Friday, December 18, 2009

Goin' Blue

My blog is going blue in honor of the first boy born to my side of the family in two generations. Can you believe it? After ten girls, we finally have proof that it CAN be done! Here are some photographs from the ultrasound.

Top of the head.



He's waving at you!

Here is a profile shot.

I still can't believe it's a boy... I'm in shock!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's a Great, Great Thing to Be a Plumber

Okay, the next couple of posts are going to be a little out of chronological order because I didn't realize how many pictures I had stored up on my camera.

On November 19, my sister invited me to go to her daughter's school program called "When I Grow Up." Here she is with the kids waiting for the show to begin.

Natalie's class came in soon after. She's the one in the light pink hat.

Now the reason I'm posting these pictures is because I like to tease Natalie a lot (she's a good sport), and she didn't actually want to be one of the plumbers, but she had no choice because her whole class had to be plumbers. She wanted to be a baker, though!

Because she's a good dancer, she got to be in the front row on the stage. It was kind of dark in there, so even though I creeped up near the front, the pics are still kind of dark.

"It's a great, great thing to be a plumber... you get paid by the hour..."

"Oh it's a great, great thing to be a plumber... you can install your own shower."

If you see her, have her do the song and dance, and tell her that Stacey told you how awesome it was. She'll love that!

Just to toss another picture in, a couple of days later, the kids came over to play at my house. Natalie discovered that the Webkinz pet she had let Paige borrow was put into our "recycle bin" (for toys that are left out). So, the girls did a chore to get it out. Notice how many paper towels they used... wow... and Paige was really trigger happy with the cleaner.

It looked okay until the sun hit it... then I saw streaks everywhere! It's not really their fault, though, because that window was super dirty since our back yard is just dirt right now. They got it... well, sorta clean. But they sure looked cute doing it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Happy Confession...

And the other reason I didn't post much in October is because I've been spending a lot of time in bed with morning sickness.

That's right! We're expecting our fifth child this May. Isn't he or she cute? Kind of reminds me of my daughter's little stuffed bear.

We started trying just as soon as our court battle was over and we had a contract on a house, and guess what... boom, pregnant on the first try. After trying six months for Kallie, this was kind of surprising, especially since I'm no spring chicken!

So, having suspected the good news before closing on the house and confirming it just one week after moving in, I spent the next couple of weeks running all over town trying to get all the things we needed for our house before the morning sickness set in. I feel like I didn't have time to get very settled, but you just deal with whatever you have to... once the sickness sets in, not much else matters.

To tell the truth, I haven't been quite as severely or consistently sick as I was with the first two pregnancies... a sign of a boy?!? But it does seem to be lingering longer, as I am nearly 14 weeks and still regularly nauseous. I'm hoping relief will set in soon, as my birthday is next week, I have to speak in church the Sunday after next, and Thanksgiving is supposed to be at my house this year.

Another thing I've noticed with this pregnancy is that my belly is getting big faster. My pants haven't zipped up since week 8. At my last doctor visit I was surprised (and somewhat horrified) to learn that I had already gained 10 pounds! That's after a slim gain of 18 pounds with Kallie. Oh man, I'm in trouble!

The room we have designated for the nursery is already blue because of the previous owners, so maybe all these are signs about this baby being a boy? I don't know. Russ is convinced it's a boy, and he has all the kids calling the baby "Joey." His theory is that since there have only been girls born to my side of the family for the last two generations, the odds are low that we could have yet another girl. I feel kind of opposite... I think that means we might be genetically incapable of bearing males, and therefore have no chance of having a boy. With this baby, I don't really care if it is a boy or girl. I already got the two daughters I really wanted, and while it would be kind of neat to have a boy of my own, I love my girls and would take another. Plus, she'd have sisters close to her age to play with, where a boy would have brothers that are 11 and 14 years older... probably not as much fun for them to play together. But as I said, I'll be happy either way. That will take a lot of pressure and nervousness off me at the next ultrasound, which should be sometime around Christmas. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kallie's Birthday and Halloween Fun

Okay, you might have noticed that October was pretty sparse on the pictures... like, as in zilcho. One problem is that the kids installed something on my computer that made it kaput, so I'm on the laptop until I sort that out... which I've been avoiding because I hate dealing with computer problems!

So, I finally hooked up the camera to the kids laptop so that I can post some pictures. First of all, we had a birthday party for Kallie when she turned three on October 28th, and she got a princess castle and princess clothing and jewels, which the girls and their cousins loved.

Then all the kids carved jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Everything was going great until Jeremy cut his pumpkin open and discovered that the flesh was rotting and the seeds were black. The rest of us would have just chucked it at that point, but not Jeremy... he was convinced it was just "overripe" and went ahead and gutted and carved that nasty thing.

The artists from left to right: Jeremy, Quinn, Erin, Kallie, Sam, Josie, Paige, William, and Kyle. Of course, Kallie, Josie, and Paige had some help.

When we were finished, Kallie had her birthday brownies. See that hand on the right? It's trying to prevent Savannah from blowing out the last candle after she had already helped Kallie with the first two... what are cousins for?

Luckily, I got this awesomely creepy picture of everyone eating their brownies... totally appropriate for Halloween! When we finally get a light above our kitchen table, maybe people won't look like demon zombies in our pictures... we'll see.

After everyone left, a giant balloon fight broke out between dad and the kids. They had a blast! I like Russ' freaky pose in the first picture. What is he doing? The T-rex robot or something?

This year for Halloween, Paige told me she wanted to be a spider. What?! My pretty fairy from last year wants to be an ugly spider this year? I took her to Joann to show her lots of other really cute costumes I could make for her... a cheerleader, a princess, a 50's girl, etc., but she stuck to her decision. I must love her because I hate spiders (even fake ones), but I did it anyway. Russ said, "Just pretend you're making a cat with a bunch of tails." Even though she was a spider, I have to admit she's the cutest one I've ever seen, and I didn't mind hugging her even if she hugged me back with six arms.

Here she is getting ready to trick-or-treat Halloween night.

Kallie used Paige's clown costume from when she was three years old... this clown could make even the grumpiest heart smile.

A couple more little stories before I go... a week before Halloween, we had gone to the ward truck-or-treat and won first place for our trunk decorations! After we colored Kallie's nose red with Halloween makeup for the trunk-or-treat, the girls took that little skill to Grandma's house the next evening and drew a kitty face on Lucy and a clown face on Savannah with SHARPIE! How precious... kids are fun.

Hope you all had a happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hot and Sour Ramen Soup

The classic Better Homes and Gardens cookbook has a great recipe for hot and sour soup, but I seldom have the ingredients, like tofu, to make it properly. One day I got the inspiration to combine this recipe with my ramen soup, and the result was a very simple, yummier version of ramen noodle soup!

In a saucepan, combine:
1 3/4 cup water
2 tbsp rice vinegar or white vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
dash of ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
ramen soup flavoring (I like to use beef flavor)

Bring to a boil, add the noodles, and boil for 3 minutes.
In a separate cup, stir together 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp water with a fork. Pour this in the soup and cook until thick and bubbly.
In the same cup, beat one egg. Pour the egg into the soup in a steady stream and then stir to create shreds.
Add 1 tbsp thinly sliced green onion, if desired.

Then enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Principal's Pride Award

One day a couple of weeks ago, Paige brought an invitation home from school that said, "Your child has been chosen as a recipient of the Principal's Pride Award for consistently demonstrating the Ryan [Elementary] life skills." As a result, we were invited to attend the principal's Royal Breakfast with her to honor her achievement. Only one girl and one boy from each class was chosen for this honor, so it is really a great accomplishment for her, especially since she started school later than the other children. I am so proud of how well she has done in school, both academically and behaviorally. Her teacher sent me an email saying she consistently exhibits the skills that are conducive to learning, and that it was remarkable how she adjusted so quickly and so well to the classroom environment. Way to go, Paige!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Day of School

Okay, I know I'm a little late on this one since the kids' first day at school was August 6th, but you have to give me a break... I've been busy dealing with escrow and then moving into our new home!!

All the other kids started July 27th, but our kids couldn't start until we were in escrow on our home, so they started a week and a half late.

Before school, the kids posed for some pictures.

I took Paige and Kyle to the elementary school, while Russ went with William to the junior high. Since I couldn't be in two places at once, I helped Kyle find his teacher and then pretty much left him to figure things out on his own. I went with Paige to her classroom, and her teacher showed her around the classroom. Then we went outside to line up with the other kids. I took that opportunity to find Kyle out on the playground and make sure he was doing okay. He was, of course.

I was kind of worried that Paige would have a hard time letting go of me, as she can be clingy when she is in a new environment. I went with her to the classroom, and when the teacher assigned her to the all-boy table, I got worried. Paige is a tender girl, and boys can be a little overwhelming for her with their rowdiness.

To my surprise, she seemed just fine.

Soon, I told her I was going to leave her there, and she said it was okay. No grabbing on to me, no whimper, no plea for me to stay. It seemed like it was easier for her than it was for me... it made me a little wistful to think that she's so grown up and doesn't need her momma as much anymore.

As for the boy table, all I ever hear about is Lu-oo-uke (you have to pronounce the middle "oo" sound a little higher than the rest). Apparently, Paige likes him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conversion to Roth IRA

I just recently read an article about Roth IRA conversions that I wish I would have read in March when the stock market bottomed.

I am by no means an expert on Roth IRA's, so I don't know the ins and outs, but I do know they are great. In case you don't know, a Roth IRA is a type of retirement account where you can contribute after tax earnings and then withdraw the earnings from that account in retirement tax free. There are rules governing these types of accounts, as well as some awesome advantages, but I won't get into those details here. However, I will mention that you can convert traditional IRA's (and apparently some 401(k)'s) into Roth IRA's, although you do have to pay taxes on the money from your traditional IRA that has not been taxed yet. Seems good, but according to most sources I read, the one drawback is that you have to come up with the money to pay the taxes out-of-pocket. If the account value is high, it might be tough to come up with enough money, although it is possible to do partial conversions in order to avoid that problem.

Anyway, the point of this article was that if there is ever a time to convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA, it is when the market is down. This is because of the taxes you have to pay. So, let's say you had a pre-tax traditional IRA account worth around $20,000 in October of 2007 when the market topped out. By March of 2009, you might have had only $10,000 left. If you had converted to a Roth IRA in October of 2007, you would have paid taxes on $20,000, but if you converted in March of 2009, you would only have to pay taxes on $10,000. Once converted, the money grows tax free... so you just permanently slashed your tax bill. When the market recovers, you're poised to benefit handsomely. This plan is so awesome, I'm surprised I didn't think of this myself! ;)

Now, the market isn't fully recovered yet, so I'm still considering this possibility for my old 401(k) from my last job, and for Russ' traditional IRA. However, I am definitely waiting at least until January, and hoping the market doesn't roar back before then (which I kind of doubt), because there is a unique opportunity waiting in 2010. Thanks to President Bush, if you convert money into a Roth IRA in 2010, you pay no taxes on it on your 2010 return, half of the taxes on your 2011 return, and the other half of the taxes on your 2012 return. So, you basically have until April 15, 2013, to pay the entire tax bill. That means if I do the conversion in January of 2010, I have over three years to come up with the full tax amount. Awesome! So, if you hear me hoping the market tanks again in January, just know it's for purely selfish reasons and not because I want any more pain for the economy. Okay?

And if you're wondering where my lovely gerber daisies went, they were being hosted by our old internet service provider, and when we moved and canceled our account, they went bye-bye. Hmm... I didn't think about that. I'll put something new up when I get the motivation (just don't hold your breath).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Clothing kids is expensive

It's that time of year... back to school! Moms across the country are jumping for joy at the thought of a little peace and quiet.

But it's also the time of year when we realize that the pants from last year are now high-waters and/or riddled with holes. And when you start thinking about that, you start realizing they need a lot of other new stuff, too, and that just keeps snowballing until you're broke. Let me just tell you about teenage boys, too... there's a reason they eat a mixing bowl worth of cereal and sneak two patties on their burgers at the family barbecue. Will is 13 now, and shopping for church clothes was a bad idea...

The store was a disaster, first of all, due to all the back-to-school shopping going on (what recession?). Second, I had this bright idea of getting him khaki pants this time to keep him cooler in the Arizona weather. You'll see why this idea sucked later. I scoured the rack for a size 14 regular pair of pants, and when I finally found one, I noted that he had a size 16 in his hands. Why? "Just in case the size 14 doesn't fit," he says. Really? He's 13, after all. Well, guess what... we bought the size 16 (what the heck?).

With that over, I realize that a new color of pants will necessitate a new tie and new socks (unexpected expense... that is why my idea about the pants sucked... especially since I just bought him black socks). The shirts at that store were too expensive, so we head on over to another store to find the rest of his outfit. There, I find a nice tie for him, and, of course, when he ties it on at the appropriate length, all that is left of small end of the tie is like two inches. Russ chimes in, "That's not going to work." Thanks a lot, Russ... that tie was $9.99 and probably on sale... what's wrong with a little tie tack at the top? Huh? And, of course, he'd never stoop so low as to wear the clip-on tie that comes with the shirt. Much too distinguished for that! So, we head on over to the men's department to buy ties and socks at higher prices. At this point, I'm thinking, "Are high-waters really that bad?" Seriously.

So anyway, the boys looked smashing at church this week (I drew the line at buying brown shoes to match... black works, doesn't it? Answer yes, or don't answer at all... don't pull a Russ. Totally lie to my kids if you don't think their black shoes and belts go with their khaki pants... k?)

But I'm not done complaining yet! So, the kids seem to grow out of everything they own pretty quickly, and it's like you have to buy a whole new wardrobe for the lot of them every single year! So, you shop and get everything they need, and then the jr. high P.E. teacher springs on you that there is a uniform for P.E., and you get to buy it! Whoopee! Then there are the shoes. For the boys, two pairs of shoes work, but for Paige and Kallie, I need sandals, tennis shoes, and church shoes. And guess what! They grow out of all of them at the same time, so you end up having to buy multiple pairs at once. And just when you think you've got them squared away, the season changes, and you have to buy jeans, jackets, long-sleeved shirts, and then swimwear, too. Anybody else get tired of this routine? Sheesh... I wish I could get a new wardrobe every year ;)

I love them, though... I just wish they'd stop growing out of their clothes ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

We're Buying a House!!

We started escrow today on a big, beautiful house near Gilbert and Ocotillo in Chandler, Arizona. It's 4059 square feet (I'm afraid of the A/C bill!!) with 6 bedrooms, den, and 3 1/2 baths. I didn't think we needed that much house, but the price was too good to pass up, and it had absolutely everything we needed and more. As a bonus, everything was in good shape, and I liked the cabinets, tile, carpet, and paint, so I won't need to spend any extra fixing it up, which is rare for a foreclosure. We know because we looked at a lot of them before finding this one. We are really excited, so we wanted to share some (lots of) pictures!!!

Front of House (the tree fell down a couple of days ago)

From dining room looking toward front entry and living room

Living room looking toward the back patio (no yard yet)

Family room

Family room looking toward kitchen and dining/living



Breakfast nook




Den looking toward stairs

Bathroom 1

Bathroom 1 tub and toilet

Master bedroom

Master bedroom looking toward hall and master bath (on the right)

Master bath

Master bath shower and vanity

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

Bedroom 4

Bedroom 5

Bedroom 6

Bathroom 3

Bathroom 3 tub and toilet

Bathroom 4 (half bath)

Laundry room