Saturday, February 28, 2009

Treasure Hill

Let me introduce you to when of our (the boys') favorite destinations:

Treasure Hill

Let us extol its many FABulous qualities!

Location Location Location!!! (It's in the field behind our house.) All it takes is a bike ride down the street and around the corner to get to the entrance of a veritable goldmine of boyness. Upon entrance you will see the bike path that leads to the Hill of Treasures:
sidenote** Whenever we read about the "large and spacious field", THIS is the image I have in my mind. Spacious... is it not?

Not long and you will come upon the very hill for which Treasure Hill was named. It may not seem like much, but when you dig in the banks of *original* Arkansas claydirt, you will most likely find any number of small trinkets and treasures left there by yourself on a previous visit. That is, assuming the pre-adolescents that frequent the area after sundown haven't beaten you to it. Mystery! Competition!

To your immediate left is our on-site water feature. Feel free to throw anything you see handy into the feature, but it would be best not to touch...we will not be held liable for any diseases contracted during your stay at Treasure Hill.What is that floating in there, you ask? A tree? a manatee? a carcass? Your guess is as good as ours! Mystery!

Let's proceed around the front of our water feature and enjoy the bounty that nature has to offer!
Feel free to leave your stoller behind....unless you have been engaging in high impact cardio and weight lifting.

We recommend: (wouldn't want any ticks on the baby!)

Now for our three main trail attractions....

Alien seed podsSticks, sticks and more sticks...
Obvious signs of wildlife. Coyote? Fox? Crayon-eating wiener dog?.......Mystery!
And just when you thought it couldn't get any better....ANOTHER hill!!
That's right....Treasure hillS Now that's my idea of a Staycation.

So come on down to Treasure Hill!

*remember.....don't touch the water.

One more we were "hiking" on the trail, Megan was chanting in a sing songy voice, "I am the donut leader, I am the donut leader, I am the donut leader." Here and there she would glance over at the pond and say, "I don't want to die in there". Now that's instincts for ya.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Down time

After school can be crazy.

I vacillate between the "homework first" school of thought and the "kids need a little down time" method.

Today we took the down time route and I must say, it was nice.

Everyone sort of parked near the back door.

Books, laptops, bread and jam and sunshine.

Everyone was in a good mood and getting along.It's moments like these that I have a hard time remembering why ever I lose my temper or feel like I can't handle everything. They can be very sweet and kind to each other.

They love each other.

In the end I know that they will be just like me and my siblings. We love each other no matter what.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The very PICTURE of righteous togetherness.

Monday night it was my turn to provide the lesson for Family Home Evening. (Let's face it. The only time it's NOT my turn is when it's Mark's turn. Ethan's turn? really my turn. Mathew's turn? So my turn. Megan's turn? Me. Laney's turn? Who are we kidding here? I am the puppetmaster.)

So anyway, I was giving the lesson. It was on fasting, by the way. I was reading a story about a family whose grandmother was "very sick" and they were praying and fasting for her. The story came with cute little paper people that had joints that moved courtesy of brad fasteners. The children were obsessed with these paper people. They each had to hold one. Okay fine, you can each hold one.
Is it warm in here?

Then when we get to the part about them kneeling to pray, they are supposed to bend the little knees and put another face on top that has it's eyes closed. The kids were pushing and couldn't make the knees bend and then the new faces were falling off and I couldn't find one of the faces but luckily it went to the one that Mark was holding. Crisis averted there, huh? Laney was on the prowl and she wouldn't be satisfied until she had consumed someone's paper limb. The volume was growing and growing and growing. Can we turn on the ceiling fan or something?

I stop. I set the paper down and stare blankly. I give up. I can't fight it. The kids realize that the mood has turned south. Mom's been pushed over the edge. Mark tries to stay positive. "Maren?" Inside I'm debating on my next move. Do I indulge myself and end the night with 3 crying children in their beds or do I suck it up and push through the crazy? what to do. what to do.

Fortunately, the silence was broken by an EXTREMELY audible fart and everybody laughed and ran for clean air. For a split second I considered not giving in and playing my well-worn martyr card, but it was a really loud fart. So, what the heck...can't beat em? join em.

Another spiritual feast at the Hufford house. Those are the kinds of rich rewarding moments we never seem to run out of around here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

That's what I get

Yesterday we were driving home from picking the boys up at school. The volume in the backseat was increasing at a steady rate and my pleas for them to "pipe down" was going completely unheaded.

Where is the respect, people?

So I did what many a mother hath done before and made a sharp pull over to the curb (just to get their attention, you see) and blurted out,

"Okay. Who wants to walk home?"

Now, before I go any further, let it be stated that:

a. this was an EMPTY threat. Shock value only.

b. the desired response was, "gasp! Dear Mother! How could we have been so rude? Of course we will give you the desired peace and quiet you so richly deserve! Please don't toss us onto the street! Will you ever forgive us?" At which point I would freely forgive, and we would continue the journey home...just me and my thoughts with 4 fabulously obedient children in tow.

c. we were exactly 1 block away from the house

It won't surprise you when I tell you that what happened was of course they both exclaimed in JOY, "Me!" "I do!"

Oooof course.

They were out of the van and running down the street before I realized what an idiot I am. I knew that protests were futile and I realized I better award this point to the boys. Dangit!

Photos anyone?You know inside they're thinking, "We so TOTALLY won this one."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mathew, m'boy

This morning we discussed whether Ethan and Mathew would stay behind and sleepover at the Wall's house or come with us to Oklahoma City for a temple trip.

Mathew: I thiiiiiink.....the temple. That would be holy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And she's off!

Laney's first steps.

Love her.

Love her teeth.

Love her little walkin self.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I dropped off the face of the earth

Yeah, so it's been awhile for the poor old blog. I have an awesome excuse:

Kids were "off track".

So I was focusing all my energy on maintaining a "no kill zone" at the house. Mostly successful.

My kids really thrive on being tricked into doing what I want them to do each day, so I have been writing them each a daily letter (more like a longish note) that they find in the morning. It basically tells them how FANstinkinTASTIC I think they are, what amazing fun fabulous thing we have planned that day (9 am chuck e cheese anyone?) and what they will need to accomplish in order to go (enter chore list). It works like a charm. Unfortunately like all good ideas, I have a hard time sustaining it over a long period of time and soon I am greeted not by "Good morning, Mom!" but "WHERE'S MY LETTER?!"

This, of course, is the punishment all mothers receive when they try to "think outside of the box" as many an Apprentice hopeful would say.


We had a week off and just to run it down and be able to move forward.....a few highlights:

Had a whole day of Wii on Monday. Kids were positively glued to the tv most of the day while I organized the garage and updated the food storage. This, of course, made me feel guilty, but I have since forgiven myself and moved on to feeling guilty about other things.

Friends planned a surprise birthday lunch for me and Shelly. I can honestly say I really was surprised. I had even told Alissa I was sorry I couldn't come because I had all 4 kids at home. She persuaded me that it was okay to bring them. I see now that I should have been suspicious....bring all 4? Crazy! However, I had such a nice time, had yummy homemade soups, breads, jam, honeybutter, salad and got a few recipes to boot.

Janeen made a delicious cake:
We got an excellent photo of our awesome teamwork in blowing out the candles: (Laney and Ian look none too thrilled to be included in this moment) After lunch we attempted to get a couple of pictures of Shelly with her kids which I must say went swimmingly (despite a bit of the brotherly choke hold)
Our family seemed slightly less cooperative, and holy double chins Batman!
Due to Shelly's diligence and photography prowess, we did get this: What you don't see in this picture is the crazy shiny forehead I had and my current batch of painful acne I've been freaking out over. Also Laney's belly is hanging out like a drunken sailor.

(black and white and photo editor, gotta love it)

Mid week was a blur of lounging around the house peppered by unnecessary trips to Walmart. A word to the wise. Unless you want bowtie toast, buy your bread last...Last, I tell you!
I'm pleased to report the boys have still retained their willingness to play "Pretty Pretty Princess" with Megan. Thanks to Shelly for passing on a box of dress up paradise for Megan. It helped her through a long week.
Friday was birthday 33 for me. It was a fun relaxing day. Mark brought me my favorite bagels and the best OJ on the planet (well worth a ridiculous price, I promise). Complete with roses.All this after getting up to teach early morning Seminary...I love him!

For dinner we had Cafe Rio Pork....and I am as close to speechless as I've ever been. It was so good. It makes me want to invite each one of you over one at a time and make it for you so I can see the look on your faces! Holy Canoli! Loved it! Praise be to Kaira for the recipe. It has joined the permanent rotation. Ingredients will be stocked in food storage. mmmmmmm......

To top it off, Mark and the kids got me knives that cut, pans that don't go downhill and a food processor that holds more than one cup at a time (not joking....goodbye minichopper!). Practical and perfect. Thank you honey!I wish I could now regale you with tales of our romantic Valentines day, but we kinda fuzzed out on it. We have declared a do-over for this weekend. But the leftover Cafe Rio was muy bueno!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Super cool

Check this out...

My gorgeous mom-in-law sent this to me via the email and I couldn't believe it. So fun to watch.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Early valentines

My kids are on a modified year round schedule. It's really just taking a month out of summer break and giving the kids a week break 4 other times during the school year. Well, next week we're out, so that means we gotta do the valentine swap a bit prematurely.

I, personally, am not a big fan of spending 3 bucks on a box of Buzz Lightyear valentines, knowing that they are on the fast track to garbage cans all over the valley. What a waste! So this year we opted for valentines of the rice krispy variety. MAN! I love rice krispies!

I handled the treats and the kids handled the card making. A little paper, a little glitter, some confetti hearts, glue sticks (romantic black crayon) and viola!

My favorite moment of the process: Ethan using a ghost voice and chasing his little sister with a glittery paper heart, "FOOOOOLS GOOOOOOLD! FOOOOOOLS GOOOOOLD!" Who says boys don't like valentines? There's something for everyone.

good times.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A dark day

A moment of weakness and desperation.

I promised myself I would never, never do it.

It seemed like the only option,

I didn't know where else to turn.

I did it for my children. My husband!

It felt SO WRONG.

but those are just excuses.

I bought those spoons at Walmart that come with a bar code wrapped around a bundle of 4.

4 for a dollar.

I could feel my heartbeat in my know when you feel it in your shouldn't be buying this.

They're so thin and scratchy.

But a whole new set of silverware for SPOONS? The thrifty in me will not allow it.

They'll never stand up to an inadvertent run in with the disposable.

But when you frequently depend on Kelloggs and General Mills to provide a quick dinner, 3 spoons just won't cut it.

Where are my spoons!?!?!

I'm not sure I'll be able to forgive myself.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Who needs American Idol?

Apparently it is totally unnecessary to stand before Simon Cowell and embarrass yourself on television in order to be famous. All you have to do is go to the library.

Here's the link for those of you who don't read the "Daily Record" (it's okay...I don't either. I'm a googler):

We were looking for a few books before going to Grandma and Grandpa's house to keep warm and a photographer with an eye patch (very swarthy) asked if he could take a few photos of us for a little article letting people know that the library was open. We got to talking about the storm and when I mentioned we were without power, he walked away and I could hear him talking in hushed tones...." young mother....4 little kids....trying to stay warm....young mother". I started to feel very ridiculous and a little sweaty. He came over and told me his editor would like to do a story on us and could a reporter please call me on my cell phone for an interview? WHAT! I just morphed from mom looking for books with her kids to young starving mother with 4 urchins looking for refuge from the storm. I was a bit worried that the article would make us look a bit pathetic and unable to care for ourselves. All I wanted was a couple of books, dangit! Luckily, it was not too bad...although I don't care for anyone supposing that I have any type of "entertainer hat". eck.


This is the THIRD time our family has been in the newspaper since we moved here.

What does that tell you?

We are such a mess we qualify as a newsworthy side show? ....perhaps

Our family is a media magnet?

No....there's just not much going on around here in these them parts. Those poor photographers have to go looking for news at THE LIBRARY. Really? The library? Really?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This ice is so dang icy!

I was writing this post when the power went out Thusday afternoon:

Well we are now on day 3 of the ice-storm stay-at-home try-to-do-something-that-we-can-be-proud-of-later vigil. Is it just me, or do you imagine that all the other moms are helping their kids put together puppet shows and write letters to their grandma's? Mine are on their 4th straight hour of wii and I'm just plain thankful the power is on....counting my blessings.

Yesterday the power went out for about 4 hours and it took me two to convince Megan that the tv absolutely was not capable of turning on. I clicked the button over and over to prove it to her and she stared at me like I must be joking. Her next question: "Can I watch a show in your room?"

Mathew cursed the heavens for interrupting Mario Party, but after a few listless moments gave up and went outside to knock down hundreds of icicles.

Just as we were leaving to go get some dinner, the power came back on...hooray!...but we still went out because I was feeling a little claustrophobic from 48 hrs of 5 people in a confined space. We made our way out of the neighborhood and gawked at the hundreds of broken trees. So sad.

Ours was very pitiful: (after I took this photo the remaining limbs have broken off. I'm thinking totem pole? Just give the neighborhood boys some pocket knives and watch the magic happen)

Here is a view of the big trees in the field about half way through the storm:

Then after the weight of the ice had broken the limbs off:

But even though the trees are splintered and power lines are down, I just can't get over how truly beautiful it is. A few more photos:

The Roses of Sharon in the sunlight. I love how the ice forms round globes over each little bud. Super cool.

The fence on the side of the house
The neighbor's tree
I love how the ice takes on the shape of whatever is under it. Cool mailbox post.

And because I value consistency, get a load of that GRASS! enough with the ice pictures, I promise...cross muh heart, hope tuh die, stick uh know. The storm is now past. We ended up going without power for 4 days. Spent a day at Grandma Jean and Granndpa Joe's, bought a generator (love that thing), and generally enjoyed the adventure of it all.

Item I missed the most: the disposal. NOT diggin wet food in my trash.

Scary: I haven't had to hand wash a dish in AGES. It actually took me a minute of staring at a sink of dirty dishes to remember that there was another way to get them clean besides putting them in the "Magic Box".

Kinda fun: taking Ethan to the laundromat to dry our clothes. What I wouldn't give for a wall full of dryers and a pile of tokens...ALL the clothes dry at once. Awesome.

An added bonus: working side by side with Mark getting everything done. He is THE BEST. He did everything in his power to take care of us and make sure we were safe and warm (changing oil on the generator in the cold=not fun). I seriously love him!

So anyway, power is restored and we get to put up with the local newscasters reporting on "Ice Storm 2009" with ominous voices and the same footage we've seen over and over.

Just one more thing I'd like to put out there:

Do you have any idea how long it takes to finish a game of 'Sorry!' with a 3 year old who insists on doing Eeny Meeny Miny Mo every time she has to decide which piece she will move?

Deeep Breath.