Monday, January 28, 2008


I was reading Erma Bombeck the other day. Actually, I read her almost everyday. You see, I try to keep one of her books in the bathroom. The bathroom is my hideout. (Gross Out Warning!) I pretend to be constipated and hang out in the bathroom reading my daily dose of Erma. This way I get a few extra minutes of Kid-Free Time and a laugh or two to lift my parenting morale.

Yesterday I was reading her book, At Wit’s End and she went on for pages about what she wants for her children, her hopes and fears. It was amazing to read her words; they were so real to me as a mother. Even though my kids haven’t tried to rush puberty or even know who Betsy Ross is yet (so they can’t possibly think she was just a committee member who needed a service project to keep herself busy), I was able to understand her. I have my own fears and hopes for my kids. Some are the same as hers, and others are different.

I won't bother going into my fears because they are all things that I can control. I'm not really worried about the world influencing them. I know that Nathan and I can have a greater influence with them if we teach them correct principles and live by them ourselves. I'm more worried about myself as an example to them, making sure I'm worthy of the label, "Example."

My hopes. I have so many hopes. Above all I want them to have a personal relationship with God and Christ. I want them to know they are loved not only by their family, but also by a Heavenly Father and Savior who suffered, died, and lived again for them.

Megan just astounds me sometimes. The other day she was dancing around the house and making up songs. She does this quite frequently and every time she does, the song is about Jesus and the Plan of Salvation. She was singing about how Jesus helped us come to earth because we needed to get bodies with our spirits and how Jesus died, but he came back to life with no owees.

I want them to know that studying is cool and to actually learn how to do it. I didn’t ever really learn how to study until college. I had little need for it in high school, but certainly still could have used it.

I want them to be patriotic. I want them to know that the flag means something special. Not just that it waves in front of the local Macey’s where they give free cookies to little kids. I think we’ve gotten a good start on this one. By a very lucky chance, Megan loved flags when she was very young. She always pointed out the American flag though, not the Utah state flag or anything other flag. Still every time Megan sees the flag she gets excited and yells, “America! We live in America!” She knows that we live somewhere special. We need to make sure that Jeremy learns this, too. We need to explain the importance of the flag. What it symbolizes. Its history.

I want them to be generous and tender-hearted. I want them to cry when they see someone else cry and desire to help those less and more fortunate than themselves. I want them to look for opportunities to serve others, but most especially, each other.

I want them to go after their dreams and not wait for them.

To learn how to correctly play different sports so they can decide for themselves if they want to be athletic or not.

To keep their stubbornness even though it drives me nuts now. One day it will mean that they will make their own decisions without being swayed by the crowd.

I want them to learn to make happiness their own. Never let it be in someone else's power to make them happy, that only means someone else can make them unhappy.

Now the question is, how do I help these hopes come to pass? I guess the first move would be to get out of the bathroom. . . .

President Hinckley

I just found out that President Hinckley, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints passed away around 7pm tonight (January 27, 2008). Pres. Hinckley was a great man. He is the prophet that I have known best growing up and I have learned so much from him. His bright countenance was such an inspiration to me. I loved hearing him speak in General Conference. As he spoke I knew he loved us all, as a Church, as a people. But somehow, when I heard him speak, I also knew that he loved me, as me. It was as if the Lord told him about me, my struggles, my faith. . . .

I am of course sad that he has passed, but I am also very glad for him. He is with his wonderful wife now and I know that he has missed her terribly since her passing four years ago this April and he's had quite a few health problems in the last few years.

I am grateful to know that the Church won't be lost. As a Church, as a people, we won't be confused. We have Christ leading us and he will appoint a new president, leading the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to his choice. After the funeral the Quorum will meet, pray, and fast until they are able to come to a unanimous decision. More than likely it will be Thomas S. Monson, Pres. Hinckley's first councilor.

I am grateful for Pres. Hinckley's life, example, and faith. I pray that his family will feel comfort as they grieve his passing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Addiction

Hi, my name is Kellie and I'm a Webkinsholic.
Yes, I admit it. When Megan goes down for a nap in the afternoon and when she goes to bed at night, one of the first things I do is log into her Webkins account and play. I am getting pretty good at the Home Before Dark and Dex Dangerous games in the arcade. The Color Storm was tricky for me at first, but I finally got to the orange raindrop level today. The Cash Cow games are fun, but I think I prefer the version where it's possible for bottles to break, making it just a bit harder.

I also like feeding Megan's Webkins dog, Swesty. She came up with the name all by herself. Since I don't get to do a lot of shopping for me and the kids, I enjoy going to the "store" and picking different foods for Megan's cyber pet. Anything from baked beans and bacon wrapped bones to asparagus and soda is on the menu.

Then there's the rooms you can decorate for Swesty the dog! I got her a karaoke machine and a new toy the other day. The better you do on the games the more Webkins "cash" you have to spend on your pet. Now that Megan has more money in her Webkins account, Swesty is getting a bigger and nicer place. In addition to the karaoke machine and new toy, he has a huge bed, a nice dresser, pink and green paint in the bedroom, blue paint in his living room, a balloon, book, a backyard, and a ball. I'm sure tomorrow has more fun in store. I'd do it now, but unfortunately the website is doing maintenance (growl).

Can you poop for me?

Today was a heavy duty cleaning day for the kitchen. I still have a few odds and ends to mess with (like everything that is sitting on top of the fridge) but for the most part it looks really good. When I moved the microwave to clean behind it, I found a small bowl that had about 100 small gray, clear, and pink beads from two of Megan's broken bracelets. Months and months ago I told her I'd fix them and just haven't had a chance to do it. Anyway, not really knowing what to do with the bowl of beads I put it out of the way on top of the fridge (with a ton of other stuff I didn't know what to do with).

I wasn't able to finish cleaning the kitchen before lunch time, so I had to stop cleaning to make food for the kids. I decided on perogies because they are quick and I know that about half the time the kids will eat them without too much fuss. When I opened the freezer door the bowl with the hundred beads fell, causing the beads to rain all over the kitchen floor. As I tried to pick them up Jeremy came over, reached down and picked up an indeterminable number of beads before I could stop him. Actually, I didn't even notice until Megan said something and I saw that his little fist was protectively closed and he was looking quite defensive.

Megan tried to get him to open his fist and started to get really upset about him having the beads. Figuring it was just because she wanted me to fix her bracelet, I told her not to worry and that I would get the beads back from him in a minute. She then proceeded to freak out, yelling that he was going to eat the beads and that we'd never get them back.

At this point I was already tired from not sleeping much the night before (Jeremy apparently doesn't sleep well while being weened off the bottle), cleaning the kitchen for three and a half hours (still not even half-way finished at this point), washing every dish that we own (almost literally), and ticked that the beads had fallen in the first place. Plus, I'd had to deal with the usual sibling rivalry that threatens my sanity every minute of every day, Jeremy's new terrible twos behavior, and Megan's strange desire to mirror Jeremy's tantrums.

I raised my voice in frustration, "Well, then we'll get the beads back when he poops!" I went back into the kitchen and started putting the perogies in the boiling water. Then I heard Megan's sweet, coaxing voice, "Could you poop for me, Jer? Come on bud, can you poop for me?"

I couldn't believe it. She was asking him to poop so she could have her beads. I didn't think he'd already eaten them, but I left the kitchen and checked his mouth. Empty. I opened his hand and found a single pink bead.

I can't believe that Megan actually thought I'd check his poop for her bead. Gross!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Prima Ballerina

Megan had her first dance class on Tuesday. We actually went last week for her first class and found out that the Cache Valley School of Ballet's website had the class days and times wrong. They let her go into the 4 and 5 year old class, though. Anyway, this week she went and was so shy! I've never seen her so timid before. She stood there for a while, just watching the two other girls and the teacher. At first the teacher let her be shy, and then gently she'd try and get Megan to participate. I think she just had to observe her surroundings for a while before deciding she was safe to interact. After about ten minutes she was dancing and having fun. Each of the girls got to introduce themselves and do a little dance move. They had to say, "My name is so-and-so and this is my dance." Then they did a little bust a move thing. Megan's was pretty funny. At this point she still was too shy to talk, so the teacher said the name part for her and then for her dance Megan just moved her legs apart. It was really cute to watch.

At first I was worried that I'd bought all those dance lessons for nothing. I think next week she'll know what to expect a little better and she'll participate from the beginning. I'll have to remember to coach her a little bit before class. Remind her that the class will do stretches first, go over rules in the dance room, stuff like that.

Jeremy really wanted to get in there and dance. I felt like I was doing some heavy WNBA defense trying to keep him out of that dance room. The kid moves fast and is getting to learn how I block him. Eventually he'll be faking me out and running right past me so he can do a pirouette in the middle of the room. Poor kid. He really needs a brother and a tool set.

Embarrassing Moments

I am so excited! Thursday (tomorrow!) I will be at The Book Table here in town collecting embarrassing stories from people here in Logan. The Statesman (the USU newspaper) did a story on me and my book, asking students to come and share their stories with me. The Herald Journal (Logan's paper) also had a blurb about it, asking Cache Valley residents to come support me by sharing their stories. I really, really hope people come! I need about 100 more embarrassing stories, I think. Maybe not that many, but that's how many I would like. That way I have plenty to choose from and can weed out some of the less funny ones. If anyone reading this would like to contribute and share with me one of their most embarrassing moments, what happened afterward, and how they got over the embarrassment, I would LOVE to have it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Favorite Things continued . . .

Number two on the favorites list is Board Games.

Some favorite games are (in no particular order):

1. Killer Bunnies (we have quite a few expansions)
2. Bohnanza (we have an expansion, but haven't played it yet)
3. Once Upon a Time (with the Dark Tales expansion)
4. Carcassonne
5. Scrabble
6. Princes of Florence
7. Puerto Rico
8. Saint Petersburg
9. Citadels (with or without expansion)
10. Fluxx (we have one of the original versions, Eco-fluxx, and zombie fluxx. any are great fun.)

One of our friends has come up with a game idea that is awesome. We've had fun helping him with it when he and his wife come over for game nights. We played it a couple times so far, trying to help get rid of little bugs and stuff in the game (nix rules, create rules, etc.). So far the game has been a lot of fun for me to play and work on.

Number three on the list would have to be my laptop.

Because of this laptop I can leave the house and still work on my books. I don't get out of the house much, with or without the kids. So when Nathan is home and I get time to write, I take my laptop and go some place with an outlet.

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

I decided to make a list of some of my favorite things. I don't know why. I guess because I am bored. Now, some of my favorite things are actually people, but I will do a people list later, maybe.

The first thing on the favorites list is Books. I love, love, love books. And a few of my favorites are:

1. The Harry Potter series (very favorite being Goblet of Fire) by J.K. Rowling

These books taught me a lot as a reader and a writer. I participated in discussion boards on this book, read them all in sequence with a notebook so I could take notes on Snape when I was trying to prove my (correct) theory that he was indeed on the good side. I've never seen a fiction book bring more people together.

2. A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, A Wind in the Door, and Many Waters by Madeline L'Engle

I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was in junior high and immediately fell in love with it. Even though L'Engle wrote it in part as a commentary on her dislike for organized religion, it reminded me of the Plan of Salvation when I read it. Satan's plan was like what was happening at Camazots, where Christ's plan, even though it leads to war and suffering because it gives people the opportunity to make their own mistakes, is ultimately much better than being forced to do something that leads to false harmony.

3. Mistborn: The Final Empire, Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson

These are relatively new discoveries for me. I met Brandon Sanderson at a writing conference in Provo and thought his books looked interesting. I bought Elantris and loaned it to Nathan for his trip to Ohio when he was interviewing at Case Dental School. When he got back he was absolutely engrossed in it and insisted that I read it when he was done. Then, to make sure that I read it, he had me read it out loud to him! Then he asked for theMistborn books for his birthday and we read those together as well.

4. Anything written by Erma Bombeck is automatically awesome and worth reading, however the book that addicted me to her humor is Just Wait Till You Have Children of Your Own! I read it when I was still in elementary school, and despite my youth, was able to see the hilarity of it all, even with it being as dated as it was at the time.

5. The Book of Mormon.

That seems like a no brainer, so I'm surprised that it took this long for me to think to put it on the list. But I love The Book of Mormon. It has helped me through some really difficult times, being able to sit and read the words of God, his prophets, and his son, Jesus Christ. There was a time when I wasn't reading it as often as I should have and every time I picked it up, it was as if God knew exactly where I was in my reading and knew exactly what I needed to hear from him. I don't know, maybe if I'd kept up my reading, I would have remembered it before sitting down to read and things wouldn't have seemed so bad. Anyway, I receive a tremendous amount of comfort from The Book of Mormon and I know that it is the word of God.

6. Where are the Children and Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

I can't remember when I started reading her books, maybe junior high or high school, but these two are my favorites. My husband thinks she's too predictable, but he has an engineering mind that is programmed to figure out problems. I, the English minor, like to be surprised and actually read mysteries for fun, not to figure the mystery out before everyone else.

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I tried to read this in high school and hated it. I couldn't understand what she was talking about and ended by giving up. When I got it as an assignment in college I was less than thrilled, but the girls in my group were positively in love with the book. I decided that I had to give it another chance. This time I not only understood it, but loved it. I got the jokes, the father's dry humor, the idiocy of the mother, everything!

8. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

I took a Young Adult Literature class and this was the only book I was given by the teacher that I felt had any merit at all. It was also the only one I would have actually classified in the YA category. Most of what he gave us was reading material for a second grader (pre-Harry Potter, second grader). I enjoyed the odd, quirky humor of the book and the "game" I got to play as the reader.

9. The Vanishing Hitchhiker by Jan Harold Brunvand; Speak Bird, Speak Again by Ibrahim Muhawi;and I Heard the Old Fisherman Say by Mullen Patrick.

These are books I read in my folklore class a few years ago. I discovered a love for a subject I didn't even know existed that semester. Folklore and urban legends are now a passion of mine. I did a project the following summer where I went to Texas and collected urban legends in the Hispanic community around Houston.

10. I love to read plays as well. Probably because I was a drama geek in junior high and high school. I've read a lot of Shakespeare, Fahrenheit 451, The Importance of Being Earnest, Medusa, Oedipus, Antigone, A Man for all Seasons, and many, many more.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chow Time!

What is it about kids and food? You'd think that my kids would do nothing but eat, with the metabolism they have. Unfortunately they are never, ever hungry. Unless there's candy in the room, anyway.

Today at lunch I heated up some leftover cabbage rolls. Jeremy started off pretty well. He ate about half of it (I'd only given him half of a small one) and then suddenly decided it would be more fun to walk around the house with greasy fingers. I tried sitting him on my lap and feeding him, but he squirmed so much the turkey-tomato filling flew all over the floor.

Megan wouldn't touch her food at all, even though it was her idea to break out the cabbage rolls when I asked what she wanted for lunch. I gave her the other half of the small cabbage roll I'd given to Jeremy. I could have eaten the thing in two bites, but Megan's minuscule mouth could only handle a molecule of food at a time.

At every meal, Megan eventually gets tired of feeding herself and asks me to feed her. I usually refuse for a while, trying to get her to feed herself as least one or two more bites on her own. After a few more minutes I give in, but insist on "teaching her a lesson" while I help her eat. She started realizing this one day when I shoved a huge mouthful between her nearly separated teeth-- accidentally causing her to gag. Today when she asked me to feed her the rest of the cabbage roll I warned her first, "You know I'm going to shove a huge forkful into your mouth and make you gag, right?" She nodded her consent and so I went ahead. I balanced as much on the fork as I could and as quickly as I could, shoved it into her mouth before she could close it. I was able to get her to finish her food in three bites and she only gagged once, so that was good, I guess. It might have been nice if she'd gagged on each bite so she'd better understand that she needs to feed herself. Maybe one day she'll get the hint.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Balloon Killer

Like most children, my kids love balloons. They are fought over with rapture for the balloon and despise for the other child, one desperately clinging to the "belly button" of the balloon and the other digging fingernails into the round top. Shouts of, "Mine!" are yelled back and forth as the balloon, once egg-shaped, quickly becomes long and thin and starts to look as if I could twist it into a poodle, if I knew how.

This is the point where I take the balloon and hide it in the shower. I close the door to the bathroom and tell the kids that the balloon is in time-out. Then of course, both kids cry desperately for the poor balloon stuck in time-out when it should be playing, having fun, and apparently being made into a poodle.

You'd think that before my son was born balloons wouldn't have been a problem in our home. Obviously, part of that is because Megan was an only child and didn't have anyone to fight with over the balloon. Even though she didn't have anyone to pull the balloon's bellybutton away from her, balloons were not welcome in our house as far as my husband and I were concerned. I can't remember why we were so against them, but they must have offended us some how. It's probably the fact that I can't make a single balloon animal without popping it.

Whenever Megan received a balloon I would let her play with it until nap or bedtime and then I would sneak out of the apartment with the balloon and a pin. In as much secrecy as you can get in the outdoors, I'd slowly insert the pin into the balloon and let all the air out. I never dared to let it actually pop. Afraid of her hearing the loud POP, wake up, and get upset over the loss of her favorite air-filled toy, I always insisted that the balloon lose it's air slowly and quietly.

When I was pregnant with Megan I read in a book that since babies and kids are close to the ground they will find all kinds of things on your carpet and on the ground. You've got to be careful, the book warned, to watch your child and make sure they don't eat anything they find on the floor. Well, what the book didn't say, was since they are so close to the ground they do a lot of looking up. Every time I take my kids anywhere they find balloons floating at the top of the ceiling. You know how Wal-Mart has those super high ceilings in the grocery department? Every time I go grocery shopping there is apparently a new balloon that someone hasn't held a tight enough grip on. "Boon!" Jeremy yells, while looking up so high I can see every booger in his nose. Then Megan looks around frantically as if Jeremy spotting it first means he might get first claim to the balloon floating fifty feet high.

"Where? Where's the balloon?" She quickly finds it and seems to think that if she can point it out, too, then she will have an equal claim to the balloon that is out of reach and out of budget.

Most balloons they find are the shiny, metallic balloons with Disney characters, or are in the shape of birthday cakes, flowers, or hearts. I never received one of those balloons as a kid, and I really don't feel any need to bestow one upon my children. Plus, they cost about $5 a balloon! I can buy a pack of plain balloons that I can blow up myself with my own hot air that won't fly away, or get stuck on the ceiling out of reach, causing me to constantly be reaching up for it or rescuing my children from climbing the bookshelves, oven, bed headboards, and bathtub wall. All this for 99 cents. I always blow up two balloons, sometimes four. This way each child will have their own balloon to play with and there will be no need for a fight. But the number of balloons doesn't matter. A fight is always what comes up because one child doesn't want to share. Once again, that's when the balloons get thrown into the shower for a time-out.

Then when the day is done, I take the balloons outside and quietly as possible, deflate them.

My children do not know that I am a balloon killer. In fact, I've only admitted it once to a very good friend that I knew I could trust to keep my terrible secret. My husband knows, but only because it's difficult to keep such a secret at the end of the day. The guilt of ruining their beloved balloons and the fear of knowing that the following morning the first words out of their mouths will be, "Where are the balloons?" keeps me willing to talk to my husband about my problem.

Maybe one day I'll seek help to overcome my fear of having balloons in the apartment, the fear of the arguments they bring, even when each child has their own balloon, the fear of the kids bouncing on them and popping them, then begging for another one.

One day I'll let my children play with balloons. One day . . . when they are 18, at college, and living on their own.