Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New Neighbor

This was the scene that greeted me earlier this week when I went outside with Josh to wait for the bus. I know that it is for the workmen that will be starting the renovations on the old houses soon, but it was so surprisingly out of context that it sent me into a fit of giggles.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I don't usually blog about books because I keep my reviews and book lists on Goodreads. But I finished a book this morning that I just had to share about.

I got a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday and this book had been the talk of the book world since it's release in November 2010, so I bought it. I'm a sucker for WWII non-fiction anyway, so I thought this was a good bet.

I read and enjoyed Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit, but I was totally unprepared for the power of Unbroken. Two nights I went to bed just after I put the kids down, just to inhale this book. I dreamed about it. I thought about it even when I wasn't reading it. I took it everywhere with me so when I was waiting for the kids or for appointments, I could sneak in a few pages. It is raw. It is painful. It is meticulously researched. It is unbelievable. It is heroic. I cried my way through the last pages and through the acknowledgements. If you buy a single book this year, make it this one.

And then let me know what you think about it.

"On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grandpa's Bow Tie

I had a "really-missing-my-dad" week last week. I just missed him. Between that, being a temporary single parent and a nasty cold and sore throat, I was pretty grumpy. But yesterday, Sam came out of his room ready for church wearing this.

My dad never wore it that I remember. It was probably a gift from a patient who knew he liked fly-fishing. But when we came across it while going through my dad's things after the funeral, I immediately thought of my Sam who since his Halloween stint as a magician has had a thing for bow ties. I never expected to see him actually wear it. But yesterday he did, with a smile on his face and a tear in his eye.

I imagine my dad was smiling, too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Organizing Kids' School Stuff

My friend Jami asked me how I organize my kids' school/scout/activity stuff. This is what I's pretty basic and it works for me.

As soon as my kids bring their papers home from school, I go through them one by one and recycle what I don't feel an immediate attachment to. If I feel even a twinge, I keep it, and it is mostly art projects and essays. If I decide to keep it, I write the year on the back so I remember which school year it is from.
Then it goes into their catch-all school bin in the basement storage area. Ideally, at the end of the school year I go through and sort again and purge one last time, and all the things I'm super attached to get tied together with their school picture package from that year.
I'm behind on his step...I've only completed up to Anna's 2nd preschool year. But because it is all dated, I can do it anytime. Maybe someday I will get them all put into a binder, but for now this works. I also keep all Sam's outgrown scout clothing, his Scouting books, their soccer jerseys and Anna's dance t-shirts in their bins.

As far as their baby stuff goes, I have a separate bin for them. I'm kinda neurotic about them because I hope that they will be a treasure to them (in Anna's case) or to their wives (in the boys' cases) someday. I keep them labeled and in their closets. I also take them (as well as our scrapbooks) with us in the car when we move so they won't get lost or ruined by the movers. They each have all their baby cards, hospital tags, foot and handprint cards, first baby pictures, hospital caps, their newborn bear Grandma Nichols made them, their homecoming outfit, their blessing outfit, and the front page of the local newspaper from the day they were born. I got them down to take this picture and I bawled like a baby looking through their stuff. Were they ever that small??

Couldn't have been.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beauty School Drop-Out

I was in my bathroom getting ready one morning last week when Josh comes running in to tell me something. I noticed that some of the hair on the top of his head looked a little funny. I didn't think too much about it because his hair is so light that sometimes it just grows in really blond in patches. He came in a second time and I noticed it again, fingered the spot and under my breath kinda muttered, "I wonder what happened there" to which Josh promptly answers, "I cutta my hair."

Me: "What?"

Josh: "I cutta my hair witha scissors."

Me : "WHAT scissors?"

He takes me by the hand into the kitchen, opens the junk drawer, roots around over the edge (because he's too short to actually SEE into the drawer) and pulls out a set of scissors. I shrieked and scolded him about not cutting his hair. He looks up at me with teardrops on his mile-long baby eyelashes and says to me, "Don't tella my daddy." Break your heart. Of course, Tony laughed his head off before giving him the same stern lecture that I did. We're actually quite impressed he managed to cut some of his hair because we keep it so short in the first place.

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised because although Anna and Sam never cut their hair, both little girls in my new Sunbeam class have given themselves extreme pixie cuts recently. Maybe it's the phase of the moon.

At least he used safety scissors.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Organizing My Life, Part 1

Although there were some serious downsides to moving over Christmas, there was one very large benefit. Because we moved ourselves, pretty much everything we moved I touched twice; once to pack it, and once to unpack it. I got to seriously consider each object we own. If we love it and use it, we keep it. If we haven't used it during this assignment, we chuck it or put it in a garage sale pile. Simple as that.

Since I've had very little to blog about because I have been busy cleaning, organizing and purging, I thought I might share some of what I have done and some easy ways that I organize my home. Just ideas. If you have something that works for you, please leave a comment. I am always looking for new ideas!

Our master bedroom in this house is larger than in our old house and the layout is much better. I keep nothing under our bed, except my heating pad.

Since we don't have a tv in our bedroom, I use our armoire for my jeans, Tony's sweaters, jewelry, perfume and jammies in the bottom drawers. I use 3M removable hooks (LOVE those things) to hang my long necklaces on the inside of the doors. The same hooks have been there for years...I just hang up all my necklaces in the same place when we unpack. For the rest of my jewelry sets, earrings, bracelets, and pendants, I use these fishing tackle boxes from Wal-Mart. I love them because each compartment is adjustable.

Next to the door, I keep a basket of books that
Tony and I haven't read yet. Looks pretty and keeps them together.

And the last thing is the bathroom. I keep bins under the sink for toiletries that we frequently use and another for new bottles of new shampoo, soap, lotions, etc. so they are on hand when we need it.

And my make-up drawer has two plastic lunch boxes I've been using for years to keep everything neat and tidy.

Just a couple of things. I hope you don't think I'm being pretentious by sharing these ideas. By no means is my house always put together. But I have found that my life is smoother, I sleep better, and I get more done when my house is in order.

And my mom wanted to see what my new house looked like.

More to come another day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Despicable Me

We've been on a Despicable Me movie kick over the past month. So when Josh busted out in the theme song while we were waiting for the school bus this morning, I knew it had to be shared with the world. We filmed this after dinner tonight.

For those of you unaccustomed to Josh's accent (Italian with a touch of pre-school) here is the actual theme song by Pharrell Williams.

Too.Dang.Cute. For words.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowflake Candle Visiting Teaching Gift

I found these gorgeous (and yummy-smelling) candles on clearance at Target on Monday and because I always associate snowflakes with January, I thought we might be able to use them for visiting teaching gifts in January. A little purple wired ribbon, a great candle quote and we're all ready for a new year of visiting teaching!

Here's the quote:

"How far that little candle throws his beam! So shines a good deed in a naughty world"
--William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice)

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No Comment.

Yesterday was the final cleaning inspection for our old house that we moved out of over the Holidays. Bah Humbug. And you read that right...we had to clean, to inspection, the house they will be renovating this Spring. Whatever. So after the inspection (which we passed), I had to go over to the privatized housing offices to sign some paperwork. The guy was really trying to be nice and told me that he hoped that the moved hadn't been too bad. Not wanting to let the sucker off the hook that easily I replied, "Yeah. It sucked. Really bad." He apologized. I signed the paperwork.

And then he handed me two comment cards and asked if we would be willing to fill them out. Seriously?? Did he even HEAR me say how MUCH IT SUCKED to move the week after Christmas?

I mentioned this to Tony and he said that they wouldn't be interested in anything we might like to say.

They're even dumber than we thought they were.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Go Bulldogs!

On New Year's Eve, Tony took the big kids to Moscow, Idaho (about 80 miles away) to watch a fun basketball game, with some family ties. Our brother-in-law, Curtis, coaches for the Louisiana Tech men's team and they made a trip north to play the University of Idaho.

Tony and the kids got there early and got to hang out with Uncle Curtis, watch the team warm-up, model their colors, and fraternize with the enemy Vandals.

Tony was even selected to shoot baskets for a chance to win a Subaru at halftime. When Tony came back after his failed attempt to win the car, Sam was so funny. He told Tony he was glad he didn't win the car because he really liked his truck and didn't want to have to give it away. Cute how their little minds work.

Personally, I wouldn't have minded a new Subaru.

Thanks Uncle Curtis for bringing your team up to see us and for showing Tony and the kids such a good time!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


For the last 10 weeks, I have been training for a 100 mile bike ride on New Year's Day with some of my spin buddies that was organized through the base fitness center. We had to ride a minimum of 60 miles a week (which I easily do with classes) and then do additional long rides on weekends that I came in and did by myself. I have really learned to love spin and this challenge has given me some focus during the hard time following my father's passing and the stress of our Christmas move. We started promptly at 8:00 a.m. and we all rode at our own pace, but kept basically a flat tension throughout. I started lowering my tension the last 10 miles so I could cool down a bit. Since my bike is on the edge, I didn't want to have jello legs when I finally got off the bike and fall over onto the basketball court. That would suck.

This is our group of 15 dedicated, hardcore spinners.
About halfway through the ride this morning, Tony showed up with the kids to say hello, cheer me on, and take some pictures. Excuse my super short hair morning hair...

I finished 100 miles in 3 hours 13 minutes. I wanted to take a picture of the 100 mile on my bike's odometer, but after all that work, it turned over after 99.9 miles. Sheesh.

And FYI, the bike thief was nowhere to be seen. Guess I showed her who's the boss. What a great way to start 2011!