Friday, March 28, 2014

Finished Project

Today I finished the last of the CTR towels I am making for the kids who are turning 8 this year in the ward.

They are not all perfect, and some of them stitched out better than others, but in the process of stitching out the 14 towels, along with other things I have done, I think I have the it down.  I learned a lot about my machine, about stabilizers and different software programs that can help with embroidery and applique.  

I learned that when I try to cut corners and go cheap-o on some of the supplies, I regret it almost every time.
Even though it seems like there is a lot of waste with things like interfacing and pretty thread, I need to just use the right product for the project, and not try and stretch supplies out.
When I do, I end up with things like this:

It's not as simple as taking the seam ripper to pick it out, with a towel, it is very hard to not pick the nap out of the towel, too and those stitches are tiny and tight. 
I have a pretty good supply of white dishrags now.

With each towel, I thought about the child I was making it for, and put my love into every stitch.
Each towel is different, because I wanted to learn about my machine and use different materials and use different techniques. 
I like that no two kids have the same towel.
We do have a set of twins who have nearly identical towels, but the names are in different colors.

I talked recently with a member of our ward Primary Presidency ans she mentioned how special it is that when the kids leave the water, the first thing they do is wrap themselves up in a warm, fluffy white towel that was made just for them. It can serve as a symbol that each one of them is unique and known by name by their Heavenly Father and how they can wrap themselves in His love.
That made me feel really good. 

 I will probably keep doing something personalized for the kids in this ward when they get baptized as long as we live here, or at least as long as I am involved in Primary on any level. 
I love those kids and the leaders that help to lead, guide and help them.
It was a fun learning experience for me and a nice stress-buster.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Windy Dreams

Last night, as we slept, the wind howled.
A storm has blown in and they predicted snow.

So far, no snow. 
I don't think we will actually get any.

The wind, however...she's angry.
As I slept, she came into my dreams.
In sleep, Old Mariah visited and tore the roof off the house.
Then she tore the foundation walls and we saw that the house was being held up by bricks and 2X2's.
We were so mad, because it was another thing the man who built this house did in a shoddy manner.

I think everyone looks a the work the former owner of their home did and wonders what they were thinking and wishes they had done it the right way. When I am rational, I know that he did a very good job on many things in this house and that everyone gets tired and sick of remodeling, so the answer is often to just patch up the holes and are done with it. I know that's how many of the projects went in our old house. 
I'm not actually mad at our former owner for anything but the buried asphalt in the back yard and the fact that we don't have an outside water spigot. 

But in my dream, everything was falling apart and I was scared and upset.
I was also cold and wet. 
The wind became the soundtrack to the despair and powerlessness I felt as my home crashed down around me.

Then aliens invaded and we all went to live in an abandoned area of Chinatown....only it was in Arizona and we took a helicopter there and there was a giant doll we were trying to protect, that sometimes talked......

I think most dreams, are just dreams.
 Most dreams are just your brain, dumping and processing the things you worry about and deal with. I think your brain takes all of the pictures in your head and puts them on a puzzle piece, then it puts the puzzle together. What it doesn't do is assign much rhyme or reason to what picture goes on a specific piece, so it's chaotic and weird. We try to make reason of the strange picture that the random things in our head made and we have dreams.  
Sometimes they mean things, sometimes, aliens attack and you go to Arizona Chinatown.

I bribed Parker yesterday so that he would get a haircut and lose the beard.

I am happy to see his face again, but a part of me is aware that he took advantage of me. 
I think he grew it out, knowing it would drive me nuts and expected me to eventually offer him a bribe to take care of himself.
So I'm a little bit mad about the whole situation.
He needs to get a job. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Granola Bars

My kids love granola bars.
Who doesn't?
They aren't super expensive, but the cheapest I ever find them is $1.50 for a box of 10. My kids would eat a box every day if they could. I feel like a grouchy bear mom when I hide them in my closet and scrawl threats with a sharpie on every box. 
Today I decided to see if I could make them, and free my family from they Oppressive Granola Bar Tyranny that they have lived under for years.

I used this recipe:

5 C. oats
1 C. chopped almonds 
1 C. coconut

Toast these on a cookie sheet while you put together the rest of the ingredients. Check on it every few minutes, so it doesn't burn.

Take a cookie sheet and cover it with aluminum foil, including the sides. Spray that baby with a nice coat of Pam.
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together:

1/2 C. butter / margarine
3/4 C. light Karo Syrup
1/2 C. packed brown sugar

cook until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved the add:

1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla, if you prefer)
1/2 tsp. salt

Pour over  oat mixture, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
The recipe called for 
 1 C. dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries. 
and 1/2 C. chocolate chips to be added at this time.

If I wanted to eat fruit, I'd eat fruit, we didn't add any fruit. I was also out of chocolate chips and didn't realize it until I had already come this far. 
I used butterscotch chips. 
Butterscotch chips are amazingly good.
I upped the amount to a full cup and added a half cup of white chocolate chips for good measure. 

They melted into the mixture, the recipe said chocolate chips would melt 'a little' but my chips totally melted.

Take the mixture and put it in the foil-lined pan and press it down with your hands. Press it more than you would Rice Krispie Treats, you want these to stay together. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on the top and press them in.
Cool in the fridge for 2 hours, then take them out of the pan and cut into bars.

Store in an airtight container up to a week, but who are we kidding?

 They won't last a week.
They were really yummy and not even a tiny bit healthy. 
The ones you buy at the store are not healthy either, so don't let that stop you from trying these. 
My kids loved them, they were really good and easy to make. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Gross, the Bad and the Ugly

Another sign of Spring's arrival in the Olson house is that I start to feel as if the entire house is one giant, musty sweater.
 I open the windows and start to clear out months of hibernation filth.
Every year for a week or two, I celebrate the fact that my joints aren't screaming at me by scrubbing, sorting and taking loads of stuff to the goodwill.
My children hate it.

Apparently, when I clean up 'their' spaces, I'm sending them the message that I don't respect their hoarde and I don't think they are doing a good enough job at cleaning it themselves.
Mean, mean Mom. 

Look, I'm a firm believer in closing the door when it comes to my kids and their bedrooms.
 As long as I can't smell it, and they can find what they need and wear clean clothes it can be a mess.
However, they push the limits of the 'as long as I cant smell it' rule.
I can only close the door so many times before I go bonkers.

This week, I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed a roll of garbage bags and headed upstairs, where Grey and Zane have bedrooms.

I used the broom like a rake and pulled everything out into the center of the main area so I could just go through it all at once. 

Holy Moley.

I have never seen such a mess, and I've lived with these kids for 20 years.

Some of the fun discoveries I made?

A sealed Ziploc bag of some sort of brown liquid.
An army of Lego men with their faces melted off.
No fewer than 50 pairs of crusty socks.
Boogers on the walls.
Two empty milk jugs.
Seven Nerf guns.
Two chewed up, exploded pens hidden under a mattress.
Silverware, thrown on the roof.
A cup filled with dried out pomegranate seeds.
Two 'lost' lunch boxes with half the lunch still in them.

It makes me long for the days of Duplos scattered on the floor and dropped pacifiers.

Two full days of cleaning, but it's done.
It's not going to be featured in any magazines, but the rooms are clean. 

I  may just padlock their bedroom doors and make them sleep in a tent outside. 

Yes, I know I should have made them clean it, but they have been 'cleaning it' all along and sometimes, a kid needs a clean slate, even when they deserve a kick in the pants.

What's the worst mess your kids ever made?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I remember watching the movie "Steel Magnolias" as a teen and Julia Roberts saying "pink is my signature color."

Before  Eat, Pray, Love, there was big hair, pink roses and bleedin' armadillo cake.

I asked what she meant and was told that it's something you love, that people associate you with because it's always included in your life. It can be a color, a dish you cook, a flower, a scent-- something that when people encounter it, they are reminded of you.

I have many things that I love,  but only a few that I'd consider my 'signature.'
I do have a signature perfume. 
It's a perfume that nobody else wears, probably because it smells like toilet bowl cleaner or something, but I love it. 
When I was about 15, the perfume "LouLou" came out and it was sold in fancy stores like Goldwater's and Dillard's. The big mall stores, the stores that I was intimidated to even shop at, even if I could afford $75.00 jeans.

I would gather up all of my courage and go in if they had samples of my perfume.
 I always wore it on Saturday nights, for the church dances. It went well with the blinding fumes of 15 year old boys who were drenched in Drakkar and Polo.

It's the perfume I doused on all  my letters to the missionaries I wrote.
It's the perfume my cousin, Marla,  gave me a small bottle of in high school. When she gave it to me, it wasn't just that it was my favorite, it was that she had taken the time to go  out and got something that she knew I would love, because she listened to me when I talked to her. 
It's the perfume I wore when I went on my first date with Matt, and when we got married. 

They don't make it in the states anymore, and it can still be found online, but it's pricey.

I recently bought a new bottle though and even though I may smell like a flower factory threw up on me, it makes me happy. 

What about you?
 What is your "signature something?"
Will you share it with me?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Go Speed Racer

This morning, I had a follow up visit with my doctor. 
It was better. 
She said my blood pressure is back down to normal and was happy to hear that I have been working really hard to get life back on track.
I'm not back to awesome yet, but I'm joining humanity again. 

One of the trade-offs we made when we moved here was that we moved to a town without a train station. The station is less than 5 miles away and we decided we'd rather have a little bit more house than the perfect commute. It was the right decision, because if we'd have moved to a town with a train station, unless we were within walking distance, it wouldn't have mattered anyway, as parking passes have waiting lists that are years long. 
Normally, he will drive to the city pool and park, then catch the jitney (a small commuter bus) and take that to the train station. The train takes him into the city, to a station a block away from his building. On a  good day, it takes an hour and 15 minutes each way, on a bad day, it can be over 2 hours. On bad days he often ditches the train and takes the ferry- to a different train- to the jitney- to the jeep- to home. 
Over the past few months, my sweet friend Katherine has helped us out, she lives about a 10 minute walk from the train station and has let Matt park at her house. He's been able to save 50 bucks a month since January by doing that and he doesn't have to be impacted when the jitney runs early or late. It's still a massive pain.

There are a few guys in the ward who take scooters to the train station, because parking for a scooter or a bike is free, and it's right up by the platform. We tossed that idea around a lot last year and this year, we decided to just go for it. We are selling the jeep and downsizing with our vehicles. When Zane goes on his mission, Matt can use the truck if needed, but we will save a large chunk of change by selling the jeep and using scooter to get Matt to the train station. 

Last week, we found this blue Piaggio, and it was being sold for a great deal. The owner was the nicest guy and it's BYU blue, to boot. 

The kids had a blast riding with Dad on Saturday, as we enjoyed some warm weather for a change.
I even took a ride around the neighborhood with my Sweetie, racing through the streets at a whopping 25 MPH.

The best part? 
Matt's commute this morning as a good 20 minutes shorter!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Enemy

This morning, I awoke to the sound of birds chirping. 
I stretched and walked to the window.
 I watched as they fluttered and sang while the beginnings of a nest was starting to appear on the branch of a tree in my back yard.
The sun was shining and my soul was filled with the hope and excitement that this long winter will soon be over.
It is still freezing outside. 

It has been a hard winter, the blues have hit everyone I know, all my achy joints have struggled to move as the temperature drops, our cars and yard have suffered and the kids have missed too much school this year. 
But it is just a season and it WILL pass. 
We are closer to more sunny days than we are to more cloudy ones. 

I've been thinking a lot about how this winter has affected my family, it's been rough on everyone, not just me.
 I've noticed all of my kids are struggling and things that seemed manageable before, have just become almost too much to bear and none of my children can quite figure out how to make it better, either. Nothing seems to work and everything hurts. The stress and strain on them is similar to what I have been dealing with. As a mom, I want to fix it, I want to protect them from suffering. I have felt horrible with my inability to fix this.

Yesterday, I sat in my living room after a craptastic 3 hour dentist visit and pray-cried. 
You know the prayer-cry.... where it starts off as a prayer and quickly turns into a slobber faced mess where you tell Heavenly Father you are a great big failure and you don't know what to do and  please just let the kids be happy and okay.   If you don't know that one, you probably have your own, where you tell the Lord you are basically failing at doing things that were His job in the first place. 

As I prayed, I remembered something. 

Matt and I did not get married in the temple, we had a civil wedding first. When you have been divorced, the process can take a LOT longer and Matt and I made the decision to have a civil wedding first, and then get sealed a year or so later. For us, it was the right decision. 
When the time came to plan and prepare for our temple sealing, things started to go crazy in our home. 

About 6 months prior to our sealing date, seriously,  the Gates of Hell opened up. We encountered major health problems, work problems, children experimenting with Word of Wisdom issues, my parent that  did things that caused the relationship to have to end, Matt's ex, who was always suing us, decided to target me in her latest lawsuit and we had to hire an expensive attorney just to deal with that, we were being stalked, everyone was fighting, especially Matt and I. We had car problems, financial problems, everything we worked on with the house, even simple things cost three times what we'd budgeted and being even more work. We had a principal at school decide that she didn't 'believe in autism' and we had to pull our kids out of school and move them to another one. A person at church had become so full of pride that working with him was horrible. I was often offended and sometimes vowed to never speak to that person again. 
The list goes on and on.
Life was a nightmare and all we knew to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and move towards the temple. 
It may sound cliche', but when the day came, when we went to the temple to be sealed, we walked out those doors and the world was brighter.

 It felt as if all of the stressful and terrible monsters we'd been fighting had just faded away.  Everything we had been so burdened with cleared up and resolved itself within days of our going to the temple. We still had hard things to deal with, but the feeling like we were at war ended.

That experience taught me that the Adversary is real.
 I knew he was real, but he was always this small, ugly thing that tempted me, I was always in the driver's seat.
 The season before we went to the temple was very different. 
Satan was absolutely behind the wheel of his own Mack Truck, and he and his kind were hitting us full speed, day and night. We were being battered and beaten. Satan was real. The power he has was real. I knew that Satan had tried to stop us from going to the temple. Satan had preyed upon our weaknesses and soft spots, and he had done the same with the people in our lives. If there was a way to do something that uplifted and felt good, Satan was pushing and nudging everyone to do it in just such a way that it caused hurt and made things harder. 

So as I pondered yesterday, crying and telling God how much I suck because I can't get life to work, I remembered this and I knew.
 I knew it was happening again. 
The Adversary has declared open war on my family again in order to keep someone out of the temple. 

Zane is preparing to go on his mission this summer and he has been struggling and suffering to a degree he never has before. All of my kids are struggling in new, hurtful ways. I am drowning and angry at myself because I shouldn't be. I find myself thinking that I just want to be left alone, I don't want to 'deal with' church or anyone there. I don't want to 'deal with' family, I cannot handle anything and everything in life bites and has sharp edges.

But I am wrong about this being about me.

This is about Zane and where he is in his journey. This is about Satan trying to keep him from going to the temple. We are all being attacked and tried and harmed as Satan steps on the gas and rams that Mack Truck of ugly into the sides of everyone who would be supporting and helping Zane.  
For some reason, this knowledge helped tremendously.
I am not having a hard time because I am bad or have failed, I am having a hard time because our family is close to a blessing, close to an important and amazing thing that will provide safety and peace. Zane is close to having reached a life long goal and Satan is using every one of us to try and stop that. He is using our weaknesses to break us all down so that we are so focused on our failures and hurts that we stop doing the thing we need to do- which is moving forward to the temple with Zane.

I understand now why all of this crap is happening.
I know how to make it better and that when we work together as a family and help Zane to reach the temple doors- that this terrible long winter in our souls will end. The sunshine, light and joy await us all in this crazy family, if we just keep moving towards the temple. For Zane and for each of us. 
We are going to the temple.

I thought I was at war with myself, I thought the enemy was me.
I see who my enemy is now.
I see him and he's not going to take one more day away from my son and my family.
I know how to defeat this enemy and I have the Lord, my loved ones and the gospel to help.
We are going to the temple.


I will follow the sound of the chirping birds, outside in the bright day, even though it is cold right now. 
We are going to the temple. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

I'm Unique, Like Everyone Else

For the past few days, the weather reports have been nothing but doom and gloom. 
On Friday, they predicted as much as 14 inches.
People raided the stores and cleared them of water and bread, like they do every single time we have reports of bad weather.
As the weekend progressed, every hour the reports changed to less and less snow.
When the big scary storm rolled in last night, it left our house with less than an inch of snow. 
Thank Heavens. 

I think that calls for a celebration, or at least, a post about something other than weather and craft projects.
It's time to see how things are going during this endless winter at Unique.

Interesting fabric choice for Miss Relief Society Ugly Craft. 
Children climbing ladders-- and flowers. No, children in overalls climbing ladders. 
That has all of the elements of one of my nightmares.

This was Matt's idea, Romy had been to Unique enough to know not to let the glass touch her lips. 

Half used bottles of lotion, deodorant, shampoo, soap and an open box with a feminine product.
For when you have that not-so-fresh feeling, and you kind of want to keep it that way.

In spite of looking high and low, we did not find Nemo.
We did find his inbred cousin, Murray, though. 
He's still bitter about Disney cutting his scenes in the move and blames them for his ending up among the riff raff at Unique instead of being a ride at Disneyland.

 "Hey kids, set the table and use the classy stuff.  Make a fresh batch of Koolaid and put it in the bread stick pitcher, that will impress everyone!"

 Captain Pink Mustache is sick of these two clowns.
If only he had arms, he could punch them both squarely in the bobble-head.

If you look closely, you can see that the message here is clear. 
Keep praying, even when you break a nail. 

Unicorn Jesus.
Why not?

 Hey Baby, you wanna pit a penny in my tummy?
Oink Oink, Sweet Thang.

 Clearly, some one's mom had the same opinion of craft sand that I have.

Never, under any circumstances is this ever ever every okay.
Sand is not a craft. 
Neither is kitty litter, toilet water and anything that involves glitter.
Give my kid any of these things and I will return the favor by giving your child gum, Pixie Sticks and finger paint.

Okay, that's just cute. 

Hold Back, Lemon- I'll handle this. 

Ted Heath sings the Pop Hits, right after a smoke break and a quick toupee trim.

Is it a doctor with a  shotgun and a rat?
Maybe its a spleen?
Why the monocle?
I don't understand why this is a thing.

Mary and Joseph would like some alone time.....
(You will be spared all of the jokes we said at Unique when we saw this. We had to dodge lightning bolts afterwards.)

 Gourd Bless America.

 Luxury, pure luxury.

 If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you by the courts. 
If your court appointed attorney happens to be a troll, then rub the jewel in his belly before court and make a wish, because you're pretty much doomed.

 This just hurts to look at. 

Rock On, my friends.
Rock on like we did at Queen Mary's funeral.
Good times, good times.