Tuesday, May 29, 2007

That was NOT how I intended to spend my morning.

So Sister Stoll picked me up, another older sister was already in the car, we were on our way to the Storehouse to work for the morning-- and we got rear-ended out of nowhere. The guy apparently fell asleep at the wheel after his graveyard shift and hit the accelerator. I was in the back seat. The others were shaken up but unharmed; I have a serious case of whiplash. (Thankfully, the paramedics found my glasses.) I can't raise my right arm up hardly at all, can't lift my left over my shoulder, my head is throbbing, and I don't have full range of motion in my neck, especially to the right. I let the paramedics convince me to go in and get checked out because I was kind of dizzy. So after a rather disconcerting (and nauseating) ambulance ride and a chat with the kind-of-cute paramedic, I wound up in the ER, where I was exposed to rubbing alcohol (in the room across from mine) and promptly got an asthma attack. They sent down a respiratory therapist, I had a breathing treatment, and then had to go get x-rays. (They double shielded me, just in case.) That hurt. Somewhere in there Jeff showed up (Sister Stoll called him) and Bridget started screaming. I could hear her all the way in the x-ray room. Once the doctor checked to make sure that I didn't have a spinal injury, they let me go. They gave me a prescription for Ultram, which is great, I have taken it in the past for menstrual pain, but I can't take it because I'm nursing. So I'm stuck with moist heat, Advil, and Tylenol.

So we just got home. Ay.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Coupons, Duggers, sales, spaghetti, and etc.

This is my catch-all post for the day, so I can't really think of a title. Sorry. :)

We went to the grocery store this evening and between club prices, sales, and double coupons, my "verified total savings" was $80.82. But that doesn't take into account that I also qualified for $15.99 in rebates, which will be mailed to me in the form of checks, after filling out two forms, providing photocopies of my receipt, and allowing 4 to 6 weeks to process. It was our once-every-two-months stock-up-on-canned-goods-and-staples trip, and we also got a few luxuries and special treats, as well as some lotion ($0.50 after the coupon and club sale price) deodorant for Jeff ($1.50 after the coupon and sale), and things of that sort. My favorite deal of the evening: free baby/toddler food. I was in the baby aisle and was going through my coupons (I have a mondo coupon sorter and my mom saves her coupons and I save mine and every two or three weeks I go through and clip the ones I want to keep and file them, sorting by category and expiration date, then I pull the ones we are likely to use and any that are expiring soon before a shopping trip but keep them all with me just in case (this also familiarizes me with all the coupons I have) and prepare to get some great deals!) If I'm not going to use coupons before they expire I try to pass them on to someone else in the store. (Like, I decided against buying another deodorant for me since I had already stocked up, so I passed it on to a woman in that aisle and pointed out that she could get a Dove deodorant for $1.50 with the coupon.) Anyway, I had clipped a bunch of Huggies and Pampers and Pull-Ups coupons for no reason I know of, and there was a family there with a baby and a toddler. So I offered them to them, and in return they gave me two Gerber Graduates coupons they would not use-- buy any two Gerber Graduates products, get $1 off. I had one of these already myself, and so I now had three. I eyed up the Gerber Graduates products and spotted some little containers of soup, a food both my daughters adore. Well, the soup was on for buy one, get one free, and the price was $1.35 per container (which is why I would normally not buy it.) But my coupon was for $1, and Ralphs doubles coupons up to $1, so that meant... they would be FREE! I promptly chose six and used all three coupons to get 6 FREE serving-size containers of soup that Bridget OR Emma can eat! That just made me happy. :) In all, we got about 2 months' worth of supplies (excepting tortillas, bread, milk, diapers, and fresh produce) for $146.16-- and some luxuries to boot. Thank you, mom, for teaching me how to sale-, coupon-, and comparison-shop!

When we came home we made dinner and I settled down to watch "Family Night" on TLC. After Little People, Big World (which I love), they showed the special about the Duggars going on vacation (On the Road with 16 Children, I believe.) I love the Duggars. They are awesome, they work together well, they are effective homeschoolers, they are smart, funny, loving, really great role-models. I especially admire that they happily live their faith every day, while not criticizing others around them who are different from them. I love to see them interact with families and people who do not share their same values or world view and see the love, respect, and courtesy they offer those people. We can all learn a lesson from that. So this was a really fun special to see, and I enjoyed watching it again. However, one thing bothered me. Actually, it bothered me the first time I saw it, too. But this time I noticed it more 'cause there were no babies in the room to distract me. They retrofitted a big 'ol RV with seats and seat belts to hold all their kids. So far, so good. One problem; they had the little ones in forward-facing 5-point harness seats (that's what they should be in, that's appropriate for their ages, weights, and heights) but several of them were installed in side-facing seats. That is a NO-NO! Those seats are approved for forward-facing use only! Also, I noticed at least two of the little boys were not buckled into their 5-point harness correctly! I guess that guy who helped us check and install our seats is right; I should become a car seat technician. I just have that kind of mind, and I notice it, even when it's not my business. Anyway, it's a fun special to watch, other than that safety concern.

This morning we hit the Memorial Day "everything in the store 50% off" sale at Sun Thrift. They do this about 3 or 4 times a year and I love it. Despite my resolution, I DID come home with a little more inventory for eBay. I also came home with a maternity dress for me, a dress for Bridget to wear this fall, and two dresses for when Emma grows into size 6/6X (I try to buy things ahead of time so I can just switch clothes out as she outgrows them.) Oh, and Jeff found a fondue set. I remember fondue when I was Emma's age being fun so maybe we will do that soon. :) And I kept it to less than $25, even with the fondue set! I was so good.

This afternoon we went for a late lunch at my uncle and aunt's house, to finally celebrate all us girls' birthdays. (My uncle has been unwell, but he's doing better now.) My Uncle Bob made his grandma's spaghetti sauce and some big Italian meatballs, and noodles of course, and we had some salad. It was delicious, then we had cake and ice cream and the girls opened presents.

I put some ranch dressing on my salad and couldn't finish it, it almost made me puke. Hmmm... I've been experiencing some queasiness and a few other things lately, time will tell if that means what I hope it does or if it is just a bit of early PMS or a virus (Emma puked on the sheets Saturday morning but I had what I think she had earlier last week and should be over it by now.) OPTs showed that I was almost certainly ovulating last week and we, um, took advantage of that knowledge, so we are crossing our fingers and will have to wait a few weeks. This is the first month since the bleeding from that miscarriage finally stopped, so I am hoping that I am back to normal and that everything "takes."

Anyway, that was my day. I am going to get up early tomorrow to go work in the Bishop's Storehouse (I love working there!) so I had better go get some rest while I can.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Price of Rice in China

...or rather, the price of apple juice in Los Angeles. I guess there must have been a bad crop or something last year because all of a sudden I went to Ralphs for a quick juice and bread run (the girls went through both at more than the usual pace this past couple of weeks and I couldn't wait until Monday's normal grocery trip), and store-brand apple juice was the cheapest but was $1.99 a bottle. This is not normal! I ended up wandering over to the frozen juice instead, where store-brand concentrate was on for $1 a can, not bad. So I picked up five of those, instead. But I was a little stunned, store-brand juice hasn't been that high in my recent memory and all of a sudden it just got hiked! While I was in the freezer section, though, I picked up an Edward's chocolate cream pie, a rare luxury in our house; regular price $9.99, sale price $5.99, I had a coupon for $1 off and Ralphs doubles coupons so it was only $3.99. At 60% off I figured we'd get it and have a treat. (They are actually pretty high in protein and I cut them in tenths, not sixths, so the calories aren't quite as bad per serving. Not a horrid dessert when compared to some other favorites.)

We also stopped by the library in the afternoon and I scrounged for ideas for tomorrow's class (I know attendance will be light because of the holiday Monday) and came up with On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World's Weather and a "weather" theme. It's kind of a neat book and talks about weather all over the world on one day, how different parts of the world have different seasons, things like that. We'll read the book, talk about the weather, paint a big huge group painting of what the outside sky looks like, then make kites out of paper bags (a favorite when I was little. I'll just have them decorate the bags, I'll do the rest for them.) Next week we are doing architecture, I've had them bringing in cereal boxes and such for a while and we will build a castle together after reading about great buildings and talking about architecture as art.

We've been trying to clean and I am amazed at how messy Emma can get one room while we are cleaning another. Grrr. Also, my girls have entirely too many toys. If you know anyone who needs some... ;)

So, that's what's been going on today, pretty much. Potty training has run into some difficulty; I've decided to take my mom's advice and let Emma be completely in charge of changing herself and everything, and see how that goes. I'm going to have to bite my tongue not to give her any attention when she wets herself and only pay a lot of attention when she uses the potty but I'm gonna try! After all, it worked pretty well with us, for the most part.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Birthday Dinner

We went to Outback for my birthday dinner (I'm 24 today.) It was very nice. Jeff got me a book that came out 4 days ago that I have wanted (the latest Falco book from Lindsey Davis.) I had thought my dad would get it for me but he forgot (he even forgot it was out!) So Jeff picked it up this morning while he ran errands with the kids and I slept. Then we went to Target.

We had our Family Evening (Not at Home because of the Special Occasion-- FENAHBOTSO?) tonight, and Jeff gave a lesson on manners, we did opening prayer and calendar and stuff at home and then the rest of the lesson in the car and at the restaurant. It was fun.

At Target we got conditioner, which I needed, and also some stuff for the girls (including training panties for Emma-- we decided to go gung-ho this week while Jeff still is home before he goes to work and train her the next few days.) Target is always fun. Then I dropped in Ralphs for a few things I needed (we're feeding the sister missionaries tomorrow night.) Then we came home and watched TLC's Family Matters programming; well I did, and the others were in and out between cleaning up the living room. All in all, a happy birthday!


Here are some of the shots from our portrait session Saturday. If anyone would like an invitation to view the entire session and didn't get one, you can e-mail me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bridget took four steps today...

...and I missed it. :( I was in Stake Choir practice (we only get two, this week and next, then we're having a combined Stake Conference with the neighboring Glendale Stake, and President Packer will be there again-- that makes 3 SCs in a row for us with him there. We will have three members of the 70 as well, including one of the presidency. Speculation is rife as to what is going on, we have come up with about 5 or 6 theories ourselves, but will have to wait and see.) Anyway, I was so sad to hear I missed it! Later she almost did it again, at my mom's (we went for my birthday dinner with her) but she kind of squatted after two, then got up and did it again. Also, she will apparently only walk to Jeff or to chase cats, not to me. Very sad.

Hopefully she will start doing it more soon and I will get to see her really walk, and walk to me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Busy Saturday

I was dragged out of bed-- and then off the couch-- by my loving husband this morning to get dressed and go teach my class. I got there, got set up-- and then taught the three of eight that showed up. (We had fun, though; today we read a book called Big and Little and then we painted BIG pictures of BIG things on extra-large newsprint sheets taped to the walls, then drew SMALL pictures of SMALL things on small pieces of newsprint with crayons. Then since everyone was finished with those really early we got out the play dough.) One of my students obviously didn't feel well; I took him down to his mom. I also got to talk with a hyper but very talented student's mom while we cleaned up in the bathroom. She seemed really grateful for what I had to say, which made me feel good. I finished cleaning up, then headed down. Jeff and the girls had just got there because Emma had not wanted to get dressed, so they did not get to play at the park, we just went home. Then we had lunch, while Bridget, who had already eaten, went down for a nap.

I also ended up taking a nap, and then Jeff got me up again in time to get dressed up. We all piled in the car and went to Sears to get portraits done, family, the girls individually, and the girls together. When we got there we got the girls dressed while they played and watched Pinocchio. I was a little stressed but the woman who did the pictures is very good with kids (last time we had a guy who is not so good with kids, mine at least, and she came in at the end and got the best ones; this time we had her from the start.) The girls cooperated for the most part, especially Emma, and with only a few setbacks we were done. Emma and I wandered a bit and I was tempted by the 1/2 off fancy dresses and adorable play clothes which my girls don't need at all but which are SO CUTE, but resisted the temptation. (Jeff was proud of me.) Then we selected the ones to get (we had a coupon for a great deal; portrait sheets after the first 6 were only $2.99, and we got a Smile Saver Club membership for $4.99 instead of $19.99, which is great because next time we go in the sitting will be free, and then we got our choice of a free 10x13 wall print or a $4.99 featured special, one of three things which are usually $24.99 (we chose the special and got a collage one of the girls to go on the living room wall or maybe in their bedroom or the hall, we haven't decided.) (Pictures will be forthcoming in a few days.)

THEN we headed straight to my dad's house. He made dinner for my birthday (which is Monday); spaghetti with meat sauce, broccoli, strawberries, apriums, and garlic cheese toast. For dessert we had rhubarb pie (my favorite; I had requested it instead of cake) and ice cream. (Yes, we put candles in the pie and everyone sang.) Then, since they never did see my girls around their birthdays, we all three opened presents. Bridget got a lift-the-flap book and a stuffed monkey, Emma got a toy lion and four books, I got a Land's End tunic top and a swimsuit (this bottom and this top, in periwinkle; we have a tradition that every year for my birthday I pick out a few things from the Land's End catalog and my dad gives them to me, which suits me very well, no pun intended), and we got a kind of combined family gift of a giant beach towel and also three sets of matching silk pajamas, one for each of us, which my dad picked up in Chinatown on his most recent trip to San Fransisco, in sizes that should fit along about the fall or early winter. I tried on the swimsuit right away and I love it! I haven't had a new one in quite a while and my size has changed so it is much appreciated.

Then we came home, and I went online to type this, and now, very full and very tired, I am going to take a shower and go lay down, I think.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Some good news today

Ready for it?

It's really good.

Really, really good.

Ready to get excited?

Are you sure?

Okay, then... *drumroll*

Jeff accepted a job today! It's a good one, doing what he really wants to do (taxes, blech, but he loves 'em), and they're paying his previous salary, and after a 90 day probation period he gets 11 paid days off, and they pay benefits up to $300/mo., and this is the best part: they will pay for him to get his EA license, including any necessary preparation materials or classes and the fees for the test itself, and then as soon as he gets it, they will give him a $10,000/yr. raise and every other Friday off (not including tax season, of course.) And that is the STARTING salary for EAs, he can then expect additional raises as he stays there and such. It's the field he wants to go in to, they're starting him at a good salary (one we can live off!) with good benefits, it's close to home, they won't expect him to work Sundays, even during tax season... The only down side is that doing taxes, he will be gone a lot during tax season, but to make up for that we'll have more of his time the rest of the year and, you know, I could take some of that extra money and go on vacation or something so I don't go crazy. :D

We are very excited. Yay!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This Post Brought to You by The Number Six

Emma drew a recognizable numeral six (6) today. Importantly, she then told us that it was the number six. (Meaning, she purposefully made it and/or drew a scribble which she decided to turn into a number partway through or afterwards recognized as a "6". In any case, it's an important milestone.) The only characters she has drawn recognizably before are a capital "M" and a 0/o, and I think those were more by chance than by design.

I am no good with our scanner or I'd post it here. (Maybe KPC will do it later and if so I will update this post.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Griffith Park is burning.

I didn't know this until I turned to NBC for SVU; they ran coverage in between instead of commercials tonight. Dante's View is gone. (That's a beautiful garden overlooking the city, that you could walk up to and check out the flowers in the daytime or the city lights at night.) They had to evac the zoo, the historic carousel, the Gene Autry museum, and Travel Town (although they are now safe.) (They didn't have to remove the animals at the zoo, just had all the people leave; they had a plan in place to evac the animals if necessary but the fire was turned and they didn't have to.) The fire has come dangerously close to the Observatory (although at this time it has been turned away from that area), the Greek Theater, and houses in the area (mandatory evacuation; Marshall High School, where one of my friends teaches, is being used as an emergency shelter.) As one commentator said, only about 300 acres have been affected, which isn't really that much in a wildfire, but the problem with this one is that Griffith Park is right smack in the middle of an urban area, bordered by Glendale on one side and Los Feliz on the other. For those not familiar with L.A., imagine New York's Central Park burning and that might give you an idea. For those who don't know Glendale, I'll explain that it's near Pasadena and that my parents, siblings, and I were all born there. Bridget's birth certificate says Glendale on it because the hospital she was born in is in the part of Montrose that is technically part of Glendale instead of part of unincorporated L.A. County. Although we were not technically part of the city-- most of La Crescenta, the community I grew up in, is unincorporated county land-- we were part of the Glendale Unified School District. Growing up we were 15 minutes from Griffith Park; now we're about 20-25.

Jeff heard about this before I did but didn't mention it to me, not knowing what it would mean to me. You see, I, and I think many others, think of Griffith Park as the heart of L.A. (not geographically, but rather spiritually or, well, you know what I mean.) It has many of the historical spots, cultural centers, and childhood favorite places in the city. When I suddenly saw pictures of flames in Griffith Park, I was overwhelmed. I was stricken. I cried and I prayed. Others, apparently, are having the same reaction. The water-dumping helicopters are still out flying; they were told to land for the night if they wanted to but to a person the pilots and crews said they would stay and fight the fire, now with only infrared to help them navigate and despite communications being sub-par because the power is out and so they're running on field generators for the radios and other comm equipment. (My prayers are with those pilots as well as the firefighters on the ground and the people whose homes have been evacuated.)

So now that I've vented a bit, I will turn to happier memories of Griffith Park, since I have a feeling that it will do more good, for me and for everyone else, to have some positive energy going than negative thoughts and worries all the time, when I can't really do much about it.

Growing up, Griffith Park was like a fantasy land or a theme park to me. We used to go on hikes there; we went to the zoo, of course, and the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage. That's a great museum, with art exhibits (NA art, western vistas, period pieces, all kinds of things), historical clothing and household objects, a collection of authentic western sheriff badges from the 1800s, exhibits on westerns in tv and movies and their influence on pop culture (including a saddle you can sit on and put yourself in a western!), the Howdy Doody bedroom that my mom wanted when she was a little girl and never got (long story), all kinds of things. We all loved it so much, including my mom, that we had a membership growing up. Travel Town was a favorite when we were young enough to be bored by the Autry but enthralled by trains; they had a train you could ride around, real old train cars you could climb around in, all kinds of things. My aunt used to take my brother and me, or me and my second cousins once removed when they were in town (girls, twins a year older than me; one is my aunt's goddaughter) to ride on the carousel, ride the ponies, run around the picnic area. My class took field trips to the Observatory. The Greek Theater is an outdoor auditorium that hosts all kinds of great events; we took field trips to see shows there, and that's where I fulfilled my almost lifelong (since I was 5) dream of seeing a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion when I was 19 (my dad got tickets for a birthday present for me.) At Christmas time the DWP puts on a light display in Griffith Park; we used to drive out every year and look at them. It's just a wonderful place, with lots of landmarks, an oasis in the busy city and a great place for people of all ages, and families especially.

So if you have an extra prayer, please say one for the people fighting the fire, the people who live nearby, and that the winds will continue to calm, that the weather will cool, perhaps some rain will come, the fire will die down, and the park will be spared further destruction. Thank you.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Nauvoo Get-Together

We held it at our place. It was awesome. (Nauvoo.com is a website with an online forum community I am active on.) Only 3 people (besides us) were able to make it, but we had a good time anyway. I cooked Lebanese (shish kafta, tabbouleh, hummus, pita, and minted cucumber salad-- I forgot about the rice until the last minute and we decided to skip it, and I never did remember the dried apricots and the giant fava beans in tomato sauce I had intended for appetizers until everyone was gone), and did an apple "pie" (it's more like a cobbler, really, but that's what it's called) in the crockpot. (I had it all ready ahead of time, so I was able to relax most of the day despite our refrigerator going out in the morning. After calling a bunch of places we found a place that sent a guy who fixed it on the spot, and it's now working-- it was the freezer motor.) Jan picked up ice cream (Haagen-Daas-- mmmm) and Hans and Roz brought sodas and juice and cherry-topped cheesecake. We all just sat around and talked and ate and watched Emma devour half the hummus and Bridget eat about 1/4 lb. of kafta (who knew? She likes kafta, A LOT.) Emma did get overwhelmed after a while and, being a cranky three-year-old, said, "I don't want all these peoples in my house!" But (after a reminder that that was not polite) we sent her to watch Robin Hood and she took her bowl of hummus with her and by the time she came out she was much happier. So a good time had by all and lots of food devoured (and some left over for us!)