Friday, May 30, 2008

Mountain Doo-Doo

When Conor was born, he was so sweet and soft and precious. Babies are almost gender-neutral when they're born. They're all beautiful and even a boy baby can be ooh'ed and ah'ed at being such a 'pretty' baby. Some dads fight against this from the get-go. My husband is one of them. To him, Conor wasn't 'sweet', he was 'cool'. I loved his doughy soft shoulders covered in downy-fine hair. Adam said he was 'hairy' and 'tough'. He started calling him "Bruno the Barbarian". This didn't fit my baby at all, but somehow it made Adam feel more manly, I guess. A father's sons must be boy-ish and boiling with testosterone immediately, or else it is a poor reflection of his masculinity? Don't ask me.

Well, Bruno morphed into "Doogie" within a few weeks, thankfully, and even "Doogers", which was my personal favorite. But then, Conor made a terrible mistake that I'm afraid he will be reliving for the rest of his natural born life.

He ate cat poop.

In fact, if he'd only eaten the poop, he could have escaped the stigma. All of my other three children have eaten cat poop, so why not him? But Conor feasted on cat poop. So, in this, he's on his own, and this is how Conor became "Doo-Doo".

It was early on a Saturday morning. I was awoken by pounding on my bedroom door and frantic screams from the other side. I scrambled from bed and threw the door open to find Lyndsay bent over and crying and heaving. Something about Conor, who was 8 or so months old at the time. I got that instant knot in my stomach. It's bad. He's hurt. Please, no.

Through my yelling, "What is it? Tell me what it is! Is he okay?" she blurted out, "Conor ate cat poop!" And the dry heaves kicked in again and she ran for the bathroom. I went down the stairs, unprepared for what I was about to be faced with and how in the world I would clean it up.

The cat had had an accident on the floor. A rather loose accident, shall we say? Conor had splashed in it. He had scarfed it up, apparently, because it was all the way up both arms and all over his face, and he was delighted. He had a hairbrush in one hand like a. . .dare I say, barbarian club from his days as Bruno. . .and it was a lost cause, for sure. He had crawled with his poopy hands all over the livingroom, leaving a fecal trail of forensics in his path. Up the walls. Oh, he must have tried to stand there. It was horrendous. I didn't even know where to begin, but I picked him up, carried him up the stairs and into the bathroom, set him in the tub and turned the shower on him. Much like soaking the pot the chili cooked in all day.

Scrubbed the baby. Scrubbed the floors. Scrubbed the walls. I might have cursed, I don't know. It was awful.

Adam slept through the whole thing, of course.

But when he woke up and heard the graphic details, he dubbed him Doo-Doo, and it 'stuck', pun intended. And that is why Conor, my sweet little guy, is named "Doo-Doo". He'll need to earn another nickname before he starts dating, I'm afraid. Then again, if every girl who knows him also knows that story, maybe I'll have no trouble at all handing him that check for $5000 on his 18th birthday as his reward for no kissing!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All Because Two People Fell in Love

I think I am one of the luckiest people ever. I have the most interesting family, and this past weekend we all (mostly) got to be together for the first time in thirteen years. Well, my dad and his wife weren't there, and one brother and his family weren't there, but the rest filled the house just fine! And what fun for all the in-laws to be surrounded by so many Van Sciver's!

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know by now that I am the oldest of nine children. The dynamics in my family are fascinating. The first half of us grew up in a traditional Mormon family, while the second half grew up in a single parent something-other-than-Mormon family. The kids at the top had a very different experience than the kids at the bottom, and yet put us together, and we still fit. Mostly. After thirteen years there are bound to be some rough edges, but all in all, I have a supremely cool fam.

Three of my siblings live in the Phoenix valley. My mom and her other half, David, were planning a trip to the area to visit them, and they invited my family to drive over from CA. Then it snowballed into the Colorado gang coming down and even my sister's family from Kentucky flew in. All of us together, except Ethan, who was missed.

It so happened that my very dear friend, who has the most fabulous house ever was going to be out of town that weekend and allowed us to stay at her house and host the reunion there. We had quite the time. My children loved getting to know all of their aunts and uncles, who mostly have just been names to them. Now they had faces and personalities and now they could begin to put families together with moms and dads and children. . .COUSINS! Lots of cousins! Now they know who goes with whom and how the Van Sciver puzzle fits together.

We share physical traits; we have common expressions and mannerisms; and we are undeniably different at the same time. But we have two incredible people in common. Two people who now live different lives apart from each other. Two people who have independently changed their first names. But two people who are forever connected by the years they spent together and the nine incredible children they brought into the world. The nine who have now grown to over 30. A remarkable thing.

My favorite memories: my little brother coming up from behind me, grabbing me, and throwing me into the pool. (Once a brother, always a brother.)

My mom teaching all the little kids how to knit.

Getting to gather around my Grandmom Baker on Sunday afternoon.

And having my sweet blog friend, Piper, fly in to share the weekend with me and my family! (more on that in another post)
I feel filled. Since moving to California, I have had very little interaction with my family, and I have had various bouts of homesickness for their familiarness. I have missed feeling a part of something big and warm and wonderful. I have missed all those people who know the ins and outs of me but love me anyway. It isn't perfect, that's for sure, but it's home. I love each of them and am so glad we share the same blood. It's so gratifying to me to see us all grown up and fulfilling our roles as spouses and parents and remaining siblings all the while. I am immensely proud of my brothers and sisters and their children. We're a pretty good clan, and I can't wait to do it again next year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Don't Feel Fat in Pajamas

It's official. The dressing room mirrors at Target have confirmed that I am not as skinny as I thought in my mind. And it's very depressing.

I just wanted a new swimsuit and a cute summer dress. Apparently, I am not built to wear either, ever again. This makes me mad.

Tonight I took the four kids to Target to get the boys swimsuits. Lyndsay, of course, makes an immediate left-hand turn and heads for the Juniors department. I take the baby in the shopping cart and we go directly to the Boys department to accomplish the task. It takes two seconds. The boys then want to go to the toys, so I head back to Juniors, looking for Lyndsay. On my way I find two darling dresses, size 2 (may I gag?), on Clearance even, that I think would be perfect on Lyns. But I can't find her. Not near the purses. Not near the jewelry. Not with the shoes. Conor won't stop fussing to get out of the cart, as it's dangerously close to his bedtime, and I feel like stopping right where I am and yelling out, "LYNDSAY!" so I can stop the "Where's Waldo?" charade. I finally find her with her arms full of clothes to try on. I add the two dresses to her pile and we head to the dressing rooms, Conor growing more impatient by the second. Well, the size 2's are too big. Which makes me want to shout at her and cry for myself all at the same time, but I hold back both as I'm trying to raise a daughter with a healthy body image. But all the same, I do not feel sorry for her.

I see so many cute clothes! I just want one cute thing to wear. I'm meeting a blog friend in person for the first time next week, and seeing all of my family too, and I feel old and chubby and frumpy. I push Conor around through the racks, trying to be entertaining enough to keep him quiet, while pulling a few things off to try on. The boys show back up from their expedition at Toys. I beg them to take Conor so I can try some things on and tell them I'll meet them back at Toys as soon as I'm done. They happily oblige and I hesitantly approach the dressing rooms.

I hate this part. Hate it! This is why I'm very happy to order clothing from a catalog and just live with it. I have never in my life tried something on and been thrilled. Resigned, yes. Desperate, yes. Ready to be done shopping, yes. But thrilled? Not yet.

I close the door and undress. I stand there looking in those stupid trick mirrors at my body and want to cry. When did this happen? When did there become so much of me? Why is nothing flat, except the two things that aren't supposed to be? I tried on everything and just got more and more depressed. Nothing looked good. Nothing was flattering. I just looked ridiculous. I felt fat in everything. I didn't know I was so un-skinny! Here I was floating through life feeling decent about my body image, and it all went to hell in a matter of seconds in the Target dressing room.

How come everybody else looks cute in a summer dress? How come even really chubby people look cute in a summer dress, even slimmer, and I look bigger than life and like I'm wearing a tent? Why is that? That's not fair! How come very overweight people still look great in cute clothes and I look ridiculous? I put everything back and I walked over to the Toy department to find the boys. No where to be found. Waited. And waited. And waited. Getting more frustrated. I had that overwhelming urge again to just yell at the top of my lungs, "DYLAN! AIDEN!!" But I resisted again. (am I the only one that ever has that urge?) Finally I head back to the Women's department and there they all are, waiting for me. Dylan stopped listening to my directions at "try a few things on" and so never heard the "meet you at the Toys" part. We made a bee-line for the checkout. Let's just get the heck out of here.

I'm trying not to cry the entire drive home. All the kids feel badly that I didn't get anything for myself, but I make some phony promise about going back later by myself when I can spend more time looking without the baby.

I go up to my bedroom and take off my clothes again and put on pajamas. Ah, elastic. I walk into the bathroom and turn around in front of the mirror, looking closely. Doesn't look that bad. Why? Is it me? Is it the mirror? Is it the pajamas? They're not especially slimming pajamas, although the V-neck is flattering, but PUH-LEASE! I can't wear pajamas all the time, although that would be a perfect world. What can I wear? I need someone to help me! One of my style-conscious sisters to tell me what to do! My daughter to write in to TLC's What Not to Wear. At some point in my life I would like to conquer this issue. I have never felt confident about fashion. I've always been winging it and hoping nobody notices. I just don't have the knack. And part of the problem, I'm sure, is that I never have the money to spend on myself.

I suppose, first, I should take the money I didn't spend on the swimsuit and summer dress and go buy some vegetables and fruits. Go for a walk to burn off some of this negative energy. But can't I feel sexy and confident at 35, even while I'm waiting for my great bod to show back up? Wouldn't great clothes help? Tonight is depressing. Thank goodness I don't feel fat in pajamas.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hangin' Out and Steppin' Up

I always wanted my house to be the "hang out" when my kids got older. I like my children to be around me, and I want to know their friends. I remember favorite houses that I loved to hang out at, with interested parents, a happy atmosphere, and fun things to do and eat (of course, it's all about the snacks!) I loved the feeling of those homes and even as a teenager, I was taking notes of what I hoped to create someday for my own family.

I am so relieved that my children like to gather their friends and hang out here. I love knowing what they're doing and who they're with, and I love that our house is the favorite spot among their peers. I'm usually up for a crowd (possibly because I grew up in one?) and the kids are all so well-behaved that being around them is a joy. I love teenagers! Weird, but I do. I love that they want me to play with them, whether it's ping-pong or Guesstures (because, seriously? If I'm on your Guesstures team, you're winning for sure), or the game of the week, Scattergories. The snack was homemade ice cream sandwiches with chocolate cookies and vanilla ice cream.

Switching gears . . .
My favorite birthday present last week was a pedometer. I've wanted one ever since Dr. Oz told the world on Oprah that we should be taking at least 10,000 steps a day, and a pedometer was the way to keep track. Lyndsay bought it for me and left it on my pillow that night with the sweetest homemade card and letter as a last birthday surprise for the day. It brought me to tears. And now, I'm addicted to counting my steps.

This is a great one. It tracks steps, calories burned, and distance walked throughout the day, and it has a clock. I wear it clipped to my waistband every day with a goal of reaching 10,000 steps or more by 9pm. It ain't easy! It makes exercise pretty much mandatory, even chasing kids around all day. Without going on an actual walk, I can log about 6000 steps in a day, walking for an hour puts it at between 10,000 and 11,000. I'll admit that a few times I've cheated and just to get my step count up I've clipped it onto Conor's pants and let him throw an extra 1000 steps on there in about 15 minutes.

On Mother's Day I took Conor for a walk in the stroller and Lyns and Aiden came with me. Aiden lagged behind and I wasn't sure why until we got home and he pulled a small bouquet of flowers out from behind his back that he had been collecting along the way.

The kids all love the pedometer and I think sometime I'd like to get each of them one so they can log their steps each day. We talked about how interesting it would be to see how many steps it takes to walk to school as opposed to walking home from school, or how many steps would they take just walking to and from their classes each day? They've each borrowed my pedometer for a day (Aiden did 12,208 steps in half a day. . . I guess I'm getting older and slower) and they're hooked. They love to check how I'm doing throughout the day, and I love anything that keeps me accountable. I fill in my little log each night, and determine to take a few more steps the next day.
In other news, Lyndsay got her bottom braces on last week and is now, officially, a metal mouth. The orthodontist showed us the side-by-side pictures of her top teeth from before braces and ten weeks into it now, and the improvement was mind-blowing already. I was so impressed, as was she. And it made the new wave of pain that much more worth it.

Oh, and I sold another article to The Ensign! That was great news on Saturday when I received their acceptance letter. When it's published, I'll be sure to let you know, faithful readers. Now, I must get moving! I've only logged 1341 steps so far!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Red Shoes and Real Beauty

When I was eight years old, my mother bought a pair of high-heeled shoes. They were red, sling-back, closed-toe three-inch heels. I remember them distinctly because even at that age I sensed that they were an unusual purchase for my mother, who never wore high heels, and especially red ones. My mother was a martyr. She gave up caring about herself the day she became a mother. She was beautiful as a teen and young adult. Raised with money, she was well dressed, had perfectly straight white teeth, a cute figure, long blonde ringlets, and sparkling blue eyes that shone against her Arizona tanned skin. But her selfish side, if she ever had one, must have died on the cross of labor and delivery in 1973 when I was born, the first of her nine children. My mother wore sensible, comfortable shoes. Boring shoes and many times no shoes at all. She was literally barefoot and pregnant most of my life at home. She was a short, round mother. Round with child, and round with the remains of carrying the child before. It hurt my feelings when other kids teased me about my mom being fat, because I loved her and felt protective of her feelings.

But secretly, I wished my mother wasn’t so plain. I wished I had a stylish mother with a trendy hair cut, or a savvy mother who went to work every day dressed to the nines. My mother wore homemade one-size-fits-all muumuus made of bland, olive calico. She rarely cut her naturally curly hair, which when brushed through orbited her head in an unruly frizz, and her cosmetic collection consisted of a jar of Cover Girl foundation, a small compact of blush, and a Maybelline Great Lash mascara which she kept on the bookshelf in her room, and only wore on Sunday’s. I was embarrassed of her, and I was torn between those feelings and my feelings of loyalty to her.

I loved it when those red shoes came into the house. She didn’t wear them but for a few times to church, but I remember still how beautiful her feet and legs looked, propped up like a proper woman’s legs and bathed in nude pantyhose. I remember how proud I was to have a mother who had such beautiful shoes. I would often get them from her closet and hide them in mine during the week so I could wear them around my bedroom and pretend I was a grown-up woman. The red shoes didn’t hold her attention long though. They were impractical, and Sunday after Sunday the red shoes didn’t appear.

As I got older, the differences between my mom and my friends’ mothers grew more distinct. I was coming into my own womanhood, and trying desperately to figure out beauty without her example. I exercised to Jane Fonda videotapes, going for "the burn", and I spent hours cementing my hair in place with Aqua Net hair spray and practicing makeup techniques I’d learned from Seventeen magazine. I had a job from a young age and my money went to beautifying my life: satin bedding, shoes that matched each outfit, curling irons, eyeliner pencils, manicure sets, even placenta treatments for my hair. It wasn’t that I was an especially vain girl, but I was conscientious of "breaking the mold".

There were a few other "red shoe" moments in her life, when I thought she was really going to do it. She was really going to start being beautiful and taking care of herself. One of those moments was when she bought some turquoise dangly earrings. Real mothers wear earrings. One was when she bought a skirt and top from the Mall. Another was when she had my dad dye her hair blonde and she had it cut. I would always get so excited and encouraged by these small tokens of normalcy. One year she joined Weight Watchers and she got herself some walking shoes. She walked every day for miles and miles. She would come home with blood soaked through her sneakers from blisters that had formed, popped, and bled, but she just kept on walking, and she walked off nearly one hundred pounds. She was a completely new woman, and she bought jeans. Yes, jeans. And she wore those dangly earrings and bought a beaded necklace too. She was spunky as all-get-out, for a while at least.

Though I focused too often on what I wished she was as I was growing up, it wasn’t lost on me, as I watched her, how I wished I could be like her when I was a mother myself. She was remarkable. My mother is an incredibly talented artist. She painted a gorgeous oil on canvas of me in all my glorious baby chub that hung over my grandmother’s piano. She baked and decorated the most creative birthday and holiday cakes that any of my friends had ever seen. She sewed almost all of our clothes, including matching Easter dresses for the four girls with hand-smocked pinafores every year, and all of our prom and later, wedding dresses. She did pencil and charcoal sketches of my dad and her children, and The Beatles. She loved Paul McCartney. Once, before going to his concert, she actually worked for weeks sewing life-size dolls complete with hair and clothing of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, which she delivered to Paul’s bodyguard. She knitted our Christmas stockings, along with our hats and mittens, and she made us each a personalized Christmas ornament every year. She made cute flannel board stories for us, and finger puppets out of garden gloves, and dolls galore. She was always sewing or crafting or creating something. She would sometimes stay up all night long finishing projects for us, even with fussy babies waiting for her in the morning. She frequently had puffy bags under her eyes.

My mother read to us. Even as teens she believed in bringing us together through stories and books. We would gather in a bedroom and she would read us chapters from classic children’s literature like James and the Giant Peach and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She was a great storyteller too, and my versions today of "Little Red Riding Hood", "The Three Billy Goats Gruff", and "Jack and the Beanstalk" are really her versions. She sang to us as children, songs about Jesus and songs from Mother Goose Rhymes, and she taught us little finger games. She taught me to clean, sew, knit, cross stitch, take care of a baby, and how to make a meal out of nothing in the kitchen.

My mother saved herself for last in everything. With so little money and so many children, the clothing budget had to be stretched very thin. That’s why with what few dollars she had left she would buy a few yards of calico on sale to sew herself something. That’s probably why she gave up trying to keep up with affording haircuts and makeup for herself. What I focused on as a lack of attention on herself, was in truth a focus on us. She wanted us to have everything. I can picture her standing sleepy-eyed at the stove in her nightgown, cooking pancakes for us. She would pour that batter over and over, serving children who often were coming back for seconds, until there was none left for herself, but she never complained. She took the meat that no one else wanted at the dinner table, and she ate what was left on our plates. She baked cookies galore just to see us smile and share them with the neighbor kids, who didn’t have moms at home baking cookies. That was the biggest distinction I started to see as I got older.

Other moms were stylishly dressed, but always at work. Other moms had marriages drenched in alcoholism and verbal abuse. My friends never had new dresses sewn by their mother, or gorgeous homemade birthday cakes, or darling handmade dolls, or cookies waiting for them when they came home from school. They didn’t know half of the songs and stories that I knew,
and they didn’t have the luxury and security of going to bed at night with parents laughing down the hall, instead of fighting.

My mother became beautiful to me, really beautiful, when I became a mother myself. With the birth of each of my children, I have become more keenly aware of her sacrifice as she reared us. No wonder my father called her our "beautiful angel mother". He could see the beauty that radiated from her soul. Her patient, selfless, fun-loving soul. She truly was the example of beauty that I needed all along.

I am a mother who watches her weight, shaves her legs, and wears makeup even on Tuesday’s. But I don’t consider any of that to be what makes me beautiful. What I am proud of is that every batch of homemade dinner rolls I make is my mother’s recipe. What I haven’t forgotten is that every time I sing "A, you’re Adorable" or "Little Bunny Froo-Froo" to my children, or recite "Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross" to my baby bouncing on my knees my mother was the one who first sung them to me. So much of what I teach my children now, I learned from my mother. I was caught off guard a few years ago when looking through a newly developed roll of film to see a picture of me in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a birthday cake I’d made. I stared at my hands in the picture. It was shocking. They were her hands. My facial features favor my father’s side, but those were unmistakably my mother’s hands. I am grateful that she gave them to me and taught me how to use them.

As my life as both a woman and a mother has progressed, and I have discovered the deeper chambers of my heart, some filled with a love I could never before have imagined, some filled with pain that to speak of would be unbearable, and others still filled with quiet fear that rumbles low, a more important discovery for me has been that my mother’s heart contains those same depths. I come to know her now in life more as a woman-friend. I feel as though I can more fully see her. We are quite different women, she and I, but I honor her as my mother and very first mentor. She was wise enough to know that red high-heeled sling-backs don’t really bring the confident beauty that she desired for her life. Neither do vanities of makeup or chests of jewels. She settled into the practical shoes and got to work, waiting while I learned that for myself.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Family Movie Night

I'm a sucker for traditions. I love them! I love making a big deal out of nothing and having something fun to look forward to, and that is why in our house, Friday night is Family Movie Night! There has to be a great film, and there has to be a great snack. Friends are always invited, but family must attend unless something very important supercedes. (this particular week, Adam did not participate because he was upstairs hard at work on the script, and his kids are with their mom.)

Of course, I have a theme song for Family Movie Night, and I talk about the upcoming event in song the entire week (which drives the kids crazy).

"It's Family Movie Night! It's Family Movie Night!
The week is done, time to have some fun at
Family Movie Night!
We're gonna do it right!
It's Family Movie Night!
You fight, you're out. I'll say "Good night"
And you'll miss out,
cause it's Family Movie Night!"

Our special treat this week was ice cream floats, made with IBC root beer and creme soda (my fave, if I ever drink soda). So yummy! We clean up the house first (so Mom can relax mentally), put the baby to bed (so Mom can actually sit and watch the movie), get our jammies on (for comfiness, and to faciliate speedier bedtime after Family Movie Night), turn out the lights and cozy up.

Last night was such a treat for me because I chose to play The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. I love this movie. It was the first scary movie I remember my dad letting us watch at a fairly young age, and I loved the tension. I hadn't seen the movie in probably twenty years, so I hoped it would still pack a punch for my children of the 21st century, but I guess it's a classic for a reason! The kids were appropriately engaged in the drama and suspense of the movie, and didn't even mind the relatively slow storytelling, compared with today's movies. They hated the ending. I think they were hoping for some sort of revenge. Not just fleeing, but wiping out the birds.

I guess the ending does leave a lot of unanswered questions, doesn't it? That Hitchcock. . .

Can't wait till next week! We're showing Back to the Future and you're all invited!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Make a Wish!

Tomorrow is my 35th birthday. I almost forgot. A blog friend has her birthday on Wednesday, and she made a little dream list of gifts she would wish for. This seemed like lots of fun, and so I decided to do it. You can tell a lot about people by what they would wish for if they could have anything, and I hardly ever allow myself to dream materialistically. Someday I will not be broke. Someday I will be able to have what I need and even some of what I want. But until then, I feel very, very blessed, and I don't make a habit of complaining or feeling disadvantaged. This list is just for fun, and just because it's my birthday. So here goes:

1. A baby grand piano would be very nice. Or, at least to have my Baldwin upright tuned and the music stand repaired. Dare I wish for a metronome?

2. A pedicure and a massage. Maybe several massages, since it would take that to undo the mess that is my neck and upper back. Better yet, several visits to the chiropractor, and then several massages. And then a pedicure.

I feel greedy already, but this is kind of fun.

3. A minivan or a Suburban. It's hard to only have one car that seats five and barely runs and needs new tires when you have a family of eight (although I'm VERY grateful that my husband's parents have allowed us the use of that car!) Maybe I could do something magnificent for someone else, and then they could write Oprah a letter telling her how selfless I am, and then maybe she could arrange for a really great wish to come true and I could have a brand new Suburban or Honda Odyssey and a $5000 gas card. Wow. What a pipe dream.

Okay, back to reality. Sort of.

4. A nice watch. Like this one:

Or this one:

5. A Kitchen Aid Artisan series Empire Red 5 quart stand mixer. But only if my mom already has one. She dreamed of a Kitchen Aid mixer my whole life and it wouldn't be right if I had one and she didn't. Mom? Did your dream finally come true? And why are they 50% off at Amazon now??

6. Some of the Carol Lynn Pearson books that I don't already own, like this one:

Or this one:
Better yet, she sells autographed copies of her books on her website.

7. A Trollbead bracelet. This is such a luxuriant wish I can barely stand it, since these beads are so expensive. But my friend, Piper, turned me on to them and I am mesmerized.

8. A WonderMill wheat grinder.

9. And then a Zojirushi bread machine. What fun I could have!
10. A silver photo charm bracelet with pictures of all my little and not-so-little ones. Again, so expensive I feel bad even dreaming about it.

11. A steam cleaner for my carpets. This is such a fun toy, but I always have to borrow one.
12. A new Sunday dress or two, and some new clothes for the week. I haven't bought but two outfits in the three years I've lived in CA--one was from Target, and one was on sale at Old Navy. I'm easy to please, but it would be so nice to feel good in clothes, and not depressed every time I walk into my closet.

13. A cello. I'd like to learn to play the cello. Whoa. Where did that come from?

14. A whole bunch of cake decorating supplies with a cool little toolbox to hold them all in.

15. An Ipod.

16. The entire King of Queens series on DVD.

17. New bedding from the Pottery Barn.

18. Those cool shelves from Shelf Reliance for food storage and several thousand dollars to actually get our food and water storage in place. And a chest freezer. Now I'm feeling spoiled. Must stop.

Well, that was FUN! Now, back to practicality. Tomorrow, my birthday would be wonderful if my children don't fight, if nobody makes a mess, if I get to take a nap, if I have all of my children and step-children here for dinner that they made, if I get to eat an angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream that Lyndsay makes, if none of the calories I consume go to my butt or thighs, and if I get some alone time with my sweetheart after the kids go to bed. That would be a dream come true, and everything a girl could wish for. I'm a lucky girl either way.