Monday, April 07, 2014


Let me tell you a story from today.  It all started last night.

At about 1am, I woke up to cries of, "Mommy!  Mommy!  Mommy!"  I dragged myself out of bed, to find my darling 3 year old in the bathroom.  "I'm done and I pooped."  It occurred to me, in my foggy sleep-stupor state, that maybe we should start teaching this kid to wipe her own bum.

Hands were washed, and everyone went back to bed.  But a few minutes later, I hear the pitter-patter of Ella's feet come out of her room and to my room.  The door opens.  And Ella announces (not in a whisper): "I need to go to the doctor today."

This gets my attention, as you may imagine.

I begin my line of questioning.  "What's the matter?"

"I need to go to the doctor."

"Why do you need to go to the doctor?"

"I can't tell you."

"What can't you tell me?"

"I did something I wasn't supposed to do."

"And what was that?"

"I swallowed a coin.  My special gold coin."  ....aaaand cue tears. 

Let me go back in time a bit for you.  About a month ago, we were driving around, running errands, when Ella declares she is SO BORED.  So I glance in the backseat, find a green button, and tell her to play with it.  In hindsight, I realize that giving a child a button to play with may not be the best idea.  But desperate times, you know.  So she has a button.  2 minutes later: "The button!  It's gone!"

"Where did it go?"

"Down my froat!"

"Down your coat?"

"No, my froat!"

Throat.  She had swallowed the button.  After the initial panic wore off, I did what I usually do in these situations.  I called my mom.  I took her advice and called the doctor's office.  Of course, it was a Saturday.  These things only happen after hours.  So I left a message, waited for a call back, explained the situation, and was told that she would probably be ok, but to watch for any signs of abdominal discomfort, vomiting, etc.  I explained to Ella that she needed to tell me if she had any pain in her tummy.  She didn't, and 2 days later that green button came out the other end.  (True love is searching someone else's stool for a green button.)  We had a big talk about how we don't put anything in our mouth except for food, and that was that.

Until last night.  This explained her late night bathroom run.  She had remembered what happened last time, and was doing her best to poop that coin out.  After some tears, I asked if her tummy hurt.  "Yes, it hurts right here, I have to go to the doctor!"  I asked if she was sure she swallowed the coin, or if maybe she dreamed it.  "No, it was in real life!  I swallowed my special gold coin!"  (None of this is in a quiet voice, mind you.)  The special gold coin is some euro coin we found a few weeks ago.  Which makes things worse because I have no idea how big that is, or even what amount it was which would give us a clue as to the size of the mystery coin.  And so, again, I called the doctor's office and left a message with the answering service.  Not a moment after I hung up the phone, Ella says, "Well, I need to get some more sleep."  And heads toward her bed.

Now wait a minute.  2 seconds ago she was in pain and needed to go to the doctor.  Now she's fine and wants to go to bed?  I asked her if she was still in pain, and got some confusing response about how it used to hurt this much (arms spread wide), but now it only hurts this much (arms brought closer together).  At this point I am seriously questioning if she dreamed this whole thing up.  I began to probe further, but Clark cut me off saying, "I think I can talk her into pink monkeys in a minute here, let's just get her in bed."  Off to bed she goes.  I, however, get to stay up to wait for the return call, which I was told to expect within 15-20 minutes.  "If you haven't heard from her by then," the message-taker directed, "Call back."

35 minutes later I called back, and told them to forget it, this whole thing might have been a dream, and I am going to bed and putting my phone on silent.  I'd call our regular doctor in the morning. 

I did, indeed, call the doctor this morning.  He was concerned that the coin (if indeed there was a coin) could become lodged in the esophagus, and it is possible to have no symptoms when this happens, so he ordered an x-ray.  Ella quite enjoyed the x-ray.  I did my best to impress upon her that this was NOT fun, and she should NOT try to get another one any time soon.

I just got a call back with the results of the x-ray.  They couldn't find anything that would indicate a foreign body, and a coin would show up pretty clearly if it was there.  I still get to watch her closely, and take her in if she has any symptoms, but it's highly likely that she dreamed she swallowed a coin.

This is the part where we all breath a big sigh of frustration, mixed with a bit of relief, and go lock up all the coins and buttons.

The End.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

GC Success

General Conference with kids can be very challenging.  For the past 5 years, I've struggled with how to approach it.  I want to listen and learn, but I have 2 small children who also need my attention.  I want them to be quiet, but that is unrealistic.  Last fall I think I finally gave up any expectation that I would listen during General Conference, and thus I was not disappointed.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that I got to listen to some small portion of the talks. 

So I was going into this weekend with the same lowered expectations, tempered with a bit of hope due to the excitement levels of said small children.  We have been talking a lot about General Conference this week.  We have talked some about how we get to listen to the prophet and apostles, but mostly we've been talking about things we get to do during conference. 

One thing we've done for at least a year now is treat buckets, inspired by Simply Kierste.  Except they are kind of like the "low budget, non-cute" version, because honestly, would I ever create something that darling?  We use bowls.  And handwritten words on slips of paper, taped to the bowls.  With scotch tape.  High class, that's what we are.  We learned the first time we did this that it isn't a great idea to have a whole load of candy sitting out, because then you eat a whole load of candy and feel ill.  So now we mix it up with pretzels, crackers, raisins, peanuts, etc.  My kids really look forward to this, and they absolutely loved shopping for the treats and coming up with the words.  It's amazing how much it helps them pay attention.

We also pitch the play tent in the living room, so they can watch like the people of King Benjamin.  And print out oodles of coloring pages.  And pull out every puzzle in the house.  Basically any quiet activity we can think of.  And then, when that all fails, I've told the girls they can go play somewhere else, so long as Mom and Dad can listen to conference.  The only person they have to sit and listen to is the prophet.  That's the deal. 

I also took the time yesterday to talk with Julia (who has been praying for the prophet and apostles to do well on their talks all week) about how we can gain personal revelation from General Conference.  I told her that if she has any questions or concerns, she can get answers through the talks at GC.  And then I asked her if she had any questions.  She wanted to know why Heavenly Father and Jesus had to be in heaven instead of on earth, where they could help us better.  This led to a discussion about faith and how Heavenly Father and Jesus help us from heaven.  It was a beautiful conversation, and I am so grateful I could have that with my sweet daughter.  She is a thinker, that one, and has an amazing grasp on gospel principles. 

I have to say that today was a roaring success.  Everyone was in the living room for all 4 hours of conference, except when I bipped into the kitchen to make bagels (another conference-time tradition!).  In fact, while I was shaping said bagels, Ella came into the kitchen, almost in tears, asking me if I was going to watch the prophets.  I told her I was listening, and she said, "But you need to come watch them.  You're going to miss the whole thing!"  When I asked Ella at dinner what she thought of General Conference, she said, "It was so much fun!"  Did we have some moments where no one was listening?  Well, sure.  But on the whole, everyone was happy, quiet, and at least somewhat paying attention. At bedtime, both girls expressed that they were excited for tomorrow.  Excited!  For 2 more sessions of conference!  Unbelievable.  I am one lucky mama.

(Stay tuned for tomorrow's post where everyone was in tears and nobody listened to conference.  Because obviously that would happen after I posted about how awesome today was.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sold! (The Michigan Edition)

We closed on the sale of our home in Michigan today.  I've never been so happy NOT to be a homeowner anymore! (OK, lies, I was this happy back in 2011.  But then, this was not a huge hit to our bank account, so yeah, maybe I'm even more happy!)

I'll admit, there was a sad moment this morning when I was reminded of all that we left behind in Midland.  Selling our home is sort of the final nail in the coffin of our lives there.  We are (sadly) not going back.  There is no "Just kidding! We're not living in Illinois!"  We live here, and only here, now.

But that sadness was quickly overshadowed by the joy of NOT MAKING A MORTGAGE PAYMENT ANYMORE!  Think of it - we will have money leftover after we pay the bills!  Actual money!  Enough that we could actually buy something we want, and not just the things we need.  It makes me giddy.  A burden has been lifted.

I know what you're all thinking: "So, are you going to buy again?"  Not anytime soon.  Not for a very VERY long time.  Honestly, we probably should hold off on buying a home until we want to move.  That seems to be the way this works.  Buy a house, be forced to move.   I'm over the whole home ownership thing.  We're happy here in our little townhome.  We have plenty of space for our family, we don't have to shovel snow, we don't have to pay for any repairs.  Life is good here.

Sorry, Illinois.  You aren't getting my money in real estate taxes.  At least not for a while.  I'm beating you at your little game.  I avoid toll roads, use the library like a boss, and don't send my kid to all day kindergarten.  Shannon 4, Illinois 0.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Back in November, I was called to be the Mia Maid adviser in the Young Women program.  And a couple months later I was put in as a counselor in the YW Presidency (January, to be precise.  Right after I had made all these goals for the new year.  Like blogging.  There went all my time!).  There is a word that has been floating through my mind since November: inadequate.

I have never felt inadequate for a calling before.  I think I'm pretty lucky to have made it this far, actually.  I have spent a number of years in music and Relief Society callings.  I did a couple stints in nursery back in Michigan, which were challenging, but I certainly didn't feel inadequate.  Working with the youth is a whole new ball game, and I don't have a clue how to play.

A little fact about me: I'm an introvert.  I like to think that I've gotten over being "shy," but I am intimidated by large groups of people.  I'd rather stay home and read a book than go to a party.  I enjoy being social, but with like 3 people instead of 20.  This means that I find it really difficult to get to know these girls.  There isn't much time for one-on-one interaction, and if there were, who would rather spend time with their leader than their peers?  Maybe that's just me, feeling "old and busted," but maybe not.  And if you don't know the girls very well, you can't help them.  It's hard to teach lessons on Sunday, to know what their struggles are, to know about their triumphs.  It's just hard. 

Let's add in the fact that I haven't been involved in the Young Women's Program in, oh, 14 years.  Since I was a young woman myself. Everything has changed.  Personal Progress is completely different, and I have no idea how it works.  There is the new curriculum.  There are activities and temple trips and camp (!) and all sorts of things I don't have a clue about.  I have no idea what is going on - and I'm supposed to be in charge! 

And finally: I feel a bit like the loser leader.  I'm not into fashion, or decorating, or hair and makeup.  I'm a frumpy lady, who likes to read.  I feel pretty different from the other leaders.  And then I wonder why on earth I'm here, and feel like I have nothing to offer.

 I keep telling myself to give it time.  In a couple of months I'll know the girls better, and then a lot of things will fall into place.  It feels a lot like going back to high school, and I wasn't exactly confident in high school.  I need to remember that I'm not a teenager again, I'm a grown up.  A confident, happy grown-up, with loads of life experience under my belt, a family I adore, and a solid testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because that's what it's all about - it's all about sharing my testimony with these girls to help strengthen theirs.  And the more I think about that, the more I think, "I can do this."

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm only running a month behind here.  Could be worse.

We actually had a very fun new year, which is rare for the mother of small children.  Actually, let's be honest: it's rare for the Mormon.  There, I said it.  I remember vividly New Years Eve, 1999.  I headed downtown with friends, ready for a fabulous night out, and it was somewhat less than fabulous.  In fact, there was a moment when we all agreed that this would be much more fun if we were drunk.  Not because we wanted to get drunk, but because it was that disappointing.  Such is the life of a Mormon - have to find good, clean fun, even when the bad, dirty fun looks more appealing. 

(Maybe I shouldn't have just admitted all that, but I did.)  (Oh hey, I also like being a Mormon.  In fact, I love it. But it's not always kicks and giggles, know what I mean?)

Anyway.  This is all to say that generally, I find New Years Eve to be a lame holiday.  But this year Julia claimed it to be the BEST DAY OF HER LIFE.  That is pretty high praise.  But I think it was fully warranted.  Tell me if you agree.

Our "eve" started out in the middle of the day, with the library's Noon Years Eve.  What a great idea!  We had an adapted version of Stone Soup (New Years Soup), in which everyone brings something (love, success, good health, etc) to put in the pot. They had a "Book Drop" as the clock struck 12.  We toasted with apple juice.  We wrote things we were thankful for in the year past (a new job! a great library!) and things we hope for in the year to come ("to see a leprechaun!" "a new baby!" [poor girls will both be disappointed]).  We even spun the library wheel.  It was magical.  And the biggest surprise of the day was when Julia won a prize in the Make Your Own Hat contest by wearing her Hello Kitty winter hat - 3rd place in the Book Character category - a bit of a stretch, but we'll take it. 

I opened the prize envelope to find a coupon for a free ice cream cone at McDonald's...that expires on 12/31/13.  So guess where we went for lunch??  Between going out to lunch, getting ice cream afterwards, and playing in the Playplace, I had 2 very happy, very tired kids.  Which is great for the afternoon of Dec 31.  We headed home for a nap.

But wait!  There's more!  In the evening, we headed over to the church, where the Aurora Spanish ward hosted a big old party, complete with multiple pinatas, authentic Mexican food (the tamales were EXCELLENT), balloons, music, and dancing.  We all had a wonderful time.  However, by around 11:15, Ella was so done.    We went and sat by the bishop's office together for a few minutes, and I think she was on the verge of a total meltdown, so we made the executive decision to head home.  Julia was persuaded when we told her we'd have a countdown and toast at home. 

We came home, got everyone in their PJs, and discovered that it was 11:50.  Nobody was going to make it 10 more minutes.  Somehow, Clark's watch suddenly said it was 11:59.  A New Years Miracle!   We counted down, toasted with water in fancy glasses, and crashed.  But did I mention, the girls slept in their play tent?!  What could be better!

New Years Day we held the 2nd Annual Blockburger TV Marathon, wherein we let the girls watch a boatload of television on this day, and this day only.  Everyone was in heaven.  Not much more needs to be said about that. 

So there you have it.  2013 went out with a bang!

Friday, January 17, 2014


This was our 4th Christmas far from home.  I think we can all agree that there is something about Christmas that makes you want to be back home, where you grew up, surrounded by family.  I was homesick multiple times throughout December, and I was actually kind of worried that I'd have a major meltdown on Christmas day and ruin the holiday for everyone.  Thankfully, that didn't happen, and I couldn't have asked for a more lovely Christmas.

Let's begin with Christmas Eve.  I like to think of this as The Longest Day of the Year.  Generally, all the shopping is done by then, you are ready for the holiday, but the holiday hasn't quite come yet.  We have our Christmas Feast on Christmas Eve, but the whole day is spent moping around, eying the presents under the tree, asking if it's time to go to bed yet.  We decided that this was less than desirable, so we headed to the Museum of Science and Industry that day. 

Good.  Gravy.  That place is HUGE and EXCITING!  Our whole family had a wonderful time.  The science nerd in Clark was in Geek Heaven.  I kept finding little things relating to my newest obsession: The Chicago World's Fair (It's all because of this book.  I found it fascinating.  Go read it.  You'll be glad you did.  And then come visit us to see where it all went down!).  Ella adored the baby chicks, and while watching the eggs in hopes they would hatch, she was heard to say, "I could do this all day."  Julia thought the submarine was really cool, and has recently asked to "learn more about machinery.  Like the farm machinery at the museum."  This was definitely the perfect activity to occupy minds and wear out little bodies on the day before Christmas. 

We got home somewhere around 3.  I put the ham in the oven and started working on the other components of The Feast.  Julia and Ella were sent upstairs for quiet time, where they decided instead of being quiet they'd like to have a pool party.  Swimsuits were donned.  Blankets were spread across the floor to act as the pool.  Turns out the bed is the perfect diving board.  And why not, I say?  Why not have a pool party on Christmas Eve, while it's snowing outside?  Those Blockburger girls.  They are brilliant.

Post Feast, we read the Christmas story, lit the angel chimes, and ate birthday cake, in honor of the Babe of Bethlehem.  I think we did a pretty good job of sending the girls to bed full of the Spirit, understanding why we celebrate this day above all days.

Christmas morning was AWESOME.  5 and 3 are the perfect ages for Christmas.  Everything is magical.  Everything is exactly what they wanted. Here's a video of their first reactions.  Ella, in response to her Jake and the Neverland Pirate boat, is saying, "What?  What?"  Julia finds her Princess Teaset and says, "How did he know?" because she forgot to ask Santa for it in person, even though she wanted it so much.  Magic, I tell you.  Magic.


We took the approach of letting the girls play with whatever they wanted.  There was no schedule to the day, we could take our time opening the presents.  This helped with the Cinnamon Roll Fiasco, wherein I didn't realize until Christmas morning that the cinnamon rolls we wanted to eat for breakfast need to rise for 2 hours before baking.  I felt awful for about 5 minutes, and then?  Nobody even noticed.  We spent all that time opening presents and enjoying the day. 

Then we Skyped with my family and phoned Clark's, and spent the afternoon relaxing and playing and generally doing nothing.  It was glorious.  I was not homesick for one minute.  I was just grateful for my little family, and for my Savior, who made it possible for us to be sealed together forever.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Cold Day

No school today.  Too cold.  The high today is something ridiculous like -14, with windchill down into the -40s.  RIDICULOUS.  But, if it's cold, you might as well step outside to vaporize some boiling water.  (I really didn't know if it was going to work, and was worried that the boiling water would be blown back into my face.  Thankfully, that didn't happen.)


We tried to blow bubbles too, but the wind was too strong, kept blowing them away.  But hey, no school tomorrow either!  We can always try again!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

It's like I found a time machine and we are back in the 90s! This outfit was all

It's like I found a time machine and we are back in the 90s! This outfit was all Julia's idea: a beret, a black leotard, and some leggings. She's a fashionista, no?