Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who are you, West Jordan "Harkin family"?

Someone sent us a package. Addressed to us and everything. No note, no card, but a holiday version of this game and a bag of m&ms to play it. Thank you. We have a homemade version of this game made w/ a blank form and stickers that we have been using since Finn was probably 2. So thanks for the fancy one, Mystery Mailer. And if you know anything about this secret delivery from somewhere in West Jordan, UT, please, identify yourself!
And if you haven't played, and have young children, its a great game (especially for Family Home Evening). This one is a free download http://www.executivehomemaker.com/2009/04/dont-eat-pete/. You can also use a blank bingo-type card with your leftover scrapbook stickers.
(We also use cereal instead of candy most times--not because we don't want our children to have candy, but probably because they have eaten candy for bfast, lunch, and dinner.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How trying to save $1 cost me $200

I am trying really hard to lessen my carbon footprint where I can. I really am. Call it cheesy or foolish or whatever, but I am trying to do my part. I recently destroyed my $1 scissors by cutting label sheets. They were super gummy so I went to throw them away and figured for $1 I could get another pair of crappy scissors. Then I took a moment and thought if I boiled them I could probably wipe the goo off. I did, and it worked, mostly. There was just a little goo left and I thought, "Rather than sit here and scrub, if I boil them just a minute longer, they will be perfect."

Enter 3 year old with some crisis, 6 year old with some question, and a laundry pile that was actually depleting at my diligence, and the result:
I thought I saw smoke coming from the upstairs hallway and thought, "What could be burning, I am not cooking?" I didn't even remember (I blame the anesthesia, from October) Awesome. My Le Creuset--destroyed. Made worse by the fact that everyone hassles me because I had no proper kitchen utensils, but it didn't matter, because I had my Le Creuset. It stayed out at all times and made kitchen magic happen.
And like I will spend the money for a new one. Oh the travesty! Please everyone, take a knee.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No, we did NOT move to Vermont!

All our friends in Colorado and Utah will think we are nerds because we finally have a real snow storm here and you'd think we'd hit the lotto! Usually we get, at most, a couple inches once or twice during the season, and flurries occasionally, but not much real snow. Not REAL packing, sledding, building, out West/up North sort of snow. Well, we did!
(note the CA boy with no gloves...if you could see his shoes, no boot either. Let's be clear, not because he doesn't own them, but because "the temperature is good.")
(digging out our cars for church in the morning)

While we lost all the money on our hotel in D.C. because our trip was canceled, we have had a great time playing in the snow (or watching the kids play in the snow, as the case may be) and knowing that even if we wanted to go somewhere, everywhere is closed. In fact, last night we were all bundled up and headed to the car to go to Applebee's for dinner. Turns out Applebee's (and every other restaurant in town) closed early so they too could play in the snow! Good for them.
(S favorite move: the belly flop)
Sidebar: F turned the basement into a restaurant for him and the little boys to eat their junk food buffet the babysitter to fix while we were away. I love my kids!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grandpa Santa

My mom and James have been playing Santa and Mrs Claus for years now. They are actually pretty good!
F indugles them,
G chuckles the whole time, but still asks for his list, just in case.
Even still, S won't go near either of them.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Of course it happened on a travel day!

The first snow of the season came the morning Jack and F were leaving at 5:30am to Harrisonburg for the FLL State finals. Of course. We only got about 3 inches that stuck, but it snowed all day.
Jack said where he was, they got about 6 inches. The little boys had great fun though, even though Jack wasn't home to take them sledding.
Snow angels on the trampoline. We always thought we would take down the mat during the fall and winter, but they bounce on that thing all year long, rain or shine, snow and sleet! Still on the fence about whether or not Cookie was thrilled with the snow.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

2nd Annual Favorite Things (aka Precious Moments)

My personal faves from this year: Being ok with cutting back when I prefered getting more elaborate. Good food, even though a lot was pre-packaged this year. Good vibes, in spite of a crazy last few months. Creative and wonderful "Favorites" from everyone. Laughing, even though it highlights my double chin and makes my sore gut hurt more. And most of all, friends, who are fantastic! Mom, sitting back and taking in all my crazy friends and their antics. (Mostly laughing because she thinks Ann is the funniest person ever!)
Amy, tossin' back the blood orange italian sodas! (and using southern contractions)
Carol, channeling her inner Lionel RichieMelinda, cursing her inability to channel Usher.
Brittany, showcasing her Clemmer anti-musical dna, shared across the gene pool. Paige, laughing while denying her rage associated with Tears in Heaven.
Ann, teaching us about "milkshakes", which we cannot show a picture of here.
Since I couldn't go to the Lego League State tournament with F and Jack because my energy just isn't back yet, I went ahead with my Favorite Things party. It's been one of the lights at the end of my tunnel the past few weeks, and yay for me, it finally arrived!

Monday, November 30, 2009

If only every corner in my house could get a make-over!

I love our downstairs! I hate the toy corner! We have this great(ish) entertainment center we constructed from a crappy Target piece and 2 wooden bookshelves we painted black. We have some great art, framed photographs, nice couch and chairs, and that stupid toy corner! Seems like we were always buying bigger buckets, with wider drawers to accomodate more things. Because as our cleaning got better, our storage got worse. One day, we were fed up and made a rash trip to IKEA. Mind you, while we love trips to IKEA, the store is 2.5 hours away and it is no easy jaunt.
But one hectic day later, filled with a scramble through the store, sheer will on Jacks part that indeed there were enough black boxes somewhere in the store (even though the clerk swore otherwise), a few tears, Build-A-Bear bribery, a manic drive home with entirely too much weight balanced on the top of the van, and a late, late night... Viola! The best part for me was when genius struck regarding the labels. Jack didn't want to 'ruin' the boxes with velcro and I knew without labels the unit would be useless (25 unlabeled boxes=25 boxes full of any random crap that fit). So I put my new handy-dandy button maker to work and...Taa Daa!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day Everyone

We are thankful, this year more than ever, for life and love, peace and health, joy and family, friends and neighbors, and for a loving, merciful God and His plan. Especially the plan He has for us.
Enjoy your T-day spread and those you are sharing it with--as well as those you are sharing it with in your heart!

(and I made jack wear the holiday T b/c he was volunteering at Grove Methodist for the community thanksgiving luncheon and delivering meals to shut-ins, so i wanted him to be festive)

Monday, November 23, 2009

As Seen on TV

The meals have been eaten, the flowers have died, the magazines have been read (and thanks again everyone), but this post-op gift will be a treasure for a lifetime. The best part is now the kids are jealous of something I own. (picture mine though in leopard print)
In fact, when the package arrived, with no indication or provocation, before it was even opened, S brought the package into me and asked, "Mom, is it a Snuggie? Did you get a Snuggie? I want a Snuggie!"

Thanks Karen! Now Jack is convinced he is making all the boys one for Christmas. Although, while most of the family has been enamored with this product for years, F asked, "Isn't it just a backwards robe?" Great. Here comes the teenager.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Unspoken Event at FIRST Lego League Robotics Competition

Last year Jaime coached (and I helped a little) a robotics Lego team for Finn and some schoolmates. We had great support from the parents and we fumbled our way towards the regional competition. When we competed last year we did surprisingly well and we were selected to compete at the state tournament. We had a couple repeat team members this year, but it was mostly a new team of 9 students. Jaime and the parents spent many hours with practices.

With Jaime's recuperation from surgery, I had to fill in as head coach by helping them with their final practice and taking them to the regional competition. Our last practice was a little chaotic but we managed to get to a place where everyone felt comfortable and somewhat confident for their competition.

On Saturday, we drove 1.5 hours to Abingdon for our event. We set up shop in the Pit Room and I attended a coaches meeting while the kids proceeded to practice a few more times. The day flew by as the kids competed in the four events: Robot Design, Teamwork, Research Project, Robot Missions. I was very proud of everyone. They got along well, worked as a team, and each did their part to help with the success of the team. I felt that they were strong in many ways but we did not feel that they were necessarily any better than th eother teams.

One highlight of the day was when Jaime showed up! Amy drove her down, they stayed for and hour or so and then they drove back. It was great that the kids were able to compete with her there.

Our events were complete, but we still had time to kill before the closing awards ceremony. We suggested to the kids that it might be fun to run around outside. At first they wanted to play tag, but then they invented their own event. At the end of a great day, I thought that this was the most fun for the kids. They got dirty in the process but had such a great time.

After playing outside, we headed back in for the final ceremonies. Nearing the end of the ceremony it appeared evident that we were not going to get any award at all. As they were announcing who would compete at the state level, we felt that we had no shot. But surprise! We placed high enough to compete at the state competition. After getting over the initial shock of the news it was time to announce the highest award. The Champions Award is given to the team that best understands the bigger picture and has consistently shown learning that takes place and how that learning applies beyond the competition. Surprise again! They received the top award! We all met up for a great meal at an Italian place and then drove home.

For the record, none of this would have been possible without Jaime's amazing coaching. I am so impressed with all that she is able to accomplish. Wish us luck at the state competition in December!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Crappiest 'Staycation' Ever!

On Oct. 25th, I was in Relief Society making an announcement about ordering cheese blend for our food storage. Ten minutes later, my stomach didn't feel right and as I got up to excuse myself so I wouldn't barf on Tanner, I passed out. And that is when our staycation at Carilion Medical Center began.

How many of you have left Relief Society in an ambulance? The gist of the story goes something like this...Jack and I had been trying to get pregnant for 7 months. I was finally pregnant, went in to the doctor at 10 weeks and found out I was having a miscarriage. At what I thought was near the end of the miscarriage my fallopian tube exploded because it turned out I had an ectopic pregnancy. I fainted due to the internal bleeding from my tube rupturing.

I am skipping the remainder of the gory details of what it entailed with the exception of: lots of internal bleeding, fatally low blood pressure, possible organ failure, a touch and go night, Jack sleeping on a couch in the ICU waiting room, and a chain of international phone calls for blessings to heaven to plead for my life. Heavenly Father heard your prayers, sent amazing doctors and nurses my way, and now I am hear to dictate this post to you, through Brittany.

Because all of my blood was pooling in my guts, they couldn't find a vein to hook me up to an IV. I also have a nice hole on the left side of my chest from my central line. These pretty bruises have twins on the other arm.
(this pic taken 4 days after)

I had a pretty scab that has fallen off from where I hit the floor--I am just glad I didn't break my nose. I also managed to chip my molar.

(this is the couch upgrade Jack got when we were moved into our private room--who needs a suite at Disneyworld?) I cry every time I think of all the generous people who have sent meals, flowers, candy, babysat my children, cleaned my house, sent cards, and most of all said a prayer in my behalf. Words cannot express my thanks. I guess if I had to follow the staycation trend (I have been griping about going on a vacation) I am so lucky to have taken it here in Radford. Stay tuned for a series of posts about the major and menial things in my life that I am grateful to still be alive to experience.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We finally joined the circle of 6 degrees of separation

This is my favorite tale as of late-
A few months ago our Saturn of 12 years exploded on the highway. We had it towed to a city 25 minutes from here (Shawsville), where the diagnosed the car as dead. Jack went and cleared out all of his things out of it in June.We then had it towed to the junk yard 20 minutes from here (C'burg). It was a huge salvage yard and we shed a quiet tear as we watched our beloved chocolate brown Saturn become part of a sea of cars, destined for destruction for parts.

Last night (4 months later) Jack came home from church and pulled these out of his pocket and asked, "These look familiar?"
A woman who lives in Cburg, but who attends our ward in Radford, came up to Jack and said, "My son works on cars and found these in a car he was working on. He recognized you and gave them to me to pass to you." The man does not attend our church. The reason he recognized Jack was from when Jack officiated at his father's funeral last month. (Nevermind how a pic of jacks mom and gma, and an airport pic of jack leaving on his mission 15 years ago got into his car...)

I mean, come on! How cool is that? We know people and know people actually know us! Kevin Bacon, here we come!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homage to both Michael and nerds across the world

On my quest to find cheap Lego chotskies for F's lego league team, I found this instead. And in case you care (and I totally do so I know you will too), there is a Michael Jackson Lego MTVish series, including, Billie Jean, Beat It, and Thriller w/skeletons. Is it wrong to want to go wake F now?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hobos on the tracks

That's the title of this sequence of family photos we had taken. So many of them turned out great, and we will be using one for our Christmas photo, but here are some of the pics that didn't make the cut, but were still fun and I wanted them documented somewhere. Thanks Ann! For more info on Ann's photos, check out her blog/etsy link @ alltuckedin.blogspot.com.

This one was one of my absolute favorites!
We call this one "May I please get a bread ration, and one for my brothers too?"
"Hey, Hey we're the Monkees..." (like the dirty bums from the RR ties?)
"Channeling the sun!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting in touch with our Scottish roots

One of the great local favorites is the Highlander Festival held every October. It starts with a parade and then all of RU campus turns into a Scottish Wonderland. They have a big roped off area for sheep herding races, hammer and caber tosses, and all sorts of Scottish athletic events.
The balloon sword fights always end in tears, but oh the joy for the first 6 minutes.
Of course, the booths of Scottish garb, food, jewelry, and more always attract us. We have yet to see the McKinley clan show a presence, but you know "those" McKinleys. It's a great event put on jointly by the city and the university. Every year we say we are going to get kilts, but never do...maybe next year. Another reason we love Radford.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I am not sure what to call this move

Dangerous, mostly (on many levels).
But they think it is hysterical everytime they trot around the house this way. Boys.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Jaime

Interestingly enough, Jaime's age today is a palindrome. When I informed her she said "Big deal, it's only a two-digit number".

I remember when I first met Jaime at the tender age of 17. I thought that she was attractive, but alas she was a teenager and I didn't give it much thought beyond that. I do find it funny how my first impression was that I bet she liked the Cure and the Smiths. Funny the standards we impose sometimes. BTW I was right and she still likes the Cure and the Smiths.

Jaime, I love you with all my heart. You are funnier than I am (sometimes). Smarter than I am (most times). And more sharp, collected, level-headed, patient, logical, etc. than me (all the time). I love you for being such an amazing lover and friend. I am my happiest when I am alone with you. No offense boys, but mom comes first.

Happy Palindrome Birthday of your very own. Here is hoping you make it to 101!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


To my lover of palindromes on his most awesomest birthday ever!
Don't nod
Dogma: I am God
Never odd or even
Too bad – I hid a boot
Rats live on no evil star
No trace; not one carton
Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?
Murder for a jar of red rum
May a moody baby doom a yam?
Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog!
Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!
A Toyota! Race fast... safe car: a Toyota
Straw? No, too stupid a fad; I put soot on warts
Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
Doc Note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod
No, it never propagates if I set a gap or prevention
Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna
Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus
Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak
Some men interpret nine memos
Campus Motto: Bottoms up, Mac
Go deliver a dare, vile dog!
Madam, in Eden I'm Adam
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
Ah, Satan sees Natasha
Lisa Bonet ate no basil
Do geese see God?
God saw I was dog
Dennis sinned

Happy Birthday and We Love You!
(and happy birthday Carl too!)

Friday, September 04, 2009

(Insert your own title because Jack wouldn't let me use mine)

He is our President! And hell yeah, we should let our children (no, require) our children to listen to our President tell them to work hard, stay in school, and yes, even give service! Even if (no, especially if) you didn't vote for him, you should send a message to your children that we still stand behind our leader. And so what, old George can do it, Reagan can do it, but put a black Democrat on the tv to do the same thing and people are outraged??? I am embarassed to read about how ignorant people won't shut up.
So, Pres Obama, please do tell my children to be contributing members of society on Tuesday, because we WILL be watching!

Monday, August 31, 2009

5 - 4 = 1

All three boys started school today. (Jack started July 1st)

(watching the neighbors leave, they kept asking me to leave, in spite of the fact the doors were not even open)

S had his first day of preschool (they used the smartboards on the first day--I am so in love!!). G started 1st grade and with S at his school too, he felt like the big man on campus.
F now in 6th, switches classes for 9 periods, and is at the brand new school w/Jack as his principal.
After all carpooling duties were completed, some other preschool moms invited me out to breakfast. After breakfast, I am sure they all went on to work or home to complete complicated and necessary projects. However, I...I am not ashamed to say, I came home and took a nap. (ok, I am little ashamed...but only to say it out loud, I have no shame in the nap itself)

This is going to be a stellar year!

(ps- how horrible is the lighting on these shots? someone want to read the manual for me on my camera?)