Friday, September 18, 2009


Moving. We are moving. WE are moving. We ARE moving. We are MOVING. Maybe if I keep saying it over and over I will finally internalize it. I am totally out of touch with my emotions. I am feeling everything at once: stunned, excited, devastated, stressed, mellow, worried, curious, anxious, thrilled, scared, overwhelmed, denial, grief, acceptance.

Ryan has interviewed and accepted a position with Marriott in Las Vegas. It is a wonderful opportunity for him that puts him in line for a good series of promotions. Since we are renting, we don't have a house that is underwater. Therefore, we must seize this opportunity.

It is hard to think of saying goodbye. We have friends in our church, neighborhood, school, soccer and the community as a whole. We have family here. We have been involved in many sports and PTO and activities. I cannot go into any local store without running into friends. It is actually pretty neat. I know where to go to buy everything. I know where to get the best carne asada meat and tortillas. We found the best place for awesome fish. We are friends with the editor of the local paper. I finally found a good tres leche cake (probably the toughest thing to do in a new area.) I know where every book in the library is - I could work there in a heartbeat. I know who to call if my car breaks down. I know who will do anything for me at the drop of a hat. I know who I can tell all my secrets to. I have a great plumber. I have a great handyman. We have play date partners. I have the best chiropractor. My daughters go to the best schools and have the best teachers in the world. We have all the best connections at Ruth Chris, Morton's, Roy's, Castelli's, Sullivans, and Pacifica. We have friends who are moms for our girls when they need an extra one. We have friends who are dads for our girls when they need an extra one. Ryan has great connections for great golf. I am on a first name basis with the check out ladies at Stater Bros and Trader Joe's, the librarian, and everyone at our elementary school. We love our bishop. We are close to Costco and exclusively buy our gas there. We have seen professional tennis, golf, and basketball. We have the best piano teacher. We love our church family as if they were really our own family. We have had meals brought in when we needed them. We have the best photographer. When we go to the doctor, she talks to me like we are friends and partners in taking care of OUR children. We have friends who pick up packages for us when we are out of town. When I go to the dentist, ALL the ladies (and the dentist as well) talk and talk and talk. We almost hope that they have cavities so I have an excuse to go back and visit with them all. I love Miss Kim at the beauty school. Our air condition repair guy is a saint. We have friends that teach us tolerance and love and patience and endurance.

Am I done yet? Not even close. That was just off the top of my head and before I really even started thinking about it.

Are there things that we will not miss? You bet. But, I will try to stay positive. (Mainly because we are moving from one blistering hot desert to another so why should I dwell on the inferno that is the bane of my existence?)

I'm sure that we will find many of these things in Las Vegas and we will grow to love it there as well. But for now, let me shed a little tear over those we love and those who have loved us in return. (I think I just borrowed that from Moulin Rouge playing in the background as I type.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

McKayla's Humanitarian Project

McKayla is working on one of her Young Women's Value Projects.

"GOOD WORKS: I will help others and build the kingdom through righteous service.

Serve others. Volunteer in the community, gather items to
meet humanitarian needs, spend extended time assisting with child or elderly care, or tutor in school or in your community."

She headed up a project that would gather supplies and disperse them to children who needed them through our church's Worldwide Humanitarian Project.

First, she made this poster showing samples of the materials that needed to be included in each school kit. That included pencils, eraser, a set of colored pencils, ruler, pencil sharpener, scissors, and spiral notebooks. Her goal was to gather enough to make 30. She ended up with enough to make almost 50.

She had to go around to different groups and ask for supplies. People were so generous. With the extra supplies, we donated them to a young man who is gathering school supplies for an Eagle Scout project to benefit a local charity.

She brought all the materials together and got them ready. She showed how to assemble and then had the group put them together in an assembly line method. Here are some pictures from the event.

She did a great job. Those school kits will help students in another part of this world have the resources to learn.

I am so proud of the work she did. I am glad that we belong to a church that believes in charity and service and leadership training and education and values and action.

At first, I was a little worried that this would be a difficult project because of the economy. Many people are dealing with either job losses or reduced hours. Many people are living on less and watching and counting every penny. This is a project that required things to be purchased. I knew that we would have plenty of people willing to help sew the bags. But the materials? They costs money. Actual dollars that people would have to spend.

The result was overwhelming. Everyone gave what they had. Some gave fabric. Some gave their time. Some bought things on sale. Some people donated cash. It was a wonderful thing to see everyone donate what they had. I know that blessings will abound. I know that we gave the gift of education to nameless strangers. But we also received the gift of peace and unity. Blessings will abound among each and every person that contributed.

Matthew 25: 35- 40
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monterey Turned Five

Monterey turned five - that is the whole hand. What a grand adventure it has been. She is a wonderful child, but definitely has her own way of doing things.

For her birthday dinner she wanted Kraft Mac & Cheese and Uncrustables. I took over the menu: Tri-Tip, roasted potatoes, asparagus, zucchini, rolls, peaches, mango, cantaloupe, grapes, and salad. She enjoys cake so, unlike her sisters, we got to indulge. She loves fruit-flavored cakes and one of her favorite flavors is pina-colada. I decided to incorporate both the pineapple upside-down cake and a layer cake together. The frosting was coconut-pineapple. Here is Monterey in the dress-up clothes that Grandma Diane gave her for her birthday.

All About Monterey

What is Montereys favorite movie? Mamma Mia

Who is Montereys favorite princess? Ariel

What does Monterey like best about school? recess

Do you like Montereys hair short or long? short

Where does Monterey want to go on vacation next year? Monterey

What is Montereys favorite restaurant? Souplantation

What ride will Monterey go on first tomorrow at Disneyland? The Nemo Submarines

What is Montereys favorite primary song? I Am a Child of God

Where does Monterey like to sleep? with Mom and Dad

What do you like best about Monterey?

Grandpa Tom: her smile. Meagan: fun personality, spunky, great amount of energy. Maya: she is my sister and she is so cute and I love her. Mom: her sense of humor, determination, self-confidence, and she loves to be my baby. Madison: attitude and sassiness. McKayla: her outgoingness, her sassiness, pretty, always tells me the truth. Matt: bluntness, toughness, independent, talks to anyone. Grandma Diane: her husky voice, her being a twin with Maya, being happy and enthusiastic about everything. Dad: she is my baby.

The Disneyland trip ... I expected it to be very similar to Maya's. Since they are only a year apart. I could not have been more wrong. One advantage of taking each girl on their own is that I get to really get to know them. So many times I know their personalities in relation to how they interact with each other. Because of Maya and Monterey's closeness in age, they are very close to behaving like twins. They have very distinct personalities, mind you, but, the differences really shown through when I had them each alone.

Both Madison and Maya ate McDonald's breakfast on the way so she made sure she got hers as well. She took a little nap on the way. When we got there and went to get her ticket, she told me she did not want to wear her button. I told her she had to. You cannot give this child options if you want her to listen.

Monterey wanted to go on the Nemo Submarines first. As we went by Buzz, we could see the line was non-existent so we hoped on that first. She loved it. Surprisingly, her score was not too shabby.

Next was the submarines. She was concerned that she would get wet. I assured her that she would not. When we got in she was excited. The ride started and she bought into the whole diving concept. She was momentarily convinced that it was all real. Then the Nemo part started. "Mom, this is just a movie." She was disappointed, but still enjoyed it.

Next we headed to the Autopia. I told her that she would be driving and I would control the gas pedal.

Monterey: What are you talking about? I'm just a kid. Do you want to die?

Mom: No. Look, other little kids are doing it. You can do it.

Monterey: No I can't. There is no way I'm gonna drive a car.

The Disney employee handed us our driver's license.

Mom: See, they know you can do it or they wouldn't have given you a license.

Monterey: Mom (long pause) I don't like this. I am not gonna do it.

Mom: Look at all those kids. If they can do it, so can you.

She watched intently while we moved in the line.

Monterey: Okay, but mom, if I start going off a cliff, you have to grab the wheel.

Mom: You got it.

She was so intent. She paid attentive to every little curve and was so happy when we got off the ride without any accidents.

We went on Star Tours next. As we walked through the ride, Monterey was excited to really see R2D2 and C3PO. She asked me if we were really going to travel in space. I told her yes. She was awesome. She believed it all and was in sheer glee as we went into light speed and then crashed through the ice comet and then destroyed the Death Star and the bad guys. As we got off, she was jumping up and down. "You are the bestest mommy and Disneyland is the bestest ever. I can't believe we flew through space and we destroyed the bad guys and I just can't believe I went in space. Disneyland is so awesome 'cause you can fly in space. I can't believe I just did that." Everyone around us thought she was so dang cute. She was.

Our next ride was Small World. She loved it. We ran into the Johassons who happened to get on the same boat as us. Such a Small World. Sorry I couldn't resist the pun.

After that, we had moments of schizophrenia: "I want to wait in line to meet the princesses." It was an hour wait. After 10 minutes "I want to go to Toontown." We head toward Toontown. Almost there, "I want to go back to Buzz." Okay. Never mind this "whatever you want day." I had to take over.

Mom: Do you want the Teacups?
Here we go. She had tons of fun with giggles.
Monterey: Mom, why we sit in the tea cup?
Mom: 'Cause it's fun.
Monterey: Why do we spin?
Mom: It's like being the spoon in the teacup when someone stirs it.
Monterey: Okay.

Mom: Do you want Dumbo?
Monterey: No
Mom: Do you want the Carousel?
Let's go. She loved it.

Mom: How about Pinocchio right over here?
As soon as we get off the ride ...
Monterey: You know mom, that wasn't the real Pinocchio. It wasn't even real.
Mom: You are right, but it was fun, right?
Monterey: Whatever.

Mom: Do you want to go on Snow White?
Monterey: Yes!
Snotty Teenage girl in line: This ride is too scary for her.
Mom: Have you ever seen this girl kill a cricket? I think she can handle it.
As soon as we get off the ride ...
Monterey: That was not even real.
Mom: I know, but did you like it?
Monterey: It would have been better if it was real.
Mom: You are probably right. Can we eat? I'm getting hungry.
Monterey: I want another ride.
Mom: How about Pirates?

We head over to Pirates. Once on the boat ...
Monterey: Why is this going so slow?
Mom: It will speed up in a minute.
She loved going down. Once we get off ...
Monterey: Mom, those pirates weren't real.
Mom: I know. But it was still fun right?
Monterey: I just wish there was more real stuff.

We finally ate lunch. We ate at one of the French Quarter restaurants with live music. She loved the live music and wanted to stay longer. She danced and grooved while she ate. They sang Happy Birthday to her. She commented that the musicains were really good. We had to stay and listen until the musicains went on a break. What can I say? The girl loves New Orleans jazz music.

Next we headed to the Pooh Bear ride. She enjoyed it, but can you guess the conversation we had afterward? That's right, Pooh Bear was not real on that ride either.

Well, I was sick of the pretense of it all. Honey-child, you want real? You are going to get it. We headed straight for the Canoes. She got outfitted in a lifejacket, equipped with an oar, and climbed aboard the Pocahontes Express (I added the name so it would feel more princessy.) We rowed and rowed. It was fun and she worked the whole time, taking it very seriously. She did not like the girl in front of her who was having trouble rowing without splashing her. But hey, we were keeping it real.

Next stop, The Haunted Mansion. She asked if there were really ghosts in there and I told her yes. At first, the darkness and atmosphere were kind of freaking her out. About halfway through, she figured out it wasn't real. She did like the hitchhiking ghost even if it wasn't real.

She wanted to go on Pirates again. While we were waiting, we were talking.
Mom: Are you having fun?
Monterey: That is the stupidest question I ever heard. This is Disneyland, Duh! Of course I'm having a good time.
Mom: You don't have to insult me just because I am concerned about your happiness. You could just give me a simple answer.
Monterey: (while pausing and staring me down) Then don't ask stupid questions.

We enjoyed the Tikiroom. She believed the birds were real.

She was dying to go on Peter Pan. By the way, in case you were in suspense, she explained how it wasn't real.

We went to meet the Fairies. Monterey was excited to meet the Light Fairy and Tinkerbell. They had a nice little visit and discussed her birthday and how much they were alike. You know: sassy and occassionally naughty but always super sweet and fun.

Afterwards we went to the Fairy Souvenier Kiosk where Monterey picked out a baby version of Tinkerbell and a wreath for her hair. As soon as I paid for it, I asked her what she wanted to do next. Her response? Go home. So basically, we would have left a few hours earlier if we had got the stuff sooner.

On our way down Main Street, the Disneyland Band was parading right behind us. Monterey wanted to listen and watch. They surrounded the flag pole and played patriotic music. One thing they did, which I have never seen before, was they played the songs from all the branches of the military and invited members of the audience to come up as their song was played. So first they played the Army song and three men came out of the audience and took their place around the flag pole. They continued with the Marines, the Navy, the Coast Guard, and then the Air Force. Each time someone came out and took their place. It was really cool and of course, true to form, I got all teary.

Monterey fell asleep before we got on the freeway.

So what did I learn? Monterey is totally into reality-based entertainment. She is brutally honest. She is sassy. She loves live music. Monterey is her own person. She makes me laugh. She can be frustrating, but always comes back with something semi-reasonable. She is stuck in a five-year-old's body with the spirit of a fifteen-year old's mouth. She is a joy. She really does have an amazing imagination. She is always playing and making up stories and songs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School

Anticipation and Anxiety. So excited that you can't sleep the night before, even though you desperately want to because you know you have to wake up before the sun for the first time in months. Will I like my teacher(s)? Will I have any friends in my class(es)? Will I remember anything I learned from last year? Will school be too hard? Will I get a lot of homework? What is everyone else wearing? What should I wear?

The first day of school is such a ritual, a rite of passage; particularly at a new school.

McKayla went to eighth grade this year: same school. She is now a Middle School PRO. She has most of the teachers that she wanted, but none of her posse in her classes. In fact, she is on a different lunch than most of them. This will present some challenges, but overall I think she will have a lot of success this year.

Madison started Middle School as a sixth grader. Wowza. She has been ready for a couple of years now. She adores all her teachers (at least after the first day) and has at least two good friends in every class. She loved all the switching and schedules and more options at lunch and proclaimed that the day had gone so fast.

I had to take the two of them to school at 6:30 am to get their schedules. I had to run back home to get the little girls ready since Ryan had to leave at 7:00 am for an early morning work meeting. Who calls an early morning work meeting on the first day of school? Is there that much disconnect between work and families???? Luckily, Ryan got the girls bathed and dressed while I did the Middle School thang with the older girls. When I got home I just had to do the breakfast and pack lunch thang.

Maya started 1st Grade today. It was a long day. She has a lovely teacher: Mrs. Levine. Not only is she physically beautiful, but she is from New Zealand which means that we love to just listen to her all day long. Maya was pleased to find several friends in her class and found her desk with her name on it. We filled out some papers and then Maya hit the yard. This was her first time playing on the big yard with all the other kids and she worked her way through all the activities. She played tetherball, went on the swings, played handball, climbed on the playground equipment. She laughed and played with other kids, even if they were older. She LOVED the big yard. By the end of the day, she was both exhausted and happy.

Monterey started Kinder today. The first day was a day that one parent had to go with the child for activities. It is fun to see her grow up. When Mrs. Grace rang the bell, Monterey ran right for the beginning of the line. She listened very well and hung on every word. Mrs. Grace explained that they should come in one at a time and get their name tag and then sit on the rug. Monterey was very good about following directions.

Mrs. Grace then explained to the parents and the students what the activities would include. Not to brag or anything, but since I did this exact thing last year, I was a pro. We had to take a picture by the calendar. I had Monterey take one with Mrs. Grace. We had to use a stamp to make the child's hand prints and then write: "With my hands I can _______." Monterey said "make hand stamps."

Monterey had to build her family with unifix cubes. Can you guess what color represented sisters? Red was for dads and blue was for moms and green was for brothers and brown for pets. Monterey got to find her name on a white cube.

She had to find the bathrooms and figure out which one was for the girls and then take a little tour to make sure they could get in and out by themselves. She opened the door and was appalled! "That is a potty for babies and I AM NOT a baby!" She continued her tirade about how she is determined to never demean herself by using something so insulting.

We then had to weigh her (41 lbs) and measure her height (42 inches.) Monterey: "What is this? The doctor's office?" and "Are we done yet?"

She also had to write her name.
M - N - O - T - E
"Mom, I'm tired. Can you finish?"
My reply: "No, finish your name."
R - E - Y
Mom: "Can you write your last name?"
Monterey: "No."
Mom: "Can you try?"
Monterey: "There, are you happy?"
Mom: "No, finish it."
Monterey: "Mom ..." then came the eye roll as she walked away.

A tour of the computers and a visit to the library.

The students returned to the rug. Mrs. Grace read the book "The Kissing Hand." All the students got little heart hand stamps and a baggy of hugs. This made Monterey very happy. Chocolate has that affect on her.

I love this girl, but I think I better set up an auto-ship of a pound of See's Candy to her teacher once a week.

For lunch, I took her out to wherever she wanted. She chose Panera. She enjoyed our time together. She enjoyed her cheese bagel with whipped cream (she DOES mean cream cheese) and chocolate milk, while I enjoyed my broccoli cheese soup and BBQ chicken salad. (Thanks Nancy, for taking our picture.)

We rested, ate dinner, did a Family Home Evening, and went for a swim then went straight to bed. Everyone was tired and happy to head for bed. One day down, 179 to go.