...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Epitome of Pumpkins

As part of family home evening on Monday this week we carved pumpkins.  They turned out to be "gourd"jus (ha ha ha...goergous, get it?).  These were all pumpkins that grew in our garden and that made things even more fun.  We even made it through the festivities without any broken skin or any trips to the ER (which is more than I can say for some people I know).  What a great night. 
Happy Halloween
to everyone this evening.  We wish you a wonderful (and spooky) night. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


This weekend we got to go to the ward trunk-or-treat activity and we had SO MUCH FUN!!
The kids were all thrilled for the chance to dress up and wander the asphalt begging for candy. 
Tons of people from the neighborhood turn out for this activity, everyone is welcome, and it is fun to see all the kids that might not actually make it to our house on the big day all dressed up and adorable.  I did manage to terrify one little boy.  He was dressed as Prince Charming from Cinderella and was soooo cute that I threatened to kiss him.  He sprinted away as fast as he could (I found out later he told his mom that he thought maybe I was in love with him because he was so handsome...what a sweetheart, I love these kids).
Here's our crew all ready to pillage and plunder in the parking lot.
Ellie: an elephant...Aubrey: Bellatrix Lestrange...Gavin: iron man...Logan: a sheriff...Bryce: a S.W.A.T. team member...and PJ: something army related

Josh and I went for a Mexican themed display this year.  We played Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass over the stereo in the car (that's about the best I have on hand for Spanish music) and we both sported mustaches (I got a little bit chewed out for "cross dressing" but I told the guy that got after me that I have seen plenty of women with mustaches in real life so he said maybe I was ok after all).

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and a great warm up for the big day on Wednesday.  This is such a fun holiday.  I love being able to spend time with my kidlets and see them have adventures.  They really do make my world a much brighter place.
Happy Halloween All!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Look, Ma, no hands!

Ellie has recently picked up the skill of riding her bike with no hands...
for one second at a time...
while ceasing pedaling entirely...
so as to remain as safe as possible.
She is pretty proud of this skill.
She likes to show it off.
It makes me laugh every single time.
Little nutcase.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Making an elephant for Halloween

When it comes to Halloween costumes I want my children to dream big.  This is the time of year and I will indulge their every whim and promise them that I will do everything in my power to make their dress-up dreams comes true. 
So, when Ellie first told me she wanted to be an elephant for Halloween I smiled and went along with it.  Then I got to thinking about how I really have no idea how to make an elephant costume and I can't remember that anyone I know has ever had an elephant costume and I sure don't have money to buy every kid a costume every year (imagine spending $20 times six children year after year for one night of fun...I just don't have that). 
And that is what prompted me to try to talk her into being a princess or a fairy or a vampire or a witch or Shadow the Hedgehog (all costumes that we already have on hand).  I even employed her father (who can usually talk her into anything) to try to talk up these other ideas.
No dice.
This little filly is stubborn (wonder where that little feature came from?...no comments please).
So, I gave up and started to think my way through an elephant costume.  I picked up some wrinkly grey fabric at the store for $1.50/yard (I only needed 2 yards so hooray for budget friendly material).
Then I brought it home and stared at it for about a week.
Until Josh asked me (in so many words) if I was ever going to do anything with that.
That sounded kind of like a dare to me so off I went.
I looked online and HATED every set of instructions on making an elephant costume (they looked even dorkier than the way mine turned out) so I had to wing it.  I started by cutting a hood.  I measured Ellie's head and left a little over an inch seam allowance everywhere just in case. I hemmed the "face" sides since they would not be sewed to anything else (I only gave a 1/2 inch hem, but the 1 inch allowance was still nice.  Then I sewed around the top and back of the head, leaving the face and neck sides open.
Next I created a ruffle for the neck of the hood.  I measured the bottom of the hood (about 15 inches) and cut two 4 inch wide strips of fabric a little more than 30 inches long.  I sewed the two together (be sure to leave a section open so you can turn your ruffle inside out so your stitches are hidden).  Then I sewed a loose, straight line across one end of the ruffle and gathered it until it was 15 inches long and sewed it around the bottom of the hood.  I added a 10 inch piece of fabric as a tie on each side of the hood next to the ruffle.
Then came ears.  Elephant ears.  I just free handed a couple of ears and then free handed a bit of pink to sew on top of the front.  Cut 4 ear bits (front and back for each) and 2 pink bits. 
First, sew the pink onto one of your ear pieces.  Sew your ear pockets together (again be sure to leave an open section so you can turn the stitches inside...also be sure to sew the pink so it starts on the inside so when you turn the ear pillow inside out the pink will end up on the outside).  I stuffed my ears (or rather, the costume ears) with a bit of batting to give them some body and then sewed them onto the sides of the hood.

Next comes the trunk.  I made mine 10 inches at the top and 4 inches at the bottom and just sewed it up the side.  I did sew a circle of pink into the thin end of the nose to add a pop of color.  I attached the finished trunk to one of my hood ties nearest the side of the hood so that when you tie the hood the trunk hangs from under your child's chin (see picture later on for that to make sense).

This is how my hood turned out...no beautiful, but functional.

Here is Bryce helping to sew a bit (he is sewing in jr high right now so it was good to put his growing skills into practice).

Also with the fabric I made a little shirt and skirt so we have a total outfit.  I also tried to make the skirt and shirt things that Ellie could wear some other time...yeah, I'm not sure that really worked out, but it will do for Halloween.  I think we are going to put a bit of wire in the trunk so that it can stand up a little bit.  I'll be honest, this is not my favorite costume I have ever made, but even without my undying devotion to the costume Ellie is thrilled and that was the goal to begin with.

One adorable little Ellie-phant.

 My other project this week has been Aubrey's dress.  She wants to be Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter.  I found this dress/cape at DI for $6 and thought the dress could be great for lots of things so I brought it home.  The dress was a bit long (as it is adult sized and Aubrey isn't adult sized just yet) so I added pick ups that you can see at the bottom of the skirt (that way I don't have to cut off the dress and it will still be usable as she gets taller).  Overall, I think it will be great for our needs (and can be used over and over for many years to come).
Oh, the creative fun of Halloween.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Party time, Halloween style

G had a birthday.
He actually had it a bunch of weeks ago.
But we never let a little bit of lateness stop us from having a good time.
Since we had a crazy busy chunk of time around his birthday, we opted to hold out for the fun of a Halloween party.  So here goes.
We invited friends over during UEA weekend.  This made it incredibly convenient for me because I had Josh home to help, but not to convenient for other families so we had an intimate group of friends that came to party together.  We still had a good time.
We spruced up the living room a little bit (but not too much because our kids love ripping down decorations so we tend to not overdo it so as to cut down on mess later).
We started with Halloween bingo, which is always fun.
Then we moved on to the good stuff.
We divided the kids into teams (which included several of our other children as well...thankfully we have a ready made group of party goers here at our house just about any time).  Then we gave each team a plateful of bloody fingers and a long pinchy/grabby tool from All-a-Dollar.  The kids had to run across the yard, pinchy-grab a finger and then run it back to the bowl on the other end of the yard.  It was loads of bloody fun.  The kids loved it (and it let them be outside and active which is always a plus).

Next, we went inside and had a donut eating costume.  We intended to hand our donuts from a string tied to a board balanced on our two ladders until we realized one ladder was not at home (it is at Josh's parent's house helping to install a roof) so we had to improvise (that's cause I didn't realize the problem until about an hour before the party).
No worries.  Kids love eating donuts off plates without using their hands just as much as they love eating them off strings with no hand.

Ellie and Logan definitely wanted in on the donut eating action.

We read a couple of Halloween stories, played a charades/answer silly questions game that I made lots of years ago ("a witch cast a spell on you so act like a monkey." "time for charades -- act out Dracula,"  "cast a spell on someone using lots of magic words" etc), and created our very own mummies with rolls of toilet paper.  This mummy activity is always a hit.

Even if it wasn't really his birthday anymore, Gavin had a great day and we will stamp our "success" seal on this party.  It was loads of spooky fun.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spooky Kicks In

This week it seems that the Halloween spirit has really settled into our house.  The kids are winding down their "I want to be" dreams and deciding what they will dress as for the big day.  That means I am now in "quick, make cool costume" mode so we'll see how things come together this next couple of weeks.
The other day I pulled out some wooden masks that I found at the craft store early in October and we spent the afternoon painting.  The kids love any kind of project and I love to see their creative juices flowing so moments like this are beautiful if you ask me.

Our finished products were ultra-colorful and semi-spooky and it was great!

Also, yesterday we took our annual trip to Gardner Village to see the witch displays (or to visit the witch's house as Ellie described it).
I love this outing...and it's free (unless you stop at the bakery for a cookie which we usually do...you can even do a fun scavenger hunt as you wander the displays and get a discount on a chocolate chip cookie if you take the completed form to the bakery with you).
We'll just give you a little taste of the fun we had (and that you could have) on a Gardner Village excursion.
Six little monsters

chillin with mom

tumbling onto dad
 Gavin had photos on the brain this trip and was constantly calling, "Dad, take a picture of me" as we wandered the pathways.  Here is a sampling of his...lets call it unique...style.

Pretty normal

Yup, that's my boy

No worries, everyone came out of this kiss unscathed
 We have a favorite Halloween story book called "Big Pumpkin" (the audio version is particularly fabulous...listen to a bit of it here and then you'll know just how to read it to your little sprites).  This picture is a re-enactment of my little ones trying to lift the gigantic pumpkin (they even kicked it like in the story).

We are loving this season.  There is just so much spooky fun to be had.  We are definitely wound into the web of Halloween...and we aren't even sad about it.  Hope you are having a great season too!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guess who came to my house?

The other night there was a knock at the door.
It was dark outside and we were all huddled in the basement watching a "scary" movie (one of my all time favorites, "The Haunting" the 1963 version...it was pretty terrifying for my three oldest kidlets).
When we opened the door, this is the face that greeted us.

And it was love at first sight.
We happily brought him in and have had him hanging around ever since.  I would love to display him on my front porch, but sadly I have had many a large gourd disappear from the steps and I don't want him to meet the same fate (we often find them splattered on the road in front of our house).
We call him Franken-Zucchini (even though he is parading around as a witch).
Maybe we'll add a scar to his cheek to make the name a little  more appropriate.
Anyway, we adore him and we're glad he came to play.
And if you happen to know where he came from, please let his creators know that we are grateful and he is a welcome addition to our home (until the day we decide to eat him, then he will be a welcome addition to our bellies!).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Watching DeMoux's Grow

There is a spot on the wall in our basement where the kids like to measure how tall they are and mark it with a pen.  I haven't always loved this (that's the type A uber tidy side of me speaking).  The other day while cleaning smears off basement walls (sigh) I accidentally wiped off several of our measured marks which had been done in pencil (no one told me we were using pencil for this).  I felt bad that someone's growth had been erased so I decided to fix the problem and make it so my wall wouldn't continue to be molested by growing children as well.
I trundled over the Lowes and bought a cheap pine board, brought it home, and made a growth chart.
It looks like this...
(I originally painted it red and then I remembered, "Oh yea, I dont' like red very much."  So then I painted it blue and now I like it better.)
Josh anchored it to the wall for me (no, really, so that my mess of children can't easily rip it from its place because they have a tendency to do things like that and them come to me blaming each other for it...sigh again).
When they got home from school, I measured each little sprite and wrote down their name and date on our new chart.  They were pretty excited to also be able to see the number affiliated with their tallness (who knew that bit would be a hit).
Pretend like I hadn't just touched up a couple of spots with paint, now that those bits have dried it all looks the same instead of all splotchy and weird like in this picture.
It was a fun little project, pretty easy to throw together and I think it will be really fun for the kids as they grow.  We had a spot in my house growing up where my mom let us measure our growth all over the wall and it was always a hit.  Our friends and acquantances all lined up to jot down their height and it is still there today.  Even when redoing the room my mom refused to let anyone paint over those marks.  That's sort of what I'm aiming for here.  I think it will be fun to keep a running tally of the kids growth.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Some flashbacks are fabulous.  It's great to remember a magical moment or a funny situation or things like that.  But, some are not like that at all.

Monday night I had a Crohn's flashback and I think in the future I'd rather not.

Me momming it up in the canyon, yup
that's my "Why are you doing that when
I just asked you not to" look.
I was sitting in the car at the Salt Lake International Airport park and wait when said flashback attacked.  Since starting bi-monthly Humira injections I haven't had severe Crohn's symptoms AT ALL.  My gut occasionally twinges and I still have sore joints part of the time and some other minor symptoms, but nothing very serious. 

Well, Monday night my intestines started lurching and aching severely and there was not a thing I could do about it.  Normally I run for a hot bath which tends to relax the muscles and calm things a bit, but sadly there is no bathing area available in the park and wait lot (and if there were I'm not sure anyone would appreciate my using it anyway). 

So, I tried to look happy as I picked up my friends and carted them home (I didn't really want to spend the drive discussing my aching gut).  Once they were safely deposited at their place I zipped back to my place, promptly threw up and then soaked in hot water for a bit (which, honestly, did not help nearly as much as I had hoped). 

Then I needed football.  Hooray for Monday night.  I do love football. 

I settled into the crook of the couch with a heating pad stationed on my middle and watched the Texans run over the Jets (don't have a preference with these teams, but it was a fun game).  What a great way to take my mind off most anything else.  Bryce tried to cuddle in to me on the couch and that was a bit uncomfortable, but you don't tell a jr high schooler to unsnuggle you because those snuggles don't happen very often.

Then I went to bed.

I know that God loves me because he held off this horrible evening until a time when Josh was home so I wouldn't have to try to face being the only available parent while nursing my sore abdomen.

This morning I am still walking more carefully than normal so as not to overstretch my sore muscles, but I think my insides are a bit better so that's something.

I'm sure this seems like a bit of a rant.  I don't write this stuff for pity or to whine.  I really don't.  I don't feel bad for myself because I have been given a piggybacking autoimmune disease.  After all, everybody has something in one way or another and lets be honest, this is nothing compared to what many of you are called to face. 

However, I know there are others out there suffering, many who are newly diagnosed and I remember how lost I felt at times because I didn't know what to expect or what to do or whatever. 

Me and my favorite cheerleader
(I think he'd look pretty cute in the tiny little skirt)
If that's you, I want you to know that this disease is not easy.  It does take its toll and that isn't fun.  But there is so much beautiful life ahead of you even after this diagnosis.  There will be setbacks, and sometimes they will suck (I know kids, we don't say that, bad example Mom over here).  There will probably be some trial and error to find a treatment that works best for you.  Sometimes the medications bring their own shadows into your life, but given some time your doctors will likely be able to lead you into a much calmer piece of life than you felt when you were diagnosed.

It won't be perfect every moment, but most often life will be amazing.  Most often there will be smiles and laughter and good books and tasty food and inspiring ideas and hugs and bike rides and incredible moments and if you choose to see that instead then this minor little intestinal disorder (or whatever you are facing) will barely be a blip on the radar of life. 

I'm a firm believer in telling it like it is. Motherhood is not always warm and fabulous, there are some really ugly moments on both sides of the adult/child continuum.  Chronic illness is no different. There are some severely foul bits, but they simply cannot cover up the warm glow of life unless you let them.

There will be days when your disease decides to remind you that it will never be gone, and those will likely not be pleasant or convenient.  But lets look at the big picture and remember that there is so much to be thankful for and so many blessings that overshadow any nastiness a malady can throw at you (whether it is Crohn's Disease or some other variety).

Anyway, chalk one point up for my disease because it definitely beat me last night.  But last night is gone and today I will win.  Today is a beautiful day.

Monday, October 8, 2012

See you 'mater'

So, I always plant a couple of tomato plants in the garden in the spring.  I am pretty much the only person that eats tomatoes (although Ellie decided she has a hankering for cherry tomatoes this year) so I usually plant one full size tomato and one cherry tomato plant in the yard and since I LOOOOVE tomatoes I pretty much keep up with whatever the two plants produce.
But not this year!
This year our tomato plants went wild and took over a HUGE section of the garden.  They did NOT stay contained in their sturdy tomato cages...they burst out all over the place and wound their tendrils around every other plant in the garden. 

Also this year, we had a bonus volunteer plant show up midway through summer.  I don't normally plant vegetables in the window wells, but this guy thought it would be a great place to grow.  So he did.

Anyway, the point is we've had tomatoes coming out our ears.  I would (no kidding) get a bowl like this of cherry tomatoes every three or four days.  And while I can eat them like candy there comes a point when MORE tomatoes is no longer enticing.  So, we've taken them to neighbors all over the neighborhood to share our bounty.

And since I can't eat this many tomatoes I decided (after some bullying from my mother) to grind them down and can some tomato sauce.  If you have a plethora of bonus tomatoes you may want to try this little project too, so here's how it's done.
First, gather some tomatoes (duh).

Next, plop them in boiling water for about a minute. 
Then plunge them into an ice bath.  The combination of these two gets them ready to can and also helps their skins peel off easily (and you want their skins off because the skins get crusty and gross in the cans if you leave them on).
Next you need to cut the tomatoes in fourths and rinse out the seeds (as much as you can, they don't have to be perfect). 
After that deposit the gloppy mess of tomato guts into a large pot and set them on the stove to simmer for about an hour.  This boils away some of the bonus water and will leave you with a thicker sauce (and it makes your house smell AwEsOmE!!).
Finally, pour your sauce into canning jars.  You will also want to add about two tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart.  This increases the acidity (as tomatoes aren't quite acidy (??) enough to toe the line alone) and greatly increases the odds that your tomatoes will not go rank while sitting in your pantry waiting to be consumed.
Now twist on new lids and boil them (the whole jar, not just the lids) in a canning pot (make sure your water fills about an inch above the top of your bottle) for 40 -45 minutes.  Let them rest on a towel upside down as they cool for a while. If the lid refuses to pop when you push the center then you are good.  If it decides to pop up and down even after you've boiled it you can either try again or shove that jar into the fridge and use it in the next few days. 

(That bowl full of tomatoes -- about 10 lbs -- made just about 3 quarts of tomato sauce.)

So, there you go.  As frost wanders its way into Utah don't let your tomatoes shiver to death, bring them in and with a bit of work you can enjoy fresh and delicious tomatoes all winter long (or as long as they last before you eat them all).

Friday, October 5, 2012

I remember this story

Yesterday, I read a book called "Waiting" by Carol Lynch Williams. 

It was a unique and melancholy read.  I have to write a review for it for the newspaper and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to say about it yet.  My heart is still a little bit raw.

This book has a very distinctive format which makes it a very quick read and gives it a choppy, halting feel...

Which is appropriate given the topic, which is a girl dealing with the suicide death of her brother. 

And I remember this story.  I remember it from my life.

I didn't have a brother who died, but one of my best friends in high school did.  Her younger brother, Sean, through a series of sad events, accidentally killed himself.  It was horrific and terrible. 

I have seen first hand the darkness that pain that squelches a family when something like this happens.  It tore them savagely from the inside out.  There are no words to tell someone who hasn't seen it how palpable the despair is.  I know that even though I watched from the front of the sidelines, I don't really understand the pain either because some things you can't fully comprehend without having gone through them.  Honestly, these are feelings I am grateful that I don't know.

To a large degree I lost my friend.  I lost her because I couldn't reach her anymore.  There was a chasm between us that I didn't know how to get over and neither did she.  We were trapped.

I tried to help, but I couldn't go where she was.  I didn't want to abandon her to face this alone, but she wasn't in a place to let me in.  I was sad that I couldn't be there for her.  I felt so so helpless and out of place, but that is nothing to what she was feeling and I always wished I could have been the kind of friend to help her when she really needed help.  I don't know what I should have done, but I wish I had done it.  I loved her, I still love her.  I wanted to walk by her side and hold her hand, but that just didn't work and so after a while I left her to ache all alone.  She pulled in and closed off and I didn't know what to do.  I guess I wasn't much of a friend after all.

Like the characters in this book, no one knew how to talk to her or what to say -- so many people just said nothing and I'm sure that made things worse. Also like the characters in this book, a boy who really cared about her (he lived next door to her) really helped to pull her through.  He was an angel who drove fast cars on the salt flats. 

Reading this book and being pulled back into those memories was like walking a road with an old friend, one that you loved, but didn't necessarily miss once it was gone.  It reminded me of things that were bittersweet to remember. 

My heart aches for anyone who has been touched by this kind of tragedy.  There are just no words to soothe something so heartrending.  "I'm sorry."  "I miss him."  "What can I do?"  They are hollow, even when they are full of concern and care.  Sometimes even the most loving cup of kindness has holes punched in the bottom.

Those are the times when there is no answer but the Savior.  His love and mercy can heal ALL wounds.  His atonement for us is deeper than the deepest sorrow.  That doesn't mean there is no suffering, but it does mean that He will help us through no matter the situation if we will trust Him.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind today.  It isn't particularly pleasant, but sometimes beautiful things have a tang of bitterness to them.  For me, this book was powerful.  It touched a place in my heart that hasn't been open for many many years. And it was good to remember.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Decked out and fully decorated

This week we broke out the Halloween stuff to decorate our house. 
It was a lot of fun.  The kids always have fun decking the house in decorations and I LOVE to watch them ponder over the placement of every item.
This year we added a decoration.  I knew we were going to dress the house up and while the kids were at school I grabbed some left over pieces of 2x4 from our shed and made this little beauty (found on Pinterest...thank you crafty people for setting the example).  I think he turned out really cute and the kids got to help me finish him up when they got home so we had fun getting him ready to grace the front porch (where he is currently stationed).
This little guy is made entirely of painted bits of 2x4 in varying lengths.  He was very simple to put together but turned
out pretty adorable if you ask me.

So, we pulled the Halloween/Fall tubs down and amongst them we found our stash of costumes.  That made for a fun filled afternoon all on its own.
Bryce as Link.

G as Iron Man

We also discovered my horde of spooky books which made for some great entertainment that afternoon. 
(That's exactly why I keep holiday themed books put away all year...I like that they are fun and different and that because we haven't read them all year they are new and exciting.)

Little tykes reading Halloween stories.

We could not get Logan to give up this cowboy hat all day.  We did, however, get him to put his shirt back on.  Silly zombie cowboy!

Sexy five year old zombie cowboy.

PJ sporting spooky stuff.

That's my beautiful girl!

What a fun holiday...and what a fun afternoon.
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