Monday, November 29, 2010

Back to Life

We survived our trip to Utah...barely.  We all got sick.  The stomach flu went though every one of us including my siblings and their kids and my mom and dad.  Our week was literally spent on my parent's couch and taking breaks to wash sheets, towels and clothes.  Dumb.  My kids feel a little sad that we only did 2 things on their list of "musts" in Utah, but oh well.

We drove home late Saturday and were able to miss a major snow storm that would have made the drive a  nightmare.  Romney drove the whole way.  We were really sad however, because in order to miss the storm, we had to miss a gathering with some of our dearest friends from Boston who we have not seen in years.  Too bad.

Despite the sickness, we were still able to enjoy some quality time with family.  Here are some of the highlights: 

My Amazing Parents
Preparing for the Thanksgiving Meal (Savanna, Christian, Mom, Dad, Lauren & Thomas)
Six of Eight Siblings (Savanna, Kara, Eliza, Marisa, Christian)

All 16 Williams grandkids with Nan & Dwight
Girl Cousin Sleepover at Nana & Grandpa Dewey's House
Enjoying a Jazz Game with my darling Dad

We are now home and are slowly coming back to life.  We somehow woke up in time for the kids to take the 6:58 AM.  (Miracle). Our trip was great and we loved being surrounded by family and to have the opportunity to remember our bounteous blessings with people we adore. 

I guess it is time to bring out the tree???

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Yep, this pretty much sums up our trip the past 24 hours.  Not so fun.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Utah or bust....

I saw this image and had to smile...."You mean you didn't order Metalic Pea?"( Ed the Salesman from Vacation)

We decided that we would leave for Utah today.  We saw that a storm is moving over Wyoming tomorrow and since I don't love the idea of being stranded at a motel in Evanston, we are going to hit the road today.

I am hoping for a quick, uneventful drive with one bathroom break, harmonious children and a husband who isn't on his laptop the whole time....Am I asking too much????

Looking forward to some great new memories in Utah stuffed with: plenty of family time, Cafe Rio at least twice, friends, turkey bowl, Nan's pumpkin cream pie, Kathy's mashed potatoes and gravy, a Utah haircut, refills at Holiday Oil, Black Friday sales with my mom and a BYU win next Saturday.

Okay....I am asking for too much.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Does bad luck come in threes?

It has been an interesting week around here.  I sort of feel like those kids in the movie, "A Christmas Story" who are getting tortured by the bully after school and no matter how loud they yell "Uncle," the bully won't let them go until he is satisfied.

I am not one to be superstitious, but does bad luck really come in threes?  I hope so. 

This past week delivered the following:

1. After 11 faithful and trusty years, my dryer broke.  Fun.

2. The IRS informed us that Romney's 2008 employer has decided that he does not want to pay employment taxes for Romney.  Long story short, the IRS is sticking us with the hefty bill to pay for the employment withholdings.  The IRS gave us less than a week to pay it in full.  It is due tomorrow. Ouch.

3.  My car has been making a weird and "expensive sounding" noise.  We were informed yesterday that the clips holding the engine in place are broken, it will be $3000 to fix.  Awesome.

All I can say is:

Friday, November 12, 2010

First Snow & Taylor Swift

It is cold here.
It snowed yesterday.
It was freezing.
No was miserable.  I even sent Romney a text asking him if we were serious about this "Colorado Thing."  I am normally not such a wimp.  In fact, Romney was quick to remind me that I am the one who says I love having 4 seasons and he is right, I do, but it was a shock to my system.

The kids however, were totally unaffected by the bitter cold and they went outside and had a blast.  There was light snow accumulation and I sort of laughed when the kids said that they wanted to build a snowman.  I tried to talk them out of it and to stay inside where it was warm.  They just stared at me like I was speaking a different language.  They thought I was nuts.  They found their boots, hats and gloves and somehow found enough snow to build this little buddy.

Thomas has always been so creative with the stuff he uses for a snowman's face.  (One year he used a hot dog for a nose.)  I comfortably watched the kids from the living room window.  They enjoyed the snow much more than I did...why are grownups such pansies??

Sophie has also discovered a new love in her life....Taylor Swift.  She is crazy about her.  Lauren bought the new Taylor Swift CD last week and let's just say that Sophie is obsessed.  She has listened to the CD dozens of times and has nearly memorized all of the songs.

The other day while the kids were at school, Sophie set up a "stage" on the living room floor and danced and sang for hours to her baby doll.

I love the things she used for her stage.  (Plates, a book, play food, a plastic french fry, a bag of Cheetos, Lauren's old boots, a ballet shoe, a pumpkin, a dress-up shoe, etc.) Heaven!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude and a Thankful Tree

We did this the other night for family home evening and it was so fun.  I have decided that if I can effectively teach my kids the importance of feeling grateful and expressing that gratitude as often as possible, then I am starting to fulfill my role as their mom.

It was so fun to watch the kids write what they were grateful for.  We were originally going to start with ten leaves/hearts, and then gradually add to the tree over the next few weeks, but the kids got so into it that we filled our little tree the first night.

Some of my favorites included: healthy bodies, warm beds, electricity, food, house, mom, dad, family, life, the world, grandparents, cousins, missionaries and my personal favorite from Lauren, "a second chance."

We now have it hanging prominently in our kitchen to remind us to have our hearts full of thanksgiving.

Now if I can just figure out how to get the kids to stop fighting and get along with each other....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not Just A Mom...A Mother

I stumbled on the website this morning and I have been glued.  I sort of need to pull myself away from my computer.  There are these little two minute clips on different members of the church and their life stories.  It has been so inspiring to watch. 

This little clip on Jane Clayson really spoke to me.  In my teenage years and into my twenties, I always thought broadcast journalism was going to be in my future and Jane Clayson was a true role model for me.  I was so inspired by her achievements and I was always pulling for her.     

Shortly after 9-11, she walked away from her career in journalism, so that she could fulfill her lifelong goal to be a full-time mom.  Her peers thought she was crazy and she was warned that if she left, she would never be able to reclaim her status in journalism.  Well, she left anyway and she says that she would do it again in a heartbeat.

I always wondered what it would be like to be in her shoes.

Watching this clip of her life made me realize that ironically, she wanted to be in my shoes.  So, I am now in her shoes, but just in a different capacity than I had hoped and I too, am right where I want to be.

It was a good reminder to enjoy the here and now...this season of my life.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Food, Smells & Memories of Home

A few months ago, I completed a life history compilation of my dear Grandma Helen.  She was a choice lady with a remarkable life.  I scoured through dozens of handwritten journal pages; most of which were on loose sheets of paper left in random order.  At times, I felt like I was assembling a jig saw puzzle.  It took me a long time...months.  I do not even know the total number of hours I spent, but it was a joy.  She was a treasure in my life.  It has been nearly two years since she passed and I still miss her everyday.

I loved reading about her life.  Her childhood was like a movie.  She grew up in a small town in Georgia on a farm during the depression.  It was such a pleasure reading about her and learning about her in a new way.  One of the most interesting things I found about her journal entries is how often her memories of home and childhood related to food.  Her memories were always tied to the food she ate...or in some cases, didn't eat.

At first I thought this was because meals were so scarce and that food must have always been on her mind, but as I have taken a step back, I realize that her memories are happy ones and associating those memories with food was a trigger for her thoughts.  She grew up very poor, but she was deeply loved by her siblings and parents and remembering the food she ate must have helped her remember the feelings of home.  Her journal entries are poignant and vivid because she was able to remember so much more than just events.

I think my mom understood this too, because the smell of homemade bread, soup, scones and homemade chocolate cookies...smells of comfort food...were very common in our house.  It reminds me of walking into our home after school.  My mom made us a hot breakfast everyday...yes, everyday except the weekends!!  Dinner as a family was treated as sacred.  I can't help but think that those traditions are probably why we are all still such great friends.

As I have thought about it, so many of my happy memories are also surrounding food.  I know that Romney would say the same thing.  So, I have been asking myself, what smells will trigger happy memories for my kids?  (Hopefully not just the smell of a clean bathroom!!!)

I have been experimenting with different bread recipes and I stumbled on this recipe for homemade rolls.  I had never made them before, so I decided to give it a try.  It was a lot easier than I had expected and if I don't sound too boastful, they were delicious.  I am trying them today with freshly ground wheat flour.  (We'll see if the kids are as excited about these rolls if they are a healthy brown....)

Here is the recipe.  Happy baking and memory making! (This recipe makes A LOT, but it gave us an excuse to share with the neighbors. You could always cut it in half).

Delicious Homemade Rolls

1/2 c. tap-hot water
pinch sugar
2 pkg. yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1 c. butter
2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
4 eggs (beaten)
1 c. warm milk
8 1/2 c. flour ("bread" flour)

Mix water, yeast and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Set aside until foamy.

Cream butter, salt and sugar. Add boiling water (I just used the microwave). Mix until dissolved.

Let it cool for a couple of minutes.

Beat in yeast mixture and eggs. Slowly beat in flour and the warm milk.

Knead for five minutes. (Dough will be pretty sticky).

Let rise until doubled in size (approx. 1 1/2 to 2 hours).

Remove from mixer and punch it down.  Divide into four balls. 

Shaping the rolls is much easier than you might think. All you need to do is roll out the dough into a big circle so that it resembles an untopped pizza. Then, using a pizza cutter, divide up the dough into 12 pizza slices. Starting with the “crust” edge, roll each slice of pizza towards the center to form the rolls, then curve them slightly when you place the on greased cookie sheet with point tucked under. 

Let rise, covered with a cloth until doubled in size (approx. 1 1/2-2 hours).

Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Cozy Sunday Gift

Yesterday after we got home from church, Romney pulled all the kids into a bedroom and shut the door.  A few minutes later, I was basically tackled with hugs and ordered to get cozy in my PJs.  The covers on by bed were pulled back and I was presented with a diet coke and told to get in bed and relax.  Bliss.  It took me a minute to give in and allow myself to enjoy the gift I was given, but I finally did and I spent a couple of hours to myself.  I read a great book and I slept.  It was heaven.  At one point, cute Christian even came in and turned up my electric blanket to a 3.  He said, "Here mom, that is so you can be extra cozy."  It was so sweet.

It was such a thoughtful gesture for Romney to do that for me.  He just gets me and understands that sometimes a closed door and a fluffy bed and of course a diet coke, is all that is needed to reboot to my "Mom System."

It was interesting however,because as I laid there enjoying the warmth and quiet, I could hear the laughter of Romney and the kids in the other room and I actually felt a little jealous of what I heard happening outside my bedroom door.  They were playing games and it was obvious that the kids were in heaven.  They had their dad all to themselves.  No cell phone.  No TV and let's be honest, no mom.

In giving me that cozy time to myself to reboot, it was more than the quiet and relaxation that gave me the strength and determination to be a better mom this week.  It was hearing Romney choosing to spend time with his kids and the sounds of happiness coming from kids who felt loved.

It was a good reminder.  Thank you Romney for the "reboot" in so many ways....xoxoxo

Friday, November 5, 2010

4-Year-Olds Tell It Like It Is

I have always been fairly particular about my hair.  This is not to say that I have not had my share of bad haircuts and let's be honest, bad hair colors...most notably grades 8th-10th. (Thank you again Marisa for experimenting with "sun-kissed highlights" and learning that Hydrogen Peroxide is not the same stuff the professionals use. Ouch!)

No, I will not post pictures...

Since we moved to Colorado, I have had two bad haircuts and two bad hair colors. It is not too obvious to other people, but something has just been wrong and I am going crazy.  I don't feel myself and in an attempt to stop obsessing, I am dealing with it and trying to tell myself no one else can see what I am freaking out about. 

We are going to Utah in a few weeks for Thanksgiving, so I decided that rather than attempt another local stylist failure, I was just going to wait it out and let the Utah stylists aka "Hair Magicians" fix it when we go home.  However, truth be told, my color is terrible and in certain lighting, there is a hazy red tone, but no one can see it right???

Well this morning, Sophie drew this picture of me....  Her finishing touch was a nice red halo around my head.  I asked her what that was and she quickly responded, "It's your hair mommy.  It's black and red." 


It goes without saying that I just returned from the salon and although it is not perfect, at least the red halo is gone.  Thank you Sophie!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Maybe Facebook isn't a total waste of time...

My parents bought their home in Holladay in February 1989.  I remember this vividly because it meant that I was going to have to start the middle of the year.  I was going to be a sophomore at Skyline High School and I was dreading it.  I did not know a soul and let's just say for the record that high school sucks.

It was not a welcoming environment.  I still laugh when I think of the day that my mom drove me to the school and she thought that just because we pulled up to the drop off that I was actually going to get out of the car.  She literally had to pry my fingers off the door handle.  I was laughing and crying at the same time...I think we both were.  She gave up and drove home with promises that we would try again the next day.

When I finally started school, I was dying inside.  I HATED IT!  There was one class however, where a nice, somewhat quiet guy went out of his way to make me feel welcome.  His name was Ryan Palmer and he ended up being one of my closest friends in high school.  We had a few classes together and one of those classes was debate.  Our time in that class and traveling to debate tournaments sealed our friendship.  Ryan was a great guy and was always looking out for me.

Skyline High School's Debate Team 1991

During our senior year, Ryan found out a few days before the senior prom that I had not been asked.  He said that was never going to happen.  He came up to me after class and said that although he did not have a lot of money, he wanted to take me to the senior prom.  What a guy!  We ate sandwiches from Subway with cans of Hawaiian Punch on the hood of his car and laughed as we listened to NPR.  We joined up with a large group at the dance for pictures and games afterward.  We had a great time and it was by far my favorite high school dance.

Senior Prom 1991

A few months after we graduated, Ryan was in a terrible car accident.  He and a friend were standing on the bumper of a suburban and holding onto the luggage rack.  They were riding through a quiet neighborhood and tragically the weight of the two boys caused the luggage rack to break and Ryan fell back directly on his head.  He suffered massive head injuries and never regained consciousness.  Sadly, he died a few days later.

For years, I felt like Ryan was sort of like my guardian angel.  He would show up every now and then in my dreams, but he was always trying to hide and stay out of sight.  There was one particularly challenging time for me in college when I was feeling a little lost and confused about my future.  It was at this time that Ryan came to me again in a dream.  He was following me in a crowd and again trying to stay out of sight.  This time I approached him and asked him if he was Ryan.  His response was, "Of course."  He then asked me why I was making the decisions I was and he reminded me that I was better than that.  I woke up feeling like he was once again really looking out for me and helping to make sure that I was staying on the right path. It was a very powerful experience and one that I will never forget.

I bring this up only because I have always regretted that I lost contact with Ryan's family.  They asked me to speak at his funeral.  It was such an honor to pay tribute to such a great person and friend.  As the years have passed, I have always wondered if his family really knew the influence for good that Ryan had on my life...even years after his death. 

Well, today I was on facebook and noticed a suggestion on the friend suggestion tab.  I clicked on it and there was Ryan's brother's name.  I contacted him and we have exchanged emails back and forth today.  I mentioned to him this guardian angel experience and it felt nice to let him know the influence that Ryan had on my life.

So, I guess facebook isn't a total waste of time....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

It was a really fun year for Halloween.  Christian went as the Grim Reaper, Lauren and Sophie were both witches, Thomas went as an injured skater (sorry no pics), Kara went as a pirate and I went as the perpetual convict Lindsay Lohan...with feather boa and diamond chandelier earrings.

Romney was supposed to go in a matching convict suit and go as Bernie Madoff with fake money stuffed in his sleeves, but unfortunately, he was not able to get to our ward party until it was too late.  Oh well, maybe next year we can use the costumes again and go as another pair of celebrity convicts...there will of course be someone new to mock!

Our neighborhood had a little parade and trick or treating event.  They taught several kids the dance for Thriller and performed it during the party.  Lauren signed up and did a fantastic job!!

This was Sophie's preschool Halloween Parade.  Here she is with her closest friend Delaney.

Carving pumpkins with several of Thomas' friends.  It was a great year!!!

I should mention that the kids got more candy than should be legal.  Thomas alone got 16 + pounds.  We have candy coming out of our ears.  We figure that there are over 1000 pieces of candy in this house!!! Heaven help me.....

Monday, November 1, 2010

And the prize goes sister Kara

If Romney and I were to give a prize to the person who has been our best and most frequent visitor over the years, the winner without comparison would be my sister Kara.

When we lived in Boston, she came to see us at least 7 times and having lived there 6+ years, that is an awesome record.  So many memories of our adventures as we explored Boston and New England involve Kara.

Some of our highlights include: lighthouses in Maine, roaming the streets of New York, experiencing what it feels like to be the last...literally the last patrons at the IKEA in New Jersey, Whale Watching in Glouster Mass, sweating bullets on a New York subway, purse shopping in Chinatown and most recently in Denver, running out of gas in the middle of nowhere on the drive from Dallas, Texas to Utah, and just this weekend, getting caught driving past the home of Jon Benet Ramsey in Boulder, CO.  Really, there are too many to list.

(Nubble Lighthouse in Maine, NYC, Kara's layover in Boston after 9-11,Fenway Park, Whale Watching)

Kara came for a quick (too quick) trip to see us this weekend.  We had a great time.  We went to our ward's trunk or treat party, we carved pumpkins, we shopped at the outlet mall with Marisa, we enjoyed an evening in Colorado Springs with the Bentleys, explored the streets of Boulder, went trick or treating and then barely made her flight last night.  Whew, I am tired.  Thanks Kara for always being so supportive and willing to sit in the back seat surrounded by incessant nagging by the kids and movies that are turned up way too loud.

We are anxious for the next visit.  We love you Auntie Kara!!  Thanks for another round of great memories!!!

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