Sweet and Sour

First the sweet --

At Nate's first grade portfolio day (please enjoy this great "I lost another tooth" photo) they have the children read you a binder full of their writings from the year.  It has poems, informative reports on penguins and Johnny Appleseed and some cute stories.  The first week of first grade they have the kids write a story about their family.  Nate wrote:

My family.  My dad is 34.  My mom is 31.  My sitter is 9.  My iser sitter is 4.  We wint togeder to the pool at the jim.  We like playing the wii.
Yeah, Luke didn't make it into the story.  At the end of the binder is another story about their family so you can see how their writing has progressed.  Nate's story made my heart melt:

The Rogers Family
My family is the best family.  These are my family's names: Ellie, Sadie, Luke, Nate, Mom and Dad.  My family likes to go swimming together in the pool.  We like to watch BYU games together.  Our family is the best because we spend time together.  Now you know all about the Rogers family.

I didn't even PAY him to say our family was the best.  So it must be true!  Also, I like that we love to swim together.  Maybe because both stories were written when it was a million degrees outside and that is the only entertainment to be found.

Now the sour --

Sadie lost her stuffed monkey.  Well it's probably the fault of many people.  Nate probably encouraged her to bring monkey, Sadie probably forgot all about him once he was outside (just like everything else in her life, like shoes, toys, food. . .), and I'm pretty sure Luke hid him.

Anyway, her stuffed monkey was lost weeks ago.  I remembered seeing him outside one day and thinking, "I need to go get that monkey inside before Sadie realizes he's missing."  But I didn't and life went on.  Until one night I get a frantic phone call, "I can't (sob sob, deep breaths, sob sob) find (hysterical sobbing and breathing) monkey."  I assure her I know where it is and we'll find it as soon as I get home.

Dustin and I head out back with flashlights and sure enough, we can't find that dang monkey.  I end up putting Sadie to bed despite all the sobs.  Ellie comes in to help me comfort her.  We say a prayer.  I promise to buy her a new monkey.  She is slightly calming down.  Ellie says, "I bet he's off at a Jungle Ball."

The wailing begins again.  "He doesn't go anywhere, Ellie.  He's a stuffed animal.  He can't even MOVE."  I just about collapsed into a pile of giggles.

A few days later I hear much celebrating coming from the backyard as Nate had found monkey hidden in a bush.  We were all hugging and cheering when suddenly Luke comes out, grabs the monkey and runs off with it, and then hides it in a bush.

And something kind of funny.  It's a total Ramona moment.  I'm not a big fan of school pictures and I don't order them.  So when school picture day comes around, I don't really care what my kids wear to school or do fancy hair anymore.  Usually they still come home and beg me to order the photos.  This year Nate did not want to show me the pictures.  Finally he comes out of his room and says, "Mom, I had to sneeze."

I love him so much!

Ready for Kindergarten

My baby girl graduated from Pre-School this month.  She is so ready for Kindergarten.  I have no idea if every state does this, but in Arizona, they had a KIST test to evaluate Kindergarten readiness.  Basically the kindergarten teacher comes out and tells you what your child needs to work on over the summer -- I doubt anyone can actually "fail" the test.  Especially since one of my old neighbors told me that instead of sending her son home with a list of letters to practice over the summer, they decided it would be faster to write down the letters he actually knew.

Sadie, however, decided to study for the test.  She would have us quiz her randomly on math facts (there are no math facts on the actual test -- just shapes, colors, letters, write your name. . .).  You sign up for the test (which in May) when you register for Kindergarten (in February) so she had a lot of time to prepare.

One crazy day we loaded up the car at 7:40 with all our stuff for the day.  I drove carpool, we ran to Sprouts, dropped off the groceries, went to scripture class, then straight to swim lessons, followed by preschool, and picked up some neighbor kids I was watching and picked up Sadie so we could head straight to Sadie's second set of swim lessons for the day.  So by the time we got home for the day at 2:50 (the exact same time as the big kids got home from school), I was exhausted.  Sadie was exhausted.  So tired that she climbed into bed to take a nap.  I helped the kids unpack their school stuff, got them a snack and decided to check the messages, "This Alicia from the front office at (school name here).  I'm just calling to remind you of Sadie's Kindergarten Assessment test at 3:15. . ."  I freak out.  I look at the clock -- it's 3:12.  I run in and yank Sadie out of bed.  She has crazy pool hair and is half asleep.  We hop in the car, drive to school and guess what. . . I should have listened to the whole message.  The test was the next day.  Alicia and I could not stop laughing.

Anyway, Sadie passed her test with flying colors the NEXT day (when she had advanced noticed she wore a blue and white pinstriped dress and red shoes because "They're my school colors.").  And a few days later she graduated from Miss Becky's preschool (for the second time).  Every year I swear I won't cry and every year I do.  At the end of the DVD, she's puts on a montage of pictures of the kids with their moms to "Let Them be Little," and it makes me cry every.single.time.
Miss Becky is the best!!  Sadie told me on the way home, "I don't think I'll ever miss a teacher as much as Miss Becky.  She is so nice and so loving and she never ever yells."

May Random-ness

May always ends up being a crazy month.  In my head, I love May.  It's the end of the school year and I can taste summer.  The mornings are still cool enough to run and the nights are beautiful.  Then I look at my calendar.  And lug kids in and out of the car in the 100 degree heat.  When we weren't celebrating Mother's Day, and eating cookies, we were splitting up the kids and running around like crazy.

It was the end of the baseball season for Nate.  Sadie had 3 sessions of swim lessons (that right there ate up half of my life and my energy as I sat out in the heat) -- but she can finally swim!

 There was a double baby shower for Meredith and Susan and a good bye party for Sarah who is moving to cooler climates.

A picnic and concert in the park for Cinco de Mayo.  Complete with virgin margaritas.  The evenings are still gorgeous right now.

Nate had First Grade Portfolio day at school.  For lunch we took him out to Peter Piper Pizza with his best friend, Travis.

Teacher Appreciation Week.  I was in charge of Ellie's classroom door -- the school-wide theme was sports.  And I put these together for their teachers.

Lots of eating out.  Lots and lots of dessert.  I am making up for my lack of sleep with calories.

And possibly my favorite event of the month was out Ugly Prom.  We took the girls out on Prom night and headed out to Saver's where we each picked out hideous outfits for each other.  Then off to the gaudiest place we could think of for dinner -- Organ Stop Pizza.  Bahama Bucks for dessert and some night swimming.
I'm so grateful I now own platform shoes and a leopard print dress with shoulder pads.

Let's see what else was in there: birthday parties (6 to be exact), field trips, baptisms for the dead, softball, Break the Fast, the Spring Musical and rehearsals, more baby showers, camp meetings, Art Masterpiece meetings, piano, play dates, graduations (seminary and HS), graduation parties, YW recognition night, mutual, baptisms, a Girl's Weekend in California and the last day of school. . . Luckily Dustin only had to travel for 2 weeks this month.

Today is the official first day of summer and we have nothing on the calendar until tonight (baseball team party and book club) so we're staying in our PJs ALL day long.


Quest for the Best

I love love love cookies.  More than any normal person should.  I remember going to friends' houses and they would have cookies and they would ask if I would like one.  In my head I would be thinking, "ONE?  Do most people only eat one cookie at a time?"  A nice half dozen always sounds like a good number to me.

I am always on the hunt for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and I've always thought it would be fun to have a bake off.  It was actually on my bucket list for last year, but never accomplished.  This year I had to check it off.  On May 15th, which happens to be National Chocolate Chip day, I hosted a little bake-off of my own with 12 very bakery-minded friends (this is my sneaky way of getting free chocolate chip cookies).  I had so much fun shopping for prizes and my sister made really cute printables for me (if you ever want to host your own -- let me know!).

Everyone brought their best recipe and I placed them on the judging table.  Then we all went around with our little knives and glasses and milk and went to town.  Can I just tell you that even a small portion of 12 different chocolate chip cookies is still a lot of cookie.  Especially when you had to go back to taste test again to decide between a few cookies.  It was hard work, but somebody had to do it.
 I didn't end up taking too many pictures because for the most part my house looked like this:
And that doesn't even begin to cover all the little mini judges running around (although they seemed to not care which cookie it was, as long as it was a cookie).

We had two categories: traditional chocolate chip cookies and non-traditional (you know, the ones with oatmeal/nuts/cocoa powder. . .).  Ironically in the end the winners for both categories happened to be recipes I already used as my "best."
 Rickie, our GRAND PRIZE winner, whose cookie recipe is loved by pretty much everyone in our group.  Although, I did come up with a few more recipes that I really liked.  Can you have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes?

I was so sick when it was over, but somehow this did not stop me from snacking on all the cookies people left at my house for the rest of the day.

I made up a little quiz for the party, but I never got around to giving it because we were all so busy chatting, so here it is.  See how much you know (answers in the comment section).


1. 2 states have chocolate chip cookies as their official state cookie.  Name one.

2. Where did the Toll House name come from?

3. Which hotel gives out approximately 29,000 chocolate chip cookies each day?

4. What company bought the original chocolate chip cookie recipe?

It's always been called the Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Crunch Cookie
Butter Drop Cookies with Chocolate Chunks

6. T OR F
One day the inventor had to substitute semi-sweet chocolate for baker's chocolate in a cookie recipe. She chopped the chocolate in bits, but when she took the cookies from the oven, the semi-sweet chocolate had not melted into the dough as the baker's chocolate had.

7. Within 20 calories, how many calories are in a classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe chocolate chip cookie?
8. The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie received:

9. Which store is featured in an urban legend about a $250 chocolate chip cookie

10. On a list of The top 10 selling commercial cookies in the U.S. -- what number is the Nabisco Chips Ahoy Chocolate chip cookie?


Mother's Day -- the fun stuff

Despite the few blips on Mother's Day, we did have some fun to celebrations.  On Thursday I got to go to Sadie's school performance and lunch.  Sadie was a very vocal singer and she had lots of sweet treats for me.

On Saturday the Actvity Day leaders hosted a breakfast for all of us and then we took a trip to the Gilbert Temple, which is under construction.  Each of the girls had made their mom a corsage out of cupcake liners.  The Construction Missionaries at the temple sight were so sweet and each girl got to take home a piece of a wall that was made for the temple, but unfortunately came broken.

We have been so blessed to live so close to the temple and to watch the progress.  I can hardly wait to take the kids to the Open House, but there's still over a year to go.  Just last week we were able to see the Angel Moroni be placed on the top.  I watched from the air conditioning of my girlfriend's house (it's already in the 100s here), but snapped a quick picture on my way home.  It gave me goose bumps to see all of the people who were down there.  It felt so neat to be unified in a love of the Gospel as we recognize what an exciting event this is.  It made me think of the early Saints as they labored with their own hands to build each wall.  How much joy they must have felt!

I love driving by the Temple and hearing Luke say, "It's Lukey's temple!" Or Sadie begging me to roll the window down as we drive by.  I hope to see many of the kids and youth we know in the halls of this Temple.

And my Mother's Day cards from church had cute surveys about me in them.

According to ELLIE:
My mom is 31 years old.
My mom weighs 92 pounds.
My mom's favorite color is pink.
My mom's favorite food is chocolate cake.
My mom always says, "I love you" and "Clean up."
My mom cooks the best cookies.
My mom's job is to love us.
My mom laugh when we make jokes.
If my mom had time, she would take a nap.
My mom and I like to read books.
My mom really loves my family.
I love my mom because of all the great things she does.

According to NATE:
My mom is 32 years old.
My mom weighs 80 pounds.
My mom's favorite color is pink.
My mom's favorite food is meatball soup.
My mom always says, "I love you."
My mom cooks the best food, cookies.
My mom's job is to be mom.
My mom laugh when I tell jokes.
If my mom had time, she would kiss Daddy and me.
My mom and I like to make cookies.
My mom really loves kids.
I love my mom because she is nice.

According to SADIE:
My mom is 22 years old.
My mom weighs 18 pounds.
My mom's favorite color is pink.
My mom's favorite food is egg sandwiches.
My mom always says, "I love you."
My mom cooks the best chicken and rice.
My mom's job is to take care of me.
My mom laugh when I tell a joke.
If my mom had time, she would love to play barbies with me.
My mom and I like to do laundry together.
My mom really loves when I clean up my room.
I love my mom because she loves me.


Keeping It Real

For the most part, I live a pretty wonderful, happy life.  I hesitate to write about Mother's Day 2012 because I don't want anyone to think that I am complaining or that I have unrealistic expectations.  In fact, I think I'm pretty "real" about the whole thing.  I love all the homemade cards and handmade gifts.  And today I got all of those fun things.  I had lots of special school events leading up to the big day and I loved every single moment. Nothing tragic happened, it was just a bad day.  I don't want anyone to think I'm holding some grudge or wondering the purpose of my life, but in an effort to remember that life sometimes has some stinky moments, I'll lay it all out for you.

My first Mother's Day was pretty rotten.  Dustin had moved down to Arizona to start his internship and I was still in Utah teaching school and taking care of our 3 week old Ellie who wasn't even due for another 2 weeks.  My mom was out there helping me pack up the house and taking care of Ellie while I worked during the day.  She also lovingly changed every single diaper -- even in the middle of the night.  Along with being early, Ellie had some nursing complications and I was pumping and trying to teach her how to latch, which was only an option when I was actually home -- so the end of the day and the middle of the night.  I would spend half an hour trying to get her to eat, then supplement with a bottle, put her to sleep, and then pump for the next bottle.  I think I was up for an hour and a half every time she woke up.  The next day, I'd wake up, head off to teach 24 4th graders only to come home to do it all again.  I was so tired and stressed.  It was the end of the year, I was moving, I had no idea what I was doing, I didn't have a husband and I couldn't even feed my baby.

That Mother's Day wasn't any different than any other day other than having the title "Mother's Day."   How can two little words carry so many expectations??  Everyday was stressful.  Why would I expect that day to be different.  Somehow Mother's Day found my mother and me sobbing in the Tony Roma's parking lot as we went to pick up dinner for ourselves because we were so tired and depressed to make ourselves a meal.

So really, comparatively, today was fantastic.  I have 4 beautiful children and they love me very much.  But they are children.  They were actually so excited last night that they couldn't sleep.  At 6 am they woke up and insisted I stay in bed.  I should mention that Dustin is out of town, so this all kid directed which makes it even more wonderful. They unrolled a beautiful banner for me and had lots of little bags full necklaces they had picked out for me.  They made me breakfast in bed (oatmeal, toast and jam, bacon and water with a strawberry).  Ellie got the kids dressed for Church. I got poetry and a decorate mug and homemade cards.  It was the best Mother's Day ever!  Unfortunately, 2 hours of awesome-ness is about the cap for 4 kids.

We got to church and the bickering would not stop.  Nate and Luke were fighting.  I told Nate to go sit by Ellie.  He accidentally stepped on her toe on the way over.  She freaked out.  He yelled that she was rude.  I told him to go sit down and he started throwing a hissy fit.  I had to literally drag him out of the chapel (on my sprained ankle) with Luke on my hip screeching.  We went in a class room where both boys yelled at me and suddenly Sadie appeared, "Ellie pinched me."  Somehow I ended up with 4 kids in a room for the sacrament with Luke shrieking, "I want to go back in," for the full 10 minutes.  I am just sitting their sobbing as everyone in the Ward walks past to see what on earth is going on.

We finally get back in and I promise to myself that I will get through this.  I am used to Sundays by myself.  I am used to taking a kid out to the foyer.  Then the speaker gets up and starts complementing all the mothers on their well behaved children.  He knows that they learned this because of their wonderful mothers.  And then I start wondering -- am I a  horrible mother because I can't even get ONE of my kids to sit still on Mother's Day?  And then everyone, very thoughtfully comes up and starts and asking me, "You're ALL ALONE on MOTHER'S DAY?"  Suddenly something that wasn't a big deal is very depressing.  I take half an hour to cry and freshen up in the bathroom and I am good.  Church is wonderful and uplifting and I know the afternoon will only get better.

I pile all the kids in the car, drive to the Stake Center to drop off our camp check, make lunch, put Luke down for a nap and tell the kids that I am going to take a quick nap.  All I ask is that they 1) not fight and 2) Ellie and Sadie clean up their rooms.  I go to lay down.  There is shrieking.  I go out and ask them to please be quiet.  Back to my room.  Fighting.  This time I call from my phone.  More bickering.  I won't detail the next 4 hours, but it does not involve me getting a nap.  No rooms get cleaned.  The dishwasher does not get emptied and no one can get along despite all my pleading.  In fact, every time I come out, it is worse.  Salsa everywhere.  Chips smashed onto the floor.  Now I convinced that I have somehow raised the world's naughtiest children.  I am a horrible mother.

My girlfriend invited me over for dinner.  I couldn't wait to go.  I told the kids to hurry and clean so we could go.  They did not clean one single thing.  I cried.  I seriously was BEGGING them to help me out.  I called and said we wouldn't be coming.  This in turn causes my children to start sobbing.  Nate says he will hug me until I'm happy.  Then he prays that Mom will be happy again.  Sadie says she is the worst kid in the world.  Ellie begs me to just go and she'll stay home and watch the kids.  I feel worse for making THEM feel bad.  I don't know if I have cried this much in years.

The good news is -- we recovered.  We cleaned and cried together, just like my mom and I sat in the car and sobbed ten years ago.  We ate cheesecake and chocolate cake (two amazing girlfriends ran by and shared their desserts with me) for dinner.  I love my children.  They love me.  A bad afternoon is not the end of the world.  It happens.  It just because it was on Mother's Day that it all seemed so awful.  Why do we attach such expectations to a random day?  And then even worse you go on Facebook and instead of being happy for everyone, you just feel worse for yourself.  So there you go -- Mother's Day 2012.  We all have bad days.