? U6 stands for under six years of age by early August. Since Maya will turn six in June, she is "under 6." Monterey is another story.

Monterey missed the U5 cut off by one month. All last year we told her she would be playing next year because I did not know the cut off date AND my entire life is based upon the fact that they are one year apart and will be doing every thing one year apart in everything. All the time. Maya had Sister Vorwaller last year. Monterey has her this year. Maya is in Kinder this year. Monterey will be in Kinder next year. Maya will go off to college one year and Monterey the next. After that they are on their own. They can have their own schedule and timeline. But in the meantime, for my own, personal, mental health, I need them to be one year apart. Why else would we have had them so close together? I mean honestly, is there any other advantage? I am belaboring this point because this is what I had to explain to the AYSO commissioner back in May when I signed up the girls. She was very nice and explained it was an AYSO insurance issue and her hands were tied. I offered to buy a uniform for Monterey "under the table." She was very nice and took me the "the shadows" and generously explained that she would get me a shirt and Monterey could "hang out" with her sister.

We provided the shorts and we need to track down our own pink socks. But it did work. We just snuck her in with the other girls and no one questioned it. It helps that all day, everyday, everyone thinks they are twins anyway. So she practiced and got on her scrimmage team. I got my pictures. After the first 5 minutes she explained she doesn't want to play, she just wanted the uniform. I had strongly suspected that. Heading back to the car, she told me she never wants to play again because it is too hot and she does not like to run. Boy, am I glad we did not spend any money on this child's soccer experience.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Baby Turns Four

Monterey promises me she will be my baby forever. However, her assurances don't keep her from aging.

The festivities started on Friday when my mom, sister Nancy, Nancy's daughter Layne, and my niece Robyn came to help get the party started. We all went out to The Cheesecake Factory for yummies. Monterey is so cute. She referred to the sourdough bread as the vanilla and the honey wheat bread as the chocolate bread. She piled them both with butter and spent the remainder of the meal meticulously putting butter on the bread and eating it. She loves the butter. She loved the pickles that came with her sliders. She likes the salt sucked off her fries. She loved the sprinkles on the ice cream sundae that they brought to honor her. Do we detect a trend? Well, at least the rest of us appreciated the actual food and not just the seasoning, condiments and edible decor. We got the cheesecake to go and left with our seven bags of cheesecake and leftovers.

When we got home, we all went swimming. Love the pool. I don't think there is anything else that Monterey would want to do. (Or maybe that is justification to not taking her to Chuck E. Cheese's, Disneyland, Pump It Up or any other locations that she wanted a party at this year. The first week of school is worse than Christmas time for birthdays. It just seems to be overlooked by back-to-school activities and shopping for school clothes, school supplies, filling out paperwork, new routes and times for pick-ups and drop-offs, getting a whole new group of friends, etc. Sorry 'bout that darling. But who knows what problems you will have with your children's birthdays until it is already too late.) Anyway, I digress. We swam, came home and got in our jammies and played games 'til the wee hours of the morning, aka 11:30.

On Saturday morning, we went swimming again and spent the whole day hanging out. Monterey got to spend the whole day with her favorite cousin Layne. Sorry to all the rest of you, but Layne is only 9 months younger AND she is a girl AND has the same dancing, dress-up, squealing propensities. So although Monterey loves all her cousins, Layne does have the advantage, at least for now.

We had Sunday family dinner in her honor. Originally, she wanted hot dogs, Kraft mac & cheese and artichokes for dinner. She changed her mind several times and finally we settled on this menu: chips & salsa, quesadillas, a taco bar (which included corn tortillas, flour tortillas, a ground beef filling, a chicken-black bean-corn filling, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole,) rice, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple/strawberry cake with Strawberries 'n Cream Dippin' Dots.

She said she wanted a Hello Kitty cake. Mom did not order one in time AND she was not about to attempt the feat of decorating it to look like Hello Kitty. So I just made it look like something Hello Kitty would like and it worked. She actually bought that it was a Hello Kitty cake. I'm pretty sure it was the Dippin' Dots.

(Here is Maya showing off Monterey's favorite present.)
Here is her survey:

All About Monterey

What is Monterey's favorite color? purple
Who is Monterey's favorite princess? Ariel
What is Monterey's favorite candy? lollipops
What is Monterey's favorite toy? seashell stool ($.50 at the second hand store!)
Who is Monterey's favorite friend to play with? Maya
What is Monterey's favorite food? Chicken McNuggets (I am so proud - could someone get me a tissue.)
What is Monterey's favorite ride at Disneyland? Pirates of the Carribean
What is Monterey's favorite primary song? I Am a Child of God
What is Monterey's favorite article of clothing? shoes
What do you like best about Monterey?
sweetness (Ryan) her sense of humor, her smile, her hugs and kisses (McKayla) she is resilient, always has a hug (Matt) her sassiness (Kym) her laugh, her smile, everything about her (Madison) spunky, outgoing, tenacity, good cousin (Meagan) her laugh & smile (Chris) she is beautiful and I love the way she is (Maya) her stubbornness, her love of cuddling, her laugh, the way she farts every time she sneezes (Mom)

On Monday, we brought cupcakes for her class. Strawberry cupcakes. With pink frosting. With pink sprinkles. I made the cupcakes after everyone left. I frosting them in the morning. I am exhausted and so glad that the festivities are over. I am glad that we did not have a party.

Or did we?

From Maya's Birthday post:

"We took the picture of Monterey in the "official birthday chair." Do you think if I crop Maya's name out of it and save some of the presents and pictures, I can convince her it was a party for her too? Somebody stop me - there I go again - cheating my baby out of a party."

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Day 2008

The first day of school triggers lots of emotions, both excitement and fears. The first day of school triggers lots of questions: Who is my teacher? What will my classroom be like? Who are the students in my class? Will I make friends? Will I have a lot of homework? Is my teacher nice? So here is the rundown.

McKayla started 7th grade. She has seven different classes: Pre-Algebra, Language Arts, Humanities, Science, PE, French, and AVID. AVID is a program that is meant to be a college prep class. They teach note taking, outlining, following directions, test prep, and all sorts of things that give tools for success. I figured that I would rather McKayla learn these things early rather than on her own in HS or even college. The AVID teacher is awesome. They get to go on a bunch of field trips and participate in service opportunities and leadership. It is kind of like being on student council, but with a strong academic purpose. McKayla is excited about this year. She has a great group of friends to eat lunch with and talk. She had great success in 6th so we know she will do well this year too.

Madison started 5th grade. She is now in the "rule the school" grade. Her teacher is Mrs. Reddy and she is very happy. Mrs. Reddy is from North Carolina and has a soft southern accent. Madison loves it and is desperately trying to pick it up. She does not have any of her best friends in her class, but that is okay because she has the cutest boy in the school in her class and she is determined to snag him. Madison usually gets the boy she sets her sights on.

Monterey starting big tots. It is actually Tiny Tots, but they divide up big tots and little tots according to who will start Kinder in one year and who starts in two years. She is very proud to be in the older class this year, because she knows that she is one year behind her sister. Her teachers are Miss Tamara and Miss Marion. She is thrilled to have them because she had them last year and adores them. She has a few old friends in her class as well. At the end of the day, she was zonked. Sorry about the awkward angle, but I was driving at the time, but still wanted to capture the exhaustion with her clutching her fruit loop name.

Maya started Kinder. This was the BIG one this year. Last year I had to cry over my baby starting middle school. This year Maya had the lion's share of the tears shed by me. Her teacher is Mrs. McIntyre. She is very nice and everyday this week has sent the kids home with a different treat: Hershey Hugs to help them get over the separation anxiety, peanuts to say "I'm nuts about you" starburst because they are stars and smarties because of all the wonderful things they are going to learn this year. (Sorry about the blurry pics, I need to read the instruction manual about blurry pics.)

Here is Maya having a little trepidation about walking in the classroom. I love her in her uniform and her cool Camp Rock backpack. They first day, the parents spent the whole day with them. We did a scavenger hunt to learn about the different features in the classroom and we did different activities as we went.

Here she is listening to the instructions. Along with the other activities shown here, we had to make her hand prints, she had to write her name, we had to weigh her and measure her height, we had to find the potty and sink, and we had to find her cubby.

Here she is building her family in unifix cubes. The white one is Maya and had her name on it. The red one was for her daddy. The blue one was for her mommy. Green represented brothers, orange was for sisters and brown for pets. During the week, they reviewed each child's family.

Maya loved the computer center. She played the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom game and loved not having to fight with three sisters and a mom and dad for her 'puter time.