Friday, May 28, 2010


At dinner last night I was telling Ben about how a friend of Audra's dumped the sidewalk chalk inside the window well and I couldn't get it out. Totally serious, Audra looked at us and said:
"Totally horrible. Bummer."
I cried I was laughing so hard!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Loving LOST!

Can I just say, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED LOST!!!!!
But, like most of Lost, I am left wondering, "what just happened?"
As far as Ben and I have been able to figure out, we believe everything that happened on the island actually happened. But, everything that happened in the "other life" of the plane not crashing, happened when they all died- whenever it is they all died. I have to assume that Jack died that day (did he turn into the smoke monster? I am pretty sure I saw smoke coming up out of the water after Jack saved the island and was still in the pit), and that Hurley lived on for awhile longer- with Ben- on the island, and that Kate, Sawyer, Frank, and the others made it back to the real world for a time, and then when they died went back in time to fulfill the "parallel world" plot.
I still can not make sense of the nucleur blast. I am certain it worked, but it apparently left the island still standing?
At the beginning of the season, the island was under water. Perhaps this was hundreds of years later, when Hurley stopped protecting the island?
Once again, I am confused. Nevertheless, I LOVED IT!!!! And I am soooooooooooooooooooooo glad Sawyer and Juliette are back together- they were my favorite couple (I hated Kate- wish she had died earlier).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lifestyle Changes

One of my all-time favorite bumper stickers reads:

I didn't work my way to the top of the food chain
to become a vegetarian.

Which is why it is strange I am writing this post.
But, a process began about five years ago that has led me to the drastic decisions I (with Ben's approval, which was not hard to get- since I do the cooking, he doesn't really care what he eats so long as he gets to eat) to completely alter the way that our family eats. I am not saying- by ANY stretch of the imaginiation- that this is how everybody should eat (I really don't care what everybody else eats), I am just saying that for our family we are now changing how we eat in two major ways.
Step 1:

Becoming more vegetarian.
There. I said it. It was almost painful to write. We eat meat EVERY NIGHT- I kid you not. But, after reading books like Fast Food Nation and Omnivore's Dilemma and also studying more closely some of the church teachings (Word of Wisdom) in regards to food and the amazing promises given those who follow strictly the Word of Wisdom, I am making it a goal to try and get us to eating meat twice a week instead of 7 times a week. It's not perfect, but it is a start.
But, I would like to ask for your help. I am new to this, and so I do not have very many recipes. If you have any vegetarian recipes that are tried and true, or you know a cookbook or website with wonderful vegetarian recipes, please let me know! I will take all the help I can get in this regard!
Step 2:
Buying organic.

This is the expensive phase of our plan, but again- after reading study after study after study of how harmful the foods we eat are, we are beginning to go organic. Not on everything. HERE is a link to what is called "the dirty dozen"- the 12 foods with the most pesticides, which one should always buy organice- and the "clean 15"- the 15 foods with the least amount of pesticides, and one does not need to buy organic.
I read one study where they gave people non-organic foods and later organic foods. All food was washed and prepped as normal. After they ate the non-organic round of food, they found 21 different pesticides in their body! After they ate the organic, they found 2- which I find strange since it should be 0, but it is WAY better than 21!
We actually joined a CSA, which I am SOOOOOO super excited about! We are only having the fruits delivered to us (since we are a fruit addicted family), but I am really glad we joined- it is something we have talked about for a few years and finally decided to take the plunge and just do it! Maybe next year we will do both fruits and vegetables.
So this is our next grand adventure. I am excited about it- hopefully it will make us a healthier family. I need to stop reading about food, though- pretty soon I will be cutting chocolate out of our diet- oh, the horror!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Audra's Big Day

Today Audra turns three!!!

We celebrated her Birthday last Friday with an awesome party at The Hop (a bounce-house place). A ton of her friends came, and we had the best time! Audra was so excited- and Grandma and Grandpa High and Aunt Melissa and two of her daughters even flew out to enjoy the fun!

As soon as Audra woke up on Friday, she said, "I want to go to my Birthday party." She also COULD NOT WAIT to blow out the candles- she wouldn't stop talking about it. Unfortunately, she had to wait until the afternoon, but it was worth the wait- and I have the pictures to prove it.
This was a latter and slide the kids
could climb. I was impressed at how skilled Audra got at climbing this rather steep latter.

Unfortunately, the party was scheduled right during naptime, so this is what Daddy and Claire got to do for part of the party. Seriously, Ben has the magic touch when it comes to getting Claire to fall asleep outside of her crib. I can't do it- but he does it in about 2 minutes every time. What an awesome daddy!

A basketball area.

I LOVE this picture!

They even got to play baseball.

The cars were everybody's favorites- the kids fought over them a little bit, but I think everybody was happy in the end.

I gotta have some good Claire pictures.

The flash made the picture turn out funny, but I still think it is a cute picture.

In the interest of privacy, I purposely tried to not post pictures of all the friends- but rest assured, there were many there. Audra has so many wonderful friends- she is truly blessed. She also had a lot of family there to share her special day, and that meant the world to us to know that both our girls are surrounded by so much love and support- what more could any parent want for their child?
Wow- three years. As any parent knows, it is a wild and adventurous ride! So far, here are a few things we know about Audra:
-She loves people and is very social- she is quick to make friends
-She is incredibly empathetic- it really bothers her when other people are upset
-She wants everyone to be happy. She is constantly saying, "Are you happy, mommy?" And my response is always the same: "I'm happy because I have you."
-She is very thoughtful
-She loves to sing, and often comes home from nursery at church surprising us with another song she has learned
-She LOVES Family Home Evening- she wants it every night
-Hide-and-go-seek is her favorite game
-She knows Grandma High always has fruit snacks for her, and that when she leaves Grandma and Grandpa Marriott's house she MUST have a cup of crackers to take with her
-She is a mooch- she loves to eat, and if you don't watch out, she will take your food. She prefers to snack ALL DAY LONG rather than eating nice meals
-Even though she is a mooch, she is incredibly good at sharing- except for Dolly and her stroller. She will share those, but she doesn't like to and needs to be reminded to do so. Outside of those two toys, she is great at it.
-She loves fruits and veggies. If we would let her, that would be the only thing she would eat
-She loves dress-up and princesses, even though I don't think she has ever watched an entire Princess movie
-She loves playing in her toy kitchen downstairs
-She loves Claire and ALWAYS call her "Claire-Bears"- I think she thinks that actually is her name.
-If she falls and hurts herself, she doesn't like to cry in front of others. She will come running over to me for me to hold her, but rarely will she cry if anybody besides Ben or me are there
-She is pretty tough- she hardly ever cries- shots don't bother her one bit
-Pink is her favorite color
-She loves art projects- especially painting, when I have the energy to let her do it
-Her prayers are the sweetest thing ever. We aren't totally sure what she says, but we always hear, "Mommy, daddy, Claire-Bears, Hannah, Chloe, Tessa, Shanelle...." in them.
-She loves to laugh and make us laugh
-She has the most beautiful and radiant smile in the world
In thinking about the last three years (as I go philosophical), it is mostly just amazing how much things have changed in the last three years. Of course, as anybody knows, children change you. But it is amazing how completely it changes you. So many things that used to matter just don't anymore. So many things I never thought about are at the forefront of my mind constantly.
I see the world differently. My life is completely different. I no longer have a career and I don't even care- I couldn't imagine being anywhere else than with my girls. Now instead of talking about exotic travel locations Ben and I talk about discipline techniques (we love Love and Logic, by the way- great way to discipline firmly but with love. If any of you know of any other great books out there, let me know- I love new ideas for the discipline front!). It is interesting how the kids are now the reason behind virtually every decision we make- including where we live and how we spend our time and money. I feel like a completely different person now than before I had children- and that new reality started three years ago today.
WOW. A lot has happened in these past three years- and they have been the best changes of my life! I am so incredibly grateful to have Audra and to be her mother!!! Happy Birthday little Love Bugs!!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Education Rant

If there is one thing I am passionate about more than anything else in politics, it is education. I had five years of experience in the classroom- I know the ins and outs and what happens "behind the scenes" if you will. And so I am pretty peeved about Senate Bill 191 that will probably pass tonight, and I had to vent. My letters to the editor once again did not get printed, so that leaves my blog- where all my letters are accepted:)
Here is the jist of the bill for those of you who are out of state:
Basically, students will now take a state mandated test every year for every subject to see if they have improved. If their scores do not improve, the teacher has 2 years to try and improve the scores, and if they are unable to do so, it will supposedly be easier to fire them. So, it's being dubbed the "teacher tenure"- which has gotten everybody all excited, because we all know that teacher tenure (which doesn't even really exist) is the source of all of our education's problems- not parents, not administrators, not No Child Left Behind- just teacher tenure (I am being sarcastic here).
Here is a super small list of the problems with this bill:
1. Students in EVERY grade (including kindergarten) and every subject (including high school jazz band) now have to take a state test- EVERY year. Can I just say, I do not want my kindergartner sitting through hours long tests just so an administrator can maybe fire 1 extra teacher a year in two years.
2. This bill does NOT give administrators any more power to fire teachers than they already have- in fact, it gives them LESS power. Currently, a teacher can be fired in ONE year if they get two semesters worth of bad evaluations in a row. This bill has been so watered down that it does LESS to get rid of bad teachers than more- completely defeating the purpose of having such a stupid bill.
3. This is going to cost tons of money- money we don't have. And I am talking millions- in the middle of a huge budget crisis where they have already cut special ed programs, bussing, sports, and everything inbetween.
4. Teachers in my district have already- this year alone- taken pay cuts, pay freezes, a massive loss to retirement and benefits, and every first year teacher has been cut as a result of budget cuts. Now, they want to take away the ONE thing teachers have left: job security. At what point are people going to say they no longer want to be a teacher? We already have a MASSIVE teacher shortage nationwide, what incentive are we giving college students to go into teaching???????? I can say unequivicolly that I am glad I am no longer teaching due to all of this crap that they have to deal with, and SEVERAL of my teacher friends have said they are ready to quit because of this madness. When does it end??????
5. This bill does NOT have to do with firing bad teachers. Administrators already have that power- like I said, all a teacher needs is two bad evaluations in a row to be fired- THAT IS IT!!!!!! When we were dealing with teacher tenure on a district level and I was doing work with the union (which I LOVE), an administrator said, "this isn't about firing bad teachers. It's about firing average teachers." Hmmm....the real agenda comes out! I can understand wanting to get rid of bad teachers- but why do you need to get rid of "average" teachers? With the teacher crisis we have, we need every teacher we can get!! MOST teachers are average- that is the definition of average. Why not just provide better teacher training for those average teachers who are willing to put up with all the crap from students, parents, administrators, legislators, and the community instead of trying to get rid of them?
6. If you want to get the "best" teachers out there, PAY THEM WHAT THEY ARE WORTH. SHOW THEM RESPECT. MAKE IT SO PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO BE A TEACHER AND CAN SUPPORT THEIR FAMILY ON A TEACHERS WAGE. Then, you will have a massive surplus of teachers and more than 1 or 2 people would apply for each open position- and the best would rise to the top. Now, our top teachers are recruited by firms that will pay them more. For example, Apple computers actually recruits math teachers to go and work for them- offering them better pay, benefits, retirement, and WAY better hours. Pay them what they are worth, and you will never again have to worry about having a "bad" teacher in the classroom.
7. Students have no buy-in to this test. This is a major problem with all standardized tests- there is no reason the student needs to try their best, but the school (and in this case teacher) gets punished based on how they do. During CSAP (or C-CRAP as I like to call it- our state tests), our best students would literally draw pictures where their essays should be because they just don't care.
8. What about students who move? There are schools where literally 90% of students move in and out of the school. How is that fair- for a teacher to be punished based on students they only had in their class for two weeks? The bill exempts classes where 95% of students moved- but what about 94%? Hardly fair.
Here is the editorial I wrote to both our community paper and The Denver Post:
Dear Editor,
SB 191 pits teachers against administrators in a volatile way. Forget, however, that the only thing administrators need to do is produce two negative evaluations in a row to fire a teacher. Forget that every administrator knows the "easy" and "effective" way to get rid of a teacher is to simply give them the worst classes, the worst duties, and the worst students and force them out. Forget for a moment that 50% of teachers quit in the first five years due to poor working conditions and low salaries, and that we are in the middle of a massive teacher shortage in this country. Forget that we should be desparately trying to attract and retain teachers instead of thinking of more ways to get rid of them.
What about our students? Let's think about them for a moment. The current legislation will require all students in every grade and every subject to take a standardized test. Do we really want kindergartners sitting through hours-long state mandated tests? Do we really want high school students forced to take standardized tests for every single subject- upwards of seven different subject areas a semester? At what point do we begin to fight for our students and for the love of education? Teachers should have standards to meet. But the way to do that is by changing the evaluation process, not by sacrificing our students to the test demons.
End letter.
I am just so incredibly PISSED off at how teachers are treated. Especially where I live now, I can not believe what little respect people pay to the some of the most important members of our community. I can not believe teachers continue to be blamed for every problem, and that people actually believe this bill will do anything to help that. What a complete waste of money and resources, at a time when we need both of those the most. I am really pissed off about this, as you can tell.
OK, I am done ranting.
(and I will say again that comment moderation is on to avoid Chinese spammers not to filter anybody who disagrees with me- but, in case you can not tell by the tone of this post, I really do not want to debate this- I really just want to vent and get this anger that has built up inside of me out, so while I will post anti-teacher posts, I am going to mostly ignore them. Fair warning.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Greatest Gift. Ever.


All About Claire

She did turn 10 months old today, after all! As you can see, it was very difficult to get a picture of her with her sign, as one of her favorite things to eat is paper:

Yesterday I tried desparately to get a great picture of her that really showed off her cuteness. You see, Claire is CUTE CUTE CUTE!!!! There is something about her that makes her so incredibly adorable, and I was really trying to catch that to show all of you. I didn't quite get it, but even with not getting "it" she still looks pretty dang cute:

Here she is surrounded by all of her toys. It looks like a huge mess, but it's just Claire getting into things.

I just love her tongue! I know that sounds really funny, but she sticks it out all the time and I love it!

Here she is in her carseat- I almost got her smile, but not quite:
This is a short video of Claire making noises with her mouth- she can do this forever and,like everything else she does, it's just so CUTE! (Can you guess what the word of the day is?)

Then, about halfway into this video you will hear what I was trying to catch: Claire growling. Yes, you read that correctly- Claire likes to growl. A lot. And, we love it because, of course, it is cute!

OK, here is a snapshot of Claire's personality at 10 months:

Weight: 16.4 lb. with a diaper and long sleeved onesie, so probably just under 16 lbs. which is great! She gained almost a pound this past month!

Food: Claire LOVES to eat. A lot. Last night I got her large bowl of food ready and Ben said, "she will never eat this, Christina. That is way too much." But, 5 minutes later it was all gone and she was asking for more.

New foods: Papaya- she likes it, but I will never buy it again. It smells like vomit and I can't stand it, even if she can. Kale, spinach, prunes (I broke down and bought some Gerber prunes, even though I hated it because I make all of her baby food, but she has constipation issues and they really seemed to help), grapes (one of her favorites), and her almostvleast favorite new food of the month: tofu. She is not a fan, but if I mash it in with her food really really good she will eat it. But, her all-time "I hate this food- this is so disgusting- why is this still on my plate" food is: olives. No way, no how- this girl will NOT eat olives. A new discovery this month!

Talking: Still not much of a talker, though once in awhile she will start saying "dadadad" or "mamama". Mostly, though, she just makes a lot of sounds. Don't worry, though, she knows how to get what she wants, even if she can't verbalize it!

Skills: She is waving a lot, including open and closing her hand while waving. Her pincer grasp is fantastic, and has been for awhile. She is also getting very interested in stairs, and will climb up two or three before I realize what she is doing and race to go get her! Her idea of going down the stairs is a head first lunge, so we are working on that as well.

Sleep: She is taking 2 2-hour naps thanks to the blackout blinds we put in her room- totally awesome, but it is throwning off my morning routine as now I need to stay home in the mornings more.

Personality: She is still pretty shy and quiet. She has a lot of great expressions, and often her face says it all. She will play coy and "flirt" with strangers. She still loves her big sister and her mama. For the first time, she left me and crawled to her daddy so he was pretty thrilled about that. For the most part, she is almost always happy, unless we have her at the table with no food in sight. Then, she gets very upset.

***On a sidenote, I had to put on comment moderator for my posts- I kept having these crazy Chinese spammers coming and leaving messages and I was getting totally creeped out by them, so I just put on the moderator. My next step is to go private, but I am trying to avoid that. I am sorry if you think that is annoying of me to moderate comments, but I promise to post all comments from people who I know and who don't creep me out!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shopping at Nordstrom's

HA! You didn't actually think I went shopping at Nordstrom's, did you? I know some of you love that store, and maybe someday I will venture to their clearance sale, but I am so much more of an Old Navy gal- BUT, it feels like I have been shopping at Nordstrom's for my house- hence the title of my post.
Last week I scored this AWESOME kitchen island for $50.00 on Craigslist! It has a marble top and is absolutely beautiful! It is a little on the small size, but it pretty much doubles my counter space and provides some much needed storage in our kitchen.
Then, we got lots of blinds installed- cordless blinds on our French doors, a remote control blind for the big window in our front entry, and blackout blinds for Claire's bedroom. My favorige set by far are the blackout blinds for Claire, because they are causing her to take TWO HOUR NAPS TWO TIMES A DAY!!!!! She has NEVER done this, so I am hoping this trend continues! If it does, I will consider those blinds the best purchase of our lives!

Next I want to replace our wobbly entertainment center that I use as my pantry and microwave cart. Here is what we currently have on one wall of our kitchen:Not exactly the most attractive/durable/functional option. We saw this at our local furniture store, and I do like it, but it is too small for that space. It would not give me any more storage than what I currently have, and that is the entire purpose of buying something to go along that wall. So here is where I need your creative genius minds (Danielle, you had better respond!). First off, any ideas of what on earth to get? Second, what color of cabinet should I get? Black to match the island? Oak to match our kitchen cabinets? Dark wood to match the furniture in our living room, which you can see from the kitchen? Or, something completely different- Ben likes the idea of a light green color. Something totally different to add a little color. Oh, the choices, the choices!!!