Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Golf, golf and (gag!) more golf

I asked Bug what I should write today’s blog entry about. He said, “golf.” Which didn’t really surprise me. Bug eats, drinks and pees golf. In fact, just a few minutes ago he was sitting on the couch holding his Big Bertha driver and said, “Mom, would you tell me if you can see this flex at all.”

He shook the driver back and forth rapidly. I laughed, but could not detect any flex at that speed.

It was just another of those moments when I try to act interested in golf. The problem is that I’m interested in helping my kids reach their dreams, but Bug’s love for golf exceeds my attention span.

He loves to give step-by-step replays of his best holes: the 45 foot putt he made that broke twice, his first birdie on hole 13’s par 3, 118 yard hole that he used his pitching wedge on. He goes on and on. Until my eyes glaze over.

Bug plays an average of 72 holes of golf a week, reads golf magazines cover to cover, compares golf balls (he likes the Titleist Pro V1 and Callaway HX Hot Bite) and watches all sorts of golf stuff on YouTube. Of all the clips he’s had me watch, the commercials for Titleist’s golf balls are my favorite. (Watch this one. This is another that makes me smile. He's also had me watch this.)

Bug also likes to putt indoors. If his shots hit the upside-down mug he’s aiming for, it’s as if it went into the hole. He also likes to practice his swing inside. But he’s not supposed to. In fact, I don’t really like it when he has more than a putter inside.

Bug’s big goal is to make the high school golf team this year. (He’ll be a freshman.) Tryouts are on August 11th. He told me today that he’s going to try to play 18 holes of golf everyday next week using all the equipment he’s planning to take to the tryouts. He’ll approach each day’s play as if he were trying out for the golf team. I hope it helps.

Whatever the outcome, I’m getting used to the idea that golf paraphernalia will liter my house for many years to come.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Little Motherly Advice

To Beans, my 9-year-old daughter:

“I’m afraid you’re just going to have to memorize the 12 times tables. There’s not a little trick to figuring them out. I’ll help you with the flashcards.”

To Bug, my 14-year-old son:

“You can’t control anyone else’s behavior, just your own. If Loula Belle doesn’t want to hear about your golf game, you just need to say, ‘Okay.’ And walk away. Saying, ‘Of course you don’t. You never want to talk with me,’ won’t make her more likely to listen the next time. If you want to get along better with her, you just have to focus on what you can control, and NOT talk about her behavior. That’s my job. ”

To Loula Belle, my 12-year-old daughter:

“I’ve been watching, and I’ve noticed that when you’re around your friends or cousins, you’re a lot nicer; more cheerful and talkative. But when you’re just around our family, you’re actually quite snobbish. You know what ‘snobbish’ means, right? Well, it’s not okay to treat us like you’re better than us. The fastest way to improve behavior is to change your . . . (Lou says, ‘attitude.’) That’s right. You need to stop thinking of your family members as annoying and start thinking about the qualities that make them unique; what kinds of nice things they do for you. Then you’ll automatically start treating us nicer. Oh, and by the way, I’ll be watching over the next couple of days, and if I don’t see an improvement, you’ll be grounded from hanging out with friends.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thoughts on Maintaining a Positive Body Image

Dove has a commercial that addresses female body image through a young girl being bombarded with TV commercials, billboards and magazines featuring stick-thin models. Then it shows her attending a feel-good Dove seminar with her mother where she states, "I am beautiful." Or something close to that.

For me, this is the most sobering commercial on television. Mainly because it hits close to home. One morning while waiting for her ride to school my nine-year-old had her foot up on the window seat cushion and was pushing the relaxed muscle of her calf. She said, "Look at all this fat." I showed her that it wasn't fat, just relaxed muscle tissue, but she didn't look like she believed me.

That wasn't the first time I've heard my youngest express the belief that she thinks she's fat. But what really worries me is, she's not overweight at all. Not by any stretch of the imagination. What's a mother to do?

I'd like to think that I'm very proactive in combatting unhealthy body image beliefs in my children. In all my weight loss efforts I've tried to talk about my goals as a means to improved health -- not a means to get skinny. There are no forbidden foods at our house. I've discussed the diseases of anorexia and bulimia with my kids too -- even pointed out a family member who has struggled with bulimia. We've discussed how people are built differently and how body shape is not just an outcome of how much you eat. I hope that it's all sinking in.

Despite all I know about keeping a positive body image, I have body image struggles of my own. Here are some things that I do to maintain my grasp on reality and find contentment in my own skin:

Chat with my mom. She's a woman who is large and in charge! We talk about overweight ancestors and laugh about what we can't change. I always come away feeling proud to be her daughter, no matter what my size.

Repeat the mantra, "Not everyone is a giraffe." God loves variety. How disappointed He'd be if a polar bear sighed all the time thinking, "Oh, if I could only have long thin legs like a giraffe." I can't be just like someone else. I'm me, and I'm one of God's precious creations.

Avoid magazines and shows that focus on style/celebrities/superficiality. Really, they're tools of the adversary. He loves it when we focus completely on our physical self to the exclusion of our emotional health and spirituality.

Make a point of acknowledging physical traits I like about myself. My nose. My haircolor. A wonderful spleen.

Put on a LARGE pair of earrings and a smile. No one will even notice my hips.

Go out in public as myself. Sans makeup, pre-shower. Hold my head up and cheerfully greet people who recognize me. I tell myself that they're going to feel so good about themselves in comparison to me. I am making their day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thoughts on patience

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep I was thinking about my goal of developing patience. Whenever I think about patience, the scriptural example that most often comes to mind is Job. Dear Job. Here was a guy who had everything, lost everything and through it all kept faith in the Lord. Job never shook his fist and asked God, “Why me?” Instead, he exercised faith and supreme patience.

I’m not sure of the chronology, but along with thinking about Job, I was also thinking about the phrase, “What would Jesus Do? (W.W.J.D.)” I’ve always been rather intimidated by that phrase. You could say I don’t really like it. I mean, Jesus is God’s Only Begotten Son. Of course He would behave perfectly – He is, after all, PERFECT. And I’m not.

But as I was thinking about Job, I realized that I could relate to him. Unlike Jesus, Job was 100% human. Hmmmm. What would Job do? (W.W.j.D.) Yeah, I could ask myself that when a situation requiring patience arises.

Could I use that same phrase and apply it to other patient people I know? And who are the patient people in my life? What contemporary can I look to as an example of patience? I think my Grandma Austin fits the bill. What would Glenna do? I like the sound of that.

Who do you look to as an example of patience? What have they done to show patience? I’d be interested in your response.

Oh, and don’t worry about me. I am trying to follow the example of Jesus. It’s just that I’ve seen the phrase W.W.J.D. used too often as a guilt-inducer instead of as a positive and empowering tool. I’m trying to change my attitude and outlook on W.W.J.D. Pretty soon I’ll be using the phrase as it was originally intended.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Our Garden Grows

Sometime in May
Late June
This is my weed specialist using a wheel hoe. Thanks, son!
Taken this morning afer a thunderstorm moved through.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Google’s #1 Overweight Housewife

I have a nifty little counter on my blog from I can log in at their website and see how many people have visited my site and what search terms brought them there. (Among many other fun statistics.)

I’ve had people click on Belly Acre Farm looking for “FLDS Swimwear” and “how to get on well with nagging mothers.” No joke. Today when I logged in at StatCounter I saw that someone from Milford, Connecticut googled the term “overweight housewife” and landed on my blog for less than a second. (Apparently my entry, “Overweight Housewife on Wheels” was not quite what they wanted.)

Not only can I tell what search terms brought someone to my site, but I can also click on their search and see where my blog came up in their google search. So get this . . . if you go to and enter overweight housewife, my blog is the first entry to come up.

I don’t know whether to be ashamed or proud.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why I Won't Be Seeing Dark Knight

I was reading Science Teacher Mommy's blog this morning. She writes about her reaction to seeing the latest Batman movie, Dark Knight. What follows are my comments to her post.

I loved the last Batman movie, but even before Heath Ledger's death I was contemplating skipping this one. When I heard the shocking news of Ledger's overdose, I knew I'd never see this film. Some have said that Heath's immersion in the role of Joker unsettled him, may have contributed to the medications he was taking. I feel like if I were to attend this Batman film, I'd somehow be an accomplice to his tragic death.

If we demand movies that are so dark that actors playing in them must seek psychiatric help, what does that say about our society? There is enough darkness and evil in the real world. I'm not going to watch it as entertainment.

Friday, July 18, 2008

200 Things (from ScienceTeacherMommy's blog)

(Things I've done indicated in bold lettering.)

1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby’s diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said “I love you” and meant it (all the time)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Tokyo
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a professional sports game
17. Been to the top of the Sears Tower
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (spewed red punch out my nose on my very first date)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath or shower (girl's camp)
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31. Hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun (Drive my kids nuts with this one. But their friends are entertained.)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight (I can't do a single chin-up.)
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files (And DVD collections too.)
48. Ever worn a superhero costume (Nope. Unless Super Clown counts.)
49. Sung karaoke (Whip it good!)
50. Lounged around in bed all day
51. Gone snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don’t
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Sung on a CD
60. Gone without sugar for more than a week
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason (Thanks, Safety Man.)
64. Been in a combat zone (Does laser-tag count?)
65. Spoken more than one language fluently (I'm counting Pig Latin.)
66. Gotten into a fist fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check
68. Read and understood your credit report (Had it fixed.)
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors accomplished.
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Seen the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money (A gift card to Dan's in Bountiful, UT)
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Ridden in any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph (210 kph in Japan -- 120 mph)
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover (Close, but not quite.)
86. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name (Was Eileen Dover)
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad (just parts)
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch html code -- and created a website once upon a time.
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
99. Had to see someone you love in hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair (I'm not counting highlights.)
103. Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse (Grew up with horses.)
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap (A slug from a bar of soap. Not hard.)
112. Cooked a dish where four people asked for the recipe (Cookie Salad)
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play on Broadway
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird (Won't do it again unless I'm starving.)
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book (Someday!)
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place (Once I get #127 accomplished, everywhere I've lived could be historic.)
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise (How about it honey?)
132. Made a hole-in-one
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something (The word "spaddle" -- a mix of spank and paddle.)
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking (Wish Logan Cave were still accessible.)
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love-story (But I'm living one.)
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter (I saw Rick Schroder at LDS Gen. Conference. I swear it was him.)
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a dog of your own
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle (Not well.)
153. Been a boss (Hello! I'm the mom.)
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning (I've been building an intolerance to solmenella for 30 some years -- through raw cookie dough consumption.)
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous (From the person in #148 -- just a form letter with signed photo.)
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life (They'd attempted suicide. Sad story.)
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to sew
178. Laughed till your side hurt (And tears streamed down my face.)
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog (DUH...)
190. Had chicken pox
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation (but I can made DVD photo movies.)
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube (My son is a PRO!)
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Received a professional massage (Best Christmas present of 2007)

Take a Cheap Family Staycation!

The other morning I was glancing through the Wall Street Journal and read an article on how staycations are catching on across the nation. The article was geared for wealthy executives and didn't really address the needs of frugal families. To remedy that, I'm providing my best ideas on how to take a cheap family staycation.

(Note: I'm doing this on the fly. No research. Tightwad brainstorming at its finest!)

First of all, choose your destination. Where have you always wanted to take your family? This is the time to dream BIG because you won’t really be going there. A really good staycation is a journey you take in your mind. What about Mexico? Yeah, that sounds about right. (You can adapt the ideas here to work for any destination.)

Approach your staycation as if you were really going to Mexico. Create a budget, set a date, put it on the calendar, and schedule time off from work. Taking time off from work for a staycation is kind of like calling in sick to stay home and goof off. But it won’t end up in your personnel file.

Next, check out language CDs from your library. Buy a Spanish/English dictionary. Make labels in Spanish for everyday items around your house so that your children can learn some vocabulary. Look for books and DVDs at the library that will give you and your kids insight into Mexican culture and history. If you have teenagers who have taken Spanish in school, consider making one night a week Spanish speaking only. (You won’t need a translator when they sigh and roll their eyes.)

As any mother will tell you, family vacations are a lot of work. Staycations are no exception. To make your experience as authentic as possible, consider creating individual passports for family members complete with photos. (Note: Real passports are expensive. Adult passports are $100 and are good for 10 years. Children's passports cost $85.00 and are only good for five years.)

Prepare to write to family and friends about your trip to Mexico by creating your own Mexican postcards on cardstock from on-line photos. During your trip have everyone write a line or two to Grandpa and Grandma. Grandparents love getting letters from their grandkids. And when they see the lengths you’ve gone to save money by staying home for your family vacation, they might feel sorry for your kids. They may even send a reply letter with some cold, hard cash.

Staycations are cheaper than a regular vacation, but they still cost money. If you're trying to make your family trip as authentic as possible, consider investing in maid service. You can justify it as a means to reproduce the effect of staying in a hotel. (You’re doing the planning. You might as well enjoy a few perks!) Other ways to simulate a hotel stay include:

Place glassware by the bathroom sinks with paper covers. (Cupcake liners serve as easy covers.)

Fold the toilet paper end into a point each morning.

Call room service. (Pay a friend of neighbor to perform this job.)

Learn how to turn towels into animals. (Check out this video.)

If you’re heading to Mexico, stock up on bottled water. During your staycation don’t drink tap water. You might also want to arrange for taxi service during your trip. The best way to get an authentic experience is to hire a recently licensed teenager. Have your kids practice asking, “Are we there yet?”

During your staycation be sure to visit all the Mexican restaurants in your community. Try to give your order in Spanish. Insist that everyone in your family learn how to say, “Please pass the salsa” in Spanish. When the waiter comes with the check, have everyone say, “Muchas gracias!” in unison. If there aren’t restaurants in your area open for breakfast, make scrambled eggs garnished with salsa and cilantro at home. (They’re called wayvose rancheros. But I forgot how to spell “wayvose.”)

Many destinations in Mexico are known for great snorkeling. Get some snorkel gear and explore the bodies of water in your area. Snorkel in an irrigation ditch. Try the local lakes. Your neighbor’s backyard koi pond might also prove to be an interesting excursion. Stay away from square lakes. They’re sewage lagoons. They are off limits to snorkelers.

You can’t come home from a Mexican vacation without a tan. Don’t lay out in the sun without sunscreen! Instead, invest in sun-less tanning products. My favorite is Loreal’s Sublime mist. Unlike many of the lotions that I’ve tried, the spray mist from this products doesn’t leave me streaky. I know from experience that pre-teen girls also like this product. Just advise your kids that it’s not meant to be applied so heavy that it runs down their legs. If that should happen, my daughter Lou has learned that a pumice stone will rub the runs right off.

Look for a Latin grocery store in your city. Buy a pre-made piƱata and fill it with Latin candies and treats. If your area doesn’t have a grocery store that caters to the Hispanic population, most large chain grocery stores have sections that will have similar products. Go out on a limb and try something new. Let each of your children select something to buy and try back at the hotel, uh . . . I mean home. Have a family fiesta.

When your family staycation is over, don’t wait too long before planning next year’s staycation. This time make it a couple staycation. That’s when you send the kids off to their grandparents’ house and you and your spouse stay home alone for a week.

Who says saving money can’t be fun?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Could I write a book on patience?

I'm always coming up with book ideas. My latest is one I'd like to pitch to the Deseret Book Publishing folks -- "Give me strength: A mother's journey toward gaining patience."

I'm thinking about writing a book on patience because it looks like I'll never be able to write one about weight loss. Yes, I've lost weight, but it keeps coming back. Which gives me more opportunities to practice patience.

Should Deseret Book decide to publish my patience memoir, my family members will faint. I'm gaining patience, but I'm not 100% there yet. (Beans says I'm patient 50% of the time. On a good day I bet I hit 65%.)

Oooh, I just had a "what if" moment. What if patience were a physical characteristic? What if others could tell is you were patient just by looking at you? How much harder would I work on gaining patience? And what would a patient person look like?

Prior to my own experiment with gaining patience I thought that patient people were born that way -- like mothers who have over six children. They always seem to be so patient. I told myself that they came that way -- patient. Now I know better. No one comes 100% patient. We all come as babies, and babies are not known for their patience. Granted, some individuals have calmer dispositions than others, but everyone chooses whether they'll be patient or not.

What do you think about patience? Is it a realistic aspiration? What percent patient are you? What are physical characteristics of patient people? (Serene facial expression, low heart rate, low blood cortisol which leads to better health?) What are physical characteristics of impatient people? (High blood pressure, angry expressions, snappy, high stress and high cortisol levels?)

What's your best tip for being patient?

I'm off to pick, clean and cook beets from the garden. Hubby and I will eat them. The others will complain. I'll smile and think, "Patience, patience."

Friday, July 11, 2008


I just got finished with a little morning bliss – working with my dog, Annie. There’s something about having a dog that gives me a lift, makes me happy and in a way, completes me.

I grew up in a family that always had a dog. Always. My dad used them for hunting, but we also got to play with them. The first dog I can remember, Cleo, was a German Shorthair. We used to dress her up in farm boots, put baseball caps on her head. No exploring trip was complete without Cleo by our side. I can even remember one summer afternoon when my younger brother fell asleep on the front porch with his arm around Cleo, using her as his pillow. She woke up, but never moved until he was awake. She was quite a dog!

Duke (the first) was another memorable dog. He was the first German Wirehair Pointer that my dad owned. Boy was he scruffy! Ugly but loveable, that’s how I’d describe him. When released from the kennel, Duke would run straight at the nearest kid. At the very last possible moment he would turn aside and just miss us by a whisker! I loved the game, but my younger brother made a miscalculation one day and moved in the direction that Duke also happened to choose. Andy ended up on the ground with a bloody nose. From my perspective as a kid, the very best trick Duke performed was what we referred to as Jumping Barrels. One kid would lie down on the grass and Duke would run at them and jump over them. He’d wait while we added another kid and them jump over the pair. This waiting and adding kids continued until we had a whole passel of kids lying down, face up, on the lawn. He could clear us every time! If I remember correctly, his record was nine kids. We never found out if he could jump over more. We never seemed to have more than nine kids in our backyard at one time.

But back to my own dog. Annie loves to play. Probably because she’s still a puppy. (She’s 16 months old.) She catches tennis balls in her mouth, catches Frisbees on the fly, plays tug with her rope toy (by herself if I’m busy in the yard), runs with me when I’m on my bike, sits, stays, fetches and comes. Last night Hubby and the kids were picking strawberries. She’d be right in there picking her own berries if we let her, but we don’t. Instead she had to stay up with me on the patio. When the kids found berries that were overripe or bird/bug eaten, they’d toss them to Annie. She loves them! Mostly she caught them in her mouth. She made some really amazing catches.

Thanks to a little technology, I’ve been enjoying my dog more than ever. I finally broke down and bought a shock training collar. Best money I’ve spent on the dog so far. Prior to the shock collar if we were out in the yard with Annie off the leash, she’d just up and run off to visit the neighbors’ chickens or dog whenever she wanted. No amount of “Come!” or “NO!” would bring her back. It was highly frustrating! Mostly we’d put her on a long leash when we were out in the yard with her so that when she’d start to make a run for it we could step on the leash and stop her. Problem was, the leash was dangerous. If you weren’t careful it would wrap around your ankles. (I got the worst rope burn of my life from the long leash.)

Thankfully, the shock collar has solved all of Annie’s obedience problems. It comes equipped with a beep and a shock button. It also has a dial to let me adjust the amount of shock. I couldn’t feel anything on my hand until I got to level three. Level four was a mild shock, and level five was a high as I wanted to experiment on myself. When I first tried it on Annie she didn’t register any sensation until level five, so that was the training level I started on. When she’d start to misbehave I’d give the training command followed by the beep. If she didn’t comply, she’d get a shock. The first couple of days she got shocked quite a few times, but by the third day all I had to do was sound the beeper on her collar and she’d obey. And now that I’ve had the collar a week, she rarely even gets the beep. She’s now the dog of my dreams!

Speaking of dream dogs, our family was watching the Great American Dog contest on TV last night. Of course now that Annie is more obedient I think she has contender possibilities. To prove it I tried teaching her some new tricks this morning. First we worked on Play Dead. Because she already knows Lie Down and Roll Over, Play Dead wasn’t too hard. I’m also giving her a hand command – my hand held like a finger gun. That way when she’s fully mastered Play Dead I can use my hand signal, say “Bang, bang,” and have her die. Cool, huh?

Next I taught Annie how to jump over a broomstick. It was a little more challenging but with more practice she’ll master it. And who knows, once she can jump over a stick maybe we can line some kids up on the grass and have her Jump Barrels like Duke used to.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lots of Lists!

Summer is rushing by. I really don’t have time to be blogging. I’m consumed by lists. The following are a few that I need to attend to.

This week’s shopping list:
Cover Girl mascara in orange bottle
Chicago cutlery paring knives
Gallon freezer bags
MCP pectin
Canning jar lids
Slip for Beans
Spread margarine
Flour tortillas
Food for extended family camp-out

Today’s to-do list:
Take Lou to get her braces on
Coach softball practice
Set date for PTA planning meeting for student council moms
Call the student council moms
Register Beans for ice skating lessons
Send out e-mail for family Olympics
Prepare for activity days (it’s tomorrow)
Pick up t-shirt catalogs for student council moms to decide on
Plan piano pieces for the girls summer lessons that haven’t happened yet

What’s not on today’s to-do list but must be done anyway:
Water the dog
Scoop poop
Check on the chickens
Water the front porch and back patio flowers
Tidy the kitchen/dining/great room (repeat 10 times)
Exercise the dog
Shower / put on make-up
Eat breakfast / lunch (kids fend for themselves)
Make supper
Make bed
Nag children to do their chores

Things that need to be done in the next week or two:
Buy mom’s birthday present
Talk with Hubby about getting his mom’s birthday present
Clean all tubs/showers
Sort/organize winter hats and gloves (put them away)
Sign Last Will and Testament (have it notarized)
Weed garden and flower beds
Girls have tennis lessons next week

Future to-dos (I actually wrote these down and put the list in my toothbrush drawer)
Sew bedding/curtains for Lou’s room
Sew bedding/curtains/canopy thing for Bean’s room
Cut up old towels and t-shirts and put in rag drawers
Finish organizing the craft room closet
Make Bug a new bedspread/duvet
Slipcover the girls’ chairs
Make the chalkboard / magnet board for the craft room (supplies already bought and aging)
Copy contents of my wallet and file with other “important documents”
Get digital photos on computer copied onto a CD and have prints printed
Organize plastic drawers/cupboards in the laundry room
Create a “grab & go” list to use along with 72-hour kits

I call myself a homemaker, but I could also refer to myself as a Life Coach, Family Manager, Personal Assistant (to four people, no less), or a Domestic Engineer!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

Have you ever noticed that mothers are never asked to write a paper about what they did on their summer vacation? That’s because summer time is no vacation for moms. If anything, it’s more work. More housecleaning, more laundry, more sticky scissors to clean that the kids have been using to cut open their Otter pops. You know the drill.

Just for the record, there is a way for moms to get a break – go on a cruise. I didn’t think about laundry, cleaning, trying to get the kids to make their beds, or worry about what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner for over four days of bliss. No family vacation is perfect – it’s just your family in a different locale. That said, ours was enjoyable nonetheless.

The very best thing for me about our trip was all the feedback we got about the kids. Not a day went by that someone didn’t comment on how well behaved, “well adjusted,” or well mannered they were. One couple at breakfast described them as “refreshing.” Wow! (Beans later described us as “mean” parents. The other kids agreed. But apparently being “mean” parents yields refreshing children. I can live with that.) The top photo, by the way, is a veiw from our stateroom. The girls watched a lot of Cartoon Network, and one of them wore a clean pair of panties on her head for a time. But at least they all behave when we’re out in public.

We got onboard the Majesty of the Seas in Miami on Monday. Tuesday was spent in Nassau, Bahamas where we went on a harbor tour and boarded a semi-submarine to see fish over a coral reef. (We saw a shark, parrot fish, ballyhoo, a starfish, angelfish, and many more.) The girls also got their hair braided. (It was the big souvenir purchase of our trip.)

We spent Wednesday at Coco Cay – a private island owned by Royal Caribbean. Lou and I parasailed, and Bug and Lou did a little snorkeling. They saw a manta ray. Bug almost stepped on it.

Thursday we went through immigration on the ship and disembarked at Key West, Florida. That’s where we decided that we missed the dry heat of Utah. We made the kids wander around a bit, but we didn’t stay off the air-conditioned ship very long. It’s not fun to be wringing wet with sweat and not even be exerting oneself. Bug and Lou had a contest to see how many soft-serve ice cream cones they could eat. Bug won with eight! (Lou’s best was seven in one day.)

Friday we left the ship at about 7:45 AM. Our flight home was scheduled to leave at 6:45 PM. Instead of spending the day at Miami International Airport, we signed up for an Everglades tour. Smartest move of the trip (see previous post where I wax eloquent about Infinity Tours service).

All too soon we were touching down at Salt Lake City International Airport – at 11:50 PM Friday. After a couple hours in the car we finally made it home. Where we slept and slept and slept.

Summer vacation has resumed as before. The kids are catching up with friends, doing daily chores, practicing the piano, watching TV, playing on the computer and teasing and misbehaving. And I’m back to doing laundry, cleaning, emptying the dishwasher, and planning the family menu. Oh, and riding my bike with the dog on a leash. Having a good dog just may beat going on a cruise.

Must-have Miami Transportation

If you're going to Miami, you MUST use Invinity Destination Tours and Transportation! Their Miami phone number is: (305)910-3930. You can reach them by e-mail at:

We arrived at Miami International Airport and took a taxi van from the line-up outside the terminal -- a yellow cab or something. Every other time we needed transportation we had the priviledge of using Infinity. The concierge at our hotel lined us up with them, and boy, are we glad!

They handled our transportation from the hotel to the cruise ship's port. Because we had a full day in Miami after the cruise before our flight home left, we signed up for their Everglades tour. It was the highlight of our trip, and very affordable as well!

We wondered what to do with our luggage while on the tour, but Infinity took care of it all. They picked us up from the port, stored and transported our luggage while we took a bus/shuttle to the Everglades, then reunited with us in Miami and took us to the airport -- all for the price of the Everglades Tour -- a bargain!

Best of all, every employee we dealt with from Infinity was courteous, friendly and honest. (Okay, a couple were jokesters and did have us wondering if our luggage was in Orlando. But in the end, everything was just how they said it would be.) Their services are efficient, affordable and trustworthy. I'd use them again in a heartbeat!

(Just in case you were wondering, my husband took the photo of the alligator at the top of this entry right from our boat. Amazing!)