Friday, February 27, 2009

The Price of Paula

This post is just to record my feelings as I have spent the past 4 hours deep cleaning my main part of my house (kitchen, dining, living, and family rooms) and all our laundry. Tomorrow I will work on the bathrooms and bedrooms.

A few years ago I had an oopherectomy. That's when they remove an ovary. I remember when it happened I thought my life would never resume and I didn't know how I would ever recover from being sliced open to remove my broken ovary. As I recuperated on the recliner I watched my house get more and more cluttered and dusty and the cleaning stacked up. At the time, my oldest child was not quite 6 years and very busy with her kindergarten career, and my others were 15 months and almost 3 (not quite old enough to pick up my slack.) So, my mother-in-law passed along the number of a cleaning service and that's when my relationship with Paula began.

Paula came every couple of weeks until I got my strength back and then, funny thing, she kept coming long after I was back on my feet. I knew that every two weeks Paula would come and wipe down the dripped ketchup in my fridge, empty the crumbs from the bottom of my toaster oven, change all the bed linens, and clean out my garbage cans. After a while I knew my relationship with Paula was a little self-indulgent and we had a little break-up.

It was a short break. Shortly after I got pregnant with Brock I called Paula back home and we began our bi-monthly trysts again. It was a wonderful arrangement that made everyone happy. And by everyone, I mean everyone! Caylee and Brevin would hang out and listen to her clock radio of Mexican music in every room she was cleaning. I was usually in the next room "pre-cleaning" for most of the day Paula was at our house and it was always nice to feel like we were on a team. Granted we didn't bond through conversation, but we would laugh at the kids together and she would come in and pick up the crying babies I had while she was working for us (Brock and Briggs) if I was in the middle of something. I would often find my boys practicing their light saber skills on Paula's backside while she tried to make the bunk beds simultaneously fending off their offenses. Instead of getting mad at them, she would tease them in Spanish and pretend she was going to get them and they would squeal and run and then return shortly after to interrupt her again. I think she was so patient with them because she had boys of her own.

I often wondered what Paula thought of us. Was our house dirtier than others? Did she think we were snots for not cleaning our own house? Did she resent my kids being the ones that were bugging her instead of her own because she was a working mom? There were some Monday mornings when I would get a call asking if I wanted someone else to come clean because Paula had a sick child or was out of town. I would decline. Paula was my girl. She was my partner. We worked well together. I trusted her enough to leave her in my home. AND, I found her honest and hard-working and kind. She would bring me notes written in English if there was anything important for me to know. I would give her small gifts and some of Caylee's hand-me-downs that Paula would pass to her niece. I know there was more to me looking forward to Paula's scheduled days than just having a clean home. I SOOO appreciated what she gave me.

Recently we've needed to cut back. We're definitely feeling the downturn of the economy and we're trying to live within our means, which means for the past few months I've been given the "we've got to cut back" talk SEVERAL times. Now, I KNOW paying Paula to mop my floors and scour my shower is an excessive expense. Actually, it was self-indulgent. I like a clean house. I need order. I need to know that every two weeks I can have a completely shiny, mopped, dusted house. Between the 6 hours Paula cleaned and the 4 hours I would spend putting all our stuff away, we got it all done. And I know I could do it. Give me 10 hours and no kids in the way, and yes, I could do the same job for no cost.

But there is a price. To prepare for my ultimate cut-back (I've already cut the pedicures, fake nails, date nights, and trips away . . . not to mention the homemade meals I've been making and the coupons I've been clipping) we spent Valentine's Saturday deep cleaning my house. I invoked the help of the entire family to put EVERYTHING where it belongs, then we dusted and vacuumed and scrubbed and mopped. Well. I hollered at the kids to do it, and they sorta did it until it became un-fun and then they'd disappear and wander off and meander to the other room. And then I'd get frustrated and do most of it myself. But then I'd get irritated that the "cutting back" meant I was picking up that entire job. And then I'd holler at the kids again. I'd show them (again) how to clean the counters and then how to mop up all the water they got on the floor. [You see, even though you have someone to clean your house every other week, with 5 kids you still have to clean it every day . . . we call those chores . . . so don't be getting the impression we sit on our chaise lounges until Paula comes to clean up after us.] Tyler, bless his heart, spent 2 1/2 hours cleaning our bathroom. IT WAS NOT THAT DIRTY! So I'm going to call Tyler thorough (because that is a lot nicer than making the connection that the kids' disappearing/wandering/meandering off may be an inherited trait.) By early afternoon Tyler went outside to work in the yard (where he busted his tail, fer reals!) and I was left inside to keep the troops working. By the end of the day, I was tired. I was worn out more emotionally (because of our financial state) and physically (from all the work) and mentally (from controlling myself from losing it with the kids all day long.) Yes, the house was cleaned. But yes, too, the price was WAY more than we ever paid dear, sweet Paula.

The past few months Paula has only come once a month. Today I called and told the company we could no longer afford to pay her to come. It was sad for me. On many levels. I think Paula was a symbol of better times. And that is over. Because she made my life easier, it was obviously something that I treated myself to. And now that is over too. When Paula came every two weeks, I knew that the chores that I hated to do and didn't want to fight my kids to do were going to get done. And now I have to do that and fight that fight on top of all the other things moms do. AND YES, I know many of you have been doing it for the past 3 years since Paula and I have been a team. Still. Tonight I mourn the end of an era.

Please tell me it will be okay. Not to lower my expectations about my house. But, tell me how to get it all done without a Paula every other week. Blech. I'm a boob. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

President's Day celebration . . . Vegas style

Alright, I'll say it. Being married to a banker is a pretty good deal, especially when holidays come around (like President's Day.) Tyler was off and we decided we'd spend the day doing what EVERY Las Vegan LOVES to do on the holiday that immediately followed the most romantic day of the year.

We hung out at a downtown wedding chapel!

Tyler's cousin Jenny and her fiance, Ryan, brought their family to Vegas so we could hang out with them . . . wasn't that nice of the happy couple? Oh, well, there was the business that Jenny and Ryan got married . . . either way we were glad for the excuse to get together and spend some time with the long-lost San Fran/Bay area Barlow family. (Okay, they're not long-lost . . . they have visited SEVERAL times since we've been married, but the last time we were at their house in Pleasanton was before Tyler and I got married . . . Yikes, we're totally slacking on the visiting!)

Here's Uncle Steve and Aunt Jane

Don't these two look like trouble? You would not believe some of the stories Tyler's dad (on left) has confessed about his and Steven's wild and crazy days in Salt Lake City. I'm pretty sure the Barlow brothers did pa-lenty of terrorizing the Avenues back in the day. {All those crazy grandboys, Bruce? It's called Karma! ;) j/k }

Mr. and Mrs. Wallace

And here's all the wedding party.

It was great to see Anne, Laura, Jenny, Mike (and his wife Chelsea who brough THE most darling little girl Sammy) and to meet Jeff and his wife Kim (for the first time . . . I'm telling you we're slackers in the visiting department!) Jane and Steven are always fun to be around and both Tyler and I enjoyed the Mexican lunch we all had at the New York hotel/casino and then just the hanging out with everyone for the afternoon at Bruce and Dodie's. I'm telling you; it'll be a shame if Briggs doesn't get to know Sammy a little better because they are only two months apart and she is DANG cute!
While we didn't get to hang out with the bride and groom too much (they were a little occupied being newlyweds and all!), we are happy for the both of them and hope they enjoy life together. The trip was quick, but like Mike said, it's better to reunite at weddings than at funerals. So true. So, Happy President's Day/Wedding day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Me and Marie

So this afternoon, despite my better judgement/because I can hardly resist the Rio, I met my sister (Erin), cousin (Jerolyn) and friend (Jennie) for some lunch. Before meeting, I warned Jer that I hadn't showered from the gym and she confessed she didn't have any make-up on. I told her that we'd probably see someone famous since we both looked like crap (which is kinda a running joke with her because a couple months ago whilst eating there she saw Marie Osmond and the two of them had a camera phone picture moment even though Jer was only sporting her best bun-hair-do and sweatshirt ensemble.) SURE ENOUGH, when we were about done Ms. Marie Osmond comes a-walkin' in. So we stewed for a bit and I pulled out my trusty-keep-in-the-diaper-bag camera as we strategized on how to rudely interrupt without wanting to interrupt, but still be able to ask for a little group photo. Erin finally had to leave and then Jennie gave out so it was me and Jer. We kept spying her food (nachos, soup, and something else) and I even tried bribing Brevin to be the one to go ask the famous lady for a picture.
After building up the nerve and a couple trips to the potty to make sure the kids were well watered, I finally went and invaded her space to ask if she'd take a picture with my family.
She was VERY nice about it all (so hard being famous, you know!) This was how my rambling and her nice-ness went:
ME: Ms. Osmond, I hate to interrupt your lunch, well, not enough to NOT interrupt it, but I know I will really regret not asking you for a picture with my family as soon as I leave, so I just had to do it.
MARIE: Oh, yeah, sure (as she's trying to swallow and clean her teeth off). Do you have a camera?
ME: Yes, it's right here. I had it in my diaper bag. I was just telling my boys how wonderful you are and how much their grandma {SHOUT OUT DODIE!} enjoyed watching you on Dancing with the Stars.
MARIE: (Politely listening takes my camera and gives it to her assistant who pulls a chair over and helps Brock climb up on it.)
Isn't she nice?! I pulled Jerolyn and Ellie into it and the assistant snapped a picture of all the clan. I thanked her a ton, told her I appreciated her being so gracious and letting us take her picture; she'd made my day. Then we totally bolted.
I'm telling you . . . first Harry Reid, then Marie Osmond. I'm going to start a collage frame with all the famous peeps who have lunch with me at Cafe Rio!
PS. Amy, I WILL invite the mayor for lunch. And Wysons/Wadsworths . . . just hang out with me a little longer and I could've hooked you UP!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dirty Mouth

{***Warning! I will be typing curse words in this post. I'm not clever enough to use the right * or & or % symbols to pretend like I'm trying to say the word without saying the word.***}

This morning Caylee came into my room, climbed on my bed, and while I was getting ready she asked, "Mom what is a bitch?" Since I was in the bathroom I'm sure she missed my momentary panic-look on my face. So, I girded my loins and walked over to her and answered, "Well, a bitch is actually a name for a female dog, but now a lot of people use that word as a mean and nasty word for any girl that they don't like. It is a really bad word and you should never, never, never say it or ESPECIALLY call another person a bitch. If you do say it, you will be in big trouble. Where did you hear that word, by the way?" Apparantly it's on "Hot and Cold" by Katy Perry which I had just uploaded to her ipod this weekend.

Caylee seemed satisfied with the explanation and I was hoping it would be one of those things she filed away in her "maturity" file, but not 20 minutes later Mackenzie came into the living room with big eyes and said, "Caylee just called me the B-word"

"CAYLEE!!!!" I yelled.

"What? I didn't call her that, Mom!" she shouted back from her bedroom.

"I told you that you were going to get in trouble for saying that. You DO NOT call your sister that." I said (slash-yelled).

"Yes she did, Mom. She did call me the b-word." Mackenzie persisted.

"Both of you in here. Right. Now." wait, wait, wait "Tell me exactly what happened."

Caylee said, "I just asked her if she knew what a b-word was."

Kenzie continued, "And then she said 'because you're being one.'"

"Caylee" I whined, "I told you that you CANNOT say that word. Bring me your ipod. You are grounded from it and I'm taking that song off your ipod."

So nice, huh!


{This one is pretty gross, just FYI!)

So I had finished my workout and was doing a little cool down stretch when my friend Deborah came up the stairs and we started to chat before I had to leave and her pilates class started. We're chatting, chatting, chatting, and I opened my water bottle and chug, chug, chug. A little more chat, chat, chat and I checked the time. Whoops, time to go . . . bye, bye, gotta get the kids, have fun at your class, grab my stuff, down the stairs . . . wait . . . this isn't my water bottle . . . this is . . . OH MY CRAP! This is NOT my water bottle that I was just chugging, chugging, chugging! Oh yeah my people! I had totally opened someone else's water bottle (who I assume was walking the track) because it was right in front of me [where I was sitting on the mat stretching] AND THEN I DRANK ABOUT HALF THE BOTTLE!!!

Are you about grossing out right now?

So, I made a quick decision (that, in hindsight, was probably not right since I subjected some other person to then drink after me, some random stranger) to put the water bottle back where I had picked it up . . . even though I had already swigged half of it. I just couldn't risk being caught if I filled it back up and THEN put it back. And yes, having thought it all through, I'm pretty sure I should have just thrown the bottle away.

Oh, I have GOT to pay more attention and then NOT drink from other people's bottles.


Monday, February 16, 2009

What is more lame?

When Tyler walked into the family room a few minutes ago he said, "Are you on facebook again?" with a tone that implied he thought it would be lame that I would be interested in the status changes of my nearest and dearest . . . I mean it had been at least 11 hours since I checked it before bedtime. So, I replied to him, "REALLY? Cuz weren't you just on e-bay looking at trucks for a couple HOURS even though you already have a truck?" (And by truck I will say he also looks at trailers and jeeps too.) But F.Y.I., last night, after I had turned off the computer, he was STILL looking on e-bay, so I'd say he's been logging the most lame-activity-hours on the 'ol in-ter-yer-net.

What's your analysis?

Is it more "LAME" to be perusing e-bay for hours upon hours for trucks, trailers, and jeeps (really, it's about the only thing he looks at)? or is it more "LAME" to be on facebook catching up with old friends and new ones?

(Really, it seems obvious to me ...)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Objects of my Affection

Seeing as yesterday was Valentine's Day and I haven't really posted anything too personal lately, I thought I'd share some things about my family and why I love them so much these days. (Not that I don't love them on other days, but I'm trying to be particularly observant about WHY they are so great to me every day.)

I snapped this picture of Tyler the other night before bedtime. We're pretty death on the witching hour of bedtime since it means it's time for just the two of us to . . . well, watch TV and play on the computer. But a lot of nights after we read scriptures (church history for families right now) and say prayers he'll "race" the kids to bed. On this night they did it a little formal and what you can't see (except from Caylee's expression) is that he has a hold on the girls jammies so they don't smoke their brothers. He's a fun dad like that to think about racing WITH the kids. I'm also very blessed that Tyler's a leader when it comes to scriptures and prayers. Oh how I'm grateful he plays that role . . . I tend to get so caught up in finishing the dishes and picking up stuff that a lot of nights I'd end up passing on the whole routine just to get the kids in bed. But Tyler is good to initiate.

And, without giving too much information, Tyler is an initiator of "other" activities, too. I have never doubted his love for me and he's good at telling me and showing me how much he loves me. I told him last night while we watched the other couples dancing at the church valentine's dance how much I would love him to surprise me and enroll the two of us in dance classes (ya know, a little rumba, some fox trot, and a little swingy-dingy . . . just wait til Dancing with the Stars comes on . . . then I'll really have the fever for it.) You can all imagine the eye-rolling, but one year, down the road he'll pull out that big gun and surprise me and I'll know how much it means since he'll be hating every minute of it. What a guy!

I want to note, too, that Tyler is a hard-worker. We deep cleaned our house all day yesterday and as much as I like to win the "I've done so much more than you" contest, he really did a lot around the house AND then went outside to blow out some of our gnarly landscaping. Not only will he do a lot around the house and for the kids, he goes to work EVERYDAY where he is stressed and frustrated and stuck in an office (a little bit of hell for those of you who know Tyler.) I really appreciate him.

Brock is such an easy boy to love, when I don't want to strangle him. I think I'll have my hands full since he spent the first two years of his life being the "baby" of our family. More and more, though, I see him becoming more independent and, while it makes me a little sad, I am proud he wants to be more like Brevin and his sisters and not so much like the real baby, Briggs. Brock loves to be out and about; loves preschool and watching Tom and Jerry. His best friends are his cousins (Ellie, Caitlyn, Zoee) and any of Brevin's friends. Recently, Mackenzie has taken Brock with her when hanging out with the neighborhood kids because they think he's cool and fun. Brock just does his own thing and really doesn't regard much else. That does get a little hard when "his thing" is whacking his brother for no reason or taking his sisters' stuff only to tease them. Brock regularly says some REALLY funny stuff. At the beginning of the year, during a money meeting at FHE we were talking about living in a budget and cutting back our spending with the kids. After Mackenzie offered that the kids could do more cleaning so we wouldn't have to pay the cleaning lady, Brock said, "Ooohhhh, I would not like that at all. Dat would be a very, very bad idea Kenzie." I thought it was so funny that he would be that tuned in to our conversation and be so adamant about his opinion (which I totally backed him on!) Brock likes to play with Brevin and help with Briggs (see above pic). He likes to cuddle with me (YAY!) and play tennis and go camping with his dad. I love him to bits and pieces.

Briggs is the blessing I never knew I needed. A real tender mercy from the Lord. He's 9 months now and just the past few days has started to crawl forward. Before that he'd do a combination roll/sit/backward slide thing to get him where he wanted. I love his cheesy little grin and the way he'll snuggle his head into my chest when he's tired. I am so grateful that he's been a good boy at the gym the past 6 weeks NEVER crying or pooping so they have to call me from my workout. He is a content baby (which I prayed for), yet opinionated (which I brace for.) He really only fusses when he is hungry or when everyone walks out of a room leaving him alone. (I think he will get over that once he realizes he can now crawl after us.) He's discovering cupboards and the treasures within which means I'll be updating the child-proofing shortly. Briggs is a good sleeper; has been from early on, and that alone makes me love him SOOO deeply. His hair is starting to fill in (dark . . . of course . . . I'll never have a white blondie!) and I know that his baby phase will be over so soon. How could I not just eat him up with his four-tooth grin? It's really pretty amazing that I don't.

My Caylee bug is all fire and ice. If there's anything to sum up Caylee it would be that she's passionate. She is either LO-VING you or HATING you and either way she'll end up wanting to "hold you." Caylee is very funny and tries really hard to be super grown up. She still loves playing with dollhouses and Polly Pockets, but also knows all about Zack Efron and Hollywood's "it" girls. I love Caylee's creativity and clever-ness. I love that she sings loudly and shakes her bootie whenEVER there is music on. She's easy going enough not to be too fussy about her clothes and hair-do's, but girly-girl enough to care. While I wish Caylee's attention span was a little longer, she seems to be doing well in school and makes friends easily. Every time an opportunity arises, Caylee will beat Kenzie at introducing herself to random kids and adults at the park, McDonalds, church, anywhere really. She has plenty of "it's not fair moments" these days, but mostly she's super grateful for anything she gets/has (especially playdates at her Aunt Erin's or Aunt Mindie's!) She loves family and I'm always impressed with how her nightly prayers have evolved from the rote to sincere and involved ones. She's a gem.

This is how we will normally find Brevin first thing in the morning . . . and later in the afternoon . . . and before bedtime. He loves video games and may be our first (and at this point, only) gamer. Since Tyler and I can't really relate to his passion for Lego Star Wars or Super Mario, we often give in to his game time and let him play. If we don't "allow" him to play, we'll find him behind some close door getting his "SuperMario" on. Brevin is a little sneaky and impatient, a combination that means he'll just find his own way to do what he wants when he wants. He's very smart and does not like being bossed around. I find that he does a lot of the bossing (which is embarrassing to listen to him play with others sometimes!) and he's kinda moody/broody. BUT, he's my one kid who'll tell me a million times a day how much he loves me. He's always good to play with Caylee AND Brock AND anyone else who wants to play with him. He loves playdates, but also loves being at home in his PJs (playing with DS, I'm sure.) I love Brevin because he is persistent and forgiving with me (like when I forget to get him breakfast and he keeps reminding me and then when I apologize for forgetting, he says, "It's okay, Mom, I forgive you or forgetting to feed me.") And I'm grateful that our middle child is opinionated and willing to share his opinion, like when he puts stipulations on playing outside: "I'll play outside only if I get the green bike" or "I'll play T-ball with you, Dad, only if it's not windy." Brev still sleeps with his Lambchop and could eat burritos everyday. He likes anything on Cartoon Network to watch, but especially Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While I think Brevin is one of my more complicated kids, I wouldn't want to be without him. Who'd give me the crusty when I embarrass him by being too silly? He's ma boy!

And last, but not least, is my dear, sweet Kenzie. There's a paradox of being the first child of a first child. While I understand how hard it is to blaze the trail, I am not very easy on Mackenzie. I can't believe she'll soon be 10 (that's a double digit number people!) and how much more mature she is EVERY day. I'm caught off guard if she has a momentary breakkdown or a particularly child-like moment, but then she uses a rationale that is so much older. Last night, when we got home from the dance, Kenzie said, "Mom will you snuggle with me for a minute," which was so child-like, and then she reminded me, "because it is Valentine's day and everything." So, I wrapped my arms around her and she folded her long, lanky self around my middle and we watched "Friday Night Lights." And I loved that she asked questions; she always does. She has a great curiosity and she has gathered some pretty right-on perceptions about things at an early age. She's musically talented, playing the piano, violin, and guitar. She told me the other day, most earnestly, "Mom, I really want to grow up to be an actress." Mackenzie strives to be morally right and actually cried last night when she got home and had missed a day of house-cleaning because she felt bad she hadn't done her part. (I do think she was probably a little tired.) I love that Kenzie will be tolerant of my stressing . . . I think she gets me. And I think it's great that she's a list girl. I love that she goes to bed at night and reads for another 2 hours . . . have I mentioned she has the most Accelerated Reader points in her whole school? And when she's done reading at night she starts making plans. While her getting out of bed 2-3 times a night to talk about her plans gets annoying, I get her too! I hope, more than anything, that Mackenzie will be a good friend, to her family and friends. I am blessed that she's our first-born.
So, this year, they are my Valentines. They are the ones I work for and live for and love with. While they make me cry, they make me laugh and smile more often. I'm a lucky girl, fer sher!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The business of Scrapfest

I know I have been M.I.A. from the 'ol blog for quite a bit. Not that I have to blame it on anything, but I do feel like I should explain for those of you who have not been personally around me lately. A few years ago some friends and I put together a weekend away in St. George to get a break and scrapbook and pretty much do whatever. Well, since I coordinated a lot of it the first year, I decided I wanted to make it an event the 2nd year. So, in 2008 we had 67 people (30 more than the first year) and kinda had a little more drama than I wanted to deal with so I promised myself this year we'd keep it small (around 60) so I could host a quality event. Well, long story short, I have issues with saying "no" and by the time last weekend rolled around, we had 80 people registered for Scrapfest 2009.
And we had a good time. Sooo much of the prep work was done before we ever left Vegas and I HAVE to give major props to ma girl, Shawna Ballard, who is totally my partner in crime, er, I mean, in Scrapest. She's THE best ear, she works hard, she doesn't stress out when I'm stressing out, and she's the heavy when I don't have the nerve to be mean. Add to all that the fact that she's fun and funny and totally patient with my controlling/anal self and voila! we have ourselves a good little team.
After everyone registered it's my "job" to settle the contract with the hotel (for the conference room and hotel rooms), and start shopping for fun giveaways and prizes. I was kinda stuck this year in how to give everyone their treasures this year until Shawna found Michael's had their photo boxes on sale. So before we left we met at Shawna's to assemble the welcome boxes with the following:
official Scrapfest t-shirt
pack of gum
a chapstick
ruler, post-it notes, pencil, and glue stick (because that's practical crafty stuffs)
raffle tickets, Most Valuable Page voting cards, and coupons
water bottle with name sticker
Name tag

I'd like to say that everything went flawlessly, but thanks to a HUGE issue there was a lot of stress and panic the week before Scrapfest. My biggest concern with this event has been making the best use out of the monies that people pay to register. I'll sum it all up with this descriptive picture: Thursday afternoon at 1pm I had 159 packets of paper divided and GRATEFULLY my cousin (Jerolyn), sister (Erin), and friends Chris and Shawna came by to help add all the embellishments and get them all packaged. My entire living room was covered and by 5:00pm we had everything loaded in our truck and I was showering ready to hit the road. I also need to give BIG thanks to my dear father-in-law who watched my boys that afternoon for, well, forever, until Tyler could pick them up after work. Trust me, it was panic mode if I didn't even get a picture of it!

The drive to St. George was very relaxing and then I was ready to work. Shawna, my MIL (Dodie) and one of Scrapfest's local talents from St. George (Corinne) came to help put together the conference room with all our tables. The poor Holiday Inn people were so patient since I was creating a vision as we were going. And the room turned out better than I thought, even with all those women. Here's Shawna ready for bed after a long day!

This year people could sign up for an early-bird crop, so Friday morning I was up and shakin'. I walked to Staples to get copies AND worked out all before breakfast so Shawna and I had time to do a little shopping before noon. The Pebbles in my Pocket store was sooo generous with more freebies and a packet for EVERYONE. So cute.

And then the peeps started rolling in. That's my favorite part. I love visiting with the friends I only get to see once a year. There is something cathartic for me about having a group of women in the same room. I think there is a power in it. It revitalizes me. And I find the talent and stories of these women are soo interesting. There are professionals and stay-at-home moms, grandmas and daughters, sisters and friends. I just love it.

Friday at 9pm is the official kick-off even though, by that point, we'd been scrappin' for 9 hours, everyone was there to hear all the skinny. And then the night went on and on and on. and on. and on. I finally turned in at 3:40am, and when I stumbled back into the room at 8:30am there were STILL 3 or 4 or 5 women going at it. Honestly, I couldn't even keep track I was so tired, but I had promised a couple freebie drawings at 8. At 8:30am I literally walked into the conference room so contact-dry-eyed and no-bra-ed that I couldn't believe people were still up or BACK up scrappin' already. We are so die hard at Scrapfest!

By Saturday at 6pm we had the bigger prizes given out and most of the giveaways done. And you'd think at that point everyone would be burnt out . . . oh no. Scrapfest continued until 5am on Sunday. (Trust me, these woman have stamina!) After a quick rest we checked out and headed to the yummy Cracker Barrell for breakfast. I did manage to have some good eats and actually got some pages done for our family albums (although it was not even close to what I planned on doing.) But best of all was hangin' with my peeps. Here's a couple photos:

Me and my Patty. Okay, she's not mine, really, but I just love her and we had such a good time. She was such a sport to sit with me while everyone came up to us to visit or discuss business and every night she had to go to our room to get some sleep as I kept at it. Once a year doesn't seem enough, but I'm glad we've got it.

Me and Babs

With my Mother-in-law, Dodie.

Amy, Robin, Chris, Me, Whitney, Jackie, and Leslie . . . Aren't they smokin'?

Me, Angela, Jerolyn, Jennie, and Erin . . . soo fabulous

(and yes! my cousin Jerolyn IS that funny.)

My SIL, Mindie. I swear next year we need a picture all my family who comes (this year it was my mom, sister, 2 SILs, a cousin, and a cousin-in-law . . . not to mention all their family THEY bring with them.)

This year I wanted to do something more than just be indulgent, so in January I emailed a bunch of companies to see if they would donate to Scrapfest and/or help me with a special raffle I'd like to hold. See, my mom's BFF couldn't make it last year because of stupid breast cancer making an appearance in Marsha's boobies. So Marsha fought and fought and kicked that breast cancer's a$$ and I knew she'd be there, fer sher, this year. Also, I thought about my MIL who's a breast cancer survivor and how breast cancer has affected so many women, so many of those women who'd be at Scrapfest, and I wanted to be able to make a donation in their honor. A couple weeks before we left Provo Craft delivered a brand new Cricut machine to my door. And at Scrapfest I sold raffle tickets to raise $505.00 to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation!! Isn't that awesome???

Here's the winner, Lisa German:

And finally, so you don't think we're all business at Scrapfest, here's just a couple of pictures of some of the shenanigans . . . totally worth making it to the end of this post, right!?

Here's a video montage with all the pictures I took of the fun ladies!
View this montage created at One True Media
Scrapfest 2009

See ya in 2010!