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.

Monday, December 29, 2008


So. I've been making an effort to save money recently, mostly in the food aspect. Some weeks I do great, like this last grocery trip. I bought two weeks' worth of groceries (I may have to go back for milk, but otherwise good to go) and came in $25 under budget. Woo hoo! Other weeks...well, we won't go into details. "Dismal" is a good description.

What I would like, my dear friends, is some meal ideas of the dinner variety. Cheap. Easy. Hey, I'll even start:

Shepherd's Pie
1 lb. ground burger, browned
1 can cut green beans, drained, or 1 can corn, drained
1 can tomato soup
salt and pepper, to taste
4 servings of instant mashed potatoes

Combine the burger, green beans/corn, soup, and salt and pepper in a casserole dish. Prepare the potatoes; scoop and spread on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

See? Easy: a dump together dish. Cheap: overall, the cost is probably around $4-5. And nutritious to boot. So if you would be so kind, could you please share some ideas with me? And if you don't want to type out the full recipe in a comment, just maybe tell me what you make to point me in the right direction, and I can look up recipes online or in my small assortment of cookbooks.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chicken, Not Ham

Jakob's school had a Christmas program last week. Give you one guess as to how Jakob did during his "performance":

Yep. That's my son, the ham, the star of the show. This is his expression during the entire three songs the Kindergartners did:

I had oodles of fun getting his picture. After sharing half a seat with Arin, we snuck up to the front of the auditorium. Then I army crawled with my butt in the air, in front of the whole gym of parents, to get over to where Jakob was "singing". I didn't want my head in everyone's video shots, after all, so they got shots of my butt instead.

After the Kindergartners were done singing, we could go to their classroom to pick them up. Jakob was sitting on the floor, cross-legged, head in hands, crying his little eyes out. I asked him what was wrong, why he didn't sing.

"I just wanted you, Mom."

Poor little chicken. Oh well, maybe someday he'll grow out of it.

Thank Goodness for Voom!

Behold, the Voom. A beautiful sight, right?

(Thanks for the snow blower, Mom and Dad! You rock!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Christmas Tree Ornament

I had heard cats liked climbing Christmas trees. She also likes batting at the ornaments, and pulling on the ribbon hanging from our tree.

Between her and the boys, our once put-together, eclectic ornamented, red-and-gold themed Christmas tree is a saggy, limped ribboned, ornaments-all-rehung-on-the-bottom-and-front-two-branches Christmas tree. Kind of Charlie Brown Christmas tree style. *sigh*

Honing My Fine Glue Gun Skillz

I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus this week, mostly because I've been crazy-busy with stuff that coincides with the celebration of Christmas. (I'm thinking next year I'm going to celebrate a holiday that doesn't take as much preparation, decoration, or perspiration. Kwanzaa? Hanukkah? Maybe I should learn how to spell those first. Hm. Or maybe I'll just stick with Christmas.)

Anyway, one of the many activities that has been occupying my time has been Jakob's Kindergarten Christmas party. I made these little popsicle star ornaments, with my hot glue gun. Yep, I'm practically a pro now. If anyone is looking to mass-produce popsicle star ornaments, I'm definitely your woman. For a very large fee.

The other activities we had were coloring a picture, and stringing a macaroni necklace (here's Ty with his):

Jakob's Halloween party was way too complicated; we had too many activities and too much going on. But the Christmas party we had too little, so the kids were done in a matter of a few minutes. Doh!

Here's Kaylan, taking extra care making her star:

I just realized I have no idea where Jakob's star went. But his necklace is hanging on his bed post. The things that kid treasures!

Here's Ila and Jakob. Arin and I are kind of hoping they end up getting married. Jakob is already planning on it after his mission. You know, the whole "girl/boy next door" thing.

Yes, not enough activities this time around, but I think the kids still had fun. And we gave them a sweet bag of sweets at the end. Although the gum (bought at the dollar store) left much to be desired. It was awful! Live and learn, though, eh?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Copy Cat

I've had a bit of a debate this year with Christmas cards. When I first started doing cards, I sent them to everyone and their dog, which cost me a pretty penny in postage. And I got, like, 5 in return. So then I decided I'd just send them to the people that sent them to me, but then I was sending some out the day after Christmas. Then I started keeping track, and only sending ones to those that sent them to me the year before. Hmm, that sounds kind of Scroogey.

But anyway, since the world has gotten more electronic and virtual, I'm going to post my Christmas letter following the examples of Amy and Kristy. I'll probably also email, and still send a few cards to those that don't have computer access.

Greetings, family and friends! This year has flown by so quickly; I can't believe it's time to write another Christmas letter. We've been busy busy busy...

Jakob turned 5, and is now in Kindergarten. His first love, Spider-man, has been replaced with Iron man. He played an unenthusiastic season of T-ball in June. He's kind of indifferent about school, but gets really excited when he knows the answer on his homework. He can color, draw, and talk until the cows come home, eat, and get milked. He's as sweet as ever and is a great big brother to his siblings.

Brock is 3 1/2, and is our strong silent guy. He always talks with a purpose and is very earnest in his execution. He's very content to just sit and suck on a blanket's fringe and observe the goings-on in his surroundings. He loves to be pampered and held. He's very protective of his little sister and loves to play with her and his brothers.

Troy is our 2-year-old. He's Very Important and would hang out with the adults over the kids in order to make sure he knows what's happening. He's quite the little ham, and has a bit of sass and temper. He's very mischievous as well, but his cute little smile has saved his life more than once.

Ivy Marie was born May 11, 2008, on Mother's Day no less. She's a sweet little thing and is the most protected girl on the planet with three older brothers that love her and coddle her. She loves to eat, and sleep, and eat, and smile, and eat. She's discovered that sitting is awesome, and can do it forever.

Pete has been working at the INL. He loves him some World of Warcraft in his spare time. He got his 5th "baby" (kidney stone) right before his 30th birthday, and ended up spending the day after his birthday on a surgical table getting it removed. Pete started a blog this year as well:

I've been keeping busy being a co-coach for T-ball in June, being a room mother for Jakob's class, being the organist in our ward and 2nd Counselor in Young Women's. I also started blogging, which has become my new favorite hobby. I try to keep it updated with the craziness that 4 little kids can bring into the world:

I hope this Christmas season brings good luck, good wishes, and good tidings to each of you. May the Spirit of the Lord bless each of your lives as we strive to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

With much love,
Brian "Pete", Natalie, Jakob, Brock, Troy, and Ivy

Monday, December 15, 2008

Obvious Observations

Magic Eraser totally works on pen and pencil on walls.

Pencil is way easier to "erase" than pen.

Leaving a Magic Eraser on a table within easy reach of children or animals is not a good idea.

Animals, like cats, think a Magic Eraser is food.

Eating a Magic Eraser makes a cat sick.

Cats don't like being thrown out of the house while yakking.

Cat puke isn't fun to clean up. Easy, but not fun.

Cats will puke for the few days following a Magic Eraser meal.

Lessons learned from observations: no writing utensils for kids; Magic Eraser is for Mom only. Obvious to most beforehand, obvious to others -me- only after the fact.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Not to Wear

The Nat Pack has a very, um, "unique" sense of style. For instance, right now I'm wearing a hooded sweatshirt on top of a hooded shirt. Go figure.

My children all have their own style, as it were. (I'm using the word "style" in the loosest sense of the word.)

Starting with the oldest: Jakob puts really random shirts with pants. For a while he absolutely had to wear Spider man shirts, back when Spider man was the shizzle. On Sundays he wears this awful shirt -that's meant to go under a sweater- by itself with a clip-on tie. The shirt isn't bad under the sweater, but alone it's...yikes. (Says the girl with two hooded tops on.)

Brock is the monochromatic man. He wears gray pants with a gray sweatshirt, green pants with a green sweatshirt. (Monochromatic is supposed to be slimming, though, right?) The gray and green pants are too small, too, but that's my bad. Since getting new Sunday shoes, he'll wear them around the house to complete his look, and of course they're on the wrong feet.

Troy has begun to have an opinion about what he's wearing. The other day he asked for a specific shirt. He refuses to wear a sweater to church. (The poor people's eyes at church-they must burn when my family walks in to the chapel.) He wouldn't wear his new Sunday shoes to church-they had to be his normal shoes. He also won't accept help putting on his coat, so half the time it ends up upside-down.

Oh, and jammies all day long is an option in our household.

And then there's poor Ivy. She really can't help her fashion mishaps at this juncture. But her nature hasn't really helped her out. Don't get me wrong, she's as cute as a button. A really, really round, fat button. I don't know what to call her shape: Apple-bottomed? Thunder thighed? Lovely lady lumped? All pants that have structure/not much give to them can barely be shoved onto her ample behind/thigh area. Those plaid pants she has on are pulling on her legs and cutting off circulation to her feet.

I had to take the pants off to let her legs "breathe". And the hair. *sigh* It sticks up every which way, following Pete's genes in that area. Hey, at least she has hair-I was bald until I was about 2. (Check out those thighs. Michelin man, right?)

So there you have it, a what NOT to wear guide presented by The Nat Pack. Oh, and if any of you want to nominate me for TLC's What Not to Wear, feel free. I'm totally open to getting a new wardrobe and spending a week in NYC with Stacy and Clinton. And getting my hair and makeup done by Nick and Carmindy, respectively. Just let me know ahead of time so I don't answer the door in my jammies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

You Know Your House is Filthy When...

...your five-year-old says, "It's really dirty in here!"

Then he starts cleaning up for you, making beds (including yours), and picking up his father's dirty socks laying on the floor and putting them in the laundry basket.

He also asks if he can sweep, and then tells you it's time to mop.

He also organizes his brother's toys on his bed, and makes sure all the snow boots that got worn today are in a neat row on the rug.

He said something about "cleaning makes it become Christmas", so he has some ulterior motives going on. But hey, I'll take the volunteered help anytime!

I Want My Two Dollars!

The other day I went to Payless to get the boys new Sunday shoes. After all, Brock was wearing a 6 1/2, and now he wears 9 1/2. Squeezed toes must be a great feeling. And we saw these $3 shoes for Jakob. He instantly fell in love. With $3 shoes! They even had Iron man shoes there (which he didn't, uh, get a chance to see...ahem).

Jakob's school had a fundraiser-selling cookie dough. I bought some really overpriced buckets of dough, and after a billion years of thawing I had my doubts as to how good they would actually be. Now I'm a believer. I have a hunch this batch of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies won't last long today in our house.

The pan I've used all of 3 times. Remember, sometimes cheaper means crappier. Maybe the pan makers are under the impression that flakes of pan coating can be good for you or something.

Oh, and my leaky fridge? Turns out it was a leaky freezer leaking into the fridge. The guy came and "fixed" it. It was leaking again last night. I want my (way more than) two dollars!!

The other day we went to Wendy's for dinner, because I'm a fabulouso dinner-planner-aheader. They didn't give us the frosty at first, and then when we got home we realized our fries were missing. Doh! Just another day in the life of my crappy customer service karma.

And, have you seen "Better Off Dead"? Hilarious! "We have Fraunch toast, and Fraunch bread, and Fraunch fries..."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Merry Christmas, Tuna!

This is Tuna.

Tuna got a new battery. And a new alternator.

Isn't Tuna lucky?

It's like the equivalent of me jeans. Really expensive new jeans. (Yes, I want new jeans for Christmas. Probably not happening now, thanks to Tuna's break-down. No, I'm totally not bitter. Not that my jeans would cost as much, but every little penny blah blah blah.)

Yes, it could have been worse. Yes, it's a 10 1/2 year old car. No, we don't have a monthly car payment, so I need to count my blessings. But still, Christmastime? I guess I would prefer around tax refund time, so we would actually have the extra money.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Because the Oscars are Actually About the Votes...

...I'm going to talk about my Young Women's Night of Excellence in tally form.

First, Oscar night should be filled with mishaps, great food, and surprises.

I bought some wooden stars and some spray glitter to decorate the display and refreshment table. I thought it was going to spray silver with glitter in it. Instead, it was just glitter. Minus 1.

But my mom came to the rescue; on her way to my house to babysit (thanks a million, Mom!), she stopped by a craft store and bought some silver paint. We painted the stars, and then she sprayed them with the glitter stuff afterwards. Plus 1 for the paint, plus 1 for the amazing mom.

The surprise: I found three lip balms in my purse, when I thought I didn't have any. Plus 1 for luscious lips! (Not that this goes with the night; it just so happened to happen on the same night.)

The good food: A ham and cheese sandwich with bacon for dinner. (I know, that's like saying ham with ham. But I love me some bacon on a sandwich. No, scratch that-I love me some crisp bacon on a sandwich.) Plus 1 for food, minus 1 for the disgusting picture (it tasted way better than it looks).

Next, you have to have the behind-the-scenes people:

Here's Jessica, mixing the raspberry punch. Plus 1 for raspberry punch, plus 1 for awesome Jessica, and plus 1 for cheesecake (the actual good food of the night).

Janae, showing off her pregnant glory, who made these awards for the previous Young Women's presidency. She also made the awards for the young women, which turned out way better than an actual Oscar. Plus 1 for amazing Janae, plus 1 for her ultra talent. And plus 1 for the balloons she got for our night.

The plaques Janae made for the girls. Gorgeous, huh?

Our MC, and ultra president, Jodi. Plus 1 for being so put together!

Jozet, the gift giver. She got each of the girls boas, tiaras, and earrings. Plus 1 for her grace and thoughtfulness.

And me, the one who borrowed stuff from Kar. Her ward ended up thinking of the same Oscar theme for their Young Women's in Excellence, and held it a couple of weeks ago. So I got to borrow her stuff. And I got to borrow my mom's stuff to help decorate. Plus 1 for borrowed decorations. And that dress I'm wearing? I don't wear it often, but I got it pre-kids. Plus 1 for still being able to fit in it! But minus 1 for my crazy hair. I was trying to go all fancy-schmancy, but it turned out a little...spastic. And it started to fall out mid-program. Minus 1 for not enough bobby pins and hairspray.

And what would the night be without technical difficulties? We hung these stars up, and a few of them fell during the night. Minus 1 for falling stars. (Real falling stars are cool; I'm talking about fake stars clunking to the ground.)

Also, our girls were going to sing the song for this year's theme along to the CD. Turns out we had a DVD instead (minus 1), so I got to do a little sight-reading accompaniment for them on the piano. Plus 1 for the girls being so flexible, minus 1 for me only having played through the song once before.

Another unrelated event-though a technical difficulty- that happened last night: Pete's car wouldn't start for him on his way home from work. Minus 1. But thanks to a co-worker and Kar, he got jumped and got home. Plus 1.

And our night wouldn't be complete without our real shining stars. I'm thinking about asking some of them for their autographs because they are so extremely talented and beautiful and will definitely be going places. Plus 7, because there are seven of them, and 7 is the perfect number, and they are so practically perfect in every way! Also, check out some of their poses on our "red carpet", taken by our paparazzi (me and Jodi).

McKaye, who played the guitar and sang:

Alyssa, who played the violin:

Natalie, who played the clarinet:

Katie, who changed a tire:

Megan, who made visual aids for the primary chorister:

Caliece, who played the piano:

Jenny, who did a drama monologue:

Yep, destined for fame.

So, if my tally is correct, we're at plus 15 overall. A win for all involved! I'd like to thank... (Dang, I just got played off the stage!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Joker

Some lame jokes and a sweet video to kick off Monday:
Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left in the boat?
Pete and Repeat were in a boat...

What did the cat who had no money say?
I'm paw.

A Programmer and an Engineer were sitting next to each other on an airplane. The Programmer leans over to the Engineer and asks if he wants to play a game.
The Engineer just wants to sleep so he politely declines, turns away and tries to sleep. The Programmer persists and explains that it's an easy game: "I ask a question and if you don't know the answer you pay me $5. Then you ask a question and if I don't know the answer I'll pay you $5."
Again the Engineer politely declines and tries to sleep. The Programmer, now somewhat agitated, says, "O.K., if you don't know the answer you pay me $5 and if I don't know the answer I pay you $50!" That gets the Engineer's attention, and he agrees.
The Programmer asks the first question, "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?" Without saying a word, the Engineer hands the Programmer $5, and then asks, "What goes up a hill on three legs and comes down on four?"
The Programmer looks at him with a puzzled look, takes out his laptop computer, looks through all his references and after about an hour, wakes the Engineer and hands him $50. The Engineer politely takes the $50, turns away, and tries to get back to sleep.
The Programmer, a little miffed, asks, "Well what's the answer to your question?" Without a word, the Engineer hands $5 to the Programmer, and goes back to sleep.

What do you get when you mix a great song with another great song?
A great song mix!
(I know, it's like "Who was buried in Grant's tomb?")

I just noticed that my pictures and my music are all about sleeping, and dreaming... must be my subconscious telling me something...