Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ode to the Green Stuff

My favorite color is green.
Can you think of things that are green? Perhaps this post will help you note some particular green things that affected me today.

This morning, after dropping the girls off to school, I decided I'd drive through the car wash in the 20 minutes between elementary start time and preschool start time. Because I wanted to be super efficient I told Brock and Brevin they could unbuckle from their carseats to help me collect trash as we rode through the automatic car wash. At some point Brevin was right behind me and I noticed, as I turned around, he had some lovely GREEN buildup in his cute button nose. Because he's been suffering horribly from allergies the past week I took a tissue and showed him if he wrapped it around his finger he could essentially pick his nose in a sanitary way in order to get rid of the crud that doesn't quite drip, but crusts over (I know, TMI. Don't puke, Jer.) As simple as the trick was, it seemed a little beyond the kid, and as I was re-explaining the technique, my ginormous Excursion BANGED into something and we all jerked forward and back again. I was completely stunned . . . weren't we still in the carwash??? Brock whined, "Mom, that hurt!" (Remember, unbuckled kids - I know, Mother of the Year!) I guess sometime during my lesson with Brevin I had missed the bump that indicates we were done with the car wash and then I proceded to roll down a decline right into a cement pole. Nothing like a heavy car in neutral to really get some momentum going.

Once I realized we were outside (seriously, it took me a minute to get my bearings) I backed up and pulled around so the guy could dry my car. (Uh, hello! I'd already paid for the soft cloth drying and the armor-all) I hopped out to check out the damage. The kid working said, "Are you okay?" and I said, "Yeah" all annoyed at myself. Now, most of you know I have a tendency to "bump" into things in my car. What can I say? It's huge and a little scratch here and there just shows personality, right? Well, I knew by the hissing that this may have been a little more than a little tappy-tap-tap. I mean, I've watched enough TV to know the hissing is usually followed by some steam from underneath the hood. As I stared at the front of my car I knew that pole imprint was a bit too deep to fall in my "whoops" category and I had to call Tyler. Before I did so, though, I asked the kid working, "Is that stuff dripping down right there, that neon GREEN fluid, your soap from the car wash, by chance?" Unfortunately my fears were confirmed that when hugging the cement pole I apparantly not only dented my bumper, completely cracked my grate, but I also busted my radiator. Nice.

Luckily Tyler was very calm about the whole thing and I kept emphasizing it was because I was mothering my kid when the distraction happened. Unfortunately, my distraction is going to cost us lots of GREEN stuff from our wallet. Blech. What a way to spend a tax refund :)

Special thanks to my father-in-law who let us borrow his truck for the day and my sister who picked up my boys to get them to preschool and then took them home while I did some retail therapy at Wal-Mart. I figured since I will be stranded for the next few days, I'd get some GREEN plants to fill flower pots and our flower beds. And that's how I spent my afternoon. I worked out my frustrations on a bag of mulch. I'll have to post some pictures, but in my efforts to be more positive, I will be working on our landscaping the next few weeks.

So, yes, I am sure you're GREEN with envy that you didn't bust your radiator this morning. I'm just chalking it up to one of those "will be kinda funny in a few weeks" things.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Peace and Love

Issues. I've got issues. I know, I know, most everyone who reads this and knows me is probably thinking, "GIRRRRRLL, WHO! Doesn't she have issues!" And because I have issues I spend a lot of time in self-analysis and self-debate about what to worry about and what to let go. Sometimes I get frustrated enough that I just want to quit fighting the fight to be a good person and a virtuous person and an all-around healthy person . . . it's just a lot of work to overcome the natural me. I know I'm much more of an instant-gratification kind of gal, and I'll tell ya, the inch-by-inch . . . NO . . . the millimeter-by-millemeter progress that I make gets to me. It doesn't help that I inadvertantly will UNDO a lot of my personal progress by making some stupid choice that doesn't correspond with the person I want to be. Unfortunately it is the dumb, rash, and impromptu choices that I make by which I judge myself. Since that is my report card I know, especially lately, I have been pretty much failing "self-improvement 101."

One of the things I'm grateful for is a belief that God hears my prayers. I know He has seen me struggle the past month or so with my "issues" and, of course, right before I feel like I'm going to be completely torn apart I have had some tender mercies sent my way. Tender mercies are the little gifts from God that He sends my way to let me know He hears my pleas and sees my frustrations. I know God parents in that super-effective way of subtle messaging when it comes to the way He deals with me, His daughter.

I have been an angry person lately. I have spent a lot of time recently trying to figure out why I'm so angry since I was lashing out at those who were closest to me (yes, sympathy for my husband and family would be appropriate here!) without realizing that I wasn't really angry at/with them; they were just easy scapegoats for my bad mood that was caused by something else all together. I mean, yes, I was upset that Tyler fell asleep during family night last week, but was it worth the cataclysmic meltdown I finally had on Wednesday? No. Did I blame said meltdown on Tyler? You bet your sweet bippy. Poor guy.

See, the real issue was MY issue. I learned a long time ago that anger is a secondary emotion. We always feel something else before we feel angry, but often times it's the anger that is so easily conveyed and spewed. So what are my primary emotions that have resulted in my anger?
  • I've concluded that I am FRUSTRATED at myself for expecting things to be a certain way and when it got all switched up, the changes threw my world all skee-wamp-is. I feel I have had a hard time getting my feet underneath me. I like to have a vision. I like to know the plan. I have learned before that I shouldn't expect it to all work out just so because it doesn't always do that, but I guess lately I've had another pretty strong reminder that my lesson in remembering that is still being taught. Nonetheless, I am frustrated with how everything has affected our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
  • I have also decided that I am WORRIED that I am not doing enough for my kids to mold them into wonderful human beings, teaching them life principles amongst their ABC's and 123's, and showing them how to love and serve unconditionally.
  • I've noticed I am NEGLECTED. I haven't been servicing my soul. I too easily mutter a prayer while I'm on the go instead of kneeling with a humble heart to actually converse with the Lord; I am too busy to stop and study scriptures or good books because I am facebooking or catching up on my DVR'd shows; I slip into conversations talking about other people and casually pass judgement about them without noticing how the tone of negativity has been affecting my own spirit; and I have railed against misjudgements about my character, my church, our government under the cover of "standing up for myself" without practicing the Christian courage to turn the other cheek, and I think that has brought me down a bit.

A couple of my girlfriends brought up some interesting points for me to think about, and I think they were shared with me as part of a "tender mercy" shower. Firstly, I need to have more love and peace in my life and that starts with me. The economy is not going to fix itself overnight and my kids will probably be hitting and whining tomorrow. BUT, how I choose to address those things will be the difference in me not being an angry woman any longer. Secondly, I need to decide what I want to "hang my hat" on. Is there something in my life that I take pride in? And more importantly, is what defines me a worthwhile purpose in my life? Do I hang my hat on my weight, or my husband's salary, how perky [or soo not perky] my boobs are, the talents my kids have in comparison to others' kids??? I think I have been "hanging my hat" on those hooks and I just don't think that's doing it for me. I don't think that's where it's at. To hang my hat. So, I'm going to try and decide what my ultimate focus needs to be for ME.

It's kinda like asking myself how I want others to consider me when they die, I guess. How sad would it be for them to recognize all my shallow pursuits (especially of late)? I just want to be better. I want to be out of this funk. I want to be full of peace and love. And not angry any more!

The Principal, The PTA, and the party

On my list of things I should be better at, it is to be one of the PTA moms who helps with the activities and at the school. Instead I pay my dues and every now and then I will bring goodies to the school for whatever activities. I did volunteer to work the "chill zone" for Kenzie's g.a.t.e. program, but other than that I keep my distance from the schools. I tell myself that I am doing them a favor by not schlepping my three small boys behind me who will, in all probability, leave a wake of destruction behind whatever good I may be doing.

Last week my dad, who's the principal at Helen Herr Elementary, invited us to their PTA spaghetti dinner. Now, shame on me, I've not ever gone to our school's fundraising dinners, but since it was my dad I figured it'd be worth the trek. And a school PTA supporting the kids is a school PTA supporting kids, so why discriminate??? Plus it's a good excuse to see my dad. (*Sidenote* It's so fun to see my dad in action. To watch him interact with his staff and see the kids revere him like a rock star. He was always such an example of what an excellent teacher and I really appreciate his example as a principal.)

Now, this is a party I would head up. It was to culminate Nevada Reading week and here was what they did: Everyone who wanted to come to the dinner bought a ticket from the PTA. That got you all you can eat spaghetti and meatballs (that was donated) a roll and a can of soda. The PTA also sold baked goods for dessert. THEN the teachers/classrooms who were interested put together a booked-themed gift basket for a raffle. Tickets were sold for a dollar and then there were canisters placed in front of the baskets so we cold select where we wanted to put our tickets. My family, my brother and his family, and my parents all went and bought tickets. We let the kids pick which baskets they wanted to win and wouldn't you know it, we won the Junie B. Jones Aloha-ha basket? We were thrilled. The basket had a bunch of beach accessories and pool supplies (leies, goggles, tiki torches, blow-up beach ball, swim rings and much much more PLUS we got the book.) My dad had put together a basket around "The Day Jimmy's Boa at the Wash." (It was a laundry wicker basket with a bunch of laundry supplies: detergent, fabric softner, hangers, clothes pins, a collapsable hamper, etc. and then he wrapped a stuffed snake around the top . . . too cute.) Anyhow, because the tickets were a dollar each, each teacher/classroom gets the exact amount of money that their basket earned. One teacher ended up earning $150.00 for her "Bearnstein Bears Too Much Basket" which was stocked with a ton of junk food. Anyway, it was a really fun time and I'm glad we made the trek to Helen Herr to be a part of it. (It was extra fun that my parents AND my niece, Zoee, also won baskets!)

Here's some pictures of the good times:

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Friday, March 20, 2009

In case you wondered . . .

A couple of weeks ago I made a status update on facebook one Sunday morning about how despite it being HOURS before church started I could pretty much guarantee we'd be late to church. The status update was around 10am . . . church for us is at 1pm. How'd I know we'd be late? Well . . . lateness is a bit of a pattern of mine and now that Tyler's serving as the YM President in our ward he has meetings before church; meaning my "on-time conscience" is no longer existent on Sunday mornings. I have tried giving ourselves a "target time" (a target time is considerably earlier than the time an event starts, which allows for us to still be running a bit behind, but that would guarantee us being on time.)
I've said many times that it's not like we're sitting around on Sunday mornings wasting time, so last Sunday I captured some proof of the important things that put us behind on our schedule.
Evidence A) Brock and Caylee and Brevin HAVE to play outside. I mean if they didn't take full advantage of the sun literally SHINING down into our backyard it would be a travesty.

Evidence B) I HAVE to catch up on old issues of scrapbooking magazines. I mean some of those have been sitting around for years and we NO LONGER need the clutter. Plus, what better day than Sunday to get some extra inspiration?

Evidence C) We MUST take Sunday mornings to indulge in bubble baths where we catch up on our week with our siblings. I mean, especially when you're 9. Cuz when else are you going to fit into your schedule?

I'm just sayin'. We obviously do the bare minimum (no pun intended based on the bath picture above) before buckling down to feed, color-coordinate, iron, dress, primp, doll up, and pack up the 5 munchkins. So once you add in all that stuff can you really be shocked that sometimes I make it to church 30 minutes past 1:00pm??? (And actually the week we took these pictures we made it for the announcements and opening song. Yesssss! I guess it can be done.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too competitive for my own good.

Yes, I took down the blama post. We're all over it, right!? Right.

So several of my blog peeps have posted this contest on their sites that involves committing to send something to the first five people to comment. I have seen it on at least 5 blogs and because I am competitive enough to WANT to win I'd check the comment number and see that I'd be eligible for one of the five gifts. BUT, I also was able to remind myself that I would then be obligated to post the same contest and then be also obligated to send five things from me to the first five commenters and I decided I didn't want to the stress I knew that would come from that! I mean, HELLO!, it's like Christmas gifting in March and that is plenty of stress for me . . . don't even get me started on the Easter Bunny angst!

HOWEVER, when Jerolyn checked her comments at my house yesterday and said to me, "Ohhhh, if you hurry you can be the fifth one," I snagged the laptop and commented in the frenzy to win the prize and I thought, "YESSSS I totally won! Crap! NOW I am obligated to post" this :

Pay attention kids! Here is the deal:

The first five people to comment on this post will get something made by me. My choice. For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
2- What I make will be just for you.
3- It'll be done this year.
4- You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a story. It may be photography, I may sew or stitch or bake something. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
5- I reserve the right to do whatever I want!

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must re-post this on your own blog and offer the same deal to 5 of your own lucky blog readers. So, the first 5 people to leave a comment telling me they are in, win a FAB-U-LOUS homemade gift by me! Oh, and be sure to post a picture of what you win when you get it.

Soo, yeah. I'm sure you're all racing to the comment section right now so you can be a winner, winner, chicken dinner.

After the whole BLAMA (that's my new term for blog+drama) on Monday I have found that I have a new fire lit underneath me for the last few weeks of this weight loss challenge. The ironic thing is my week is REALLY busy and I haven't been able to go to the gym. Grrrr. I am thinking about the weigh-in on the 15th of April and am looking forward at seeing everyone and what they've accomplished. I was feeling pretty good about my %, but I think I may have peaked and I am trying to remind myself that I'm two pounds away from my realistic goal and 12 pounds from my ultimate goal. We'll see . . . but I would sure like to spend the $780.00 on myself and my wardrobe and a matching phone (thanks for the reminder Jessi!) And for those of you who don't feel like you've done much YET, just let me remind you that in the next 4 weeks you could lose a lot of pounds and end up winning the whole thing. I'm expecting you to . . . I'll be emailing everyone in the contest about the details for our weigh-in, but if anyone else wants to come to the party, let me know and you can be part of the action. It'll be good times, fer sher!

Alright . . . now comment for a prize. Hurry . . . Click fast . . .

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Have you seen this face???

Several weeks ago my sister and I were planning our "super-dooper-Mom-and-kids-and-cousins-and-whoever-else-we-can-convince-to-come-along" trip for this coming summer when Erin mentioned maybe taking a little trip to Grouse Creek, Utah. Grouse Creek is a small farming community that barely exists on the Idaho/Utah boundary. My grandma lived there as a young girl and, come to find out after our marriage, it is the town where Tyler's grandpa grew up also. Sooo, as any info-seeking gals would do, we both typed in an internet search for (And yes, sometimes Erin and I will talk on the phone while we are both on the internet looking at the exact same thing. It's like sisterly tech support.)

Anyway, this homespun website included all these old photos and HISTORIES of the people who lived in Grouse Creek. Of course, we clicked on our relatives and then we clicked on the Barlow-side ancestors. Holy treasure chest!!! There were pictures and stories and histories I had never seen before. Tyler's great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, on and on and on. We were both scrolling through so fast saying to each other, "Look at this old picture" or reading to each other bits and pieces of their stories. Then I found this picture:
I knew immediately that the boy in the front left was a direct line to my kids because I have seen that face looking at me before. But when I see it, it's real and alive and in color. And it's a look that is momentary or just a quick glare. It's the "I just woke up from a nap and can't be bothered to smile at you" look. Or the one that says, "I can hear you but in 2.5 seconds I am going to ignore everything you just told me to [not] do." Sure enough, after looking at the description of the people in this family picture, I put it together that the front left boy was none other than my Brock's great-grandfather. And I knew where Brock got that look. You know, this one:
And I love that stuff! I have always felt that spirit of connection with our ancestors. I think they love us and are very invested in our families (their lineage.) There's something about the similarities being captured on film that make it so. When I found a picture of me and my sister talking with friends and I initially thought Erin was me and I was her; THEN I knew we really resembled each other. It didn't really matter how many people had told us that beforehand. So here I have a photograph that shows that Brock really is a little Barlow.
Interestingly, the zoomed photo of Brock was from this family picture:
And what I noticed in ours is that, too, like Brock's great-grandfather's family photo, we have one devilishly handsome father, a fairly young mom, two girls and three boys . . . just like the Barlow family of old.
P.S. Remember the whole name debate when I was pregnant with Briggs and I wanted to name him Jesse? The dad in the above picture (far right) IS Jesse (sportin' the sweet stache.) HE was the man who was friends with Brock's OTHER great-great-grandpa Quartus Sparks Catlin while they lived in little Grouse Creek, Utah.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Most Amazing Episode EVER!

So for the past few seasons of ABC's ever-stimulating reality/drama show, "The Bachelor," I have been gathering with some of my peeps to watch and discuss the people who purposefully choose to be on a completely ridiculous trainwreck of a show . . . to find TRUE LOVE! Trust me, my husband reminds me how silly the premise and entire show is, BUT I simply can't help myself. Season after season I get totally hooked and look forward to Chris Harrison's "This is the final rose" x 20 million and the promos that remind us that next week will be the most dramatic show in Bachelor history.

A couple weeks ago I brought my camera to capture our "parties" which are really just a group of us who gather usually at my sister's house. (Apparently, Daniel informed me, my house isn't as fun as Erin's because I stress about cleaning and I multi-task during the show; Erin only stresses about cleaning and has thus been dubbed 2nd "funnest"; but Stacy's [my SIL] is by far the best place to watch the Bachelor because we all chill and there is NO stressing or multi-tasking. BUT Stac moved to Connecticut [okay, it's really just the other side of town] so we're forced to take second-best accomodations at Erin's . . . but I digress!)

Really, there's not a lot of partying. Just a lot of pausing and rewinding to see the stink eyes and the crusty looks from one Bachelorette to another and then a lot of fast-forwarding past the recaps and the emotional men (because, frankly, that's really uncomfortable.) Here's Erin (WHO is multi-tasking, B.T.W., but the Bachelor policeman Daniel didn't make it that night.)
And these are Jennie's feet all kicked back. Yes, the Bachelor should be watched in uber-comfortable circumstances because, heavens knows, those ladies do some funky stuff on national television that make the home viewers feel pretty scrunchy and uncomforable. Like the lady this season who blubbered and snotted her love and affection for the Bachelor and then moved in to kiss him even though her shredded kleenex was still stuck to her lip. Or when someone starts opera singing (ALWAYS uncomfortable). OR, a classic, sticks her thong in a Bachelor's pocket . . . too good to be made up or scripted. This is real desperation we're watching!
And because we really do have a life, our party prefers to watch the Bachelor via TIVO or a DVR to move past the commercials and the aforementioned standards of the show (stink eyes, crying men, and recaps). This is the beautiful Ms. Angela enjoying the show:
So, yeah, tonight was the finale with Jason Mesnick and HOLY CRAP!!! It really was the most dramatic/amazing Bachelor finale EVER. Well, the rose ceremony was no big whoop. Melissa was the obvious choice, but I do have to admit that I totally was feeling a team shift toward Molly after their whole scrapbook date. I'm a sucker for the scrapbook, I guess. Long story short, *SPOILER ALERT* Jason picks Melissa, but by the "after the rose" show the two were obviously NOT working out and then he totally asks Molly to consider dating him again. I know. Can you believe it? There were some pretty seriously uncomfortable moments where the anxiety actually got to me and I thought, this is far too personal to be a part of . . . I get suckered in EVERY season, people. But even better than spending two hours watching Jason date two women, fall in love with them both, dump one, a LOT of crying (seriously has anyone met a man who'd hang over the glass wall thing a boob like that?), propose to the other girl, have the show's host give some schpeal about the sanctity of what we're about to witness, see the engagement end, listen to some more crying, and THEN watch The Bachelor have the nerve to publicly ask the dumpee to reconsider dating him, and THEN to see her accept and completely make out with him IS that tomorrow there is a Part II of "After the Rose." I just don't know if tomorrow will go fast enough.
Yes, true to form, The Bachelor was a trainwreck this season. And WE LOVED IT! We analyzed the face grabbing with every kiss, the phrases that were WAY overused, the bad cleavage (and dresses and accessories and botox jobs), and the candor with which these women completely give their life to a guy within a matter or weeks. But perhaps this season, more than others, we noticed the incredible comeback of
The Side Pony Tail
The Bad Bump-age with the pulled back hair dos.

All I'm saying is that if you're going on national TV to find true love competing against a bunch of other ladies, perhaps someone could use a comb to smooth over the lumpy lumps. And while a side pony tail may look cute from head-on when you're walking out of a limo . . . over-wearing it gets tiring and then seeing it from different angles makes me think, "mm, not so cute!" Here's my tribute to what the gals side pony tails looked like 99% of the time:

Special thanks goes to my peeps of this season: Erin, Daniel (who made it to many of our meetings unless he got himself all sunburned while fishing at Lake Mead and planned a move for the day after the finale AND then didn't take care of himself so he also ended up with some too-much-stree-blame-it-on-his-sister sickness), Stacy (until she quit us and never called to say she wasn't coming tonight even though I brought pie), David (my brother who graced us with his appearance once this season), Jerolyn, Jennie, Angela, and my mom and Marsha. I also feel the need to be grateful for the cinnamon rolls, cookies, and pie that got us through this season. Now that it's all over, maybe I can move off my stinkin' weight plateau!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'd like to bear my testimony . . .

This afternoon as we were driving to church WAY late (like, record-breaking late, even for me . . . 1:40pm for a 1:00pm church service), I told the kids, "We should just have our own little fast and testimony meeting right here in the car. It's such a beautiful day and we've already missed half of sacrament meeting, so maybe you guys could just share your testimonies with me."

Brevin said, "I don't even know what a testimony is."

So I said, "Sure you do, Brev. A testimony is when you share what you believe; something you know to be true. Usually, at church we share what we believe that we've learned about or from Heavenly Father and Jesus."

"Oh," he said, "then I believe we should not hit or punch or pinch."

"That's right because how does that make other people feel when we hit or punch or pinch?" I asked (going for high level thinking here with my 5 year old.)

"That's bad and it makes people sad and hurt."

"Yup, so since Heavenly Father and Jesus teach us that we should be kind to everyone, your testimony is that you believe we should not hit and punch and pinch because we should be nice like Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to," I reiterate.

Brevin had pretty much tuned out by this point even though I thought we were having a good little chit chat when Caylee said, "I know what I would have a testimony of."

"Oh good, what would you share?" I asked thinking this was a genuinely special moment with my kids. I really was making the best of this motherhood thing.

"I have a testimony of that we should be on time."

(Phhhisssssshhhh . . . that would be the wind out of my sails.)

Amen, Caylee. Amen.