Friday, December 24, 2010

Some Serious Catch Up

Okay, time to catch up. There will be more to come - lots more, but here is a start. What happened to November and December? A few key events over the past little bit:

We created a storage room

It borders on ridiculous how excited I was to get a real storage area. We did have a makeshift area that was created by the previuos owners that was outside the basement foundation, but under the upper level structure. Although we appreciated that, it was dirty, hard to access, and didn't hold much. After really trying to figure out the best alternative where we would be able to get the most "bang for our buck" we decided to dig out a small portion of this storage area, put in a real door, put in some shelves, add some lights (the previous light was turned on by a ping pong ball that was tied to a string), and put concrete down so you wouldn't get so dirty climbing into the storage area. The catch was that unless we wanted to shore up the structure, dig up the front yard, and make the project exponentially more expensive, it had to all be dug out by hand. That is a big deal with clay like soil. It isn't the prettiest room in the house, but I am giddy with excitement to have a real place to put our food storage, decorations, freezer, etc. It may just be my new favorite room in the house. (Although Ted is quite certain I will move on to a new project any day now. :)

Before: This is the door you used to have to climb through to get to the storage area.

AFTER: The new door:

BEFORE: The view as you first walked into the storage area - note the hole just inviting rodents, skunks, or other annoying critters into our warm home. And in case that picture doesn't do the hole justice, the five gallon buckets of dirt were passed through that hole - no enlarging necessary.

AFTER: Here is the view now. The hole has been sealed up, there is a solid concrete wall and there is a nice concrete floor.

BEFORE: The room is L-shaped, and this is what you saw after all the digging had been done to excavate just a little more room -
A few interesting facts about this project:
  • Over 1700 buckets (5 gallon size) of dirt were removed.
  • We were the most popular house in the neighborhood when the cement truck was here - little boys from all over came to watch (see picture below). You can't even see our house in the picture, but that truck was hoisting the cement tube over the side of the house to go around back and into the basement hole.

  • 28 trailer loads of dirt were hauled away.
  • No skunk nests were found. :)
  • Our kids put their handprints in the cement, and Tessa wouldn't cooperate. I was so mad. I put her in timeout and she still wouldn't cooperate. The cement was drying fast and when I said I was going to just leave her in her room all day she said, "And ghosts might come and get me if I don't make my handprint?" I was so mad that I answered, "Yes."
  • We have four kids' handprints in the right place in the basement. :)

Jack got Sprayed by a Skunk

One morning at about 6:10 Emma came running up to me and said in her loudest whisper (since the other kids were still asleep) "JACK GOT SPRAYED BY A SKUNK!" So I thought "@!#&*>?" to myself and ran to see where he was. Our fence along the bluff area is (due to subdivision requirement) a split rail fence. Since we need to keep Jack in the yard we put up chicken wire, so I wasn't sure A: How the skunk got in, and B: If the skunk got out. Emma said she saw the skunk run under the grill. Out of concern for Jack getting sprayed again and again, I hurried and brought Jack in the house. MENTAL NOTE: IF YOUR DOG GETS SPRAYED BY A SKUNK, DO NOT BRING HIM IN THE HOUSE!

Because of my stupid action, our house stunk - and it stunk really badly. I hurried and looked up online what to do, and went to the store to get the appropriate ingredients to bathe Jack. The people in the grocery store stayed plenty clear of me so I was in and out of there.

I walked in the house and about gagged. I had read that if you put baking soda on your carpets, your couches, your floors, everywhere, and then clean it up that it absorbs the scent. So, I sprinkled baking soda EVERYWHERE. In the meantime, the kids were staying clear of me. No asking for breakfast from mom that day. I bathed Jack, and went about trying to get rid of the scent. Ted was really helpful - he got showered and left for work without coming near the rest of us. :)

I then got busy. I was burning cinnamon on the stove to aid in scent removal. I scrubbed floors, washed Jack, cleaned couches, washed Jack, did laundry, and washed Jack. In the meantime Ted called and informed me that I may need to leave the house and actually go around humans to buy him some new clothes because when he walked into the office all of the staff said, "What is that smell!!!" Luckily, with some serious Febreze action he was okay. I am sure his first patient (that he knew well) was a little shocked when Ted leaned over and asked if she could smell anything funny. But I digress.....

Over the next few days the smell began to dissipate, and the skunk was nowhere to be seen. Until one day when I came home from Costco and began unloading my car in the garage. It had been a huge Costco run so I had all the doors and back door open on the Suburban. There was a faint smell of skunk, so I began looking around. I began investigating everywhere I thought that stupid varmint could be hiding (from a distance anyways). Then I walked past the old empty garbage can in the garage and something caught my eye. Something black and white and I could hear a spraying sound. That stupid stupid skunk was caught in our old garbage can, and it was spraying away. I started screaming and yelled for Tessa to get in the house, and I ran and got the men working on our storage room - surely they would know what to do, right? Patrick saved the day and put a piece of particle board over the can and a cinder block on top to make sure he couldn't escape, and then I went to call Animal Control. They directed me to Animal Rescue.

When I finally got on the phone with Animal Rescue they were mad at me accusing me of catching the skunk. When I assured them that I hadn't set some trap, our conversation went like this:

THEM: "I'll tell you how to get him out of the garbage can. Just stand behind it and as gently as possible tip it over and then stand still so he can run off."

ME: "But then he is still in my yard."

THEM: "Well, he was there first. If you move him away from your yard he might die. Can you hold please, someone is on my other line."

ME: Thinking: Are you kidding me?

THEM: "Sorry about that. That was someone on the other line that has an injured squirrel."

ME: Thinking: We are clearly not on the same page about this.

THEM: "Now that he has been caught I'm sure he will stay clear of your garage."

ME: Uh-huh. Thanks.

When I called Ted and told him about the conversation he told me to call them back and tell them they can rescue an animal or pick up a carcass, either way the skunk was leaving our yard. Instead I went to Patrick who was working on the basement and told him about the conversation. He laughed out loud. Then he did me the biggest favor ever, and he put that disgusting smelly garbage can in his truck and got ready to drive away. When I asked him if he was worried about getting sprayed he said, "not how I'm letting him go." He then told me later that he stopped his truck, pulled the garbage can to the edge of the truck bed, and then he got back in and hit the gas like nobody's business. The can toppled over and the skunk made it out. He told me he could go back in a day or so to pick up the garbage can.

I don't want it back.

As an added bonus, the entire inside of my suburban stunk for two weeks since I had left all the doors open after my Costco trip.

And don't worry, I'm sure the skunk made lots of new friends in his new home. Maybe he is busy nursing a squirrel back to health as we speak.


We had a pink flamingo, a ghostly ghoul, Napolean Dynamite, and a witch who walked a cowboy, and a not so happy rocker to take the kids trick-or-treating. The reason this Halloween was so AWESOME!! -- every single costume was recycled. I did not buy, stress, or worry about creating costumes this year - it was by far the most relaxing year ever. WOOHOO!

Lincoln Turned 11!!! Woohoo!!!

Lincoln turned 11 and celebrated with Chicken Squares (don't ask me why my kids go for the typical "Tuesday" night meal instead of the good stuff for birthday meals!), and a Scotcheroo cake. (He also requested donuts for his classroom treat - no typical requests here! ) Lincoln has grown up so much this past year and never ceases to amaze me. He is by far one of the most empathetic and compassionate kids I know - he wears his heart on his sleeve, and I don't know if he will curse me or thank me for that someday. If you see his teacher she is always very quick to say how kind Lincoln is - if only we could get that kindness to extend toward his little brother we would be set! Love you, Linc!

Lincoln Received his Arrow of Light.

Some people count the passing of cub scouts by how many badges they have earned, how many campouts, etc. Not us. Ted and I count down by how many more pinewood derby cars we need to create. But Linc is done. No more cub scouts for Lincoln. He is totally excited - especially for Klondike Derby which is a winter camp that is totally freezing and Ted has to go with him. Man, I love being the mom! :)

But don't worry - Lincoln left cub scouts in December, and Sammy joins in January - just in time for Pinewood Derby! :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Welcome to Crazy Town

It is 8:10 a.m. We're already behind. Here is the schedule for the day:

9:00 Sam's soccer game
10:30 Lincoln's soccer game
11:00 Sam's soccer game
1:00 Sam's basketball game
4:00 Ted's Stake Leadership Meeting
4:30 Lincoln's basketball game

Although we thought that Emma would have a game today, she actually doesn't - she already had three this week. Ted and I keep telling ourselves to enjoy the ride. I say that in my mind about 3 million times a day so as to avoid running away screaming. The thing is, one day of pure chaos isn't so bad. It is just that over the past week, since Monday, we had to add four practices, five games, two class parties, one team party, and one birthday party to the schedule.

Don't get me wrong, this ride is tons of fun. I love watching the kids play hard. I love how excited they get about playing. And I admit, I even love to watch Emma getting feisty on the field because it reminds me of her dad (although she came dangerously close to getting a yellow card and I'm okay with THAT never happening). I love how Sam's team gets so into the game, but win or lose they come off the field laughing. I love watching Lincoln's team work together and strategically play a game that seemed to be pure "jungle ball" not too many years ago.

This time goes way too quickly. I know that, so I'm going to do everything I can to enjoy the ride. I also hope that today's ride doesn't leave us in crazy town. Either way we better get going. We have a soccer game waiting.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bogus Basin

The Bogus Basin Hill Climb was this last month. Ted did great. He had one goal - finish it in less than 1:05. Last year's time? 1:07. Every year through the winter he spends countless hours on the bike trainer in the garage. Every spring he has his light gear out and he is training on hills being careful to avoid running into deer or raccoons. Long rides on weekends. Getting up at 5:45 every day. He was ready.

He did great and finished in 1:05:02. Now on to bigger and better things, right? Triathlons? Half ironman? Or maybe just Bogus Basin Hill Climb in 1:03 next year. :) Way to go, babe!

Tessa's Birthday - According to Her

We had a birthday celebration the other day. I caved because I could not take it anymore. Tessa has been asking me non-stop (and by non-stop I mean approximately every 32 seconds) when her birthday was going to be here. She would ask me if it was closer now. She would ask me how many minutes until her birthday. It was crazy. It went on like this for approximately four days. When I tried to explain that her birthday was not until AFTER Christmas she was hysterical. She then started stomping around and screaming, "but Christmas is taking TOO LONG!!!"
I actually tuned it out. I can get pretty frustrated, but I can tune out a certain level of craziness around here. However, Emma couldn't take it anymore.
We came back from our date and Emma had made a yellow cake for her, dyed it pink, and also frosted it with pink frosting. Tessa was thrilled. I kept telling her that she couldn't have another birthday until February. No more asking, no more screaming, no more tantrums (yeah, right). She did agree, though.
She also thinks she is turning five. Whatever - it's all pretend, right?

Ted had consented to pretending the cake was a birthday cake, but when she insisted that we sing to her he just looked at me and said, "we're not really doing this are we?" Clearly he isn't home when she is stomping around and complaining every 32 seconds about how her birthday can't get here fast enough. By the way, she hasn't asked about her birthday since.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tessa's First Day of Preschool!

She came in at 7:00 this morning grinning from ear to ear telling us it was time to leave for school! There were some kids crying. There were some moms crying too. However, we were all smiles. :)

I went to the gym and didn't check someone into child care - it was so nice!
Ted had a little harder time - can you see him reaching back for her hand? Her reply was, "no, I'm big. I don't need to hold hands." It was funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.

As I was driving I reminded myself to "memorize" this moment, because they go by so quickly - our baby is growing up!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wagner Family Reunion at Brianhead

This year we had the Wagner family reunion at the Adams' cabin in Brianhead, Utah. It was beautiful. It was so fun to see everyone, and watch the cousins interact together. We played games, ate smores the size of your head, rode four-wheelers, did crafts, ate great food, talked, read, and played some more. It was fabulous!

Here are all the cousins in the posed picture.

Here they are showing more of their personalities as we tried to get another picture!

At the top of the mountain - it was cold, so we got out long enough to take a picture and then rushed back to the car - yes, we are wimps.

Crafts in the afternoon.

Playing the cotton ball game (and praying that nobody fell as they ran full speed without watching where they were going).
The Oreo game (Note howTessa skipped the game part and went straight to the
cookie eating part!)

Holding the pinata for all the kids - probably the safest place around given how some of the kids (and grandparents) were wildly swinging the bat around. :)

Don't worry - she DID manage to get that entire thing in her mouth (and on her face, and on her shirt, and on her pants,....)

Sam spent more time on these four-wheelers than anywhere else. He LOVED them, and he would wander from person to person until someone would agree to go out with him....

until he knew we were making smores.
The front entry way - a happy sign of all of us being together.

Thanks for a wonderful reunion! It was FANTASTIC!!

Sweet Sammy & Surgery

So, it's over. And we couldn't be more thrilled. Sam doesn't gasp for air anymore. As a matter of fact, he thinks Lincoln is too noisy when he sleeps because he is breathing so loud! When I ask him a question, Sam doesn't turn his head and put his ear towards me and ask me to repeat it. He actually hears me the first time, and we are thrilled. We were so concerned about the breathing thing - and then the hearing frustration was aggravating to us, and especially to him. There were times where it seemed almost normal, but then it would deteriorate again and it would take weeks or months for it to resolve.

The doctor discovered (as I mentioned before in an earlier post) that his adenoids were likely large enough that they were preventing proper drainage from his ears resulting in fluid buildup, ear infections, and scarring which all affected his hearing. It wasn't something that traditional tubes would have fixed (or at least they don't think so), and it wasn't something that hearing aides would have helped.

Hopefully we won't have that problem any more. There still may be some residual hearing loss, but it is minimal, and mainly on one side. He falls within normal limits on his hearing tests -barely within limits on one side - but within normal limits, and we are pleased as punch about this.

His tonsils were so large that he wasn't getting enough air, but then he would go and run in a soccer game, so we didn't know what to make of this. The overnight sleep study showed that his breathing did drop dramatically during the night, so the tonsils needed to come out. Since then his breathing is fine. The doctor said that on a scale of one to five (five meaning that the tonsils completely occlude the airway) his were a size four. I am SO GLAD they are gone!!!

Trying to get Sam to wake up from the anesthesia.

They brought out the tonsils to show us how large they were - that is Ted's hand so that you have some idea of the scale of how large they were.

Sam crashing after surgery on our bed - and Jack keeping him company.
The thing is, Sam was great through the entire process. He didn't complain. He didn't whine. He was just sweet.

A few weeks later I found this note that he had made during that time, and he asked me to deliver it for him. I didn't think much of it and then I thought I needed to open this and see what it was. My heart just melted when I saw what it said.

It says: From: Sam To: The Army Navy
Inside: Check the other side.
On the back of the card he wrote: To the army of United States of America. Thank you for fighting for freedom. (If you have ever heard Sam pray, you know this is a big deal to him.)
When you open the card up he had included $6 of his own money that he worked for, and he wrote: This money is for food.

Sam's little body may have had trouble breathing, and a hard time hearing. But one thing is clear: His heart is as big and strong as ever.