Monday, June 29, 2009

Needing a refill

Will told me that he was too tired to put on his shoes by himself so that he could go outside and play.

I told him that if he was too tired to put on his shoes, he was probably too tired to play so I guess he would just have to stay inside.

"No mom, I'm too tired of inside energy. But I have lots of outside energy."


Friday, June 26, 2009

What happens when...

you take a pink obsessed 5 yr old girl + lots of sidewalk chalk + a way too docile cat

Friday, June 19, 2009

Super Power

I have put my finger on my Super Power. And I don't remember seeing it on any of those quizzes or surveys I've taken. Here's how it begins. I find a product that I love. Not like, not think, well I guess I'll take this one home cause its here. No, not like that. You know when you try something new and think, wow, this really is better than any of the others I have tried. Well as soon as I get to that point where I think, my life would actually be less if this product were not in it, that is when the Super Power kicks in.

"A" scenario: Every store in my comfort shopping radius immediately stops carrying said product. "B" scenario: Company actually stops making said product. Most ofter scenario "B". I'm not sure how this power works but it has worked on jeans, underwear, shoes, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, spot remover, dryer sheets, mascara, chocolate, juice, tortillas, ice cream bars, frozen pizza, and those are all just in the last 2 years.

I'm pretty sure this Super Power is also able to manipulate tv shows I love into being canceled. May be related to the ability to turn the shortest line (physically) at the store into the longest line (time wise). Please, for your own safety, be warned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's the little things

My favorite part of my job is when you have one of those moments where you feel like you actually did something to make someones day just a little bit brighter. That feeling of going the extra mile and feeling that it was appreciated. What I don't like about my job is when you want to physically hit someone upside the head.

Lets say its like the 5th phone call you have had with someone about a park. And lets just say that twice you have sent them maps and directions on how to get to the park. Now they are from out of the immediate area but lets just say they are from I don't know, 30 miles away. And maybe you felt like the first 5 phone calls involved a lot of explaining of where things are and how to get to places and just you know a lot of things beyond the average call.

So maybe they ask for directions that they can pass out to the people coming to the conference because they will be from out of the area. So maybe you could give the nice lady directions from their specific hotel to the specific park. Because maybe the lady has never used the internet and doesn't know how to obtain said information on her own. And maybe she calls you after receiving online map, plus written out directions, plus a link to the online map that she can forward people. And maybe she says that she doesn't really know how to read the map.

Well maybe some time is spent explaining the map and the directions and directions in general. And maybe a heated discussion is had about how if you exit said hotel onto Center Street that you would need to turn right to be going west. And maybe you have to repeat too many times the there is no Freedom Blvd exit. And have to listen to her keep saying I think I'm supposed to be on 100 west street. And maybe after you walk her through the route block by block maybe she asks if you could send her a map and directions that she could hand out to the people coming. So maybe you swear very quietly and go to a different site to get the same map and same directions because its sort of the same route. And maybe you send her this:

And in return get this:
help.. dont understand this map.. can you give me a call?

And maybe you just don't have one of those days where you feel like helping people.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What the world needs now...

So I take a week off of work, and what do you know, I miss the opportunity to interact with a concerned citizen. Little background, last week this lady came into our office to meet with the director. She had this idea to save the world. Her plan was to recycle the flowers left on headstones at the city cemetery. All she needed from us was an office, staff, a dump truck, several other vehicles, etc.

Well I guess our department leaders were not in the mood to save the world by recycling dying flowers and so she was sent on her way. Well she was not going to take no for an answer. So she contacted the media and wanted them to meet her at the cemetery so she could explain how the city was keeping down her plans. I guess the media didn't feel the need to help save the world either. This story is what happened after that.

So if you think that all we do is recreate and play and do sports things in our office, just remember, sometimes we crush peoples dreams too.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lucia, Looch, Shaba

My niece Lucia turns 5 years old today. Being the first grandchild born on our side, she has grown up with the personality of a typical first child. She is incredibly stubborn, strong willed and very independent. She started out life that way coming a week late. Even if that wasn't enough for her mom she put her through 20+ hours of labor that then resulted in a c-section. I'm still a little upset about that because I was going to be in the room while she was born and I don't know if I will ever get that chance again. I waited alone while my mom and Keeley accompanied Maiken into the surgical room. They brought Maiken back about an hour later, but it seemed like forever before I got to see the baby. At one point I started a chat of "We want the baby, we want the baby", and she finally was brought in.

I instantly feel in love with that sweet little girl with the huge blue eyes. Growing up I always had wanted a boy first, but it was because of Lucia that I ended up being very excited when they told me at first I was having a girl. Lucia loves to hear stories about when she was a baby, and one of her favorites is the time she pooped on me, but this one is my favorite.

A week after she was born we were at Britta's house for the baby shower. Maiken had just gotten out of the hospital the night before. Not what Britta and I had planned for the party considering Lucia was a week late, and then Maiken had an extended stay for a c-section and infection. At the party Maiken's incision started leaking and I drove her to the emergency room. Lucia came with since at the point she was just nursing. I hadn't realized that we were going to have a five hour waiting time ahead of us. Luckily Lucia slept the entire time, taking some stress out of the situation.

I just couldn't put down that little girl and ended up holding her the whole time. While waiting a nurse came by and stopped to look at the baby. He asked Maiken if he could hold her and she said yes. He pulled over a stool and sat down cradling Lucia in his arms. She was fast asleep. He started quietly talking to her and said, "Little angel open your eyes." For the first time in hours her little eyes batted open and then she drifted back to sleep. He looked up at us and said anyone who doubts the existence of god should hold a baby. It was a small little magical moment in the middle of chaos.

So as you grow older and more independent Lucia, I will still look back fondly on those times of rocking you to sleep in my arms. And will wait with anticipation to see the strong woman you will become. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rain, Trees and Family

Does it get any better than those three? I just got back from a packed week long visit to Pennsylvania to see my sister Britta and her family. I have a lot to say about the trip, big surprise, so I will try and break it up into smaller bits. But I want to remember it all for my online journal experience.

I was most nervous about how Will was going to be on his first plane ride. I'm glad that I didn't have to test him out in the screaming baby stage, at least toddlers can be bribed. I was a little worried about making my way through the airport with all of our stuff and a toddler that likes to be held when in new situations. Luckily Will did great and walked the whole time so I was free to wrestle with our luggage.

Our airport adventure included Will's first bus ride, ok so it was the airport shuttle, but he still was excited. I also got waived through to the secret short line in security, so I guess there is some advantage to toting a child around. Will had been doing really well with potty training lately but I didn't want to risk anything on a plane ride so I put him in pull-ups. Well of course that meant that he wanted to go to the potty four times while waiting for the plane and three times on the plane. You know how when you are in an airplane bathroom and you think to yourself, if only they had two more inches here, or how did they fit a sink in here too, try shoving a toddler in there with you. Now try to squat in front of said child to help them. Pure joy.

I watched Wills face as we took off wondering how he was going to react to that sink into your seat feeling when leaving the ground. You would have thought we were just riding around town in the car, nothing too exciting. While waiting to take off, he did ask when we were going to blast off, I'm guessing a result of watching Space Buddies the night before. I was pleasantly surprised the whole flight especially considering that this was the child that for the last three months any time you meantioned our trip he sunk behind me and said he was scared of planes. So much so that when my sister Britta was here for Mother's Day and went to take the kids to Walmart, Will started crying because he didn't want to go on a plane and he thought that if he went with my sister thats what was going to happen.

As we came through the clouds above Philadelphia there they were, trees. Every where trees. Green. Lots and lots of green. We were picked up by my sister and the two girls and headed off for a stop at my sister's favorite store, Trader Joes. Very cool store, much smaller than I expected. Sort of like Sunflower Market in Orem but with cooler, more eclectic stuff. And the best treat ever.

The shopping trip didn't last long thanks to the two toddlers falling right back into line of acting like siblings. Off to Harrisburg, the shopping trip helping wait out some of the Philadelphia traffic. A light rain welcomed us on our drive and you really just can't get past the trees. This is a horrible shot taken from the car, but it gives you a good idea of what you see only about five minutes from Philly.

You hear people say Utah doesn't have any trees and you look around and think, we have trees. We don't have trees. Pennsylvania has trees. The other difference you notice right away is that this is all you see just minutes outside of a large city. Take Salt Lake for instance. You have to drive past Santaquin before you are going to go a mile without seeing homes right along side the freeway. PA is a much older state, and yet the cities don't just run into each other like they do here. It's like they have these set areas that are cities, and then just space in between. And lots of trees. But everything doesn't run together like it does here.

We make it to Harrisburg and a quick tour of the house. I know the house wasn't Britta's number one choice, but I love it. It's set on a very quite street, in a very well taken care of neighborhood. Even though the previous neighbors had an obsession with wallpaper, Tom's very hard work has paid off and the home is beautiful. It has a very open and inviting feel to it. Although my favorite probably was the screened in porch. As I found out a few nights later, a very ideal place to sit during a wonderful thunder storm.

I think Porter might have been the happiest to see us, even if I wasn't willing to give him the attention he wanted. On the other hand Will really wanted to give him that attention, but Porter wasn't interested. For the next week I wouldn't have been sitting for more than a minute before being greeted by this.

Of course it was actually his head laying on my lap giving me those "please pet me" puppy dog eyes. Or shoving his head under my hand forcing you to pet him. Oh Porter, I wish I could say I miss you. But you are a very sweet dog.

Dinner and then off to bed for a very much needed night of rest before a week of fun to come.


Britta had something planned for each day of our trip. If toddlers weren't involved we could have gotten through several in one day. But it was nice to be able to sleep in each day and just take it slow around the kids schedules.

The schedule was a tour of Harrisburg. We were greeted by a pretty heavy rain storm as we left, so it was good that we were just planning a car ride.

Man I love that view from their driveway. As much as I love the rain, it did damper some little hearts who just wanted to go to a park and play. Britta drove me by some of the houses they had looked at and a quick trip through the ghetto, where they hadn't looked. I feel ashamed to admit this, but before my sister moved there, I had no idea that Harrisburg was the capital.

There are a ton of churches in Harrisburg, very pretty rock churches. You can definitely see the European influence in downtown. Nothing against modern technology, but they sure don't make churches like they used to.

The tree was sort of in my way, but these two were on the same block. And it seemed at least every other block downtown had one. By the time we reached downtown the rain had let up so we let the kids get out for a bit while Britta fed a hungry baby. I walked down the block with the other two kids to get our first view of the MIGHTY SUSQUEHANNA! It's required that you refer to it in that way.

The kids were very impressed.

This is a view out to City Island. A large island in the middle of the river that houses baseball and soccer stadiums along with other amusement things. We would attend a ball game there a few days later. But for today it was on to more touring of the town and a quick visit to Target which surprisingly ended with crying toddlers being dragged to the car. Home for a very yummy dinner of Gyros on the porch. I think one of the things I am going to miss most about the trip is having to cook for myself. And I usually don't go into the effort that Britta and Tom did.

Will was very eager to get in on Ella's nightly rituals and I'm pretty sure I have those books memorized as well as Ella does.


On the agenda, Little Buffalo State Park. We had a picnic lunch in the park and then onto swimming. At the picnic I had my first taste of Appalachian Brewing Company Root Beer. Best root beer ever. Tastes like the homemade stuff we used to have every year at the stake bbq. We had forgotten to bring a bottle opener, and they weren't twist offs. Tom's shoes to the rescue! Yes Tom owns a pair of flip flops that have a bottle opener on the bottom. We were introduced to these wonders while visiting family in Boise a little while back, and they came in handy on that day.

After the picnic we wandered over to the pool. Will being small for his age worked in my favor because you only pay if you are above 38". Luckily Will was just under. Someday when he complains about inheriting his parents lack of height I will remind him that those short genes saved me 5 bucks one time.

They had a regular pool with a few fountain toys in it and two water slides. Then also a large area with just fountains. A quick check of the pool and I determined that it was not warm enough outside to be tempted by unheated water. Luckily Will was happy to play in the fountains, so I could just watch. He made a little friend and they had a great time attacking the water as it came out of the fountains. He also had a lot of fun sitting on the fountains.

Ella on the other hand only wanted to sit and put her feet in the pool. Nothing more. She waddled around and kept repeating that no she did not want to go in the water with daddy, she only wanted to sit and put her feet in. For some reason it made me think of a little 80 yr old lady.

When we went to dry off after playing in the water for awhile we found out that a bird had flown over and pooped on Will's towel. Awesome. The weirdest thing about the pool was that I'm guessing because it is in a State Park, there were several park rangers that kept wandering in and out. I wish I would have taken a picture of them. But it is a little disturbing to see guys carrying guns wandering around the pool. I mean I don't know how crazy it gets what with all the splashing and running and fun having, but I'm pretty sure the life guards had it under control. I am guessing that the pool walk through is something that gets volunteered for quite readily. Maybe they were just checking to make sure there weren't any immodest swimming attire if you know what I mean.

On the way home from the pool I got to listen to the kids cd Maiken bought for Ella and finally hear the classic Poop Goes In The Potty. Yes this is a real song. And you can enjoy it for yourself here. I also got to see the Statue of Liberty. What? You didn't know it was in Pennsylvania? Well check it out for yourself. Sorry about the quality, there wasn't anywhere to slow down or pull off to get a decent picture.

Turns out its some sort of 9/11 tribute. I also got the first of several more to come pictures of a successful adventure for the day. Nothing better than nap time.


National Aquarium in Baltimore, here we come. The plan was to drive part way there where we could then catch a train (light rail) into Baltimore. The train left every 15 minutes but we were trying to make a ticket time at the Aquarium to beat the crowds, so we had a pretty tight schedule. Of course that meant that as soon as we left both Britta and I had to pee. And the kids were fighting pretty much the entire trip. And about 10 miles from where we would meet the train, the gas light came on. So you know, just one of those days.

Luckily we met the train with about two minutes to spare and the kids had a great time on it.

We reached Baltimore and after an emergency bathroom trip, made it to the aquarium to meet our ticket time. Supposedly Sundays are a quiet day there, but those crowds were more than I'm comfortable with. As soon as we started walking to the exhibits Will asked if we were going to see any sea anemones. Who knows, Nemo maybe? I told him they might have some and just smiled as we kept walking through the exhibits and seeing the smiles as Will kept asking where the sea anemones were. Luckily they had a whole tank of them. Sorry about the photo. I suck.

My favorite was the Jelly Fish Invasion. Too bad they are such harmful little creatures, cause man they are beautiful. And probably the best pictures I got the whole trip.

After touring through all of the exhibits we made our way to the gift shop. All I wanted was a magnet of one of the exhibits that Will or I really enjoyed. Oh no, there were none. Now if you wanted a National Aquarium magnet with a kangaroo on it, yes you could get that. But one with a jelly fish or sea anemone? Not happening. Ella did get a cute little plastic jelly fish and I was hoping that would be what Will would pick, but he wasn't interested. He wanted a shark. While standing in line to buy the shark and a lame magnet I found, Uncle Tom found Will an even better shark. A Ginormous Grow Shark! One of those little toys you put in water and they expand. Will thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I should have stuck with the little plastic shark because the grow shark was disgusting. First off you have to read the fine print that it can take 7-14 days for the shark to reach its full size. What the? This wasn't a teeny little shark and I'm not sure who wants to have a large bucket of water hanging around for two weeks with a gross slimy shark in it. But Britta did come through with a bucket and every morning we would go in and check on its progress. They also don't tell you that it looks like its getting cancer as it grows. Should have gotten a picture. I was very tempted to "accidentally" leave the toy behind. But it was very cute to hear Will keep saying "Ginormous" the rest of the week. Which he had actually already picked up from Britta the first day.

And finally, another successful trip.

The night ended with more reading of the same books, but this time by Uncle Tom.


We finally had a day with no rain so it was good time to take the kids to a local park that Will had seen pictures of the year before, and since then wanted to check out. There were a ton of kids on a school outing there, but besides that its a pretty cool park. It had lots of fun play structures in the shapes of a train, plane, boat, castle and fun things for the kids to do all along it.

Will's favorite though was the cool swing. It was really designed so that handicapped kids could swing, but Will thought of it as his own personal lounge chair and didn't want to get out.

Monday night it was off to City Island to see a baseball game of the local team the Harrisburg Senators. You walk out to the island on a big bridge and it was a pretty cool view to be out there. It was kids night which meant the kids ate free and got a little major league truck. Luckily for Will they were passing out Mets trucks. Tom was not as excited for Ella to own one.

They have two mascots for the team, the first one was this weirdo river monster creature thingy.

And then just a dog. Which came and sat in front of us for a bit. Ella was very willing to give him a high five, Will was cowering under my feet.

Sadly the home team lost, but it was still a fun night and both kids had a great time.


Amish Country. Luckily Britta has been to Amish area enough to have scoped out all of the good places, so she knew right where to take us. Intercourse, PA is the best place to see "authentic" amish stuff, although I do love the name of the town Bird In Hand. There is a little area called Kitchen Village where they have lots of little shops all together so you can just wander between them.

We started out with a yummy lunch and then headed over to the cannery where they were making yummy smelling strawberry jam. The kids got to decorate a cookie and Sophie was taking in her sisters footsteps of charming the locals.

In the little village area that was a cute little playground and petting zoo. The kids enjoyed the break from stores where they just kept being told, don't touch, hold my hand, don't touch.

I was unable to get a picture of my favorite part of Amish Country. While at this little park an old lady came riding by on a Jazzy scooter. It was awesome and some how seemed to breaking several of their rules. Then just a quick drive through some of the farm land. By that point I had kind of had my fill of car rides with two tired toddlers.

I did think it was cool to see a couple of tractors being pulled by horses. Very authentic Amish.

And I'm not sure what to say about these signs that were everywhere in Bird In Hand.

Or the local elementary school, just seems wrong.

Tom had decided he wasn't really tempted by another trip to Amish Country, so had stayed home to work. But he had a great toy waiting for the kids, bubbles!


Final full day and a rainy one at that. Perfect for Hershey and Chocolate World.

In the back there you can see the trolley that we took a tour of the town on. Now this is not your average boring trolley ride. No, this was a singing, lame skit trolley ride. But it actually was fun and you learn a lot about Mr. Hershey. Now I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Hershey chocolate. It's waxy, it's not even close to that melt in your mouth european chocolate. But I will say that after you learn more about the guy behind it, it actually changed my mind about the chocolate. Now I will tend to lean toward the Reeses line and their higher end stuff that is around now, but I'm happy to be contributing towards the Hershey stock.

Just a few highlights that we learned about Mr. Hershey:
~After failing 4 times in chocolate he actually first made money in caramels.
~Because of the financial problems he had in the past when he first started making money he bought his own sugar plantation in Cuba.
~He built his home across the street from the factory so that he could walk home to eat with his wife every day.
~He built homes for all of his execs up the hill from the factory so that they could do the same.
~Mr. Hershey built a town for his sugar plantation workers so that they all had homes, schools and a nice living environment.
~During the Great Depression Mr. Hershey used the money he was making in sugar to fund several large construction projects in the area so that people would have jobs. Not one person in the town lost their job during that time.
~Mrs. Hershey was unable to have kids and so the two started a trade school for orphaned boys. The school continues today as the largest privately funded of its kind in the world. Today the school accepts boys and girls from underprivileged backgrounds. The Hershey stock is signed over to the school trust, so they control all of the profits from the Hershey empire.

During the whole week little Sophie was being carried around in a sling. If you want to get random people pointing and coming up to you to take a look at that most adorable thing, walk around with these little guys poking out.

Will got to pick out a toy at Chocolate World, and I know big surprise, he went for the cars. On this trip home their was no nap to be had. Too important to guard the new treasure from little cousin who wanted to touch.

Before going to bed that night we had to make sure to get in a snack of wonderful Pennsylvania pretzels and contribute to their record breaking consumption.