Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Is there anyone who doesn't find the best part of the baking process (not product) is licking the spoons and such?  Didn't think so.

Family Barbie

So we just got a new treadmill. We love the workout options it gives us (to add to our elliptical trainer, two different style exercise bikes, weight machine, set of dumbbells, heavy punching bag, speed bag, and ab rack -- can you say HOME GYM .... or as Steve calls it, JAMES), but the kids found the box it came in much more fascinating.  One of the favorite uses was, "Look, I'm in a Barbie box!"  So guess what we did for family night last night?  Yes, we all created our versions of Barbie (or Ken).

So here we are.  PRESENTING . . .

  Cinderella Kelly (little sister of Barbie)

   Snowboarding Kennie (never did hear if Ken had a little brother!)

    Hannah Montana Skipper (another little sister of Barbie)

     Kindle Skipper

Cat-loving Bruno Mars Barbie/Ken?? (ask Adria!)


    Sleepover Barbie

    Skater Ken

Crazy Teenager Barbie

Convict Ken . . . with mugshot!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween!!  The day teenagers get a free pass to wander the streets, younger kids learn what it feels like to heft a few pounds of candy and make sure the littlest munchkins don't get overlooked, moms and dads either walk for over two hours or sit on the porch handing out candy (where the littlest ones join them after the first half hour), and everyone gets to be just all-out silly. That is my definition of Halloween. =)

Monday, October 22, 2012

I've decided that the smell of apples left to ripen on the tree (and then waiting in your garage to be processed or eaten) is the very essence of fall.  Along with smell of dead leaves, the scent of an approaching storm, the sound of crunching footsteps, the feel of swirling winds, and the bite of cooler air on your face . . . it all just stirs the senses and causes my whole being just to light up and somehow take on new life. That's what it feels like, anyway. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. All the changes, all the anticipation, all the giddy happy smiles -- I love it all!  Autumn is the time of year when Monika the strict and steady mom, step-mom, and wife turns into monika the fun-loving, carefree girl who always danced in the rain. And now makes apple pies. =)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

End of summer

I know I say this every year, but I just can't believe how quickly summer has gone by.  The younger kids are actually excited for school this year (thank you, Thomas Edison Charter School!) and I know the older ones are at least eager to see more of their friends.  Jenero's even excited about graduating . . . go figure!  =)  So next Tuesday the fun begins.  Woo hoo!  And just to remind myself, Jenero's starting 12th, Xeneea's starting 11th, Adria's starting 10th, Marina's starting 6th (middle school here we come!), Jessica's starting 5th, and Sim is starting 3rd.  And heavens, Serene gets to start K in only two more years!  Aaaaagh!

Steve and I completed our trip to Minneapolis, where Steve made it to the finals for the ATA Truck Driving Championships (we just call them "roadeos").  And we won't go into mix-ups and unexplained point deductions, will we?  We'll just say that AT LEAST fourth in the country for 5-axle drivers ain't bad.  =)  And we got fun stuff from Mall of America just as it was turning 90 years old, so hey!  Fun stuff.  Nice city, but it's just so comfortable to be back home (in some ways, lol).  Now we get to plan our Nashville trip.  Yee haw!  At least there my "ya'll" won't be so noticeable.

Jessie's starting another fall soccer season.  I love how much she's grown as a player in the few years she's been playing soccer.  She's so competitive and she really shines on the larger field now that her team is playing "up" in the U12 division.  Her footwork is incredible enough that even complete strangers passing by comment on number 27's moves.  She hasn't played goalie in a while, but I think it's mainly because her coach wants her out there defending and scoring more than he wants a shining goalie.  Yes, I think she still outshines the other girls who play goalie on her team, but let's face it -- with Jessie and her team doing their moves, the goalie doesn't really need to be that wonderful that often.  =)  I love that her coach is making her stretch and expand her soccer skills beyond her comfort zone.  She's only 10 and it's great not to limit herself too soon.  Besides, did I mention she's incredible to watch?  Now we just need to figure out a way for her to stay in shape during Logan's winter so next year's spring season will see her as capable and enthusiastic as she is now, rather than taking all spring season to get her team back on track.  Open to ideas here! 

Marina and I have started playing tennis.  Neither one of us is wonderful at it, but it's fun to at least get better at returning the ball to each other.  We'll worry about playing by the rules once we're both better at mechanics.  But Marina especially is having fun and I love that.  It doesn't even matter that her mom is so out of practice since her last game of tennis was in high school!

Serene is so stinkin' smart it's scary sometimes.  She remembers EVERYTHING you tell her.  It's so cute to hear her tell me that there's hay in the field and that the cows and horses are going to eat it (this after being told that very thing only once weeks earlier).  It's fun to hear her beg me to take her shopping or to the mall.  It's so funny to hear her tell everyone exactly where we got any particular item (good think I don't mind that people know I shop DI!).  It's fun to hear her reprimand the kitten when Sophie plays a little rough and show her how to play nice.  And of course, it's fun hearing Serene say her name now when you ask her.  She even knows her last name, but you have to ask for it specifically.  In short, Serene is a typical, smart, adorable, princess-loving, puzzle-solving, tea party-playing almost three-year-old. 

Simeon has the distinction of being the biggest help in the garden this year.  And he loves when we get to pick and husk the corn.  He's a little disappointed in me that I won't pull my onions yet, but they're still growing -- why settle for big onions when there's the possibility of having HUGE onions?  And our melons and pumpkins are taking off finally so here's hoping!  Simeon loves being in scouts and I gotta say I love not being his wolf leader, lol!  We work a lot better together when I get to be the cheerleader instead of the coach!  But then, who DOESN'T love a cheering section?  =)

Steve's putting in a lot of extra hours lately.  He's such an overachiever that when he takes a vacation, his customers notice big time.  Most are happy he gets time to himself, even if they have to put up with sub-par drivers the time he's gone; but this last time there was one customer who was so upset he felt that Steve shouldn't even be on his route if Steve was going to have the audacity to earn the right to go to national roadeos each year.  Come again?

Well, I better go intervene.  Seems Jessie is teaching Serene the art of having a food fight.  So much fun!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer 2012

So we're just going to skip a whole lot of life, especially the not-so-nice parts, ok? This summer has been an experience. I've loved finding free Kindle books, though now I'm learning to be picky about what I choose, now that I know there will always be good ones coming up later. =) And yes, this reading has been essential to surviving various camps, parties, and even regular days that happened the first month of the summer. Except for when my husband was competing in truck driving championships, of course!  I really should look at my old blogs, but even if it's mentioned there, I'll say it again!  I'm so looking forward to the Mall of America in Minneapolis and (I'll find something here) in Nashville while Steve competes in various national truck driving championships. Yay for free vacations!

July has been the final wind down of our summer. Weird, considering we still have a month or more of summer vacation, but my girls are leaving for four weeks this Sunday, and normally with the other kids' schedules, we don't get much more with them, either. =) And we'll ignore here how our plans for a REAL vacation and get together with my family actually out of state were totally RUN OVER in the last few weeks . . . But hey! With what was left of our lives, we watched a spectacular fireworks display in Logan on July 3 (and this coming from a girl who has experienced real fireworks in the Orient!), and a few days before. we had a picnic up the canyon. We were able to go on a family bike ride (my tail bone is still letting me know how displeased it is by the experience of real mountain biking (kind of) with an almost-three-year-old riding in front of me), let Jessie play in her soccer tournament after all (ONE good thing about our formerly mentioned being figuratively run over), and even spend a day at Bear Lake . . . where I absolutely loved the little bit of time I got to myself just floating on the waves out where I couldn't hear A THING from my beloved family. =)

Oh, and did I mention we got a kitten in May?  Perfect pet for our family, as it turns out. I can't believe how much of a cat person I am . . . after all, I've spent since fourth grade wanting my own dog, training and watching neighbors' dogs, memorizing dog breeds, training methods . . . well, you get the idea. But the best thing about owning a kitten? The super quick housebreaking time. Not to mention how the kids love it when she snuggles up to various people each night.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Found this on Facebook and wanted to remember the story


As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so
I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a
crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the
return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then
I saw the dateline--1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago.

It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue
stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John"
letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the
writer could not see him any more because her mother forbade it. Even so, she
wrote that she would always love him.

It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name
Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information,
the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.

"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request. I'm trying to find the
owner of a wallet that I found. Is there anyway you can tell me if there is a
phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?"

She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can't give you
the number." She said, as a courtesy, she would call that number, explain my
story and would ask them if they wanted her to connect me. I waited a few
minutes and then she was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak
with you."

I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the
name of Hannah. She gasped, "Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago!"

"Would you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.

"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some
years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter."

She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number. They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might be living.

I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

This whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such a
big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three dollars and a
letter that was almost 60 years old?

Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is staying with us. "

Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her.
"Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to take a chance, she might be in
the day room watching television."

I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a
guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large
building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah.

She was a sweet, silver-haired old timer with a warm smile and a twinkle in
her eye.

I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second
she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took
a deep breath and said, "Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever
had with Michael."

She looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said Softly, "I loved
him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too
young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor."

"Yes," she continued. "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you
should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she hesitated for a
moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I still love him. You know," she said
smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no
one ever matched up to Michael..."

I thanked Hannah and said goodbye. I took the elevator to the first floor
and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was the old lady able to
help you?"

I told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name. But I
think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find
the owner of this wallet."

I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red
lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey, wait a minute!
That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I'd know it anywhere with that bright red
lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at
least three times."

"Who's Mr. Goldstein?" I asked as my hand began to shake.

"He's one of the old timers on the 8th floor. That's Mike Goldstein's
wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks."

I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I told her
what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed
that Mr. Goldstein would be up.

On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day
room. He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man."

We went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said, "Oh, it is missing!"

"This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours?"

I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled with
relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this
afternoon. I want to give you a reward."

"No, thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something. I read the
letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that letter?"

"Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is."

He suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me," he begged.

"She's fine...just as pretty as when you knew her." I said softly.

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell me where
she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my hand and said, "You know something, mister, I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I've always loved her. "

"Mr. Goldstein," I said, "Come with me."

We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened
and only one or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where
Hannah was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over to

"Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in
the doorway. "Do you know this man?"

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word.
Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, it's Michael. Do you
remember me?"

She gasped, "Michael! I don't believe it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!"
He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with
tears streaming down our faces.

"See," I said. "See how the Good Lord works! If it's meant to be, it will

About three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home.
"Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!"

It was a beautiful wedding with all the people at the nursing home dressed
up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked
beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their
best man.

The hospital gave them their own room and if you ever wanted to see a
76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had
to see this couple.