Under the Sea

Grandma Riddle came for a visit and we headed up to the Aquarium. We'd never been before. I have to confess, it was my attitude about the whole thing that prevented us from making the 20 minute trip in the 5 years we've lived here. I mean, the aquarium showcases local fish. And I couldn't get excited about packing up the whole fam damily to look at crawfish and trout. Plus, when the standard to which you compare all underwater showcases is Monterey Bay Aquarium, the chances of feeling satisfied are pretty slim. 

But, I'm glad to report, my doubts were unfounded. Even though it's small, it's clean, well kept and has a good variety of underwater creatures to admire. The kids can get up close and personal with most of the fish and can even pet a sting ray or shark. And, the botanical gardens are at the same location. That may sound totally lame, but they have the coolest kids area. Of course, I didn't take any pictures, but it's set up like a fairy tale castle complete with over sized bees and bugs, lollipop gardens, a pumpkin with seeds and squishy floor you can walk in and lots of cool mazes to play inside of if you want. It's like Alice in Wonderland. We're definitely going back when the flowers are blooming.

One of the coolest features is the restaurant at the aquarium. Every table borders a fish tank. There is one huge one that takes up an entire wall of the restaurant and several smaller ones along the other walls so that every person can see a fish during lunch. 

We got to see this turtle swim by during our lunch along with lots of sharks, sting rays and other cool fish.
We had a great time!


Do You Understand the Words That Are Coming Out of My Mouth?

Me: I don't want to hear any more whining! Please use your words!

Lexi: {blank stare}

Me: Do you know what whining means?

Lexi {with enthusiasm}: It means we go to our room!!!


Me: Lexi, this is the last time I'm going to ask you to get your clothes on. No more arguing!

Lexi: {blank stare}

Me: Do you know what argue means?

Lexi {with enthusiasm}: It means we get a spank!!!

Just raisin' 'em right, folks. Raisin 'em right.


Because of the Brave

One of the women whom I visit teach has son who is in the Air Force. He was deployed at the beginning of December, 2009, to Afghanistan. Although in the AF, he is a recon officer and, thus, on the ground with the Army troops. He calls in air support when they are under fire or need help.

On January 3rd, while on foot patrol, he was injured by an IED. Four others died from the blast. He was taken to surgery to remove an eye, repair injuries to the other eye, repair a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and to remove shrapnel - some of which was near major arteries. Once stable, he was flown to Germany where he underwent further surgery to remove additional shrapnel and debris and to try and save the other eye. After his brief stay in Germany, he was transferred to Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C.

While the prognosis to ever regain sight in his remaining eye was bleak, the doctors and surgeons have continued to fight to save his vision. Today was the final effort to save his eye. We just received word that the surgery was a failure.This young man will be blind for the remainder of his time on this Earth.

When I first learned of my new assignment as this woman's visiting teacher, her son had just received his orders to deploy overseas. I looked at Allen and asked, "How will I support her if her son doesn't come home?" As her visiting teacher and fellow follower of Christ, I have made the covenant to "mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9). I can honestly say, I have mourned for the loss of his sight, for the heart ache this mom felt as she was thousands of miles away from her child not knowing if he had an advocate at his side for the most terrifying hours of his life, for the new challenges that will face this family, for the sorrow they must feel to see their young son face such a daunting new future.

In the same passing of thought, I have had my heart swell with pride to know this valiant young man. He followed his passion and his convictions, willing to give even his life in the fight for freedom, even for those he had never met. He paid a high price. Those who have been with him say he has had an attitude of determination and optimism. He has not allowed even a bit of self pity to creep into this part of his journey.

The freedoms we enjoy have been won on the backs of our youth. Young men who fought to begin this blessed nation. Young men who were willing to die to ensure that the color of skin did not determine your status in this life. Young men who were brave enough to go to slaughter to stop a mad man from killing millions. Young men who stepped up, in the face of ugly controversy, to try and free an entire people from oppression. As time marched on, young men and, now, women who see injustice in the world and want better for not only this nation, but globally. In their youth, they are not afraid to make hard choices and take a side that they believe in. They are honored to put their lives on the line as part of that choice.

I feel very grateful to Michael Malarsie and those who have gone before to keep me and my own safe. His family has authored a blog to document his service to our country and the unfolding story of his recovery. You can visit Michael's Blog to read about this amazing youth. He truly is a hero.

God bless our troops.


This and That

The dog next door that barks almost constantly sounds like my kids when they cry. That means we are constantly muting the television and asking, "Is that a kid crying?"

The easiest way to clean high chairs and booster seats is in the shower. Use a dish brush and give it a good scrub. No more trying to get in those crevices with a paper towel. This method also works well with trash cans. If you really want to impress your friends, use a little bleach too.

At the end of summer, fill a kiddie wading pool with water. Then add some Ivory dish soap. Give your kids a whisk or egg beater or whatever and let them make bubbles. Then, throw all of the outside toys in there too. Happy kids and clean toys. Win, win.

Popsicle sticks make great "knives" for small hands. Kids can learn to butter bread, make their own sandwiches, or stir frosting. Empowering the youth and saving fingers at the same time.

I can fit into clothes I haven't been able to wear for the last 2 years. Yay for me.

Lexi likes to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Allelujah! (the chorus to a song that we can't remember the name of right now)" when she plays with the nativity sets. It's pretty charming.

Frozen celery makes for a great teether.

"Tea" parties are an awesome and stress free way to teach proper etiquette. You can easily show them how "princesses" or "proper ladies and gents" behave at the table. They love serving their guests first, keeping elbows off the table, where to put silverware, and buttering bread one bite at a time kind of stuff. Make sure to add some yummy treats to disguise all of the learning. The kids think it's fun and you can start to change the little beasts into civilized creatures.

For restaurant quality bacon, don't fry it in a skillet. Bake it in the oven. Lay it out on some cookie sheets and bake it for 20 or so minutes at 400 degrees (I sometimes bake it hotter if the oven is on the cool side or if I'm in a hurry). Let it sit for a minute on the cookie sheet and then drain on paper towels. You can cook more than one sheet at a time, too. This is great for crowds. Also, if you need bacon for a recipe, cut it up before you cook it. You can pop it in the freezer and get it really cold and then cut as needed. Fry it up and don't get your hands all nasty. Cooks faster, too.

Laundry is a great way to teach math. Sure, it takes longer, but it's so worth it. We count the number of articles we have, determine how many hangers we need and then one of the girls gets the hangers. Of course, when they are small, they don't get the right amount. That is the perfect opportunity to do addition and subtraction. We also discuss how to coordinate outfits and respect for personal belongings. In the beginning, I made sure to choose a time when I wouldn't feel rushed so it would be a positive experience. Now, Lexi can put all of her own clothes away and choose outfits that actually match (most of the time). Plus, we had quality time together doing something that could have been just another chore. 

The dishwasher makes a squeaky noise while it's washing. This, also, sounds like one of my kids crying. That means most nights we're watching TV on mute, with our ears straining toward the bedrooms while trying to hear if the kids are crying or if the dog is barking or if the dishes are washing. Or if it's all three.


Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way round.
-David Lodge

About Me

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.