Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I've been equally as worried about Spencer transitioning into sleeping alone in his bedroom once Cate left for school, as I had been worried about Cate leaving for school.  I've talked before about my boy and his unending desire to "be with people", so this change for him had been much anticipated and long in coming.

Spencer has always been a people person.  Since his first moments of being cradled in his big sister's arms, my boy has always thrived on simply being in the presence of other people.  He gains energy, strength, passion and interest from being around others.  If I ever need to discipline him all I have to do is tell him to spend 15 minutes alone and that is terrible to him.  (BTW, I rarely do this.  I don't really do much "disciplining" around here.  I don't know why.)

So, when we got back from Utah, Wes and I were hoping and praying that our boy would make the jump to sleeping by himself with out any major drama, and guess what? He did.  Like it was no big deal.

He even tried to convince his best friends (twins who live across the street) that they should split up and have their own bedrooms, because "that's just the way it is". 

It is a weird relief to Wes and I that he's finally crossed this bridge.  I mean, the fact that we lay in bed at night practically giddy that our eleven year old son just up and went to his room and fell asleep in his bed is kind of strange, I'll admit.  But, it's a victory and we are going to revel in it, whether it is wacky or not.  Hallelujah!

BTW- I just got off the phone with Cate and she just accepted a part-time job at school.  She'll be working in the testing center at the front desk.  WTG Miss Cate!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Q & A -- about dropping Cate off for college

(on the road!)

We just got home from a whirlwind trip to Utah, wherein we spent some much needed time visiting with Wes' family (my kids hadn't seen their grandparents for two years prior) and dropping Cate off for college.  The trip was exhaustive, fun, jam-packed and emotional and I've had lots of questions about it, so here goes...

Did Cate take a car down to school?

No!  First of all, we still need our kid car here.  Emma is going to be a licensed driver before we know it and we need a vehicle for her to drive.  Secondly, the drivers in Utah are crazy with a capital C.  Wes and I kept on noticing the blatant disregard for any and all driving rules when we were down there.  Speeding, tailing, no turn-signals, etc...it was nuts!  I would not feel comfortable with my newish teenage driver using a vehicle in Utah County.  No way, no how!

Fortunately, Cate is living a short 10-15 minute walk from campus.  Also, the public transportation system in Utah is quite decent and she has a full-year UTA pass ($80 for a year thru UVU) in her possession, so she can ride the bus, train, or trax to just about anywhere on the Wasatch front.  There is a bus stop directly in front of her apartment complex and every 15 minutes a bus comes by and drives directly to her school (a 3 minute ride).  The day after we left, she and her roommate
 practiced taking the bus to and from school and evidently, it was a total success!  Also, she has a couple of roommates that do have cars, so she is quite covered when it comes to getting around town.

Is Cate going to work while in school?

Yes.  Sadly, we are not a filthy rich family, so the reality of her life is she will have to work part-time during college in order to make ends meet.  Luckily, there are plentiful amounts of part-time on-campus jobs available to her.  Cate set up her school schedule to make working fit her life while in school.  She is taking classes MWF only.  So, she has T and Th completely free and will hopefully be filling those days with work.  She has already applied for a bunch of jobs (online) and has an interview set up for today, so it should all work out quite nicely.

Is Cate living on-campus (in the dorms) or off campus?

UVU does not have on-campus housing.  So, Cate is living in an apartment complex near the school (a 3 minute ride away) that houses UVU students.  Her apartment has six girls sharing 4 bedrooms (two of the rooms are single rooms and two of the rooms are shared).  Cate is in a shared room with another girl who is a freshman at UVU.  The apartment also has two shared bathrooms, a living room, kitchen (with a dishwasher) and all the other normal college apartment stuff.  When we saw Cate's apartment for the first time Alice described it as "ghetto chic" (I hope that doesnt' offend you.  If it does- then sorry.)  Honestly, it looks like a regular college apartment.  Here is a picture of Cate in the kitchen.

She chose this place to live based on location, costs and the online reviews.  Of course it was kind of a gamble because we didn't have any real experience with this complex, but so far, so good.

Did you take the whole family down UVU to drop Cate off, or did just you take her?  Was it hard to say goodbye?

Yes, and yes.  We took the whole family down to Utah because we wanted to visit with Wes' family down there, and because we wanted our other kids to see where their sister would be living for the next year.  Emma and Alice were absolutely enthralled with Cate's new adventure in life and kept announcing that they would be more than happy to trade places with her and start college immediately.  Emma in particular was almost distraught with envy after seeing what great adventure Cate was just embarking on in Utah.  I think it was great for my other kids to see what going off to college really meant and for them to get a feel for exactly what their older sister would be participating in this year.

Saying goodbye to Cate was gut-wrenching, of course.  My kids (particularly Spencer) were so sad and emotional.  I love that my kids love each other so much.  It is one of the greatest joys in my life.  So, for Spencer to say goodbye to Cate, well, it was awful.  He cried for hours on the way home.  That being said, now that it's over and we've all moved on, we are just fine.  Cate is getting to know her roommates, settling in with school and work stuff and basically living like a college student- and so far, she loves it.  The rest of us are home again and back to normal life.  Technology is already proving to be quite a blessing to us as it is so easy to communicate with Cate whenever we want to.  I typically text with her some each day.  Also, we've skyped once as a group already, and will probably keep up with that weekly.  Finally, Wes set up a family Group Me account (kind of like a group texting forum) for just our family so we communicate that way too.  I love technology!

Okay, that's all the time I have for today.  I'm still buried in mounds of laundry from our trip and I need to get on top of things in our house.  I hope this Q & A covered most of the questions you might have.  Thank you for all the interest in this huge milestone for our family.  The fact that I have a kid in college is crazy to me and will take a bit of time to get used to.

Friday, August 15, 2014

There she goes...

Our oldest is officially leaving the nest today, and our lives will never be the same.
But, she'd ready.  A thousand times more ready than either her father or I were at her age.  A grand adventure is awaiting her.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wes to the rescue

(you can see the tip of the bolt on the top left of the tire)

As Emma and I drove home from the grocery store, I did a number on my rear left tire and got a flat.  For some reason, a massive metal bolt was perfectly placed on the roadway, just waiting for me and my van to make a serious connection with it.  Immediately after running over it, I knew something had happened and I pulled off the busy street onto a small side road and looked at the damage.  I could hear the air hissing out of my tire and I watched it go flat within minutes.

My first thought was Wes and my need for him to be at my side, pronto.  Is this what most wives think of when they have car troubles?  I always do.  Besides being the most fantastic person I know, Wes is also my go-to guy when I hit a literal bump in the road.  I gave him a quick call, and as luck would have it, he was on his lunch break and was able to drop everything and drive the 10 miles or so to help us.  Before I knew it, he had pulled up along side us, given the tire a quick once-over, and was preparing to change the flat tire.  I felt awful for him because it's a 100 degree day, he sweats easily, he was wearing his work clothes, and he was foregoing his lunch break, all for the unpleasant job of changing a tire for me.  He quickly suggested Emma and I transfer all the groceries over to the car he had driven in and get on our way so nothing in the grocery bags would melt.  So, once Em and I loaded up the car we drove past my sweetie laying on the asphalt under my van, in the hot sun, getting the spare, I told my girl in no uncertain terms "Make sure whoever you chose to marry is as great a man as your dad".

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I spare no expense when it comes to...

Small kitchen appliances.  I've told Wes that the minute my KitchenAid stand mixer dies (and cannot be resuscitated by him), I will high-tail it over to Costco and drop a few hundred bucks to buy a new one.  I cannot, will not entertain the idea of functioning as a full-time household cook/baker without one.  I feel the same way about vacuums and kitchen utensils.  My thing is this: items I use every single day in my home must be of sound quality and usefulness because I use them every. single. day.

Jeans.  My "daily uniform" often consists of jeans and a top with a cardigan.  If I skimp on the jeans, it's just bad.  Real bad.  Expensive designer jeans are expensive for one single reason- they make your butt look great.  And, there is nothing more important than what your butt looks like when you're wearing a pair of jeans.  Additionally, they typically last longer because they are made with higher quality materials and craftsmanship.

Teeth.  I have no problem dropping 5K on orthodontia for my kids.  I just believe in good teeth.  Your smile matters to you and having nice teeth is worth the expense.  Yes, it's a hefty price tag, and yes, I shop around and do my due diligence, but at the end of the day the final result is going to be each of my kids is going to have braces and that's that (BTW, we have not given birth to children who have straight adult teeth.  That would be some sort of unreal fantasy to me...what dreams are made of!).  I want to get Wes braces too, but he'd rather go to Hawaii instead.  Time will tell...

Running Shoes.  I learned a very valuable lesson on the importance of proper running shoes while I was a college student.  While attending school in Rexburg, ID, I ran 5-6 times a week because I was deathly afraid of gaining the "Freshman 15".  So, during my first year I put some serious miles on my pair of Nike Pegasus running shoes, and by mid February I had worn them completely out.  But, I was poor and not near a running store, so I kept running in them for the rest of the year.  Thus, by April I had developed bursitis so badly on my right foot that I couldn't wear regular shoes, much less running shoes (I wore Ugg slippers for a month) and I had to seek medical attention and alter my workout routine.  Had I simply purchased new running shoes, I would have avoided the problem completely.  These days, I give my shoes 400 miles and then they get retired and I move onto my next pair.  I know treating my feet right is of up most importance when you have an affinity for running.

Dates with my husband.  I'm not saying that Wes and I go all out and splurge on date night every week.  Rather, I'm saying we believe spending some money, and especially time, each week "dating" each other because we know it is extremely important for our entire family.  My wise friend Holly once said "spending money on date night is much less expensive than getting a divorce".  Amen!  I think of that often, and never feel guilty spending some cash on "us" and our relationship.  Obviously there is more to a happy marriage than date nights, but I do think it's an important component and worth time and money.

Family portraits.  Pictures of our families are special treasures that should take priority.  I'm a big believer in quality over quantity too.  You don't have to have four clothing changes, or travel all over the countryside to find the perfect location for your portraits, but shelling out a bit of cash- and buying the prints and framing them, is worth it.  You don't have to do it every year, but if it's been a while and your kids look "so little" in the most current family photo shoot you had, consider booking a session.  Years from now you will be so glad you did.

Hot cocoa.  Y'all know I'm a connoisseur of quality hot chocolate.  I drink it year-round, so it is always on my mind.  I buy Stephen's Hot Chocolate when it's in stock at Costco, but my very favorite cocoa is from the Home Storage Center in Happy Valley.  When I go there I purchase a 25 pound bag and we use it for 6-9 months.

It's interesting to think about the things you value.  I realize my list is kind of short (my frugal list will be enormous in comparison!), but that's me.  I'm a saver, not a spender.

So, what about you?  What are some of your "money is no object" items?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My trip to the liquor store

So, I finally tried my hand at the process of making your own homemade vanilla extract.  I found these adorable swingtop bottles at the thrift store ( I believe they are wheat beer bottles?) and I knew they'd be the perfect bottles to contain my vanilla extraction process.

Anywho, I already had a bunch of vanilla beans on hand (the ones from Costco), so I knew all I needed was the alcohol and I'd be ready to start.  At first I looked at Costco to see if they carried hard liquor (spoiler- they don't!), so I quickly realized I would have to venture out to a local liquor store to get my hands on a big bottle of vodka (you can use other types of booze- rum, brandy or bourbon, but supposedly vodka produces the "cleanest" version of vanilla extract, so...)

So, since I don't drink alcohol and I've never shopped at a liquor store in my adult life (I did go to the one on State St. in Lake Oswego when I was a kid because we'd have to stock up on the booze when my grandma would come to visit), I was a bit anxious about the ordeal.  First, I decided I'd hit a store that was not in my hometown (rumor-mill!), so I swung by the shop in Wilsonville.  I seriously had heart palpitations before going in because I was such a novice, I knew I'd stick out and would have no idea what to buy and/or how to find it!  And, since no one was with me to listen to me blab about the experience I started to tweet about it... 

Can I just mention that right next door to the liquor store was a "check cashing" store.  I don't know.  That just seemed sorta sad.  Anyways, I went in and the store was super busy.  Like ten or more customers and it was a Thursday afternoon. 

Amazingly, I found the vodka section within 20 seconds and started gazing at price tags, ounces and quality.  Some kind young guy saw me a bit flummoxed and asked me if he could help.  I told him I needed a large bottle of cheap vodka, and I wasn't totally sure what was a good price.  He didn't bat an eye at my question and steered me toward a 60 ounce bottle that was supposedly "good quality for a great price" (on sale!).  I grabbed the bottle and headed for the checkout line.  I pulled out my drivers license because I'd expected the cashier to want proof of my age, but no dice guys!  He correctly assumed I was of legal drinking age, because he didn't card me.  Sigh.  I was a titch deflated.

The cashier handed me my booze in a brown paper bag, and I almost started to laugh.  I mean, it just felt odd.  Is that how it always is?  Seemed staged.

Then I hopped back into my minivan and continued on with my errands.  End of booze buying story.  

As for the vanilla extract, so far so good.  I followed this method.  And yes, since I'm making 60 ounces of it, I do plan to give it away as holiday gifts to friends and neighbors.  I mean who doesn't need a nice bottle of vanilla extract in their pantry come holiday baking time?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July iphone dump

I apologize in advance for the boatload of photos in this post.  A lot has happened in July, and most of it was documented with my iphone camera.

Since we are slowly working on accomplishing our summer of realistic dreams, we tackled Cate's top choice-  suspending a stapler in jello.  Fortunately, I had a spare red stapler and bought a few boxes of green jello, so...

Needless to say, I had to trash the stapler after all was said and done.  And no, we did not eat the jello.

I went out to lunch with some friends for a birthday and Alice and her BFF Lily asked me and Alison (Lily's mom) to text them a selfie and this is what they sent back to us.  Funny girls!

On the fourth we headed over to Lake Oswego for some family fun.  Alice made sure to wear her holiday lipstick for the festivities.

Cate and Alice made the traditional flag cake.

We relaxed on Grannies new chaise lounges.

We gorged on our annual KFC meal.  We only eat KFC once a year and it has to be on Independence day.

We boated, along with every other person in the city.  Busy day on the lake!

These people made an awesome contraption.  I think the guys in the back had the right idea.

Captain Jack!

It was windy, so I got crazy!

Then we headed back home so we could join in on the neighborhood 4th of July party.

It was fireworks for hours.  We sure love our neighbors!  We are a lucky family to have such a wonderful neighborhood to be part of.  Lucky us!

A couple of days later we bid a fond farewell to Kaitie, one of our dearest friends, as she departed for her 18 month mission in Charlotte NC.

We took lots of goodbye photos.

Emma and Alice love my parents dog, Moses.  He's like a small horse.

Emma and Alice went to girls camp after that.  It was totally bittersweet for me since I'd gone with them for the past 4 years, but, as they say, all good things have to come to an end.

Luckily, I got to visit them one night while they were there.  So fun to see them and their friends having a blast and soaking it all up.

This was Alice's cabin.

And, this was Emma's.

Here's the infamous hug line.  I hate the hug line.  One year at camp I did all in my power to try to get rid of it.  No dice.

I have been working on a lot of little and big project around the house this summer.  I sanded down and repainted this dresser for Alice's room.

I also found this.  Kept it.  Didn't have the heart to sand over it.

I have also spent a ridiculous amount of time mingling with the smelly guys that work at Fry's.  We went through a massive laptop debacle with Cate's new laptop and after 8 weeks, half a dozen phone calls, and 4 trips to Fry's, we finally got it all worked out.  And, now I can say with complete certainty, if you need help with your laptop purchase go straight to Abdul.  He's the best!

 Cate had her last Sunday in Young Womens.  She is doing a short stint in the nursery until she leaves for college.

Here she is with her friends and leaders.

Just a quick pic of what Alice had in her purse at church.  I think she had a cold that day.

These girls often find themselves dressed alike on accident.

Emma went on her first ever date with a boy named McKay.  She had a blast, but doesn't want to talk about it.  Emma is a word conservationist.

Wesley and Spencer like to drink milk out of mugs.  I. Can't. Handle. It.  The normal people rule is this:  You drink hot beverages out of mugs and cold beverages out of glasses.  Period.

The boys also went to Spence's 11 year old scout camp out.  Spencer was a bit excited!

It was my sisters birthday and this is the only photo of her I got.  Sorry Mere!

I made these again.

And, Emma made these...

Wes and I went here to celebrate our anniversary.

And, it was my birthday.  41 years strong!

And, I'm painting everything I own white.  It's driving Wes nuts.

One Saturday morning we took some of the cousins to the L.O. farmers market.  We travelled there by boat.  So Lake Oswego of us.

Whew.  If you got through all of that, then your too kind.