Meet The Nat Pack!

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The Nat Pack: The super fashionable, super mod, super hip family consisting of Nat, Pete, Jakob, Brock, Troy, and Ivy. Like The Rat Pack, only younger, cuter, and not as rich or famous.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Man vs. Nature

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now. I had this analogy in my head, where yard work parallels our righteous progression. I thought I’d post it here, just for funsies.

Every year, I have the “man vs. nature” classic struggle, of trying to keep up with my yard and its many weeds. There are times that I think I should just give up, and just let the weeds take over. Especially grass-it’s great when it grows, except when it grows where I don’t want it to grow!  

But I realized, no matter how bad it gets -how riddled with sin we are, or how many sins of omission we commit (not reading scriptures, etc.), it is still worth fighting the good fight. Paul Harvey said, “Someday I hope to enjoy enough of what the world calls success so that someone will ask me, ‘What’s the secret of it?’ I shall say simply this: ‘I get up when I fall down.’”

There may be weed upon weed in my flower beds, but if I can pull just one, that’s one that I have overcome. All it takes is that first step. And usually, once I take that first step, no matter how overwhelming or daunting it may feel to get started, it leads to pulling more weeds, and more and more, until I can see the beauty lying beneath, until the bed is clean of the unwanted weeds. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "Let us not give up. Let us be true to our covenants. Let us never lose sight of our Advocate and Redeemer as we walk toward Him, one imperfect step after another."

I also realized that if I get to the weeds when they are small, the easier they are to pull up. If I let them go, wishing they will just go away on their own, they get worse (like grass, or those climbing weeds). They will create a deeper, stronger root. And then the weeds choke out the good things I may have in my garden.

I also realized that there will never be the “perfect” time to start pulling weeds. The day is either too hot, or too cold, or too windy, or too busy. I can always find an excuse to NOT start. But, as they say, there is no time like the present. If I don’t get to it now, then when?

Is my yard perfect? Certainly not. It never will be. But it’s something that I can keep working on, until my weaknesses become my strengths. But that won’t happen until I put forth the effort-no matter how hard it may seem or how hard it may actually turn out to be. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”


Friday, February 7, 2014

Furlough "Fun"

So. Back in October 2013, the government went over budget, or whatever, and put a lot of people on furlough, which is like vacation, but not paid, and you still have to work. Makes sense, right?

Because Pete works at a D.O.E. site, that means that the workers out there were going to be furloughed, except not work. Everyone out there FREAKED out. I mean, do you blame them? I'm including us in the freaking out group. We were like, does Pete look for a new job? Do I find a part-time job? We didn't know how long the furlough would last. I mean, he would still have a job, but just not get paid until the government was up and running again.


We ended up being fine. We had gotten a furlough notice letter in the mail, and it was going to be starting the next week. Thankfully, the government got things pulled together, and we didn't have to go on furlough.

We were lucky.

Now, I know that we didn't lose a job. Not even close. But that's the closest that I've felt to losing a job, and it was not a fun feeling. It made me take a really close look at our savings accounts, our budget, and our food storage. I felt like it was kind of a voice of warning, if you will. Like, how prepared are we for a financial disaster?

We worked really hard last year, and FINALLY got all of our debts (except mortgage) paid off. YAHOO! So that was kind of a relief. It's nice not having a car payment or whatever hanging over your head. But our savings would have held us through for maybe two months, which was a scary thought to me. I'd feel a lot better with 6 months of money (for like utility bills and whatnot), and 3 months of short-term food storage along with our long-term food storage.

I looked at our budget, and we live pretty minimally already: no cable, basic internet, no huge extravagances. So I knew that budget-wise we were doing all we could. Except...

Short-term food storage. We've purchased long-term food storage ("store and ignore"), which is stuff like wheat, rice, beans. I honestly haven't looked at it for years (it lasts in #10 cans for 30 or more years), and had to look up some of the stuff. Like, what in the world is germade? (Answer: pretty much like cream of wheat. Good to know.) But what about, like spaghetti sauce? Or even yummy things, like brownies? That's where the short-term storage comes in to play-stuff that you regularly eat, and rotate it through, like canned goods (canned corn, for example).



So, that's what I've been working on now. I've tried a few different things, and have been narrowing down what it is that I want to do. We had a lady come to our Relief Society meeting who talked about a shelf-stable three month food supply. She broke it down to 7 meals each of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then you get all the stuff for those like 12 times. So you eat each meal once a week and have enough for three months. I like the shelf-stable idea, because in case you lose power you don't have to worry about having things that would spoil (like in your fridge or freezer). She also talked about getting "just add water"-again, so you don't have to worry about adding eggs to something or whatever. Like muffin mixes-there are some you add all sorts of things to it, and ones where it only takes water to make.

I started looking at that. She had some ideas already. So I was like, "easy peasy, I'll just follow her list". But some of the stuff I know I would eat, but not necessarily Pete or my kids (like cream of wheat-I love it, but none of the rest of my family does).

Then I talked to another lady that was like, just write down everything you use in one week-meals, shampoo, etc., and just get that stuff over and over. Which I was like, okay, good idea, but again, there are some meals that I have that are SOOO not shelf-stable compatible.

Another strategy-write down everything I have in my pantry, and get a whole bunch of that. But I know myself, that I'd be like, what can I combine together for a meal? I need to know I have all the ingredients for a meal, and have it written down. So I think it's good to kind of do this, but kind of do the other, too.

So that's where I am right now. Like, kind of gathering things, but kind of not really specific meals so far. (Plus, I'm thinking I might need some more storage space, which is a whole different expense in itself.) So I've gotten Kraft Mac and Cheese, which my kids and I like for lunches sometimes. And pancake mix (the just add water kind). I've also been gathering more long-term storage stuff that I don't have, just so we can have some flavor, you know? Like, strawberry slices, and banana pieces. Just so I wouldn't lose my mind on MORE WHEAT AND BEANS-AGAIN.

Long story short, I hope that by the end of this year I have my three-month food supply. Of course, you need to rotate it through, but I hope I have a good amount going for us, and divided up into meals. I also hope to have more money in savings for us too. Because you never know when tragedy may strike (job loss, weather problem, or another furlough).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Carolee

My friend Carolee died the end of November, 2013. She had been fighting cancer. I first got to know her as my visiting teacher. She was faithful about coming every month. So generous and kind. She was constantly offering me items from her garden and trees, books to borrow, etc.

I got to know her better through playing the organ. She was one of the ward organists, and had been doing it for years and years. Again, she offered to help me, to give me organ arrangement books, showed me the settings she had put on the organ. Just so kind, and so much energy! Even when she didn't feel well she still carried on in her callings.

Her playing of the organ was amazing to me. Though she didn't keep time very well (“It's always been a struggle of mine”, she confessed), the fact that she played at all was an incredible feat. She couldn't see the notes very well because of her failing sight. She couldn't feel her feet while she played the pedals. She also lost some feeling in her fingers after her back surgery. She basically played the organ from memory. I know I could never do that.

I felt prompted to visit her about two weeks before she died. She had been doing so well with her chemo treatments, and then suddenly wasn't. I visited her at the hospital. I know she recognized me, but could only say “okay…okay”, over and over. In retrospect, I think she was trying to tell me that she was okay, and that it would be okay. I think, in a way, she was trying to comfort me. At the time she had a nurse sitting with her, making sure she kept her oxygen mask on (she kept trying to take it off). She said “pray”. That's the only other word I heard her say besides “okay” and “yes” the last few times I saw her. The nurse offered a prayer of comfort. It was such a lesson to me. She was constantly turning to her Heavenly Father in her time of need. And even though she couldn't say the words, she was praying in her heart.


I’m glad that I got to know Carolee. I hope that I can be as stalwart, as faithful, and as strong as she was. Thank you for blessing my life, Carolee!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Mean Mom Summer Rules

Preface 1: I have good kids. Really, really good kids. They are obedient, and kind, and willing to help, and happy, and self entertaining, and...just, really good kids.

Preface 2: I have a lot of things that I need/want to blog about, like our awesome trip to Mexico, and three birthdays, and all the other things that have happened that I have been neglecting to talk about in this little corner. But today, Imma talk about this instead, for whatever reason. Be patient with me and my sporadic time-jumping blogging.
Okay. So, keep Preface 1 in mind as I tell you a little story. Yesterday morning....well, I'm going to save a lot of time and probably a little embarrassment for my oldest child by not sharing the whole story. My mom and her friends have a saying about being "a fart in a whirlwind". It's where you just are running around, doing things and not really thinking about what you're doing. That was my son yesterday. Just doing things without realizing what would happen afterwards. Which is totally typical of little boys (so I've heard).

But. He LIED to me about what happened to the thing that he broke. "It just happened, Mom. I don't even know." Ooooh, that gets under my skin. And we had had a big long talk about lying about a month ago, how I want him to be able to trust me, and I want to trust him. And to tell the truth, even if he thinks he'll get in trouble for what it is he's about to tell me. I thought I had gotten through to him about lying, but apparently not.

I was mad, and frustrated. About the lying, about the expensive thing that he accidentally broke because he was being a fart in a whirlwind. I called Pete, who was at work. And we decided to lay down a few rules.

I think that this incident was kind of the straw that made me take action. I mentioned that Pete and I went to Mexico right after school got out. Ever since we've been home (for about a week and a half), though, I've been kind of in a funk, of not knowing what day it is, and not really doing much of anything besides the bare minimum. The TV has been on all day, from morning till night, and if it's not some stupid crappy TV show, then it's the Wii and my kids bickering about who is better at what on Wii Sports. Just...little things that have been building up, and I just haven't done anything about it.

Until yesterday.

We talked with the kids about choices and consequences. We talked about responsibilities. We talked about thinking things through before just doing them. And we talked about lying.

Besides the constant TV noise (I really miss being without cable, but our current internet must be bundled with it-dumb, I know), I've been tired of the constant "I'm hungry" and "When's lunch?" And I'm tired of toys being EVERYWHERE, and reminding children of their chores all the time. I know they're young, and need to get reminded, but when does that end, unless you try to get them to rely on their own brains and sense of responsibility early in life?

I needed to lay out some structure. And the consequences are hard. But maybe that will help them remember their responsibilities.

I printed out the list, and put it right by our chore board in the kitchen. We went over every single point with the kids. At the end, I told them that if they follow these rules, that there summer will be easy and great, but if not, it can be hard and not-so-fun. It's their choice. I also told them I had some ideas and activities planned, so we should have a good summer. But the rules come first.

Well, here is the list. After reading it, you'll probably be grateful you're not a kid in my house. :) Any extra comments or explanations I have are in italics.


You will do every chore on the chore board, every single day. If Mom or Dad have to remind you to do something on the board, you will not get paid for any of your chores for the whole week. My kids each have a kitchen chore or two every week (put away dishes, rinse dishes, load dishwasher, wipe off table and counters, sweep; they also help cook dinner twice a week and that person also helps set the table). Other things on the board are things like make your bed, pick up toys, fold your laundry (yes, even my 4-year-old folds her own laundry),brush your teeth, do homework, etc. Oh, also, they get paid $2 a week for doing their chore. If they don't eat their full meal, they pay me $1 per meal and don't get any snacks for the rest of the day.

Chore day is on Friday during the summer. After eating breakfast Friday morning, you will do your weekend chore. You will not be reminded of this. If you do not do it at that point, I will have you do it later, and you will not get paid for doing your chore. These are the once-a-week chores, like scrubbing tubs, toilets, bathroom sinks, vacuuming or mopping (the older two), dusting, windexing, etc.

If you leave anything on the stairs, in the kitchen, or in the upstairs living room (toys, pencils or markers or pens, papers, shoes) at any time, and Mom or Dad get it first, it no longer belongs to you, it belongs to Mom or Dad, who get to do whatever they want with that item, including throwing it away. I don't know how many times I have to step around who-knows-what on the stairs-drives me crazy.

If you can’t find something to do, Mom will find something for you to do. Oh, and it will be an extra chore, like wiping down walls, cleaning out cabinets, changing cat litter. Fun stuff like that. For free.

The Wii is going away for a while. When I feel that you have earned the privilege to play the Wii again, I will let you know. If you ask at any time about the Wii, I will add 2 weeks of time on to its disappearance.

You are allowed to watch TV for one hour total each day. If Mom or Dad does not like the show that is on, you change the channel to something that they approve of. If you cannot find anything to watch, the TV goes back off. If you whine or complain about turning off the TV, NO ONE will watch the TV AT ALL for one week.

You will read or be read to every day. Jakob reads for 45 minutes, Brock reads out loud to Mom or Dad for 15 minutes and to himself for 15 minutes, Troy reads out loud to Mom or Dad for 15 minutes, and Ivy will get one story read to her. If you whine or complain about reading, your reading time will double, and stay there for the remainder of the summer. It doubles EVERY TIME you whine or complain. I'm a mean mom. Hear me roar.

Jakob will practice the piano every day (Monday through Friday) for 10 minutes. If he whines or complains about practicing, his practice time will double and stay there for the remainder of the summer. It doubles EVERY TIME he whines or complains. Roar!

You will clear your own dish right after every meal. Rinse your own bowl, throw away your own paper plate. If you don’t, then you get to do ALL of the kitchen chores after dinner for that day. My kids end up leaving their bowls of milk on the table until lunch time, or until I clear them myself. It's annoying.

You will not ask WHAT is for lunch or what is for dinner. You will not ask WHEN we are having lunch or when we are having dinner. You will not tell me you are hungry, or do anything else passive-aggressive concerning meals and mealtime. If you ask, or whine, or complain about food, you will not eat that meal and will instead sit on your bed. My kids really are not big whiners. They really are more passive-aggressive in their requests. "Gee, I sure could use some fruit snacks right now."

The only time we will have snacks is at 2:30 p.m. If you ask for a snack at any other time, your snack privilege will be revoked (taken away) for one week. They were fine with snacks once a day during school. So suddenly, now they need snack after breakfast, and an hour after breakfast, and after lunch, and three times between lunch and dinner? I don't think so. I did tell them that I would work on getting breakfasts that were more filling than cereal, like making eggs or pancakes or fruit smoothies. Same with lunches-not just a PB&J, but a sandwich and cheese and a veggie and a fruit thing and a dessert. Because yes, kids gotta grow.

Mom reserves the right to add to this list at any time.

Mean, mean Mom.

Oh, and our new consequence for lying? You get grounded for a whole week for each lie you tell. We were merciful this time because it's a new thing, but no more Mr. Nice Guy from here on out on that consequence.

It will be an interesting summer.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Photo a Day: Color

My kids LOVE to color and draw. Like, every day, all day long. I love that they love to color.



This little gem is what Brock brought home yesterday from school. I think he was a little embarrassed, but I think it's really funny. It says "I had a bad day when I got hit by a train. I went to the hospital. I am tired of watching TV but I am better."



I asked him about it. I was all, "Were you supposed to write something that was real?" And he said, "We could write anything, so I made up a story."

The train says "Choo-choo! I can't stop!". The little guy (Brock) says "Ah!" The brown squiggly is the train track. The different colored squares are the train cars. And then there's a dude roasting a marshmallow by a purple tent. You know, because people are always camping out by train tracks, right?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Photo a Day: How You Feel Today

Today, I feel tired...

...just like my cat.

It's been a fairly busy few days.

I cut, packaged, and froze 80 pounds of chicken.

I had an eye appointment, and my doctor said everything is looking good from my surgery.

I sight-read some piano music for a musical number in our ward on Sunday. A few girls that were planning to sing couldn't make it, so the pianist had to step in to sing. She brought the music to my house 15 minutes before church started, I played through it once, and then played in sacrament meeting.

I also taught the gospel doctrine lesson (that's my current calling; I teach once a month), and had helped Jakob prepare his talk in primary as well.

I cleaned at my dad's office.

I had a short piano recital for some of my students. Jakob did great, I messed up a little (but I hadn't practiced all that much-I decided last minute to play at the recital). I decided to take May off of teaching, which is probably a good thing, because Pete just started working Wednesday through Saturday for 12-hour days. 48 hours of work, plus 8 hours of commuting time. He's a good man, that one.

I did my visiting teaching. Yay!

I went grocery shopping.

I'm totally caught up on laundry.

Pete and I watched "First Knight". "The law will judge YUH!"

I made cornbread for our ward's chili cook-off, which won a little award. Here's the recipe, from my kids' preschool teacher, Miss Karla:

Cornbread

1 cup butter melted
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cornmeal
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt

Mix butter, sugar, and eggs. Add buttermilk and stir.

Stir dry ingredients together and add to liquids. Stir just until moistened.

Pour into greased 9"x13" pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.


And, I fed the missionaries last night. They ate SOOOO much food! I don't know what I'm going to do when my boys are that age, and eating me out of house and home. Note to self: quantity, not quality.

Today, I've done pretty much nothing. Even moms need days off every once in a while, right?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Photo a Day: Somewhere You Went

Monday afternoon was HOT. I don't know if I've ever said that about an Idaho spring before. So I called Pete and suggested we get some KFC and have a picnic at the park for Family Home Evening.

But Monday evening was a little windy, and started to get overcast quickly. We stuck with our plan and got some food and went to the park. After eating, my kids just played and played and played. It got windier, and colder, and even rained on us a bit. But my kids didn't seem to mind. They continued to play in the dirt/mud, slid down the slides and got wet butts, and ran up and down the steep hill in that park.

Not pictured: Brock, because he and Pete left to get some ice cream. Which we still haven't eaten. For some reason I always forget about having ice cream in our freezer.