The other day as I was loading up the boys to head off somewhere I noticed this adorable dog limping along the sidewalk across the street. It was an all too familiar limp, the kind of limp Misha would get when I would take her jogging on trails. I whistled to him but his paws were so sore he only made it halfway across the street. Sure enough he had goatheads in all four paws. Not wanting him to go back where he came from I put him in the backyard and made a call to animal control. I'm such a sucker for a basset hound.

Since we still haven't had Misha spayed I put her in her kennel and let "lost dog" (Cameron's name for him) run free while we were gone. (Although if you try to imagine a male basset hound and female golden retriever trying to mate it is a comical notion.)
I called several locations/organizations to report a found dog and they all asked me if he was neutered. I kept saying to them "How would I know?" Some chuckled and some just ignored my naivete. After keeping him and Misha separated when it was clear they wanted to play I decided to investigate. Turns out it is pretty obvious if a male dog is no longer "intact". I guess you can learn something new every day.
The boys got pretty attached to "Max" for the two days he was with us. In every prayer Cameron asked for help finding "the lost dog's person". The first day when I had Misha in the kennel, Max sat by the kennel and barked, and barked. I heard Eli (who was supposed to be napping) shout out the window "Shhh doggie! I am sleeping!"
Max's owner picked him up last night. The boys both stood in the doorway and shouted good-byes. I got sort of attached to the little guy too.

so we embark on the plastic years

What does it say about you when you go to your cupboard to try to find four matching glasses for a nice table setting for dinner, and the best you can do is four matching plastic Red Robin cups.

In my case it probably says either "we eat at Red Robin too much" or "we are too cheap to buy new glasses because we are tired of our toddlers breaking them."

pirates arrrrrrgain

Just letting the boys get some use out of my pirate gear. Nothing like a hat with a skull on it to bring out the worst behavior in my children. Sword fighting, shooting guns, robbing and pillaging.

what does this mean?

I can't really explain why, but I am drawn to blogs authored by women who have endured or are enduring some great tragedy. I have been known to spend hours reading these tales of loss of either husband or child.

During the relay race in Las Vegas a runner giving aid to a team-mate was struck and killed by a drunk driver in the dark and early hours of the morning. I first heard rumors of the event just hours after it occurred but spent a fair amount of time over the next few days learning about the man who was killed. A great man who left behind a wife and three young children.

Just this morning I read about another man in his early thirties who died unexpectedly leaving behind his wife and six darling girls ages nine and under. These two stories are just the most recent I have read but I periodically read the blog of a woman who lost her three year old daughter, a woman whose husband was killed in Iraq from complications of an appendectomy of all things, and a woman who after complications from child labor was left blind and lost both her feet and one hand. These are just a few of the many online journals I have come across relaying chronicles of suffering and bereavement.

I do not understand what appeals to me about these women or their narratives, but the desire is insatiable. I read and read about their lives and their struggles. I thirst for their words of pain and yet inspiration. They all share a similar message: "Live for today, tell your loved ones you love them, appreciate them."

Yet I can not internalize it. I haven't really changed anything I do with regard to my family. I do love and appreciate them, but I can't say that I express it any better after observing the lessons of these incredible women, than I did before I knew of them.

Maybe that is why I am captivated by their trial. I know I need to learn and I pray that I can do so without having to go through such an experience personally.

But what is it about me or, if it isn't just me, human nature that compels me to search out and pour over what seems to be such depressing material? Is it possible that it is a desire to increase my capacity for compassion and empathy? Or is it a dark and frightening part of me that is satisfied to wallow in pity and despair. If my intent is measured by the actions I take after exposure to tragedy, I am afraid that thus far I have failed.

picture day

I mentioned that I wanted to have some professional pictures of the boys taken and I finally arranged it. We had tentatively planned for Tuesday, depending on the weather. Tuesday came a bit windy and cool and Krista asked if we were up for it. I told her that I was psychologically prepared to do it that day so we better just go for it. Parents of young children who have stressed over photo shoots can perhaps relate.

Aside from being mostly interested in throwing rocks in the river and fighting with sticks, the boys did pretty well for the pictures. And of course there is that terribly frustrating task of trying to get the child to smile they way they really smile, rather than that contrived phoney smile. We never did quite get that from Cameron.

Never above bribery, I promised the boys a treat if they cooperated and they requested ice cream cones. So we raided the frozen foods aisle at the local grocery store and along with two half gallons of ice cream (strawberry for Cameron, chocolate for Eli) I bought a frozen pizza for dinner and some much needed Halloween candy for the hard working mother.
Then we came home and ate our stash while we watched Biggest Loser. Just a little ironic.

The pictures turned out great, I hope to post some soon.

where all your dreams come true

Disneyland turned out to be everything it is cracked up to be. Well, I guess not ALL my dreams came true, clothes don't wash themselves yet. But I think Cameron and Eli would say all their dreams came true.

It was an adventure with my sisters Adri & Lori, their three children and my parents. It worked out quite well though. The kids always had an adult to ride with and I think the adults all got a chance to ride a ride of their choice without children. Except Space Mountain, sorry Adri.
You'll notice a pin on my dad's shirt. It was his birthday and so his entry into the magical world was free. He wore the pin all day and received countless enthusiastic birthday greetings from the employees. They were sincere and pleasant and I thought often of the phrase that describes Disneyland as "the happiest place on Earth." The boys were pretty good sports about waiting in line. Except Eli had a bad habit of escaping under the chains and by the time we reached the ride all of the people surrounding us in line knew him by name. "Eli.... ELI.... ELI!"
If it looks like there are bags under Eli's eyes from sleep deprivation, it is because there are. In all his excitement he and Charlie were whispering and giggling long into the night and before the sun came up in the morning. Eventually he could keep his droopy eyes open no longer and I pushed him around with the stroller in a reclined position to try and let him sleep. (Very hard on my back!)
On our way back to our cars at the end of the day we had a very tired crew. (Myself included.) It was raining and each adult was either pushing a stroller with a sleeping child or carrying a sleepy child. Eli in true form smiled and said "cheese" as soon as I wielded the camera, so the sleepy effect was completely lost.
Some people argue that there is no point in taking your children to Disneyland when they are too young to remember it. I'm quite sure neither Cameron or Eli will remember their day at Disney. But I will, and as corny as it may sound, it was absolutely worth it.

and the vacay goes on...

Richard's stay in Vegas lasted less than 48 hours. He flew in Friday night and flew out Sunday afternoon. But between our volunteer shift, and the MAIN EVENT- the blessing of Dorothea Leigh- we managed to do two of his favorite things.
A visit to Vegas is not complete without a trip to In-N-Out Burger. Even for someone like me who eats hamburgers rarely, it always hits the spot. Add fresh fries and strawberry shake... it is caloric gluttony.

The timing of the events of the weekend couldn't have been better for the BYU fans in my family. That evening was BYU vs. UNLV and my sister Adri and her husband Will rounded up 12 tickets. The only drawback is that Will's ward buys a whole bunch of tickets to this game in the same section and apparently practices the united order when it comes to seating. What's mine is yours... So we weren't able to sit together even though our tickets were together. No big deal. As Richard pointed out, when you go to a college football game where the combined scores reach over 80 points, you are not disappointed. (Your team providing most of those points of course.)
This picture says "You WILL get close to me!"

I had an "admire my sister" moment while in Las Vegas. (Are those moments frequent enough to merit the quotation marks that imply they have their own name?) She spent hours and a great deal of stress in the weeks and days leading up to the relay so that those involved would have a good experience. Then, to top it all off she had 5-6 house guests for a week. She is very talented and extremely motivated and I just want her to know publicly (GAG!) that I think she's great and I appreciate what she did for us. You too Will!

what happens in Vegas... goes on the blog

We are home. After a great deal of driving we made it. I must say that the boys did quite well. There were moments of course, but I don't think either of the kids got quite as restless as my pregnant self.

I already mentioned the relay race. On Friday I spent the day caring for 4 kids 4 and under and concluded with my mother that we were not cut out to be daycare workers. A great lack of patience on my part, and these kids were my own flesh and blood. Each team has to provide volunteers and Saturday Richard and I drove to Exchange 31. They were giving away iPods to the most enthusiastic volunteers so we dressed up as pirates and as the runners came in to pass the baton I would cheer

"Thanks for running the Rag-nARRRRRRR!"

So clever, I know. It was my dad's idea.

We couldn't wear our spirited pirate shirts because we had to change into these orange shirts for easy identification by the runners. Good thing orange is my favorite color.

I didn't win an iPod. Richard reassured me that he had no doubt I was the most enthusiastic, but the supervisor in charge of our shift wasn't ever around to see me in action. Big disappointment. But about every 20th runner would give me a courtesy laugh or even a genuine smile of appreciation.

It was great to see my family's team come through. But the highlight of the day was when the last runner came through the exchange. She and her team knew they were in last place but they weren't the least bit deterred. It was a group of women who were beginners to this sort of thing. I was inspired by their motivation and they were appreciative of Richard and I staying two hours past the end of our shift to be there when they came through. It was so worth it.

I am so impressed by people who do hard things. It was hot in Las Vegas that weekend and I know firsthand that runners got sick and exhausted. Three cheers for the racers. Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray!

Oh, and and someone around here will be a pirate for Halloween this year.

Coming to you from Sin City

Normally I don't blog while on vacation. But at my sister's house technology, and today time, are so readily available I thought I'd go for it.

Today several members of my family started a Ragnar Relay Race in the Valley of Fire. All day I've felt left out of the excitement and adrenaline. My designated post has been here at the house with all the wee ones. Yes, there have been a few moments of excitement amongst us.The name of their relay team is Team Mandelbaum. Watch this to really understand. Each of the 12 team members have three legs and the race lasts over 24 hours. I really want to participate as a runner someday...
Of course, more pictures to come!


One of the beds, pre-makeover.

I am still working on quilts for their beds and getting rid of those lovely spiderman chairs...

New baby means big changes around here. We moved the boys from their bedroom into the "playroom". We've still got a ways to go in making the playroom a suitable bedroom but I finally got the beds painted! That was the biggest furniture makeover project I've ever taken on and boy am I glad it's over.

Moving the boys into a new room also meant moving Eli from his crib into a bed. Monday night I came home from work and dinner with my parents and sister and I was exhausted. I put the boys to bed and prepared a nice bath. After repeatedly exiting the bath to transplant Eli back into his bed from various locations in the house I gave up on the bath.

Such is parenting.

I have quite the adventure ahead of me, I'll be anxious to share when I return. Tomorrow the little guys and I are road-trippin' down to LAS VEGAS to visit aunts, uncles and cousins. Luckily I'll have my sister with me to help maintain my sanity, and Richard will meet us there on Friday. From there we'll road trip again to Anaheim where the boys will get to experience Disneyland for the first time.

Oh boy.


I just can't proceed on my blog without pausing and recognizing General Conference. I'll just mention three especially poignant moments for me.

I. Elder Holland's talk moved me. If you didn't get to see it I recommend either watching or listening to it because just reading it wouldn't do it justice. Even disregarding the words he spoke (which ought not to be disregarded) the power he spoke with pierced me. I envy his personal conviction and admire his courage to speak openly and directly.

II. I was recently pondering on how some people have a gift for analogies. When I am most confused while reading C.S. Lewis he provides an analogy to clarify the point and really drive it home. Elder Bednar has a similar gift. I am all too familiar with frustrating attempts at teaching my children and having meaningful spiritual experiences with them. He compared our efforts to a painting, where each individual stroke is not impressive but altogether those strokes (in my case frustrating moments) come together to create something worthwhile.

III. And of course the words of my beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. His plea for love and kindness left me feeling that above all else I need to improve, I need to provide more service and show more compassion. I've resolved to keep this poem he recited always in the back of my mind as I go about my busy life.

I have wept in the night
for the shortness of sight
that to somebody's need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret for
being a little to kind.

I'm obviously a little obsessed with the book Mere Christianity lately, but indulge me while I share one quote I read last night that was right to the tune of President Monson's message.

"I do not believe one can settle how much [charity] we ought to give.
I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.
If our charities do no at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small."

I'm so grateful for President Monson's gentle prodding and for his own life as an example of great service and love. And, of course, I am grateful for this bi-annual opportunity to listen to wise counsel and muster up the motivation to endure in good works and morality.


I'm taking a very insightful parenting class with a couple friends. It is a parenting class but I hesitate to refer to it that way because I've learned more about being a better person than I have about being a better parent. But I suppose it follows that if I am a better person I will be a better parent.

Anyway, we had a class about the importance of traditions in helping our children feel identity and belonging in the family. I was completely overwhelmed by the number of ideas that were shared but I latched onto a few. From what I took away from the lesson there were three types of traditions I wanted to incorporate in our lives.
1. A family tradition of values. For example "I am a Bird, and that means I am honest, I work hard, and I am kind to everyone." That is what I came up with, and obviously they are characteristics we strive for, not ones we've perfected. (There aren't any of those.)
2. Daily family traditions. The example in this category that I felt most impressed to live by was "meeting at the crossroads." Which means to be at the door, whenever possible, for the coming and going of my spouse and children. That's pretty easy these days since the boys are so young we typically come and go together, but a habit I want to get into nonetheless.
3. Traditions for birthdays, holidays and special occasions. And for this one I chose to start a new tradition that someone shared that I loved. On October 1st each year this mother gives all her children a Halloween pillowcase to put on their pillows for the month. Then of course on Halloween night they use the pillowcase for trick-or-treating. When they return she allows them each to fill a Ziploc bag with their favorite treats and put the rest of the candy back in the pillowcase. MY FAVORITE PART: They place the pillowcases on the front porch on Halloween night and the "Halloween Witch" comes and collects the candy and replaces it with, get this: A NEW BOOK! You can do what you please with the candy, throw it away, give it away in Holiday packaging. As for me it will probably just be my own personal stash of sweets hidden in the dark parts of my closet.
Anyway, my friend Kim helped me sew a couple pillowcases yesterday and the boys seem to be on board so far.
Cheers to traditions!

Beware: Diatribe (I just learned that word and found perfectly suitable for this context)

Just a minute while I step upon my soapbox.

After making minimum payments on her credit card for years Ann Minch still owes $5,943.34. She is furious because the company keeps raising her rates. A few questions for you Ann.

Do you understand that using a credit card is spending money you don't have? Do you consider that wise? You you expect that by making minimum payments you will ever pay off your debt? Have you calculated how much you will actually pay for that $25 meal at Applebees after interest? Was it worth it?

Apparently out of anger she closed her accounts with Bank of America and withdrew $5,000 from savings. Here is an idea Ann, take that money and pay off your credit card and enjoy a good nights sleep. Yes I understand that 30% interest is a burden indeed, but a burden you brought upon yourself. A ridiculous interest rate does not release your obligation to pay the money you owe. And you aren't the least bit noble in my book for "taking a stand" against credit card companies. I agree that they are making a hefty profit at the card owners expense, but the card owner became a card owner and accumulated debt of their own accord.

From an article about Ann, who is getting a great deal of attention over her stubborn belligerence:

Minch calls the credit card companies "evil, thieving *blank*," which, she says, "have reaped ungodly profits in your behemoth casino scams, then lost -- only to turn around and usurp the wealth of this great nation by the outright rape and pillage of middle-class Americans whose sweat and toil built it." She adds, "Every last one of you should be rotting in prison."

Huh. What irritates me most is that she represents a group of people without an ounce of common sense who have never, by their own fault or maybe not, bothered to be educated about credit and financial management. The same type of people Richard would cringe about because they spent hundreds of dollars a year on overdraft fees. Typically I just shrug and let it be, but when someone is making a fuss like this it is difficult not to be frustrated.

You can watch her YouTube video here, but be prepared to be annoyed.