Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anti-New Year's Resolutions

As the year comes to an end I’m faced with the inevitable thoughts of putting New Year’s resolutions to paper. Who am I kidding? After 30’ish years of guilt-ridden failure, I have finally come to the conclusion that New Year’s resolutions have never worked for me and never will. Kind of depressing that it took me so long to figure that one out. Is it because they are cursed or because the word ‘year’ in the title means that, like a year, the goal is temporary, and not meant to be forever. Why do goals so often come with the failure and guilt? I want my changes to be permanent.

I had a clue last year that my resolutions wouldn’t work so I skipped setting goals in my favorite areas – you know the same goals that you set year after year – lose weight, make money, be happy, and for me get organized. But old habits die hard and the people pleaser inside myself, still felt the need to set some goals. That way when asked what my goals were, I could respond with something witty and unique. I succeeded at neither. I decided to have my only two resolutions be, ready the drum roll, one: Never let the car’s gas tank go under half full (that lasted about 3 weeks, but longer than the national average of two weeks), and two: Always go to bed with a clean kitchen sink. Sorry Flylady, but I think that New Year’s resolution lasted about 2 days.

Soooo, with that miserable failure I've come to the conclusion that…

I was right (the three words my husband has to hear way too often. Sorry off subject). Last year when I finally decided not to set a New Year’s Resolution of losing weight guess what? Lo and behold I lost a whopping 70 lbs. And in losing the weight you wouldn’t believe how much happier and healthy I am now compared to the old, depressed and then-medicated me from last year.

So this year, with tongue firmly intrenched in cheek, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will definitely not, under no circumstances, set New Year’s Resolutions to finally figure out how to manage money.

And no amount of arm-twisting, no matter how hard my husband and kids plead, will ever make me resolve to tackle the clutter beast that has taken over our home.

I’m am fully aware however, that by not setting these resolutions, next year, by this time, and without the guilt of failure, I will be much richer and have a spotless immaculate home that will make other mommies of multiple kiddo’s drool with envy.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not anti-goal setting. I’ll make some plans but there is no way on earth I’ll call them New Year’s Resolutions. I’m a firm believer that Goals not written are only wishes. Instead I’ll think I’ll drop-kick the idea of so-called goals and call them Fawn’s Dream Quests. That sounds much more magical, Disney-ish, fantastic, and fun to me. Goals carry guilt. Dreams, aside from the nightmares and underwear in a crowded room, can be brought up over and over again with no guilt attached. I’ll even write some of my dream quests down on paper and flourish them with curly q’s and doodles with flowers and stars and such, just to take them beyond the wish phase.

New Year’s Resolutions are obligatory and are set just because it’s a new year, and like bad habits, that’s what everyone does. Dream Quests, unlike years, never die. They are dreams with purpose and by-golly you really want your dreams to come true.

Plus, once you’ve had a dream come true, it feels so great you want that feeling back again and again. And once you’ve accomplished one dream, you know you’ve got the stuff inside you to make other's happen as well. So here is to another year of Dreams Can Come True. What are your dreams?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

Wow Look we actually have a semi-decent family picture. I won't tell you how many tries we had before this one became a reality.

Maybe this will give you a clue in knowing what normal is around our home.

So, some of our more memorable festive memories of this Christmas holiday will include gushing blood and screaming girls. It wasn't really as bad as it sounded, but Princess knelt on a broken piece of glass that Mom forgot to clean up. So, Saturday morning Dad took her to the E.R. to get a couple of stitches. While there she was walking straight legged so that her knee wouldn't open up and start bleeding again. The nurses asked what she was doing and she replied that she was, 'walking like a robot.' They also learned her new name.
'I'm Talkyourheadoffer,' she introduced herself to one of the guys sewing her up. 'Yes, my mom says that I'll talk your head off.'
And she proceeded to do just about that for the entire time she was there. My husband said they ate it up and were all laughing the entire time. Once she has an audience the girl does not have an off button. It seems she wasn't there long enough to annoy anyone and they loved her so much she got a cute little stuffed bear to bring home. She didn't name it 'Stitches', like dad suggested but 'Dora.'

I personally was hoping for a record. First mom ever not to have kids get stitches. I made it 16 plus years without ever having a child need them. Not too bad, if I say so myself.
So anyway, back to Christmas...

In our home we have a tradition of new p.j's every Christmas Eve.

Here are the girls in their little cutsie, pink, flower, dancing, fairy princess pajamas.
Notice how thrilled they all are. And the boys...

Well, if Abner's burning red eyes don't match his hunk of burning love Pajama's then I don't know what does. At least these are better than the old fashioned pioneer fire-engine red long johns that mom got them last year. Maybe next year I'll go for the 'Christmas Story' bunny sleeper with footies.

Poor tortured boys.

As a family we usually have themed Christmas's. Last year was our pioneer Chirstmas, This year we revised an old favorite and had a Danish Christmas where the kids get to open their presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.

But before any of that fun stuff they had to listen to another forever-an-Ashby family Christmas tradition of 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' by Robert W. Service.
Lea snuggles up to Dad as he reads this. Something about this poem makes your blood run cold.
Oh, and before you worry that we are just a little too weird for our own good, you'll be comforted to know that we didn't forget to also read the real Christmas Story.

Then we all hopped in the huge gas -guzzling tank of a vehicle we have and drove around looking at other people's amazing Christmas lights. And wouldn't you know it, Old Saint Nick came while we were out. Princess was really disappointed that she didn't get to see the Jolly Old Guy for herself.
Fast forward through lots of yelling, 'Mom, look at this. Look what Santa brought me.' and a huge old mess of wrapping paper... and you'll get to where mom lines all the kids up next to what they got for Christmas and takes a picture.
As you can see Abner really digs his new(non-extendable) light saber. It will go perfect in his future 'Soap Opera with Light Saber's movies that he's making.
After several hours of lots of fun and noise we all went to bed around 1 a.m. I think T-rev got back up at 4 a.m. because he just couldn't wait to keep playing with his Christmas presents. The rest of us nearly made it to 7:30 am.
You might wonder what Santa was thinking when he brought the Ashby's Rock Band.
Isn't their house loud enough without a full-noise, wanna-be rock band in the music room.
Here you'll see Evo-man, Lea, Abner, and drummer Dad rocking out to 'Dead or Alive.'
You'll have to reserve judgement on which one you would prefer until after you see and hear them in person.

And of course, here's our future head-banger Hope wanting to be a part of the party.

And what Christmas Day wouldn't be complete without the big Christmas dinner. I loved it! My awesome husband is the cook around our home and I'm the cleaner-upper.
We even really tried to stick with our Danish theme and have some traditional dishes.
The stewed Red Cabbage is one of my favorites but here you'll notice that Lea's not sure she wants to even try it.

I think that one of my favorite memories of this Christmas will definately be the snow.
For the first time in the over ten years that we've lived in Washington we got snow on Christmas day. White Christmas no longer a dream!
Whew, with all this excitement and lack of sleep I'll let you in on a secret. I can't stay awake. So I'll end this blog with a glimpse of what Abner caught me doing the other day - napping. I'm planning on doing a lot more of it in the next couple of days to catch up.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Where's my Christmas spirit?

Haven't sat down for three days, except to send out this post. I came home from my trips expecting Christmas to be done. I had turned Christmas over to my husband because of all the traveling I've been doing, but when I saw what had actually been accomplished I took it back. Now, don't get me wrong, my husband is the greatest. He had even enlisted the help of our three Santa wise boys and had every intention of making this the best Christmas ever. That's just it. He and I are full of the greatest intentions ever - but that is about as far as it goes. When I saw that they had gotten eight year old Lea a pink stuffed ball that was actually intended to be a chew toy for some animal and Princess some press-on nails four sizes too big. I knew that they needed some help. So... instead of telling you about my shopping experiances with the other 55 million Procrastinating Christmas shoppers this time of year, I decided to try poetry. Alas, my brain is too fried for it to be too good, nor do I want to resort to language I've never used before, so try and make some sense of these next few lines with the Jingle Bell tune running through your head.

(Verse 1)
Dashing through the store
there's Ten more gifts to buy.

Seems nothing can go right,
I might be here all night.
Our House is a big mess
and Laundry fills the hall.
The phone keeps ringing off the hook.
No peace for me at all.

Duh... There is no peace with six kids... sorry this line is not part of the song.

Shopping Malls,
Baby bawls,
I'm running out of time.
It seems like only yesterday
I vowed I’d be just fine.
Traffic jams,
Headache, - Bam!
Noise abounds galore.
Kids just want bout everything,
And the bank account is poor

(verse 2)
'I want this and that',
Is all I hear each day.
I wish snow would come,
And blow us in today.
Wrapping Gift’s a chore,
School programs are a bore.
But only when you’ve been to three
With two more left to go.

The cat is sick
For the third time on the floor.
I’ve just lost my appetite
So no more sweets, no more!
Clean up quick,
Drop that stick,
The kids are climbing walls.
Next year I’ll be more prepared
Or the funny home we will call.

I know, I know I'm not a good poet. Some might say, forget the good poet bit, I don't have an ounce of poetry in me. Well it' in my heart, just haven't figured out how to translate the language of my heart to written English. I'll need more practice for that. Needless to say, I need a shot of the real Christmas spirit right now. I still haven't gotten all of my Christmas cards out, so they will probably be New Year's cards. My husband is at church most of the day today cooking for the Ward Christmas Party. I heard that people in Primary started clapping when they heard he was doing the food. He loves cooking, but for once it would be nice to actually sit down and enjoy a ward activity with him.
What I don't understand is why I put myself through this hustle and bustle and last second stress every year. I keep saying to myself that next year will be different. So far I think I've said that for the last 17 years and it's never been less hectic but more. Maybe 2008 will be the charm. Who know how long my learning curve will be on vacation. Well next year will be different! If I can run a half marathon I can do Christmas without stress. Next Year, I hope! So to all you procrastinating Christmas people out there - I'm right there with you.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back to Reality

It’s been a wild and crazy week here. But hey, what week isn’t with 6 kids in 4 different schools, one of those being homeschool. I can’t tell you how nice it was to get away from reality last week. Although it had made for a bucket of cold water in the face coming back into it. It has rained every day since I got home, or maybe I should say drizzled. Thankfully not enough to cause more flooding.

When I first got home I was so excited to be sleeping in my own bed and doing laundry, and telling all my friends about my wonderful week. That lasted all but a day. I think my first let-down was when I was handing out the simple gifts I spent hours (literally) trying to find to bring back to my non-vacation going children. It turns out the really cool gift I got for Abner my oldest I had already given him 6 months earlier when I saw it while we were on our family vacation. O.K. so I have the attention span of a nat. What a winner of a mom this kid has.

Now I’m staring at piles of half completed presents wondering where on earth I’m going to find the time to complete them. Today I’m going to try and keep all my kids clean and happy long enough to take a semi-decent family picture. Cross your fingers for me.
My dear friend came over yesterday and spent three hours helping me decorate for Christmas. She did this after hearing me say that I didn’t really want to decorate and spend the time, because the decorations would only be up for 2 weeks. I’m so glad that she did because seeing the festive decoration while listening to Josh Groban’s new Christmas CD has helped me kind of catch the Christmas Spirit. I’m hoping my inner Grinch can be kept at bay long enough for me to enjoy the rest of the season and not STRESS about it.

I really have nothing to complain about, I have a wonderful, healthy family and a home that isn’t wreaked from flood damage. Last week while I was hot-leading it to get home, by Prince Erik took the boys and a chainsaw out to the coast to help clean up from the storm damage. Nothing and I mean nothing helps you count your wonderful blessing better than helping those less fortunate. The one camera I left home wasn’t working so he didn’t get any pictures. If you want to see some of the damage from the flood, you might want to take a gander at pictures from some of my friends who were there last weekend to help dig out. Go to Kathryn’s blog , she is a sister from my ward. I think it will stick with my boys because when I was six I remember my mom going to help with the clean-up of the Teton Dam break in Idaho. I never saw pictures of the damage and I wasn’t there first hand, but I remember her leaving early in the morning and coming back late at night to tell us about it.

Back to reality and Back to laundry.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Princess LEA versus Darth Maul

Here is Lea in action against Darth Maul. Pretty good for a 5 minute Jedi lesson. I'm wondering how his knuckles feel after going at it with probably hundreds of kids a day. Her brothers are desperately jealous and now really, really, want to go to Disneyland so they can do the same thing. Although they are probably too old to be taught the ways of the Jedi. I can just see them now whacking toy light sabers while killing time in the Finding Nemo line.

Jedi's versus Princess Stuff

And the Jedi's win!

Don’t get me wrong, the princesses were everything they were meant to be. Pretty, nice, sweet talking and great picture posers. But, you had to pay an arm and a leg to have breakfast with them or stand in line with a million other little princess wanna-be’s for hours only to see 2 out of the 3 princesses you were supposed to see. Or stand in line only to have them run off for a royal engagement with only 2 people in between you and them. Yes, I would do it all again because my girls ate it up.

My Princess especially wanted to see Jasmine. She and her sisters had watched the DVD of Aladdin in the car maybe 6 times in the last week and a half. And wouldn’t you know it, Jasmine happened to be the hardest one to find. We saw her plenty of times but couldn’t actually talk to her or get her to sign their princess books. One time after we just missed her Princess started to cry and it took a while to let her know we still had a day and a half to try again.
Finally… the third and final day of Disneyland and the last activity we went to before going back to our relative’s home. We decided to go Aladdin & Jasmine’s Story Tale Adventure. And this was after going to Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical spectacular earlier in the day in the California Adventure Park. Fortunately for us it wasn’t too crowded and my girls sat up front on the carpets with the other kids.
Periodically they would choose certain kids from the audience to play the parts of different characters in the story. When it came time to choose the tall, dark, mean Jafar they choose the total opposite and selected my Princess. She was on cloud nine, and got a special button to boot. So... Perfect ending for her.

My Lea, on the other hand was more interested in the Jedi training academy. We ended up going to the show three different times. The first time they selected Princess to be a Jedi padowon trainer but after she learned her moves and realized that she would actually have to fight a very real looking Darth Maul or Darth Vadar she broke out crying and they didn’t actually make her fight.

The next two shows we went to Lea had the prime picking location picked out and was selected for both shows. She actually did well enough on one show that they picked her to be the final fighter.

Hope loved the ‘Horsey’s fun’ Carousel , It’s a Small World, Dumbo Flight and the Teacups.

Dream Come True

Somehow certain words from the movie Enchanted's 'Ever After' song fit right in.

'You even might wind up
Being glad to be you.'

You know I couldn't say that a year ago. Today it's way different. If you would have told me 11 months ago that I would complete a half-marathon I probably would have laughed in your face. O.K. let me restate, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed in anyone’s face on purpose. In fact, I probably would have nodded politely and said, ‘that’s nice.’ Then turned around and rolled my eyes. You see last January I couldn’t even exercise on a treadmill because my feet would constantly drag and stumble. But, never say never. With a lot of support from amazing family and friends and worth their weight in gold training specialists, a true-life miracle and a lot of prayers, I had a dream come true. Fawndear completed her first ever half-Marathon at the Inaugural Rose Bowl Half Marathon in Pasadena CA.

Why there? Well I got a cool looking medal with a Rose on it. And like me it was the Rose Bowls first half marathon as well. Plus it was an excellent excuse to take my little Princess’s to Disneyland just down the road. But more on the mouse’s house in another blog.

'Storybook endings
Fairy tales coming true
Deep down inside
We want to believe they still do.'

Saturday, December 8th, started out clear but a bit nippy. I was a bundle of nerves when my sweet sister-in-law, who kindly hosted me and my very girly girls, woke me up at 5:15 a.m. Wondering if I should kiss my girls good-bye because I might just kill over as I ran, and then they would never see me again, was sadly a real thought. But common sense ruled out and I let them sleep as I got ready for my hour drive to the Rose Bowl from where we were staying.

I had an advantage of being from a cooler state and I knew that I could run in high 50 degree weather without a jacket and would be just fine. I’m sure it warmed up to the 60’s before the race was over. I found it a bit comical to see people bundled up in full winter gear with earmuffs, and huge fleece jackets at the start of the race, only to see items of clothing scattered on bushes and curbs along the side of the road with hopes their owners would soon be back to retrieve them.

The run was beautiful, with bridges, trails, elite neighborhoods, a golf course and workmen erecting bleachers along the Tournament of Roses Parade Route, and the hillsides of CA. I wish I would have brought my camera with me. That was yet another debate I had with myself but rational thinking ruled out in that one as well.
My goals were to finish the race and hopefully in under 3 hours. Before my muscle setback in November I had a much higher goal but hey, I’m starting to get the hang of flexibility.

The fun thing about races is the people you meet along the way. Some you know just by sight like the girl with Jasmine hair and her boyfriend who kept holding hands, or the skinny blond who keeps smiling encouragingly as we yo-yoed positions back and forth. The funny man pep talking out loud to himself and singing drinking songs. ‘Whatever it takes,’ I said to another runner as we smiled at each other as he passed us. There are also the runners that stand out just ahead of you that give you a target to try to beat. I kept picking the really mature past their 50’s people who kept a slow but steady pace. Somehow most of them only stayed within my view for a few miles and then they were gone. But I kept on chugging with hopes I would catch them around the next corner.

Then my favorites are the ones that exchanged word of encouragement with me. Like #1500 – she had to have been in her 70-80’s, a sweet little stooped wisp of thing with a smile on her face. She wasn’t really running or jogging but had a funny power-walk gait that made her stand out. As I passed her around mile 10 I couldn’t help but tell her that she was a true inspiration. She told me thank you and she wished someone would inspire her knees because they were killing her. Then on the hill during mile number 11 our paths crossed again.

‘Yeah, we are almost there. I can’t wait for the downhill,’ I said.

‘I can’t wait for the free beer,’ she replied.

Of course it brought a smile to my face. I hope I’m doing as well as her when I’m her age, without the thoughts of alcohol.

Then there were the two men about my age, could have been brothers, of middle-eastern ethnicity who yo-yoed positions with me for the last few miles. They commented on how great they thought I was doing. We talked about where we were from which led to conversations about the weather. Somehow being from Washington always makes you an expert on rain and flooding. I ended up telling them about the reasons for my trip down with my girls. They encouraged me the whole rest of the way and we all crossed the finish line together. I even got one of them to take my picture to prove I was there.

'Start a new fashion
Wear your heart on your sleeve'

Forget the sleeve, it was all over my face like blinking neon lights. I bawled like a baby as I crossed the finish line, and not because of the shin splint I was suffering from either. I saw the staff photographers clicking away. Bet those pictures are beauts. But the tears were from so many different emotions and probably a good dose of hormones added in to boot. Gratitude for a new beginning and for a wonderful husband who encouraged me to go for it even though it was a really expensive goal. For also completing something on my own without being accountable to anyone but me, but still with thoughts of all those people who helped me get to that point. For the feelings accomplishment of finishing in a decent 2 hours and 48 something minutes. Of amazement that I was still alive and had just completed another wonder and hope for the future to be as bright as the last few wonderful days.

'There is joy to be claimed in this world..
The world can be yours
If you let your heart
Believe in ever after.'

Of course I waited a good 10 minutes before I called my Prince Erik to tell him I finished. I was still blubbering then, probably to the point that he thought I might have injured myself. I wanted to share the news with so many different people and not at all to blow my own horn. It was such a great experience but it would be greater still to share it with other people, in hopes that someday they can complete similar goals and experience the same joy. I’d love to make this a tradition event but that would mean learning how to set some financial goals as well. Who knows a lot can happen in a year.

'Each happy ending's
A brand new beginning
Forever could even start today'

So, I'm offically announcing that I want to set a goal to return in a year. Maybe in 10 years I'll have my mom help me make an amazing Rose Bowl Half-Marathon T-shirt quilt. Who's want's to join me?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is there Dirt in Disneyland???

Well, here we are on the eve of our big Princess Vacation in Disneyland and I can't help but wonder if my girls will forget the Princess stuff and go for the dirt. By the way I'm sneaking onto my Sis-In-Law's computer while she's out.
We had a blast with the Emily and kids and all the other relatives in Sacramento. I couldn't help but notice of all the fun things to do - my girls kept going for the dirt. In Emily's backyard I kept taking the shovel away from Princess because she wanted to dig for treasure. She was positive her shovel had hit something solid just a few centimeters below the surface. Treasure!

I think each of my girls went through three changes of clothes on sunday alone because they loved playing outside so much.
Who can blame them - they come from the land of mud. Where we live you can only play in the dirt maybe 3 months out of the entire year. I hear from my Prince Erik that it's nearly flooded our home town yet again. Seems I left in the nick of time.

Then again it could be some of my Farmgirl genetics did rub off on them. I can't tell you how good it feels to pull weeds each spring. But that feeling is momentary and usually goes away within a couple of days.

Monday we went to this amazing children's park with our Sacramento cousins. Way above anything we have in our town. I was having fun walking around with the kids but after a little bit of slides and swings they headed for the sandbox and didn't leave until I dragged them away all grumpy and dirty. All three of them spent the majority of their time playing in the sand. Princess didn't have any excavating equipment so she took off her shoes and used them to haul her sand around. And once Hope saw what Princess was doing she had to do the same. I don't know how they keep doing it.

It's making me rethink them wearing their white Princess Academy clothes to Disneyland tomorrow morning. We will try and see the princess's but who know's maybe that dirt magnet will be to strong of a pull. We will have to wait and see...