Friday, May 30, 2008

What Will $4 Get Me?

One gallon of gas. I know I am not the only person in the world who is flabbergasted by the price of gas lately. However, I read yesterday that oil prices were going down a bit. Then why did the gas prices finally hit $4/gallon today in Utah?

I have been complaining for a while now about my van being out of service. Not having a vehicle at my disposal is really, really getting me down. I feel trapped in my own house. Not that I really have places to go, just that when I want to run to Wal-Mart for a few items, or a prescription for my happy pills (estrogen), then I want to just go get them.

For clarification, my local Wal-Mart is a little less than 1.5 miles away. Easy walking distance for me and my children. Other than WM there aren't a lot of places I need to go in town. Although the library would be nice (probably a little over 2 miles) and Mack's vote would be that we walk to McDonald's every day (easily 2.5). So what is my big problem you ask? I have become completely dependent on my car for transportation.

As you know I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables. They didn't have cars, they would walk places. But even Anne got to ride in a buggy when she was going more than a mile and a half. So I guess a horse is the answer?

I used to joke with Harold that my dream way of transporting myself around the neighborhood would be a golf cart. I told him this once and he asked why I needed a golf cart. I told him that when Mack escaped from the house I would like a golf cart to ride around the neighborhood and look for him. Harold said, "you could walk." Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants, I'll do that. In the mean time my son has fallen into the raging irrigation ditch near our home while I am slowly but surely making my way up the walking path. For Your Information, my cute little golf cart would make the distance I would need to cover to find our son in about 1/5 of the time of me walking.

I know, I have a lazy streak, a pretty large lazy streak. But I just could not keep up with that kid when he was little. He was an escape artist and he was FAST. Still is, but now he has the sense not to run too far.

So who is judging who now? A golf cart would solve a lot of problems. Better gas mileage (37 MPH), no more whiney wife who does have a car at her disposal (poor me), and the kids would stop screaming for entertainment all the time. A nice ride around the neighborhood to visit old friends would be fun, and I would be more likely to get my lazy butt outside for a while to catch some sunshine (I once heard someone say it was better to be fat and tan than fat and white. I do not agree with this statement because I think it is better to be fat with NO skin cancer than fat WITH skin cancer).

At this point I guess I want to know....when can I buy my golf cart? I know it is completely unreasonable to even ask, considering we cannot afford to get the dang van fixed. But that thing only gets 19 mph on a good day. It's probably more like 16 around town. Lame. Not even a sweet SUV and lousy gas mileage to boot.

I could go on and on here. Especially since my $4 won't get me what it used to at the grocery store any more either. Could that be because the price of diesel is even more than unleaded?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Air Force One: The Tour

For anyone in the Smith Clan: I just read on that Julie Beck, along with Dieter Uchtdorf and Pres. Monson, toured Air Force One today.

WHAT? Is Dale freaking out yet? Because once Harold finds out he is going to want to talk to Julie one-on-one soon, very, very soon.

Ahhh, the perks of being a general authority....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Goings On

I'll be the first to admit that nothing much has been going on lately. Since being out of school (why oh why can't she stop talking about her life pre and post-school?) I have been pretty much doing diddly. I work. I fix a few meals here and there (and those aren't so great, ask my family), and the most exciting thing is that we have continued to take the foster care classes. Let's talk about that, shall we?

We have had several interesting guest speakers, former meth addicts mostly, and foster parents. We have seen several interesting videos, mostly produced in the 80s and in addition to being completely out of date, end up freaking Harold and I WAY OUT. There are those cases of severe sexual abuse, severe neglect, and my personal favorite (meaning the one that freaked me out the worst) the attachment disorder. I know that they have to show/teach us the worst case scenario, but dang!

We are two classes away from being done, have been assigned a licensing agent, and our friends and family who we listed as references have all received letters wherein they were asked to describe us and what experience we have had with children. One of the best questions asked is whether or not the person filling out the questionaire is planning on discussing their responses with us. I love this one because anyone who knows me knows that I have an insane sense of curiosity and it takes all my energy not to ask to see the questionaire all filled out. I must admit that I restrained myself.

However, the best response to that question was my mother. She informed DCFS that she WOULD NOT be discussing the responses with me. What? My own flesh and blood? Come on mom!? Why oh why!? Of all people you know how badly I wanted to see those papers, you know exactly how heightened my sense of curiosity is. My own mother let me down.

I talked to a friend of a friend (for lack of a better way to describe her) today who is fostering at the current time. She was very informative (thanks Julie for the reference) and very honest with me.

Harold and I are still discussing the options and have yet to get "THE ANSWER." The one that will keep us moving forward with this process. Harold reminded me of the talk given by President Packer about walking into the darkness to get to the light. That is how I feel, like I am walking in darkness. Not an evil kind of thing, but an unknown. At least I have Harold, the darkness isn't so scary with him by my side.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Closet: After

Before I reveal the pictures I just want to do a quick recount of my closet adventure. I started on Monday, did nothing on Tuesday or Wednesday due to a pretty nasty cold I developed, did quite a bit on Thursday and finished up today, Friday.

The Death Toll:
3 Bags of Denim material for my quilt project.
5 Bags to DI.
5 Bags of trash.
1 Bag of miscellaneous stuff reassigned to the laundry room.
1 Large Plastic Storage Bin, reassigned to the kids' bathroom.
1 Vacuum that will find its way to the dump if I have anything to say about it, whereas Harold might insist on taking it to DI. I say, why give them something that isn't that great? I guess it might be better than nothing, but still, its pretty awful.

**Bag is defined as a kitchen tall bag with flaps from Hefty.

I also don't have a picture of the shelves, because there is nothing there. Nothing. I have 3 empty shelves waiting for something meaningful to grace their surfaces.

Harold's Side: You may notice there are some shoes of mine on his new rack, but it turns out he has VERY few pairs of shoes and I, who honestly never really thought of herself as a shoe person, has more than he does. So, he has to share. Also, there are some blue shorts hanging over the rod on the far left of the pic, those are his workout shorts and that is his permanent spot for them. He is really consistent about this, but now he will be able to actually see that he has shorts there waiting for him, should he so desire. He also has a new tie rack which I fashioned from a new towel rack that is supposed to hang over a shower door. I just could not find a tie rack. Every Christmas as I walk the mall, especially JC Penney, I see all kinds of tie racks. I had to make due, and when I realized that part of my project would require a certain amount of ingenuity, I was game.

My Side: Ahhh, the joy, the beauty! I am now in love with my closet. I can actually walk into the walk-in closet. Hmm, now that I think about it, I may have left that green yarn on my white robe.

The Girl Who Did It All, and got a new haircut with bangs. Daring, I know. But I like it. I could, however, do without the double chin. I probably should have applied a certain amount of face powder too, to eliminate that awful shine.

All in all a productive week despite my nasty cold. When I spoke on the phone this morning to Abbie she asked how the closet was going and she mentioned that I needed to have this project done today. Admittedly, I was not at that moment working on the project. You know that last push that a project needs, the final steps, the pile up of stuff that you just don't know where to put? I was at that point and I even though I knew I needed to finish, it was a struggle. Thanks Abbie! You inspired me to finish and my husband and I are grateful.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Closet: Before

I've been talking about this project for a while now. It has been so overwhelming and I knew it would take such a long time that I have literally been afraid to go there. Today is the today, or rather this week is the week. I thought I would share a few pictures so that my reading public can appreciate the amount of work that is about to go into this project. I will describe each picture and give a brief summary of the contents. Each description describes the picture above.

You are probably going to have to click on each picture to fully appreciate what you are looking at, but I would prefer it if you did not enlarge this particular picture. This is a picture of the floor of the closet, center view. This of course includes our laundry basket of dirty clothes. Don't go there. You can see the vacuum also, the toilet paper, various and sundry shoes, etc.

This Harold's side of the closet, floor view. As you can see, we have been keeping files in our closet. I am not exactly sure why. I think we thought they were safer there. These babies are going to the basement. We have room down there and I want my closet back!

Harold's side, top view. As you can see, Harold's shelf looks pretty good. He keeps a few things up there but it hasn't gotten out of control.

This is a front view of the shelves and window (yes there is a window back there). Underneath the sack of clothes Amy gave me as hand-me-downs, and behind the cleaning solution is my jewelry box. Pathetic. The shelves are really useless as they house things that either need to go elsewhere or just need to be thrown out. I look forward to finding a really good use for those shelves this week.

This is one of my favorite views. This is my side. If you enlarge the picture you can see a piece of green yarn attached to my white robe. Hmm. Wonder how long that's been there. Underneath the clothes that are hanging up are some clothes that I have been hoarding for a certain quilting project. This week I am going to go through this stuff, take loads to DI, and just plain throw stuff out. (If my garbage receptacle gets too full, I'll have to bag stuff up and wait until late Thursday night to stash my extras in someone else's garbage bin. This is the stealthy, fun part of my project.)

This is my favorite view of all time. These are my shelves. More jeans for a quilting project. Its time to cut them, bag them and store them so that I can take back my shelves. Why we have cleaning products in our closet I am not sure, because the kids bathroom closet has TONS of space for this kind of stuff. I can't even say that we put the cleaning stuff there for convenience because the kids bathroom is literally 5 steps away.

Are you thoroughly disgusted? I am. This project has waited a long time for my attention and I am happy to report that I will have this sucker done by Friday. Come Hell or High Water! (My mom is out of town this week and won't be reading this blog, so its okay for me to used that expression.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Favorite Color

When I was a kid my favorite color was green. If you want to get specific I would have said it was more of a Hunter Green than say a yellowish green or a leaf green. I always felt pretty cool about my choice, especially since my grandfather McGiven's favorite color was green, too (according to my mother). He died when I was young so our shared favorite color made me feel a kind of kinship with him.

Somewhere along the way, in the past 5-7 years or so my favorite color has turned to red. I love red, love it. My eye searches out red shirts, towels, sheets, kitchen appliances and utensils, quilts, whatever. I have a red Kitchenaid, red spatula, a quilt I made myself where the predominant color is red and it is Gorgeous! I have red couches, I bought Harold a red shirt, red sheets and red towels in my bathroom (which replaced the green ones). I even wish I could fit my body into an "inspi(red)" shirt made by Bono for Gap. And I wish I could find some sweet red shoes. I want some shoes that "POP" with red.

Here is where I know my infatuation with red is going a little too far. Yesterday while doing laundry I was separating everything into whites that could be bleached, lights/whites that cannot be bleached, dark blues/dark khaki/black, light blues and light pinks and I had a red/orange pile but most of it was red. This isn't the sick part.

As I was doing my laundry during the day I unconsciously saved the red load for last. When I started the load I made a mental note of how beautiful the color was and when I came back to switch it from the washer to the dryer I couldn't help but stop and literally smile and feel happy looking at the red stuff. It was so pretty. Even now that load of laundry brings a smile to my face because it is in the dryer right now, waiting for me to take it out, and I can't wait. I want to look at it and let it bring me some happiness.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

*Warning! Heavy Topic* (Followed By A Bit O' Fun)

I apologize to my reading public, but since our return from vacation we have been inundated with life. I think I told a few of you that we decided to take foster care classes in an effort to learn all we can about fostering and adoption. We are still feeling pretty uncommitted but are hoping that through this process we will get enough information that we can make an informed decision through the spirit as to how we want to proceed.

The classes started the week we were on vacation so we missed the fun stuff like the introduction, the getting to know you with the other potential foster parents, and stuff like that. The class we began with was class #3, which was on Monday, and the class was entitled: Abuse & Neglect/Sex Abuse.

We knew this would be a hard topic to begin with but we weren't deterred by it, like I said we just want to get as much information as possible.

Here are some interesting statistics: Reasons Kids Come Into Foster Care

Domestic Violence-31%
Sex Abuse-27%
Physical Abuse-20%
Non Supervised-6%

We were forced to talk openly about slang words for body parts and the degrees of impact of different levels of sex abuse on a child and these were VERY specific and did not even include actual sex.

The class was not uncomfortable for me and I think that is because I knew that the purpose of the class was to educate and inform, as well as desensitize us. When a child feels he/she can trust you and starts to tell you about his/her abuse this class is supposed to help so that the caregiver doesn't freak out and remains calm, never prompting the child but asking if they would like to tell you more.

Last night's class was a follow up to Monday and was all about the developmental effects of neglect/abuse on a child's social, emotional, physical and cognitive progress.

To lighten this discussion up a bit I would like to tell you about a man in our class. Since leaving school I have been a bit down and I have been missing the classroom setting. This man reminded me of the really blogworthy contents of a classroom. He comments ALL THE TIME. He debates national statistics. He qualifies every question he asks with a rambling narrative. He raises his hand during EVERY discussion period. His wife never, ever says a word. Interesting dynamic. A lady that we sit next to informed me last night that this man spear headed a discussion on one of the first nights about wether or not foster care or birth parents should pay for a bicycle for a foster child. What?

Our first discussion last night was about developmental milestones for children 0-18. The challenge was that if we could predict the age that each milestone is reached in most (70%) of the population in North America we could go home and we could consider that class passed. The first questions had to do with being fully potty trained, when a child learns to walk, and that sort of thing. Of course we didn't get the answers right and we were in for the long haul (4 hours). So after question number 2 when our fate was decided and we would have to stay for the full class period the teacher starts trying to blaze through and give us the answers to the questions. This man decides he needs to debate about it. Why? For the love of free time and nights spent at home, why doesn't he shut his yap? Half way through a girl near me raises her hand and says, "How about we just learn the ages for the milestones without debating them so that we can move on?" Hello yappy man in the front, she was talking to you!

I feel for teachers in this instance. Has there ever been a class in all of history where there wasn't one of these people? Where you could actually have an enjoyable teaching/learning experience without the interference of the know it all? I know you all know what I am talking about because we all sit in Sunday School once a week and I am betting you have a very clear picture in your head of the person in your class who fits the above description. I may be a lot of things, but a know it all, class yapper I am not.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I'll post pics and videos later, but for now....The Top 10 things I loved about our vacation (not in any particular order, except for #1):

10. Harold picking Pirates as his favorite ride, when the second time we rode it he practically slept through it. I questioned him and his response was that he liked it because it was so relaxing. What would Captain Jack have to say about that?

9. The kids getting to fight Darth Vader because they were "chosen" to be in the Jedi Training Camp. They wore robes, had light saber training, and the next thing you know the famous music cues up and they are armed and ready for battle. Super cute.

8. California Screamin': A completely unexpected roller coaster that never lets up. If I didn't constantly feel like my head was going to jerk off my body I would have enjoyed it more. But probably my all time favorite roller coaster.

7. Harold going on a ride where they shoot you up and drop you. The chairs had two different restraints on them and what I call a "barf shield" in front. The kids were literally holding their arms out saying, "Dad, don't do it, please...." Then they proceeded to cry while he completely enjoyed himself. Hilarious.

6. The Tower of Terror. That was the sweetest ride. I thought it was going to be seriously terrorizing. However, when we loaded up I noticed that the only restraint was a seatbelt and I knew it was all going to turn out all right. Loved that ride, I highly recommend it.

5. The Dream Team giving us free lanyards with two pins on each that we got to trade with any Disney cast member.

4. The Monorail that we got to ride into the park on day three (which we got to ride because we were guests of a Disney hotel), when I was sure I couldn't walk another mile.

3. My new Tink watch with its colorful band.

2. Our last night, after we had left the park for the last time I asked the kids if they enjoyed themselves. Mack said, "I miss it already. It was quite charming." Where does he get this stuff.

1. Soarin' Over California. Sweet ride where you are taken up over a very large screen and you see California from the air. Rivers, forests, orange groves, the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to the sites, the breeze is blowing and you get to smell the woodsy pine scents, the orange from the groves. It was exhilirating. I even cried. Don't mock me! This was our first ride and I was feeling super grateful for having the opportunity to take this trip with my family and to finally be there!

Friday, May 2, 2008

We Heart Mickey

The long-awaited vacation has finally arrived. The Nichols family of four is off on a "life-changing journey" (Sav). The Year Of A Million Dreams awaits. When questioned as to what he is looking forward to most Mack stated, "I want to build a light saber and I want to go right now." As you can tell, being 21 hours from liftoff has made some of the younger Nichols a bit edgy. Their mother, however, sits in the middle of a large mess, with clean clothes strewn everywhere, and bags on tops of beds, half loaded because the really important clothes are still in the laundry. This may be hard to believe but my children were asked days ago to bring all the laundry to me in preparation for the big trip. And yet a very large pile still sits in the corner of my son's room.

The children don't seem to understand the work that needs to be done before they can leave, as they roll their eyes when their father asks them to clean this, vacuum that, etc.

All of this strife will soon be forgotten as we enter the Magic Kingdom, make company with pirates, find Nemo, fly with Dumbo, become jedi masters, get terrorized by a tower, and see dead people. We will not, however, be able to discover that It's A Small World afterall (closed).

Until Tomorrowland.......

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hershey Track Meet

Despite the name, there are no chocolate bars handed out at this particular track meet. Though disappointing, the events turned out to be quite fun.

Sav ran hers 1 1/2 weeks ago and Mack ran his on Tuesday. Because I knew I would be off school by the time Mack's track meet came around I volunteered to help out. I showed up and I was asked to be at the "start line" for all the races. This meant lining kids up in their appropriate lane number and then by heat number. I was told that this job is a bit harder when we are dealing with 3rd graders. It was mayhem, but it was fun. This was the first time the kids in our school district had been in the track meet because 3rd grade is the first time they are allowed at the event. I was there for the 50, 100, 200 and 400, with the kids running the original heats, the semifinals and the finals.

Mack participated in the 200 and 400 as well as the baseball throw. I am not sure how he did with the baseball throw because he never told me and I never heard his name announced for semifinals/finals.

I was there when he ran the 200. After he ran I hightailed it to the ladies room because I had been standing at the track for about 3 hours and needed a potty break. On my way back to the start line I stopped at the desk where they were tracking times and asked what the best time was for the 200. I can't remember the exact time, something like 36.57, and it was Mack and one other boy who had tied for that time. Sweet.

After a little while he ran the 400 (1/4 mile, once around the track). Mack was told by his father that he needed to set a steady pace and after the last corner he needed to sprint. I was standing at the finish line and saw him come around the corner and started screaming, "Give it all you got, Give it all you got!" He started booking it towards the finish line and ended up coming in 3rd place.

Then about 10 minutes later he was called for the finals in the 200. You might already be able to see this coming, but after he had basically sprinted for 1/4 mile and only having about 10 minutes to recover he had to run the 200 which is half way around the track. He ended up coming in 3rd place there too.

I am so proud of him. He has so much energy and he may as well burn it off on the track. His teacher suggested we enroll him in track and we are thinking about it.

Sav didn't get any medals this year, but as I recall her first year she won a medal in each event she competed in.

I always get pretty proud of my kids that they are so athletic and I hope they keep it up, to feel healthy and be healthy.