Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For the Love of the GAME?...

I am about to go on a rant here...just so you know.  I just spent a week of stress, and some tears trying to get Emie signed up for a club volleyball team.  For those of you who don't know, club teams are like high school teams on steroids.  If there is a sport--there is a club team now to go with that sport.  When I was growing up, club teams were nowhere to be found (or at least they weren't in the little town we were in).  We played Little League, or community organized teams, or went to camps in the summer to get better at our favorite sports, but that was just about it.  Now, club teams are EVERYWHERE, even small towns, and for every sport.  They are a huge, money-making operation, where parents are paying the big bucks so that their children will have the edge when it comes to playing high school and hopefully collegiate athletics.  When Emie tried out for the freshman volleyball team two years ago, we had never heard of club volleyball.  I had signed her up for a few camps here and there, and she had tried out for junior high sports, but didn't make the team, since little did I know, those little junior high players had parents who were way ahead of me, and had signed their little darlings up for club volleyball when they were 11 and 12 years old!  (Besides the fact there were over 50 girls trying out, and 12 made the team). We were both surprised when she made the Freshman team, but she improved throughout the year, and became a good little volleyball player.  The season ended, and that's when everyone asked, "Is she going to do club?".  I was a little wary, since we had never committed to doing a sport year round.  I always played different sports in different seasons, and didn't want her to get burned out.  Plus, she had decided to try out for the school softball team, and club volleyball would be at the same time.  Then we found out the price.  $1,200 for one season (4 months) of club volleyball.  Todd just about died when he heard this number!  This isn't even the most expensive club out there--some charge $2,500+ and travel all around to different states to compete in tournaments virtually every weekend.  These tournaments are meant to draw collegiate scouts, and that's how they sell you on paying the big bucks, since your sweet darling will be scouted in the off season, and be able to get her foot in the door for collegiate scholarships and sports.  Sounds great huh?

Well, here are the facts.  Even with year round club sports, your son or daughter has less than a 5% chance (some sports are a little higher--hockey is 6 or 7% because less people play) of playing sports for a college or university. The chance that they will go pro is less than 1% in most cases.  So, unless your child is extremely talented, even with club sports, the chance they will have to play in college is pretty nil when you consider how many others are out there playing club sports right along with you, buying into the hype.  So when you think about the fact that in the valley there are over 100 organizations for club volleyball alone, and that each have at least 40 or 50--some have up to 200 athletes, it makes it pretty obvious that your child is just a member of the throngs of athletes getting caught up in the tangled web of club sports. 

Emie did do club last year, since I felt it was the best way to ensure that she would make the JV team.  The varsity coach, after all, is the one running the club!  (Do you think it is a coincidence that people who play for him in club make his team?)  And though it was stressful, expensive, and inconvenient, we managed to make it to each practice, and tournament, with the help of her friend on their team.  She made the JV team, and went from someone who sat the bench most of her freshman year, to someone who started on the JV team.  We were so proud of her for improving so much, and best of all, she enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.  How much of her improvement, I wonder, came from her being in club sports though?  Did improvement come from playing year round, or did it come because she was bigger, stronger, faster, and more coordinated (as tends to happen as you grow...).  I never played club sports, yet, I improved at every sport, every year.  Is this a coincidence?  There were also girls on her team that played club, and didn't improve at all over last year.  Is that a coincidence, or does it mean they didn't work hard enough in the off season?  Or is it simply that some people are more naturally talented than others, and those girls excel and improve year after year, as others stagnate? 

Fast forward, past the season, to this last week.  We went and tried out for the club team that she played for last year.  They have a two hour process, where they give each girl a number.  The coaches stand on the side of the court with clipboards and take notes as the girls do drills.  Each girl had to pick the position they tried out for--nevermind that some have better all around skills--if you were a libero--you try out as a libero, and all they look at is your passing skills.  She didn't even serve the entire tryout, or hit or set.  They proceed at the end of the two hours to divide the girls up into teams.  In the end, Emie ends up on the same team, with the same coach as she had last year.  She is one of only two Sophomores on the team, while they pulled up freshman that never even played this year onto the other team.  I ended up pulling her from the team, since it wasn't going to be a competitive team, and she needs to be at least playing at a varsity level if she's going to make the team next year. Then, we spent the last week going to tryouts for 4 different club teams, only to find out that the best clubs already had rosters filled (they all try out the same day, to prevent people from switching clubs--nice huh?).  After a nightmare week, I finally called a club that Emie's friend plays for, and found her a position on their 17 team that I think will be a good fit for her.  That being said, she will probably be at a disadvantage politically in tryouts because I pulled her from the varsity coaches club team.

After all of this--I have been left with a sour taste in my mouth for sports in general.  Both of my girls played Little League softball every year since they were 5 years old, but what do I find when they get to high school sports?  If your child didn't play club--the coach won't even look at them.  Club softball is a whole other animal!  It is year round, $250 per month, with only a break for the high school season for 3 months.  When you sign the contract, you sign it for 9 months.  This is insanity for anyone--but especially for someone with a large family!  How would I juggle 2 club sports, with two of my children at the same time, and still take care of the other 4 (plus their sports or dance classes).  Not to mention the disadvantage that poor families are put in when they can't possibly afford club sports, although no doubt there are poor parents with gifted athletes who just need developing.  Don't get me wrong--I LOVE sports!  I always have.  But seriously?  Why the push for year round sports?  Why are we participating in this insanity?  As a society, we seem to be taking everything to the extreme, and this atmosphere we have in sports I feel is no exception.  We want our kids to be the biggest, fastest, best athlete, and by gosh we will pay whatever we have to to get them there, even if we have to devote every weekend, every holiday, every Sunday to tournaments so that they can improve.  It's crazy.  Is it really for the love of our kids?  Is it for the love of the game?  Or is it for a parents ego, so they can pat themselves on the back that their kids are way ahead of the others because of all the advantages they have paid for? Whatever it is, I miss the old days, you know, when we played sports for fun.  I miss them a lot.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I would be sad if I didn't write down the story behind this sweet Turkey Family that Ashlie did for show and tell in her class.  It wasn't an assignment or anything, I had just showed her in church one week how she could make a turkey with her handprint, and when we came home from church, she wanted to do a turkey for everyone in our family and bring it to school to show her class.  No problem right?  Well, she got the idea right during naptime--so the younger kids were awake, but dad was sleeping on the couch, and Emie and Erin were up in their rooms sleeping.  I happened to be up on the computer doing some things for the store, so I told her I would help her.  We traced our hands, and Jack's, Josh's and Abby's.  Now all we needed to do was wake up the sleepyheads, and trace their hands real quick.  Dad obliged and let Ashlie trace his hand real quick.  Then she headed upstairs to rouse the teenagers from their Sunday slumber.  She knocked and knocked on Emie's door--but no one would answer.  Then she tried Erin.  She knocked and knocked, and yelled into her door, "Erin--I need to trace your hand--I'm making something."  For awhile Erin wouldn't answer either, but then you hear her yell, "GET OUT OF HERE!"  Then from the computer room, I hear Todd getting up from the couch and stomp over to the foot of the stairs down from Emie and Erin's room.  "ERIN--YOU BETTER OPEN UP THAT DOOR RIGHT THIS MINUTE OR YOUR DEAD!  DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY STUPID PROJECTS WE HAVE HELPED YOU WITH--AND YOU CAN'T EVEN OPEN UP YOUR DOOR AND HELP ASHLIE FOR ONE MINUTE AND LET HER TRACE YOUR STUPID STINKIN HAND???  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  OPEN UP YOUR FRICKIN DOOR!"  Wouldn't you know it--her door opened right up, and amazingly, Emie heard the conversation and opened up her door before the wrath of Todd was unleashed her way!  Ashlie was happy to have everyone's turkey, and that Turkey Family will be a treasure for years to come!  Good Job Ash!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happily Ever After...

I still remember the day I said "YES" to my sweet husband 18 years ago today.  As I looked into his eyes, and saw him grinning at me, I couldn't think of any other ending for us except for Happily Ever After.  Everything about that day was perfect.  Everything about HIM was perfect.  Everything about LIFE was perfect.  Surely, things would always be this wonderful, right?  I saw this saying the other day, and had to chuckle:  "They lived Happily Ever After--and then they had to go to WORK!"  Isn't that the truth!?  Do you notice how fairy tales always end with the fairytale wedding, and we just assume they lived Happily Ever After?  That's because after the fairy tale wedding, the Prince and Princess had to go to work--and it usually looks something like this:
Haha!  I busted up laughing when I saw this pic for the first time!  Isn't this so much more real than the fairytale wedding!?  First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!  You notice they don't mention what comes next?  That's because what comes next is WORK, (and sometimes mental anguish) and a lot of it!  Like it or not, babies, and kids, and teenagers, and just life, sometimes put quite a dent in my Happily Ever After--how about you? Don't you just love the look on Snow White's face?  I can totally tell you what she's thinking: 
"Are you freaking kidding me?  I've been taking care of these stinkin' kids all day, and he comes home and puts his feet up and watches TV without even asking how he can help me?" 
But, for the sake of fairness, I can also tell what poor Prince Charming is thinking as well: 
"For crying out loud, I have been at work ALL day trying to make a living so she can have this nice house, and that nice carriage, and those beautiful dresses she whines about, can't she at least keep these flippin' kids quiet for a few minutes so I can relax and watch TV?" 
The sad thing is that BOTH of them are actually on the same page in a way, because both of them deep down (in places we don't like to visit--because the thoughts we find there are scary) are thinking,
"Gosh, life was so easy before we had these dang kids! We used to actually enjoy each other's company, talk, go on dates, and make out, and yada yada yada..."  You get my drift. 
Yes, Happily Ever After isn't as easy as it might seem, especially when you add a family to the mix, but after 18 happy years, with a wonderful husband, I can tell you, it's not only possible, but it's phenomenal!  You might not know this--(shh...don't tell), but I am not the easiest person in the world to live with for 18 years!  If you don't believe me, ask my parents--they had to do just that!  And they had it easy--for 2 or 3 of those years, I didn't talk much (but I'm sure I pooped a lot, so I'm not sure which is worse)!  Todd has been there when I have been at my best--on our wedding day, the birth of our children, vacations, and anniversaries.  And he has been there when I have been at my worst--which would explain how we are still together after the year we had last year! (And trust me, he deserves more than a measly mention on my blog for sticking it out when the going got rough--he deserves a gold medal!)  Yep, through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly (mornings are ugly here every day people), my sweet husband has stuck it out!  So I guess what I'm trying to say is: 
Todd, thank you.  Thank you for loving me and never giving up on me.  Thank you for being my best friend.  Thank you for supporting me, even when I'm a little crazy (or a lot crazy).  Thank you for sharing this life with me, and for making me so happy for all of these years!  Thank you for the man that you are, and thank you for letting me be a part of your life.  I am so grateful for the story we are creating, and for the chapters yet to come!  You know what the best part is?  We already know the ending...
Love you sweetheart, forever.
Love, Tami

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jack's Dance Moves...Oh Yeah!...

Sunday night we turned on some music while we were cleaning the kitchen, and boy did Jack put on a SHOW!  We were all laughing so hard.  Love this kid!

Monday, November 14, 2011

About Starting Over...

I read a quote that one of my friends posted on Facebook the other day, and I loved it: 
"Maybe it's not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it's about starting over and creating something better." 
As a family, we are on our way to doing just that--and it's about time! I finally have news to report on the new funeral home that Todd is working for!  It's called Legacy Funeral Home, in Chandler, (only 15 minutes from Gilbert or Mesa) on Arizona Avenue and Knox roads.  Knox is between Warner and Ray Road. It is a gorgeous facility, where I think people will feel welcome, and comforted and loved.  And I am happy to say they will be well taken care of by my sweet husband, who is amazing at his job, and his brother David, who is so much like him.  They are awesome at what they do, even as hard as it is to do that job day in and day out.

After being away from the funeral business now for 3 years, I can honestly say that I have been very apprehensive about the process of starting over.  While I am happy and grateful to get Todd back to work, despite the ongoing lawsuit against the people who bought our Mesa and Peoria funeral homes, I can also say that the thought of starting over terrifies me.  The funeral business is a 24/7 business.  The closest I have come to describing the life of a funeral director, is the life of an OB/GYN, or a baby doctor.  Just as you can never plan out when a baby is going to come into this world, you also do not get to plan when you leave it.  Death comes at the most inconvenient of times, including a few times while I was actually in the process of giving birth over the years, believe it or not (thank goodness those times, he found someone to help him).  It comes during the sacrament (many times) at church.  It comes during sporting events, date nights, movies, vacations, and dinner, and so many times it comes just when you were getting into that good REM sleep. Yes, life with a funeral director is an unpredictable, roller coaster ride type of life that we are diving back into head first!  What we have learned, though, from being unemployed for 3 years, is to be grateful for a job--any job.  We have also learned, that although the job of a funeral director is not the funnest job in the world, indeed it is a mentally and emotionally demanding job--Todd is meant for that job.  His personality, his demeanor, the way he cares for each individual, the way he understands their feelings, and can console them--he is great at it.  Yes, he is a natural at what he does, and he takes care of each family like they were his own. 

I know as we get back into the swing of things life with my funeral director husband will get back to normal (as normal as it can be anyway), and I am just so grateful for him to be getting back to doing something that he knows, that he is great at, and that he loves.  He has been of service to thousands of families over the years(can you believe it?) in their time of need, and will no doubt serve thousands more, since we have learned our lesson about selling a business (just don't sell to a couple of dirtbags like we did) and we are in this one to stay.  I am grateful that Todd lives his life, and conducts business with integrity and honor, and that families can know that he will be honest with them.  Most of all, I know because he gives so much of himself, that all of those families will be blessed, and our family will be blessed in return for his countless hours of service to them in their darkest hour.  And what better time for this beautiful thing to be happening, than the time of year when we are most thankful?  Yes, it will be perfect, and in time I will look back and realize that we weren't really starting over...we were just creating something BETTER! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey Day is Around the Corner...

So I shouldn't have been surprised when Ashlie came home with this cute little turkey cut out to decorate, after all, at least one of the children bring one home every year! I know projects you do with your kids are meant to be fun, but sometimes, it can also create even more anxiety in a mom who's almost gone over the edge to begin with! Ashlie brought this little turkey home a week ago, and it was supposed to be turned in by Wednesday last week. The sweet girl that she is, Ashlie never forgot about that dang thing. I kept putting it aside, and forgetting about it all day, but she would kindly remind me after school that we needed to decorate her turkey. I kept putting her off, saying I would go to Michaels and find some adorable feathers, or some fabric so we could make that turkey as cute as could be, but low and behold, something would come up every day, and this mom would forget AGAIN. This week, I was supposed to do something for Erin too, that I kept forgetting about, and on Saturday she says to me, "Mom, you aren't very dependable." You want to know my reply? I said, "Erin, if it has taken you 14 years to figure that one out, I think I am doing better than I thought!" No, I am NOT very dependable, I realize that I forget things WAY too often, and we are quite often late to things, if we get there at all. I realize that I am NOT the mother of the year, but I do try hard to at least get most of the things done that are on my list, without too much chaos, and you know what else? I am doing my best.  Finally, late on Sunday night, after a long weekend, we finished Ashlie's turkey with nothing cute from Michaels, as I never had a chance to get over there, but with a package of 13 bean soup from the pantry, cause that's all this crafty (NOT) girl had on hand. You know what else? It's the cutest little bean turkey you ever saw. Last minute style--it's my favorite sometimes. Yeah, that's how I roll--and I think the smile on her face tells you, it's good enough for her!  :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Beautiful Heartbreak...

Had the chance this weekend to attend Time Out for Women and Girls with my sister and our daughters.  We had a great time, and the meeting was full of such amazing and inspirational speakers and performers.  It filled my bucket, and made me want to come home and be better. Many of the the messages were geared toward dealing with adversity and challenges.  This topic has become near and dear to my heart of late, as we have navigated our way through our own challenges with the lawsuit against the people who bought our business, our new business failing, selling our home, cars, and anything else we could, just to stay afloat.  Many times throughout this process, the process of refinement, I have questioned my faith, and whether I was strong enough to make it through what Heavenly Father was asking of us.  Many times, I have felt hope slip away.  Many times, I have wondered whether He was really there, and whether He really cared for me and my small problems, when so obviously there is a world full of billions of people who each need His help.  So many times this weekend, I had the overwhelming feeling as I listened to the messages, that YES!  He knows me.  YES, He loves me and my family.  YES, he knows of our struggles and trials, and YES, He will be there to help me when I need Him.  It's hard to explain, hard to fathom, even, how it works, but He does know you by name.  He knows your struggles, and if you go to Him in prayer, He will let you know that He cares!  What a miracle, and a blessing.

One of the performances that touched me the most was a video shown by Hillary Weeks, of a song called, "Beautiful Heartbreak".  It was so powerful, and I wanted to share it here, just in case there are people reading that wonder whether all of their trials, all of their challenges, all of their heartbreak is in vain.  I want to testify that they are not in vain.  A loving Heavenly Father allows us to have these challenges, allows us to feel heartbreak, so that we can come closer to Him, and to our Savior, who suffered the ulitmate heartbreak as he suffered for all of our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane.  How can we truly come to know Him, unless we are allowed to experience some of what He experienced?  While I can say that I haven't enjoyed the challenges we have been through, I can say that as I look back over our experiences these last few years, and my life, there has never been a time when I have had to turn to my Father in Heaven in prayer as I have during these trials.  There has never been a time when I had to excercise as much faith and trust as I have during this time.  There has never been a time in my life when I have felt as much gratitude for the gospel, and for my testimony as I have during this time.  I can see, as bad as these experiences have been, how they have made me more humble, more grateful, and more trusting in my Heavenly Father, and His plan for me.  One of the quotes I loved was, "We need to let our trials make us BETTER, and not BITTER".  I have seen how easy it is to slide into bitterness and despair, and that is NOT the person that I want to be.

The other thing that I learned from this trial was how important it is to be there for one another, and be patient with those around us.  We may not ever know from just looking at someone, all of the trials and heartbreak they have been through in their lives.  Even people who we know well might have suffered in ways we will never know about.  We need to look at people as our Savior looks at people, and just love them for who they are.  We are put here on earth to serve eachother, and to love eachother, and we need to look out for those who are having a hard time, and as we love and serve them, hopefully even their heartbreak moments can turn from an awful experience, into a "Beautiful Heartbreak".  Enjoy this video, and please know, you are never alone!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween BLAST!...

So rather than divide our Halloween up into parts, I thought I would just do one BIG Halloween BLAST, and get all these pictures up onto this blog at once!  YAY!  We had a fabulous Halloween over here, with great friends and neighbors to hang out with, and some awesome kids (& teenagers) over in our neighborhood.  I am so grateful that my kids have such great friends in the neighborhood, it sure makes my life easy!  First, on Saturday we went to the neighborhood Halloween Carnival.  Two of the wards combined, so there were even more people to help out and run the booths, and also WAY more people to hand out candy for the trunk or treat!  My kids were in Heaven!  Jack cheated at all the games.  If he can't win something, he gets REALLY mad and starts screaming at people.  Oh my.  Not sure who THAT came from.  (YES, his dad is a really bad sport...but shhh...don't tell him I told you that!).  Luckily, at ward Halloween parties, cheating is perfectly okay for a 3 year old, and win or lose he got a prize anyway.  Phew!  The only bad thing about the carnival?  Getting the kids to leave that place was complete insanity.  No one ever wants to go home from a place where hundreds of people are handing out candy, and you don't even have to walk from house to house--but just from chair to chair to get it!  Jack wanted to go around the circle 10 times!  Not nice to tear him away from that place, but we managed!  Is he just the cutest Captain America you've ever seen?  He has been wearing that thing since we bought it--and I can barely pry it off him to bathe him.  If it gets into December, I might have to stop letting him wear it to the store.  On second thought--it is long sleeved, and padded, and the hat can keep his ears warm...

Sunday was our big Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza!  I am kind of a freak about carving pumpkins.  I really enjoy it--not sure why?  But every year, I buy each of the kids their own pumpkin, and myself one as well.  I quit buying one for Todd--since I was the one who had to carve his most of the time.  It's just not his thing.  This year, we had our friends & neighbors, the Tippetts over for our carving party and we had a BLAST!  I had tools and patterns already from the books, but the kids went online and found some really cool ones that they carved!  I just loved Abby's Angry Birds pumpkin, and Taylor's Fleur de Lis.  Erin was carving a really awesome owl shape, but as she was finishing up, her carving gave way and fell through, leaving her a hole.  DANG!  Todd helped her fashion her hole into a sweet looking monkey head thingie though, and all was well!  Jack enjoyed working with Todd's cousin Eli on hammering cute little nails into his pumpkin in a bat shape.  So cute!  All of the pumpkins turned out great, and we all had a great time!  On top of all that, I made some pumpkin bars--HOORAY for something other than CANDY!  They were pretty delish if I do say so myself, and I DO!  November is still a great time for pumpkin bars!  Want the recipe?  Well, here it is!: (don't say I never gave you anything)...

Pumpkin Bars
2 c. Canned Pumpkin
2 c. Sugar
4 Eggs
1 c. Canola Oil
2 c. Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 T. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and oil.  Beat until fluffy.  Add dry ingredients, and mix well.  Spread batter into a 15x10x2 in. cookie sheet.  Bake for 25-30 mins. or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack, then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
 3 oz. Cream Cheese; softened
1/4 c. Butter
1 T. Vanilla
2 1/4 c. Powdered Sugar

This recipe says that it makes 24 servings--but, well, we didn't have near that many people, and these things were GONE!  Luckily, I goofed on the amount of pumpkin & added a 30 oz. can, instead of the 16 oz. called for and made TWO pans of them!  I ate almost a half sheet for breakfast on Monday.  Oh my.  I need to go into sugar detox mode QUICK!  I am out of control.  Here are some pics of our awesome pumpkins!

Monday was HALLOWEEN!  Of course, Erin comes home from school at 3 and says, "would you take me and Kami to the store to get a costume for tonight?"  Great.  Luckily, in the shopping center right by our house, there is a Savers, Dollar Tree, and Goodwill right next to eachother.  Surely we could find SOMETHING for them to wear!  I helped them pick out the cutest old lady clothes--we got everything, including old lady glasses, shoes, and stockings, shirts, and skirts, and even old lady PURSES so they could collect their candy in them, for less than $20 each!  Great deal!  I thought they looked adorable--am I right?

Emie and her friends decided to dress like Disney Princesses.  They were going to make their own dresses--but it proved to be a futile task with how busy they are, so they went to Savers and Goodwill and bought them too!  Can you guess which is which?  Love them! 

Then, here are the cutest kids EVER--MINE!

We hung out at our neighbors house and ate & talked while the kids went trick or treating.  Emie had a huge group of friends come over to our neighborhood, and so did Erin.  I guess I'm a sucker, because I let them dress up and trick or treat.  If I could, I would dress up and ask for free candy too!  Who wants to grow up?  There are so few years left for these teenagers to be KIDS.  I have been feeling really nostalgic lately about my teenage years.  Ever since Emie turned 16.  I just keep thinking about how magical that Sweet 16 was, and how I thought I would stay that way forever, young and wild and free (haha).  But just 2 years later, I graduated High School, and just 3 years later I was married.  Heck, 5 years later, this sweet little lady you see in the princess costume was BORN!  No, those teenage years are a fleeting moment, and then they are gone.  Missions, marriage, responsibility, parenthood, they are all just around the corner, and I just feel like they have so little time to be kids.  So have your fun, and trick or treat.  Life is short, live it up!  Pretty soon, you'll be old like me, talking about the good ol' days of your youth, and wondering where the time went.  :)  Love these teenagers.  What a great group of kids--parents, you're doing a FABULOUS job, FYI! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet 16...

It has been a whirlwind few weeks around here, and I am still trying to recover from it!  October seems to just fly by every year, and I think the only month that is more hectic for us is December, although January, February, March, and well...every month seems to fly by now that I think about it!  There's something about time moving faster you get older, as kids get older.  Sometimes, if you blink, you might miss something!  As I was laying on the couch with my Jack, he was dozing off to sleep, and so was I.  I laid him in bed, and almost went there myself.  Then I looked around.  Oh my!  My house was still in a shambles, kitchen dirty, laundry still needs folded, candy wrappers from last night's candy melee at our house were everywhere--(meaning that might have been the only thing Jack ate--ALL DAY).  I caught a second wind, and cleaned it all up, feeling better about leaving my house nicer for the morning rush (where it is soon to look the same as it did before...but what can you do?).  Then I thought of this blog.  Surely, I can find the third wind that I need, to stay up, edit some pictures, and finally post about my beautiful Emie's Sweet 16!  After all, it was an AWESOME week, with a few surprises, and a great party, and a few memorable moments that need to be documented.  (Just a warning here--some of these memorable moments WILL make you blush--but be brave!)

First, I want to mention the fact that Todd bought trick candles for Josh's birthday cake--knowing that Emie would use them 5 days later was definitely the plan.  You see, Emie is 16 and never been kissed, (yes, we bribed her with cold hard $$--parents of the year, but c'mon!), and Todd KNEW what that girl would be wishing for for sure!  In fact, in Todd's family prayer the night before the big day, he even mentioned this fact when he said, "And bless Emie, as she turns 16, that she will realize that kissing boys isn't all that great, and that they will all be stinky, and have disgusting breath."  Yeah, he's feeling the stress of knowing that some hormone crazed teenager will want to give this gorgeous girl a kiss--I mean, who wouldn't want to kiss this face?

Then, Emie's "special friend" (at least that used to be the code word for boyfriend when I was growing up), showed up at the house the weekend before her birthday with a whole slew of goodies for her.  It always makes me happy when they hang out over here--never a moment alone, without crazy kids climbing all over them.  Darn!  Here we go...

He also gave her this NOTE--which she was kind enough to let me read!  (The others I just happen upon when I clean her room, or do her laundry, It's not my fault they fall out of her jeans, or her drawers, or from under her mattress!)  Too funny!  At least he has a sense of humor!
Todd just said, "Why isn't the gun pointed at him? Hello?"  My dad said, " I guess you should tell your boyfriend that all those stories your mom tells, about how her boyfriends were afraid of me, are all TRUE."  Yeah, poor guy!

The big day, FINALLY!  Todd woke us all up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. to get up before Emie--which didn't really work, since she was already up, showered, and had her makeup and hair done by that time?  What? Who's kid is she?  Yeah, I went back to bed after that, only waking up a few times to yell at the kids to be quiet until it was time for them to go to school!  Mother of the year, I know.

That night, Emie's girlfriends had a big surprise planned for her, and a few of them told me to get the camera ready, there were going to be people ringing the doorbell any minute.  I thought, oh, how cute!  they're doing a singing telegram!  Little did I know, when we opened the door--THIS is what I would see:

OH. MY. GOSH.  Talk about PG-13!  High school Chippendale dancers with a ukelele singing Happy Birthday!My poor sweet little Ashlie was right up front for that performance!  Ewww... I couldn't even take pictures without feeling like a complete pervert--so I handed the camera over to one of her friends to take them and went into the kitchen.  Emie was not thrilled to pose with them, but they talked her into it--doesn't she look surprised!  Not all surprises are great ones...but memorable--that's for sure!  Haha!

The next night, we had a HUGE surprise for Emie!  Todd was supposed to take her on her first date--but low and behold, she was upstaged by a furry antlered friend, called a Whitetail deer that was calling Todd's name in the wilderness--and he couldn't make it!  Next best thing?  A date with mom--and our neighbor's mom and daughter!  We told them we were going on a GNO--to dinner and a movie, and then drove out to Glendale and surprised them with tickets to TAYLOR SWIFT!  We had such a fun night, and my neighbor managed to get such GREAT seats on the 28th row on the floor!  Emie wasn't much for a reaction, though.  While Tonya's daughter was screaming and jumping out of her seat--Emie said, "Wow, these things get over LATE!  We're not gonna be home forever!"  Yep, that's my Em.  Not much for jumping up and down and screaming--but hey--we can't all be good at surprise reactions!  I think she loved the concert anyway, and we had a great time!  Okay, boys, you have your work cut out for you trying to top THAT!  Here are some pics:

The next weekend, we had Emie's party, combined with her friend McKessa, who also turned 16 the same week!  They invited about 25 kids over, and I planned an Amazing Race Party, with 4 teams, parent drivers, and they raced around to different locations and businesses in our neighborhood trying to beat the other teams.  I'm still not sure how we managed it (since I was the one who made up all the clues), but our team came in LAST place!  The kids were hilarious, and I think the race was a hit, except for the Fear Factor twist that I put in at the local Sushi place that we love, where each of them had to eat a piece of a sushi roll (california roll, as basic as you get).  But I forgot to pass out the water before the race--so many of them had the taste in their mouth awhile, and a few of them actually gagged on it and almost threw up!  Oops!  Other than that it all worked out great!  We came back to the house, passed out prizes, fed them dinner, and watched a movie on a HUGE screen that Todd jerry rigged the night before with our tether ball pole, a ladder, and a painters canvas.  We also have a fire pit, which was fun for the kids to sit around and talk.  Then, I'm inside talking to some of the other parents, and I notice that Todd was no where to be found.  After looking everywhere in the house, I find him outside, sitting in his camp chair, right behind the teenagers, watching the movie.  I'm like, "Hey, ummm...you should come inside & leave these kids alone.  He's like, "Why?  It's a good movie".  "Yeah, because they don't have any fun with a parent hovering over them the whole party."  He says, "Well, good!  That's the point!"  Now you see what Emie is dealing with--oh my!  We actually did convince him to come inside, and limited him to the occasional "hand check".  We also have the wonderful advantage of a surveillance system that was set up in this house that monitors every square inch of the outside!  Yep, the front porch too--so we don't even have to try to sneak & watch through the blinds!  Watch out honey--someone is ALWAYS watching you!  (Heavenly Father I mean, gosh, I'm not that nosey!  Well...maybe).  Here are a few pictures of our team--I need to round up some from the other teams!  Such a GREAT group of kids!  Love them! 

To top it off, this week, Emie went to take her driving road test and PASSED!  She is legal now!  I don't know who's more excited about that--me or her!  I have been waiting for YEARS for someone who can run to the store for milk, or pick the kids up from school!  HOORAY!  No dad, I am not going to expect her to do all the driving--I promise.  Just a little!  ;)

Happy Birthday sweetheart & CONGRATS!  WE LOVE YOU!!!
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