Thursday, April 30, 2009

The mean girl

I should be packing or cleaning since the kids are asleep (or showering!), but alas... here I am again.

Erin is the oldest child, the guinea pig, the experiment. Everything is so new and unknown with each new phase. Take nursery. I spent a lot of time in there and knew all about it--their schedule, snacks, which kids to stay away from or they might bite. Alex? Second child. I don't need to know what goes on in there, he's fine. Heck, I don't even have to take him there. One of the deacons wants to take him? Sure. Why not?

So when I sent Erin to her preschool this year I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what went on there. Again, the unknown. And she's loved it. That place is incredible. She tells me all about it when I pick her up--which is how I know about Priscilla. This has been going on for a long time now and I'm sure I don't know everything about it but here's what I do know. Erin started saying things like "She's not my friend!" (in that typical, immature, teenage girl sort of way). What? My four year old is becoming one of those kind of girls? No, no Erin. You need to be nice to everyone and everyone should love you too because you are so fabulous. But little comments continued to trickle in. I started to wonder if Erin really was... mean.

There was the lip gloss incident in which both girls, secretly planned I'm sure, to bring theirs to school so they could trade--a sign a true friendship. This sort of bothered me because Erin ended up with this cheap, hot pink, messy junk while Priscilla got the good stuff (that I would wear). Okay, whatever. But after a few days the friendship was on the rocks again. I started hearing about how she had to give her more lip gloss (I guess in order to remain her friend).

Who is this girl? I started to wonder. Maybe Priscilla is the mean one after all and Erin is just trying to be accepted. Wouldn't every mother like to think their kid is the good one? If only there was a way to find out. Aha, Priscilla's birthday party. All the kids in her class were invited and Erin was so excited.

Now, keep in mind that we live in south Florida and that over half of the birthday parties we've been to have been for Latinos. This is significant because they last FOREVER!! And it would not be unusual to have pony rides, bounce houses, theatrical shows, a magician, and personalized embroidered towels given to each of the 500 guests at the same fully catered party that would cost more than my college education. I learned long ago to arrive at least an hour after when it starts, but I'm finding it is still too early. There's no escape! Five hours at a party for someone you hardly know when the kids are all tired is too much. And don't make the mistake of thinking that they will cut the cake at any moment because they won't, but they will be offended if you leave before it's cut.

Such was the case with Priscilla's over-the-top High School Musical party in which personal t-shirts featuring P's face were made for about 50 family members, cast members from the movie came to perform a show and all the little girls were dressed up in their red and white HSM costume. All except Erin and one other girl from school. I saw no point in forking out $20 for a lame costume for a movie neither of us has even seen just to fit in at the party. But I was there for a reason. What was up with this brat? She loved being the center of attention and dancing with a huge circle of kids surrounding her. She also kept changing clothes because I guess there are numerous HSM costumes to own and flaunt. Anyway, I noticed that every time Erin went to talk to her, she either said one thing and turned away to be with her cooler costume wearing friends, or she completely ignored her! And what got me is how much Erin wanted her to like her and how she just kept trying to be her friend. It wasn't just her but all the kids. They all sort of worshipped this girl. "Hey, wake up kids! She's MEAN! What about just being friends with each other?"

Then I asked this other girl's mother and she said the same thing was happening with her kid. One week Priscilla was her friend and the next she wasn't. She'd even roped her into giving her a special necklace. Erin asked her if she liked the Cinderella doll she'd gotten her for her present and she blew her off, "I did not get a Cinderella doll from you!" One day Priscilla said she wasn't Erin's friend because she thought her hair looked weird. Yeah. And today she didn't want to go to school because she was afraid Priscilla might not be her friend. Jared and I both talked to her about how there are so many other great kids in her class that she could be friends with and she agreed. Problem solved. Thirty seconds later she said, "I really want to give Priscilla a princess bracelet." Huh?!? I don't get it. What kind of sick hold does this child have on them? Why do people automatically flock to someone like this?

It reminds me of fourth grade when my two best friends were Wendy (a nice, genuine girl who was really my friend) and Jenny (a not so nice girl who I had to be friends with because Wendy was). It was their influence that led me to play the flute; how could I not if both my friends did? Peer pressure. Jenny came up with this great nick-name for me and began using it on a regular basis. That would be Larda. Keep in mind, I was not in the least bit fat and I did not like being called Larda, but Wendy was my friend and Jenny came along with Wendy. I finally made a difficult decision; I decided not to play with them one recess and to play with somebody else who was very nice but I had never gotten to know. She asked me why I let Jenny call me that and then it hit me. I do not have to be friends with somebody like that. After a few days my real friend Wendy started playing with me again and Jenny stopped calling me you know what. I stood up to the mean girl!

I've realized that we can't be friends with everyone and we shouldn't expect our kids to either. While you want them to be nice to everyone, some people are not good influences, even at age four. Do I really want my child dancing to High School Musical and basing friendships on such vain and shallow things like jewelry, make-up and hair? I know I can't control who she choses to be friends with, I just wish she would not be so affected by one overpowering kid. At least I know that Erin isn't the manipulative ringleader after all. We'll see what kindergarten has in store.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's over, but it's not over

That's right. Last night was officially my last class for Design 9. I cleaned out my desk and submitted my final boards--ahh, great feeling. I honestly don't want to look at that project again! (at least for a couple of months anyway) This, however will not be the case. It's good and bad.

I realize that by writing this I risk my head exploding, as someone so kindly pointed out from a previous post, but it really is exciting to me. My teacher said that he got an email from BCT (Broward County Transit) and they want to use my bus shelter design! This means I need to work with a structural engineer and my teacher to work out all the details, including every connection, foundation, dimensions, materials, etc., and then somehow figure out how to draw up the construction documents. I know it's not a huge project, but I've never really done that before. It's just so exciting for me because I've never actually had anything built for real. And I will probably get paid for it too. He also said the school wants to show it at some women achievement thing next year. Uh, sure, whatever.

Confession: one of the craziest things about this whole thing is that I knew I had to design a new bus shelter before the final and with all the other things I had to do I only had a couple of hours (between birthday parties) to do it. So I spent hours and hours on everything else and the thing that took the least amount of time is what they want to use. Ironic. Didn't Frank Lloyd Wright design Falling Water in like two hours? (I know I'm no Frank Lloyd Wright and my bus stop is no Falling Water, but interesting fact anyway)

So just when I was happy to not have anything hanging over my head (Jared and I call it the case of the dread) I have more work to do. Bummer, but cool. I guess it'll be worth it in the end, right?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I never wrote about our trip to Houston over spring break. First off, I have to say that I love Facebook. I have planned two trips, including this one, almost entirely through Facebook. Not only that but I rarely have to pick up the phone to find a babysitter anymore or make the dreaded visiting teaching phone calls either. I was the kid who held the receiver with 6 of the 7 numbers dialed just trying to figure out what to say or how to ask if so-and-so was there, going through all the varying situations that might occur if the seventh number were dialed (what if it's busy, or the wrong number, or she's not home, or she can't play, or if she doesn't want to, or if her dad answers?). Then just as I mustered up enough courage and was about to press that last number... beep, beep, beep "If you'd like to make a call..." Ahhh... I'd hang up and try next week instead; it would take some time to get over something so traumatic. While I'd like to think I've gotten over most of that, if I had to choose to call or shoot a message off on the computer? Yeah, computer's way easier. Don't get me wrong, I actually love talking on the phone but making the call can be scary, which is probably why I usually wait till people call me.

Oh yeah, Houston... We went to visit my oldest friend Ariel for a few days and we had such a great time. Ariel and I met in fifth grade in girl scouts but we became best friends in eighth grade where we mastered the art of writing, folding and passing notes daily. Important notes, about Webbieland, new poems we had written about people, decorating our desks for each others' birthdays, wearing black after my cat died, the dent our typing teacher made on the counter from years of sitting on it, gum getting stuck in our hair, but most importantly about the most amazing boy in the world that for some reason we had a mutual crush on who actually said "hi" to us in the hall. He is known as Slimer, short for Slimebucket. Yes, he was the guy who brought us together, so- thanks. (By the way Jorge, you still owe me a quarter for that bet about me going on a date with him by the end of high school. Never happened.)

While we went to different high schools, we managed to stay friends through hours of talking on the phone, the miracle of call waiting and our families' willingness to get it. And who could resist all those stake dances together? I know she is a great friend because we can go for months without talking and then pick up like it had been yesterday. And she makes me laugh so hard every time. Yes, our lives have crossed paths in so many ways. When we got our mission calls to report the same day we were so excited, but to open the door to my room in the MTC and see her standing there as my roommate for 8 weeks was the best. Good times! If that wasn't enough, she even set me up with my future husband--thanks again for that. What would my life be like without her?

Right... Houston... We stayed at her brand new house that I hope my kids didn't trash too much, got to meet her adorable little baby and got to know her husband better. We went to a children's museum where the kids found the face paint table. Surely they expected some adult supervision for this activity, but being the parents that we are and being the kids that they are, they took matters into their own hands... or should I say faces. Erin decided to be a cat. This also included a label on her forehead which said cat. But since she wrote it in the mirror it actually spelled "TAC" which was so hilarious because she had no idea it was backwards. She went back and added "EHT" so it would say "the cat" and convinced me to let her paint my face as well. Here's the damage.

Here we are at this great park they have in the middle of town. It even had a train around the whole park. It was such beautiful weather too.

Thanks for the great trip and for all the years of friendship!

And here we are ages 16 and 15 when we took a trip to St. George together. I know, we haven't changed a bit. What ever happened to that dress anyway? I still can't believe her mom let me drive all the kids from St. George to Salt Lake when I'd only had my license for like 2 months. Crazy! But then again, I was the Eddie Haskel friend-the one the parents loved but was secretly the bad influence :) Don't tell them, they still don't know.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


We did end up having Easter, just a week late. We didn't have Christmas on Christmas, why would we have Easter on Easter? Luckily, kids do not care as long as there is candy and an Easter egg hunt (which happens regularly around here anyway only with toys not eggs). We managed to dye eggs--I didn't manage to do Erin's hair that day or put all that food away in the background for that matter.

They loved the Easter egg hunt. Alex is finding a carefully "hidden" egg.
Then he gave it to Erin because it was pink (that's right Alex, pink is a girl color but it's all right to play with dolls...)Here are their Easter outfits which I had to threaten Erin in order to wear: if she didn't there would be no egg hunt. Usually she picks out her own clothes--you should see the one she came up with for church tomorrow involving two directions of stripes, at least 10 different colors and a skort--but come on, I have two cute girls and dressing them alike is one of my simple and well deserved pleasures at least once a year.

And here is the Easter aftermath. They made the biggest and funnest trail of grass that finally made it to the room where Jared and I were successfully ignoring them. I think they were swimming in it or something?

Marissa is usually part of their fun now a days too. Next year I'm using pom poms instead of this. Good idea, right? I'm just proud of myself that it is all put away and it's only been a week. Good job on not being your usual slacker self Laura.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


This is what happens when you give three kids some sidewalk chalk and five minutes. This particular day was an anomaly. Marissa usually has it all over her face due to chalk tasting.
AND... (drumroll) This is our new bathroom in action. Ta da! New as in it's been like this since December but the walls were, we'll say... in transition up until March. I think the final count is 7 different colors. This one is pretty neutral and classic I think. We still have to put the trim on and paint the door, little details-the ones that you get used to until years pass and then you scramble to get it done when you try to sell the house. Anyway, it is great to have a bathtub that the kids don't slip in, a drain that doesn't leak and isn't rusty, and maybe best part being that it isn't the color of my brother's 1985 tuxedo he wore to the prom. Classic, but some things must be changed.

I love the way everything came together. Good job Jared! It was a lot of work for him. He is so very talented when it comes to things like this. Hey, and just in time to redo the garage ceiling that collapsed today (another story for another day)

I'm alive...


Finally the class from you know where is ending. The most difficult semester of my life, as you may have noticed from previous posts.

6 years, 16 semesters, 29 classes, 100 credits, 3 kids, countless babysitters, way way too many all nighters, and .... only 1 more class left! (but thankfully not for a few months-I'll be hibernating)

Tonight we presented our final projects to the community where they voted on them and gave us feedback. One really cool thing is that I designed a bus shelter as part of my project and the jury really liked it. My teacher said it was brilliant (which is the first compliment I ever heard from him) and that I should submit it to FDOT to be considered in the county. I feel so honored and think it would be really awesome to see them use the design. (I'm posting it here because you probably want to see the "masterpiece", but nobody steal it, okay?)

Here are the boards I was talking about (don't mind the lame outfit that makes me look pregnant-which I am not. I was hard pressed to find anything decent that was clean. What's up with our maid anyway?)

I guess I did learn a lot this semester, even though I had to go through so much, and way more about computers than I ever wanted to know. I spent so long in this position that I had a hard time straightening my legs after a while. And yes, I am working on two laptops at the same time (benefits of mac and pc)

I also feel so grateful to Heavenly Father for giving me the strength and abilities to accomplish something so difficult. I have honestly felt his guiding hand in so many instances along the way that make me realize that he is there and that he cares about even the smallest details of our lives, like architorture. Now I am ready to have my life back again. Just wanted to let everyone know that I lived.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stressing and Blessings

I know I've written a lot about my school lately. That's because it has taken over my life and I'm getting sick of it! This semester has been the most difficult one yet. I knew it was a 6 credit class instead of 4 credits and that people had talked about Design 9 being the most demanding, but I didn't really know how hard it would be until I got into it. I guess the reason is that we have major pinups every Tuesday, either with the faculty or with community leaders. That means that it feels like a midterm or final every single week. I remember Design 6 when I pulled at least one all nighter every week and thinking that was pretty hard... Now only one all nighter each week seems like a dream. I can say that I sleep a full night only once a week because my body shuts down after so much stress and lack of sleep. What really sucks is that you work so hard every single week and then you know you have to do it again next week and the next and the next... it seems never ending.

But the one consolation is that it will end. There's only a few more weeks of torture and I can't wait to have my life back! I don't care if I get an A or not. I will do all the requirements and do the best I can so that I don't have to retake the class (there is no possible way I will ever do this again!) People ask what I will do when I'm done. Here's my plan: I will sleep... a lot. I will take naps and sleep in and I will not feel bad or lazy because I have several months of sleep to recover. Oh, I might clean the house and do things with my kids too, but only between naps.

I know everybody has their own challenges and I am aware of this. I feel so self absorbed in my own problems that it is hard to focus on other people's situations. Sometimes I wonder why I chose this when there is no reason I have to go through this or put my family through this either. I guess I think of it like my mission. It was completely optional but I chose to do it. It was really hard and absolutely worth it. There were things I learned that I couldn't have learned any other way, but I don't want to do it again... at least not the same way knowing how hard it was. That is how I feel about school. I think that it will be worth it, but I want this chapter to be over.

Last night I came home and was so surprised to find that the house had been completely cleaned! There was a cake, sparkling grape juice and a thank you note for me on the table (the one that hasn't been cleared off for weeks). It was from one of the most amazing friends I could ever imagine having. She had made dinner for my family at her house while spending 3-4 hours at my house cleaning everything (and it was pretty bad). I can't express how grateful I am to her for this and so many other acts of service she has given to me over the years, especially knowing how much she is dealing with in her own life. Just thinking about all the ways she has helped me (watching my kids, making dinners, always being there to talk to, teaching me about parenting and childbirth, being supportive during my most challenging times) is overwhelming. I don't know how I could have lived away from family without her and others like her.

So many other people have helped me over the years too. I can't count how many people have watched my kids while I've been gone. If you are one of them... Thank you! I remember one finals week when I was pregnant with Alex and somebody just came over and took Erin for a few hours without me ever telling her how much I needed it at that moment. I am just truly overwhelmed by the kindness of others and I hope to be able to be even a little bit like these people someday. Maybe after I've slept...