100th Post Giveaway!

Yea! 100 posts!

This year has been the year of the blog for us. With just over two weeks until the anniversary of the first post to Eastern Blog Country, today finds the 100th post finding its way into the blogosphere.

In celebration of this milestone, we are taking some tips from blogging maven Angie Lee (she loves being called a "blogging maven"), namely hosting a giveaway and posting 100 interesting facts about us.

Since you're no doubt dying to find out how you can get something for free, let me introduce the giveaway. It's just a $10 gift card -- I am on a student budget after all, but you have the choice of a few different stores...

For my fellow tech geeks: RadioShack.
For those of you who are artsy-fartsy [giggle] (see my friend, Cami's, post): Michaels.
DIY?: Lowe's.
BOGO?: Target or Walmart.
WTDATC?: Denny's, of course.

Comment on this post and we'll put you into the drawing for the gift card. We'll pick the lucky comment on New Year's Day and let you know!

We've been excited to see so many friends and family get on our blog and see what's going on in our family. Thanks ever so much for your comments and encouragement!

Now, the second part of the post--100 interesting facts about us. Tamara and I both think it's only fair that we get to split this into two groups of fifty. I got lucky--I already had forty from an early post. Tamara put me to shame by coming up with not fifty, but fifty-one facts, just like that. [snaps]

Here are mine:
  1. I use brackets to narrate my actions while I'm IMing. [smiles sheepishly]
  2. I miss California, but worry about not making ends meet if I move back.
  3. I'm an Aires.
  4. I've known my wife of 11 years for more than 27 years.
  5. I really do not like butterrum life savers.
  6. I abstained from eating all chocolate for 3 years after someone accused me of being "addicted."
  7. I haven't broken the sound barrier--yet.
  8. I've been a Mac addict for sixteen years.
  9. I've saved two of my children from drowning in a river and a lake.
  10. I don't really follow professional sports--at all.
  11. I once broke both my elbows at the same time--and it was on my wife's birthday.
  12. As an adult, I always weighed more than 200 pounds until my wife and I did the South Beach diet.
  13. I've been this tall since I was about 15.
  14. I like to sew and knit.
  15. My ape index is about 6 inches.
  16. I have 5 children (just one wife, thanks), 3 siblings, 7 nephews, 1 niece, 13 aunts, 13 uncles, and (I think) 53 first cousins.
  17. I try to open doors for women, even though I get exasperated looks sometimes.
  18. I have been in college for about as many years as I was in school before college.
  19. I don't like touching sandpaper or emery boards.
  20. I have periods of time when my dreams are vivid and I remember them well upon waking. Lately I just drop off to sleep and don't remember anything after that.
  21. I enjoy eating, but , unfortunately, tend to be more focused on finishing than savoring my food.
  22. I fancy myself environmentally conscious, and even make the effort to be more green.
  23. I hate shaving, especially my armpits.
  24. I have a weird sense of humor, but my mom almost always laughs at my jokes.
  25. My children think that Daddy can fix anything.
  26. I rode a bike from Monterey to Santa Barbara.
  27. I've been pulled over by the CHP, and I was on my bicycle.
  28. I'm getting better, but I'm still quite claustrophobic.
  29. I am part of the small percentage of the population that has ever worked with radioactivity.
  30. I was once in charge of the lingerie department of a Lane Bryant franchise.
  31. I've been to the top of the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument.
  32. My favorite ride at Disneyland is Pirates of the Caribbean.
  33. I almost drown once, but was pulled to safety by a lifeguard.
  34. During my missionary experience, I spent extended amounts of time on three different continents.
  35. I can't help being convinced that I could really be organized if I just had enough Tupperware containers and some flashy indexing software.
  36. I am more of an impulse buyer than my wife. (No generalizations here--that's just the way it is, folks.)
  37. I think Grace Kelly trumps Nicole Kidman and Audrey Hepburn outclasses any contemporary actress.
  38. I am a former Dungeon Master.
  39. I actually made it to 16 before my first kiss.
  40. I was a cheerleader my freshman year in college and loved every minute of it.
  41. My favorite part of getting home from anywhere--taking off my socks.
  42. I was a double major as an undergrad: Molecular Biology and Russian.
  43. Texture, more than flavor, is what draws me to some foods. Tortellini, shrimp, soft homemade cookies, and jicama make the list for having crunchy or chewy textures.
  44. I was a TA for a class called "Weapons of Mass Destruction." The FBI made several visits to the lecture.
  45. I originally envisioned myself as a nuclear physicist. It was only after I decided to pursue biology and took some physics classes that I saw how that would have been a mistake.
  46. Various animals (some fictional) that have fascinated me from childhood: dragons, cobras, unicorns, tigers, raptors (the birds, not so much the dinosaurs), unicorns, tarantulas, pegasusses, sharks, horses, and coelacanths.
  47. I love swimming in the ocean, but have been anxious about sharks.
  48. I was once held at gunpoint by an irate little man.
  49. My favorite turtle is Rafael.

Here are Tamara's:
  1. I love going to the library and always have. I remember being so excited that I could write my name and get my own library card.
  2. My favorite season is spring. Everything looks so pretty after the gloomy winter finally leaves.
  3. I love hiking, biking, and being out in nature.
  4. When I was little and anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was always the same. “I want to be a mommy!” Now that I am a mommy I have to say it is the best career decision I have ever made!
  5. I lived the first 19 years of my life in the same city.
  6. I have a pair of tap shoes hanging in the back of my closet. Can’t remember the last time they were used but at one time they got lots and lots of use.
  7. I am not a patient person. I try but it doesn’t come easily or naturally! Just ask my family!
  8. I’ve had the calling of ward organist twice now (two different wards) and I don’t really know how to play the organ. Guess I’m just good at faking it!
  9. When I was 16 years old I wanted to get my ears double pierced. My mom wouldn’t sign the permission form (had to have permission if you were under 18) telling me that someday I would regret doing that to my body. After hearing President Hinckley’s remarks on tattoos and piercing I shook my head in amazement. Mothers really do know best!
  10. I’ve been married for 11 years (almost 11 1/2) but have know my husband for about 28 years.
  11. I've had three surgeries on my foot, and it's still broken.
  12. My children take things to my husband to get fixed. They know I'll just throw it away.
  13. I jumped into rapids to save my infant son from drowning.
  14. I teach three of my children piano lessons.
  15. I volunteer at the library at my children's school.
  16. I teach sign language to second graders.
  17. My fourth child was born on the same day as my sister's oldest child. My mom likes to tell people she has twin grandsons
  18. My brother and I are both ward organists.
  19. My husband pulled a chair out from underneath me as I went to sit down in Sunday School when I was about ten years old.
  20. I rode a bike this summer after ten years of it being in storage.
  21. My husband and I skipped out on Mutual to participate in a ballroom dance course when we were first dating. We were seniors in high school.
  22. I was so shy and quiet in high school that a lot of people thought I was stuck up because I wouldn’t talk to them.
  23. I’ve tried 3 times to hike to the top of Mt. Timpanogos but have had to turn back a few miles from the top because of snow. I will keep trying!
  24. I don’t like seafood! The only time my husband gets it is when he makes it himself or orders it when we go out to eat.
  25. At age 32 I’ve discovered that I need glasses. The kids are quite upset and trying to picture me having to wear glasses. I’m just looking forward to being able to see without getting headaches.
  26. My first niece was born this past September. I have 7 nephews so it was about time for a niece.
  27. I spend way too much time cleaning. I can’t function when things are messy and cluttered!
  28. Did you know that rabbits make noise? I learned when I was little that they actually scream. Our neighbors behind us had lots of rabbits and a fence with a hole in it. Rabbits got into our yard and our cat loved to chase them and play with them until they died. It was very traumatic for me as a child and I would try to save them but still ended up burying several.
  29. We all know that hitting is bad but at one point my mom actually told my brother and I to hit my sister. My brother and I knew we were not supposed to hit and would just sit there and let our little sister beat up on us. My mom got tired of us crying to her so she finally gave up and told us to hit back. It worked. My sister stopped hitting me when she knew I would hit her back!
  30. A week before my baptism I fell and hurt my wrist. My mom and dad didn’t take me to the doctors until after my baptism because they were afraid I would end up with a cast and not be able to get baptized. It was broken and I did end up with a cast!
  31. My 5th baby came so quick that there was no time for pain medication. It was my first time delivering natural and I hope to never have to do that again! I honestly can’t understand how anyone would choose to deliver that way!
  32. My cousin and I had golden wedding dresses. Our Grandma made our dresses and used some gold material leftover from my brothers wedding to make the trial ones.
  33. My real wedding dress (which was white) had forty-nine buttons down the back. The package of buttons came with fifty and my cousins dress used button number fifty.
  34. I was engaged on July 4th and married the following August 9th.
  35. I grew up in the Bay Area but have never been to Alcatraz.
  36. I have been to a real functioning prison many times visiting my Uncle. I think my family felt like they saw enough of the real thing to want to go visit another prison.
  37. I love to read!
  38. I cook because I like to eat. I don’t really enjoy cooking. Just the end result!
  39. I’ve spent the last 6 years without my own washer and dryer. I do have strong-arm muscles from carrying loads back and forth!
  40. I’ve never had a dishwasher. I’m really good at washing dishes from so much practice!
  41. I’m a master at organizing and making room for all seven of us in our little home.
  42. I hate going to the dentist!
  43. My least favorite household chore is mopping the floors.
  44. I love gardening. Someday I hope to have a big garden to play in!
  45. I had to learn how to like playing games. My family didn’t play games much when I was growing up but I married into a family that played games lots. It took me a few years but I now like playing games.
  46. I have learned to like playing games but I don’t like playing “thinking games” as I call them.
  47. When I was twenty years old I was on a piano performing team that was getting ready to travel to China. I had even made my first payment before I decided that I didn’t want to go. Lucky for me I was able to get my money back.
  48. I loved going fishing when I was little. It was a special time to spend with my dad and grandpa. I would bate my own hook, take the fish off the hook, and even clean and skin the fish. You just wouldn’t catch me eating it!
  49. I love music. I think I would be lost without music.
  50. My very first piano recital (I think I was 6 years old) I walked up to the organ and almost started playing on that instead of the piano. It was my first time seeing a grand piano and the organ looked more like my piano at home until I walked up and saw all the pedals. I was so embarrassed after that and almost didn’t play my song.
  51. I love the smell of sawdust! It takes me back to days of my dad working in the shop. Whenever we would ask him what he was making his answer would always be, “sawdust!”

New Year's Resolutions

I've gotta write this down, or else it won't be real.

My resolution (or one of them) for the new year:


Really, though: daily journal entry, even if its only one good thing that happened that day.

Tamara's resolution: making reading the scriptures a habit.

We wish you all the best in the upcoming year. [Banging of pans, etc.]


A trip to the trash

I'm always giving Jeremiah a bad time about his trips out to the dumpster. He takes the trash out and comes home with something he thinks is so wonderful that we now have to find a home for. I've always thought this was his secret way of trying to get out of this chore.

I do have to admit that he has occasionally gotten some great stuff. Last Christmas it was a big TV, (someone must have gotten something better from Santa),bikes for three of our kids that only needed minimal repairs, and today's treasure was a new crib for Abigail. Gently used and way nicer than what we have. Score!

So I have to say Jeremiah, sorry for all the grumbling when you take out the trash and come back with "treasures". Thanks for being on the lookout for cool free stuff!

As the saying goes, "One man's junk is another man's treasure!"

                                                         Even Abigail likes her new crib!


Life-changing link #3: Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg provides free downloads of literary works that are in the public domain. I was going to save this link for a later date, but feel that its significance warrants an earlier showing than most of my other links.

How has it changed my life? Let's go to the Top 100 Most Downloaded Book page on Project Gutenberg. Since purchasing my first Palm PDA (my preferred device for reading ebooks), I have downloaded from Project Gutenberg and read:
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • ...
Oh. I guess that's it from the Top 100 List, but other titles include:
  • Notre Dame de Paris
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Frankenstein
  • In His Steps

I'm just coming back to this post that I started some time ago, and I am not sure where I was going, other than to say that I really enjoyed the literature, and it is FREE!

Life-changing link #2: blogger.com


Well, my Momma told me to always look for the silver lining. That's what I've tried to do this evening.

I found a stereo on craigslist.com, and Tamara and I went to check it out. The seller was expecting us at about 4:45, and we pulled into the driveway pretty much right on time. I parked the car in the driveway, Tamara passed her mobile phone off to Michaela, and we left the kids in the minivan munchin' on some french fries and chicken nuggets as we went in to the house.

As soon as we had been invited inside, the phone rang. I laughed and picked it up, wondering what Michaela needed to call about so soon.

"We just got hit! Our car got ran into by another car!"

Before I could even get off the phone, the man of the house was coming upstairs and telling me that he had backed into our car. I left Tamara to inspect the stereo a little more, and went out to check on the kids. They were a little shaken up, but otherwise okay. That was some of the silver lining. The sliding door, on the other hand, was not doing okay. The truck had backed up into it hard enough to render the door completely nonfunctional.

I moved the car, we exchanged information, and we left with our new stereo. As we drove off, the kids explained what happened.

Anthony was first to shed some light on the incident. "He came out of the garage, and hit our car. Then he got out and looked at the car and said, 'Damage!'"

He he he. Yeah, sure. He said "damage." There's some more of the silver lining.


Christmas Blessing

Our three year-old, Trevor, was asked this morning to say grace before our Christmas breakfast. He, who usually struggles to get out the bare minimum during his prayers, began this blessing thusly:

"Thankful for Santa Claus come and give us presents. Thankful have our Christmas tree up."


Just in case

Just in case I haven't told you yet...

Merry Christmas, from all of us!



We had better have a white Christmas

I am looking out the window right now at millions of little snowflakes falling out of the sky. We've had more than two feet of snow this month alone, making this December one of the ten snowiest on record for Massachusetts. I just got a severe weather alert that says we'll have another inch an hour or so until eight o'clock tonight. We'll see.

With all the snow and subsequent school closings that we've had (I really shouldn't complain), we had better get at least a few flakes for a light frosting on Christmas.

Hmmmm... that made me hungry. Time for some Frosted Flakes.

I'll leave you with this--the current forecast for snow on Christmas for the Northeast.

Ha! We're just above 50%. What about you?


Watch out nursery here she comes

Abigail is now legal! She can officially start going to nursery and I'm sure she will enjoy it. She has spent the last 18 months of her life being passed around while mommy and daddy are busy in primary.

So, if she is now legal then why am I a little nervous about sending her in? Jeremiah told me I just needed to get over it and send her but I'm waiting one more month and once I told my reason I think he almost agreed with me. At least he understands my concern and hasn't tried to sneak Abigail into nursery while I wasn't looking!

Have I kept you in suspense long enough? Do you really want to know my reason for waiting one more month before putting Abigail in Nursery? Wait no longer because here it is!


That's my reason. Believe me, I know just how wild those kids are because one of them is mine! By waiting until January those seven wild three-year olds will be in Sunbeeps (as Trevor calls it). Just seemed like a good idea to wait just one more month and then nursery will be smaller and quieter. Perfect for little Abigail who is still crawling more than walking, likes to eat crayons and play-dough instead of playing with them, and manages to find all kinds of treasures on the floor that she must put in her mouth!

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving our Christmas tree went up. That was a record for our house. It sat with only lights on for a week before we got around to decorating it. While we had to move furniture around to find a good place for the tree that was not children accessible, I think we are finally happy with the final product. Jeremiah really wanted the tree up so he gladly did all the work. I came home to find the tree up and the furniture neatly arranged not knowing until the kids told me later that they had to try several different spots before Daddy found the right one.

Our big splurge this year was buying matching stockings and a new treeskirt. This is our twelvth Christmas and it was our first time purchasing a treeskirt. The one we have been using was a hand-me-down. It has been well loved and well used and it was time for something new.

Buying the stockings was a difficult matter. What we ended up with would not have been my first choice but since we needed 7 stockings we kind of had to go with the style that had enough for all of us. With some personalized touches they look great!

I love sitting downstairs and enjoying the lights on the tree. Just wish I had a nice fire place to sit by as well on these cold winter nights!

Creature of Habit!

I admit it!  I am very much a creature of habit.  My daily routines help me remember what day it is.  So, today I'm very messed up.  

Sunday didn't feel like Sunday because church was cancelled.  We now have 20 inches of snow on the ground thanks to that storm!  

Monday morning we woke up to find that school was cancelled as well.  The tail end of the storm left a coating of ice all over everything.

We took advantage of the kids being home from school to get some Christmas stuff done but all day long I kept thinking it was Saturday.    I guess it makes sense that today doesn't feel like Tuesday.  I keep thinking it's Monday.  At least it will seem like a short week!


Snowy Sunday

After a week of storms with two days of later start for the kids and one day of early dismissal for the kids we spent the day at home to watch the snow and ice come down.

I knew it was a big storm coming in when church was cancelled the night before.  Usually we get a phone call that morning.  So, we enjoyed a leisurly breakfast, had our own little primary, played with paint, and made some cookies.  

After Jeremiah ended up getting stranded at school overnight during our last storm a few days ago it was nice to have everybody safe at home while the snow was coming down. 

The kids are aching to go outside and play.  I think they are afraid that the snow is going to be gone tomorrow.  With about sixteen inches total from the two storms, I have a feeling the snow will be around for awhile!  


Winter must be here

You know it's winter when you start out the week with a two hour delay for school because of an ice storm the previous night.  You know it's really winter when you can't make it through the week without another storm and find that school has been let out early because of a storm coming in.  

That's how our week has been this week.  It's thursday and the kids got home at 12:30.  It started snowing at noon.  It isn't even 4pm and we have at least 6 inches of snow already and it is still coming down.  Our predicted snowfall total is between 6-12 inches.  We've already hit the 6 inch mark with lots more to come.  

I know the kids are hoping for a snow day tomorrow and I'm already wondering what we will do to keep everybody occupied all day.  Guess we could just go out and play in the snow!

A Christmas Story in 30 Seconds

Just a little something to help you get into the holiday spirit. This movie is for those of you who don't have time for the whole movie.

(Okay--I got tired of listening to how the whole year revolved around Christmas every time I opened my blog. Click to load movie.)

Courtesy of the fine folks at Angry Alien Productions, producers of other fine shorts , including Napolean Dynamite, Jaws, and, my favorite, Superman.


Consoling my not as hip blogger friends

For those of you who might feel bad about receiving such a horrible score on that 80's music quiz:

Yes--I am a geek.

My computer geek score is greater than 71% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Feel better?

P.S. In my own defense, I must say that there are 10 kinds of people--those who understand binary, and those who do not.



I'm not going to beat around the bush--I stole this idea from blogging maven Angie Lee's Seven Clown Circus. (She finds the coolest stuff!)

You can leave me a present here:

...and if you think Tamara should get one (she'll probably end up with all of the presents now), leave it here:

Get your own tree. (Really--this one is mine!)


Are you a child of the Eighties?

Now this was a cool quiz:

I actually did pretty well.

Some samples:

"She told me to _____ this way, she told me to ______ this way. "

"And the full moon that hangs over These _____ in the _____ ."

Good luck!


Ninja Athereness

That's right, it's like awareness, but it's already there...

...at the bottom of the page.

And watch out for the cookie ninja--she's full of baked good mastery!


Internet cautions

Michaela has been doing research for her Henry Hudson report.  A few days ago we went to the library and found several books about the life of Henry Hudson.  The librarian also helped us out and was kind enough to show Michaela how she could access information off the library web-page.  Michaela was very excited about all the information and was very eager to get online and do more research. 

A few nights ago while I was trying to help some kids with homework, make dinner, and listen to whoever was practicing the piano Michaela came to me asking if she could use the computer to do some research.

My answer was "No Michaela, you can't do it now.  You don't know how to do it and I can't help you now.  Even if you did  know how you would need supervision and there is too much going on right now for me to be able to help you."

Michaela had a confused look on her face  as she asked, "why do I need supervision?"

Before I even had a chance to answer her she asked,  "Is it because of the whole modesty and choreography thing?"

I was laughing so hard at that one but managed to say, "yes Michaela that is exactly why you can't be on the computer without supervision."  

Bet you didn't know that modesty and choreography had anything to do with the internet.   


My List

Ha ha -- no! This is not a post about what I want for Christmas. Well, not my Christmas list, at least. This is about a very different kind of list. The items are more personal than what kind of present I'd like to see under the tree.

Sometimes an uninvited thought passes through my consciousness. Too often for my liking, the thought is tied to an unhappy memory. Maybe I offended someone. Maybe I took offense to what someone else did. In either case, the feelings associated with the remembrance bring me no joy.

I find myself regularly speaking with one of my children about how each person is in charge of his own feelings, and about how each of us needs to do what we can to ensure our happiness, regardless of what others do. While we cannot take away the power of others make an offense, we have all the power over their ability to offend.

And so I work on my list. It is a growing log of offenses of which I'd like to rid myself. First is a list of people from whom I've taken offense. It is followed by the list of those who I feel I might have offended. (I know--it should be the longer of the two lists, right?)

Wait, that doesn't sound like a healthy remedy!

But the list isn't for me to dwell on. In fact, I keep it digitally because it is meant to be transitory--each item existing only long enough for me to take the necessary steps to have it erased, not just from my list, but from my heart. I think that Henry Ward Beecher best expressed my feelings about this:
I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.
I wish that I could say that my list is continually diminishing, but the best that I can say is that it is changing. In fact, when I opened it just now I had to add something. I continue to forgive and find forgiveness, even as I add items to my list, which is all that can be realistically hoped for during this mortal sojourn. That is the therapy--that I can do something to move out the old items so that I can work on current ones.

So, even though this isn't about my Christmas list, maybe you could do something for you and me this Christmas time--get your own list. (Really. I'm not giving you mine!) Then cross something off. That's my favorite part--it's such a release!

Give forgiveness for yourself.
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."  -Lewis B. Smedes, Forgiveness - The Power to Change the Past
Merry Christmas!