Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Frikin' Laser beams

I have wanted to get Lasik eye surgery for a long time. I have a severe astigmatism in both eyes and therefore contacts are extremely uncomfortable. To make matters worse, I have a "face thing". It is not unlike my "neck thing". I cannot stand things touching my neck or face. So wearing glasses literally feels as annoying as if someone were to follow me around all day long with their finger poking me in the face. I just can't get used to it. It gives me extreme headaches too. So every morning I wake up and look at my glasses and think, hhmmmm.... Which do I choose today? a severe headache and sight or blindness with only a mild eyestrain headache? Lately I have been going for blindness and eyestrain headaches. Another side effect of this choice is that I swear I am developing premature wrinkles from squinting and on more than a few occasions I have heard through the grapevine that "Staci doesn't like me very much. She always gives me dirty looks" Of course this is always about people who I like just fine but who don't know that my squint happens to resemble a look of utter disgust. It is time to fix this problem, wouldn't you agree?

So here's the thing... I have tried to solve this problem before. I was lured to one of the lasik clinics that advertises (falsely and blatantly) $299 per eye! I have sat through the video and the long sales pitch and heard the testimonials about how pain free the procedure is and the laser is so advanced that a monkey could operate it on a Tourette's patient with no problem blah blah blah.... Oh, but you have astigmatism so unfortunately the $299 price doesn't apply, to you. Instead that will be $3700. American Dollars. If you want both eyes done. Actually $4000 if you include the drops and plugs and other completely necessary items. Wow. That wasn't in the ad. Oh you finance it right here? Well, I do miss the simple luxury of recognizing which car is mine in the parking lot and It does get really old when I put my glasses on at the end of a long day to discover that my eyeliner looks likes it has been applied by a monkey with Tourette's syndrome. What the heck! I will pay your ridiculous pricetag! Slice my corneas up with your awesome laser! Oh, There's a problem? You won't do it unless I am not trying to get pregnant, am not pregnant am not nursing a baby and have not been nursing a baby for 6 months? But I am trying to get pregnant. I'm on fertility drugs in fact. (this was back in 2006 when I was desperate for baby number 2. I had no idea at the time that it was going to take a year to get knocked up with Babyham) So they sent me on my way, totally unwilling to take my small fortune if I wouldn't rearrange my family planning.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. I was going through the coupons in one of those mailers you get every other day looking for a good deal on carpet cleaning and there it was. An ad for Southwestern Eye Center. LASIK: Only $299 per eye. Just the day before I was telling Lisa that I really need to get Lasik done right now because I happen to be in that tiny window of time when I have been done nursing for 6 months and before I am trying to get pregnant again. And I just did our taxes and I have a thousand extra dollars. So, mostly out of curiosity and boredom and a break from quizzing carpet cleaners about weather their steam cleaner really is truck mounted, I called the Lasik place. I told the lady that I have severe astigmatism and I already know that I fit right into the most expensive price range, but here's the deal: I will bring you one thousand dollars cash. I want both eyes done, and my thousand dollars must include all meds, drops, lifetime guarantees, future touch-ups, all followup care and taxes. She told me, come on in for a consultation and exam and we can work out a price that works blah blah blah. No. I'm not sitting through the sales pitch, and I'm not paying more than one thousand dollars. I'm calling you to see if you are interested in this. If not, no biggie, lets not waste each other's time. okay? She said "Can you come in right now?" I said, "Uh, yeah, If you are telling me that you will include absolutely everything for a thousand dollars." "Yes, we will do it, please just don't tell other people about the price we gave you. be here at 2."

So an hour and a half later I was in the operating room enduring what can only be described as torture. Not so much pain, but definitely torture. I'm thinking about sending a memo to the folks at Gitmo. During those three minutes I would have given up any terrorist secrets I posessed had they just asked.

This morning I woke up with goggles taped to my face, and once I removed them (I'll have to remember to mention this in my Gitmo memo) I can see pretty clearly. Its still a little foggy but there is a definite improvement. I have typed this whole thing without glasses or squinting or a headache.

Amazing. I am off to my checkup appointment. To any one thinking about getting this procedure I have two pieces of advice: #1 negotiate. #2 valium.

By the way, To the lady whom I promised not to tell anyone about the price: Its just a little blog after all and we both know that your request was just a sales tactic to make people feel like they haven't left any money on the table. If I had to do it over again, I would have offered $800.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cookie Constellation

Today Jack and I decided to make Chocolate chip cookies. Originally Jack wanted to help really bad but when it came right down to it, he really just wanted me to do it all (which is fine with me) Having the help of a five year old makes any task much more difficult. He was however totally insistent that he be the one to actually place the cookie dough on the cookie sheet because as he put it, he wanted to "make a rhino" .

He carefully placed each ball of dough in what seemed to me to be a completely random pattern that I couldn't wait to rearrange once he wasn't looking. When he was done he said "there... a rhino." He was clearly very pleased with his work and walked away.

I almost started rearranging when I realized that I recognize the pattern. Its Orion! the constellation of stars! He was calling Orion, "Orino".

I was so impressed that he even knew about the constellation Orion and that he got the pattern pretty darn accurate. I took a picture of his Astronomical creation.

Later I had to look up Orion on the internet to see how far off he was. Here is the result:

I was AMAZED! I have said before that everyone thinks their kid is smart, but dang... This has to go beyond my motherly admiration. Unless of course, he was actually trying to create a Rhino after all, in which case, he probably needs special ed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Like Father Like Son: Gearing up

I am often asked if my kid's personalities resemble mine or John's. To me this picture is a perfect illustration to answer that question. Jack is exactly like his dad. They have the same interests, and often the same reactions to things. Jack appreciates rules and really loves training. He has a slightly neurotic fear of natural disasters and even though he is only 5 he sometimes laments about our trade deficit with China. He has never been to Mexico, but he could tell you about the kidnapping rate there.

These pictures crack me up because you can see how seriously he takes scooter safety. Just like his dad, ITS ALL ABOUT THE GEAR. Not long ago I went into the police supply store to pick out a present for John. I wanted some kind of police gadget or uniform accessory. I talked to the lady who always works there. She made a bunch of suggestions and sure enough, John already had every single thing she suggested. They keep records of all of the customers and their purchases so she looked him up. When they heard the name every worker there said "Oh, Officer Kramer from Gilbert PD? I know him.... yeah, he already has everything." This is an entire huge store devoted to police gear and there was literally nothing there that I could get him.

It takes Jack longer to get all of his scooter gear on than it takes him to actually ride the scooter.

When I suggested that he might consider adding shoes to his getup, he let me know that I was just ridiculous. And finally, we see that all of this safety preparation paid off in a big way when he bit it on the driveway, and came out of it totally unscathed. I guess one day I will probably say the same thing about all of John's police stuff.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My little sister. What? You don't think we look alike?

Yes I know we don't look much alike, but she really is my sister. Years and years ago I was a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona. Chaunte was given to me as a little sister and I had to post this picture because I love this girl so much and I am so proud of her and what a fabulous adult she is.

Let me give you a quick rundown of all of the reasons I am proud to be her big sister:

She just bought her first home. She not only qualified for the loan, but saved enough to buy all of the furnishings etc.

She is engaged to be married to a wonderful man named Chris (CJ). They have been together for years and he is so nice and hardworking and he treats Chaunte like a queen.

She is the operations manager at Old Navy in Gilbert and has been working there for three years. I love that she is so responsible and that she has stuck with the same employer. She is only 21 but she seems so much older because she is wise and stable and easygoing. She is honest and hardworking.

I could talk to her for hours on end because she is a great conversationalist and just all around fun. She is fnny and smart.

Chaunte is one of those people in life who doesn't make excuses, she just goes after what she wants. She has always made good choices no matter what people arond her were doing. She was raised around gangs and crime, but instead chose to work and be happy.

If anyone has ever considered volnteering for a child mentoring program like BBBS, you should do it! Chaunte has been such a blessing in my life!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Babyham Really Gets Into Saint Patrick's Day

I took this picture this morning and when I went to post it I realized that it is St. Patrick's Day and I just happened to dress him in a green shirt today and he is carrying our green parrot on his shoulder. We couldn't be more festive even if we tried. Ham LOVES to hold our bird Dude on his shoulder, just like his daddy. I am always amazed how patient the bird is with him. Ham's lips are puckered because he feels compelled to constantly give the bird loving but violent wet kisses.

When I think of St. Patrick's day I think of two things:

First, when I was on my mission, I had a companion from Dublin, Ireland. Her name is Sinead Connolly (isn't that the most Irish name you can think of!) She is to this day one of my best friends. Once I was asking her about St. Patrick's Day in Ireland and was very upset to discover that the Irish do not wear green on this holiday and subsequently they DO NOT PINCH as a penalty for not wearing green. This was pretty much like finding out that Santa isn't real. Also, they do not say "Top o' the mornin' to ya". Ever. What a let down.

The second thing I think about is John's car accident. Two years ago today he got T-boned in his police car while going through an intersection with lights and sirens on. He was in the passenger seat and his trainee was driving. He could have very easily been killed. He was hit right on his door by a woman going full speed in a minivan who "didn't know how to turn the cruise control off". To relive my 2007 St. Patrick's Day, let me give you a rundown of the phone call I received:

Me: Hello?

John: I've been in a bad accident. It just happened. I need you to come down here right now.

Me: Are you okay? Are you hurt?

John: I'm okay I think, I just want you to get down here as soon as you can.

Me: Are you okay? Are you in pain?

John: Yes it hurts really bad, but I'll be fine. My leg hurts. (horrible grunt of pain) Don't worry, just get down here.

Me: What do you mean your leg hurts? Your leg hurts when you walk?

John: Oh honey, I can't walk. I need to go, the Jaws of Life are here to try and get me out of the car. I love you, bye.

The whole thing was surreal. I rushed out of the house in a panic and then a sergeant called and told me they were sending an officer to meet me halfway and drive me to the hospital. I got there quite a bit before the ambulance and it was agony to wait there wondering how badly John was hurt.

His pelvis was broken in two places, but he had no other injuries, which according to the laws of physics, is just about impossible. I still get choked up thinking about how lucky I was that John was protected that day.

This is my permanent St. Patty's Day memory. Today when John left for work I told him to beware of snowbirds in minivans and just to be safe he should probably wear some green this year.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Watch out for attacking dental work

We have been living with my parents for a couple of months in the home of my childhood. It is is comfortable and although it has its challenges, its mostly super fun and really an adventure . My dad hangs around all day and Babyham has decided that Grandpa is basically the Disneyland of human beings. He lights up when he sees him and is almost always rewarded by a swig of Mountain Dew and a few minutes of being messed with. I would be much more adverse to caffeinating the baby but in reality the bulk of the drink ends up in his shirt and I just can't bring myself to stop a tradition that was so relevant to my own childhood. I didn't spend a lot of time with my dad but when I did, he always had a can of Coke or Mountain Dew and he always let me have a drink no mater what. It made me feel loved.

I love that my kids are so bonded to their grandparents. Its wonderful to have my parents backing me up and interacting with my parenting, My mom is a doctor of education and it is literally priceless to have an expert in the field living with us and giving advice when I need it. Dad takes Jack back into the shop and puts him to work. It is exhillerating to see him do real work. I know its more work for Dad ultimately but its so good for Jack.

In the past few days Jack had just seemed to lose interest in Grandpa Haws. It was sad and confusing and I think it hurt Grandpa's feelings. Grandpa will invite him on one of his adventures and I expect Jack to jump up and start putting on his shoes. Instead he keeps turning him down and gives some lame excuse like SpongeBob might come on. Alrighty then, we're not going to force you to spend time with your grandpa, even if it is sad and a few weeks ago you would have jumped at the chance. 

Today grandpa walked out headed for Cabella's and to a buddy's heleport to take measurements on a helicopter. This activity should have had any five year old dancing with excitement. Jack said no and grandpa left. when we were alone I wanted to talk to him about it because something was seriously wrong and whatever it was was not obvious. What happened to make Jack lose interest in Grandpa so abruptly? "Jack, Grandpa is going on really fun adventures today, working on helicopters at the airport and going to Cabella's. I'm surprised you didn't want to go."

"Mom, I do want to go, but I'm a little nervous." 

" Nervous? What could you possibly be nervous about?" I know for a fact that My dad spoils him rotten and buys him whatever he wants.

"Well, Mom, (coming in close and whispering) "Did you know that grandpa's teeth come out of his mouth completely?" 

"Yes, I did know about his teeth. They are called dentures." 

"They are really scary, Mom. They could come out of his face and bite and I have no idea what they smell like either." 

So you can see the dilemma that a five year old is presented with when he has a fear of prosthodontics and a loving grandpa with full dentures. I think we were able to work through it and help him realize that the dentures no not have a mind of their own and Grandpa's love is more powerful anyway.  He opted to go at the last minute after a quick talk about the absurdity of a rogue denture attack. And by the way, dentures smell minty and fresh. 

They had a great day running errands. Jack told me that a helicopter is just like our minivan except cleaner. Oh, and it flies too.  At Cabella's he got a toy popper gun that makes a lot of noise but has no small pieces to get lost so its fine by me.  

The best part of the day is the renewed commitment that Jack has to brushing his teeth. Maybe every pre-schooler should get to see some dentures removed and chomping. I think I'm on to something here....

Jack's version of poverty

This week I have been making an extra effort to come up with original and fun projects to do with Jack at home during the day. We do science experiments and we bake stuff etc. One day this week we went on a nature walk and collected "specimens" of plants and rocks and made a display. One day we made cookies from scratch. Another day we made home made Play Dough. Yesterday we got a big bubble wand at the dollar store and came home and made our own bubble liquid. As I was mixing the soapy water up, Jack turned to me and said in this sad lamenting voice "Maybe one day we won't be poor and then we won't have to make our own bubbles and play-dough and cookies."

This was an interesting statement. It is funny to me that he thinks I'm going through the hassle of all these projects just to save money. Its funny that he thinks were poor. I had a good laugh about it. This crap is developmental GOLD, Jack!

I go back and forth between telling Jack that we are broke and that we DO NOT have money to buy stuff to harping on and on about how rich we are compared to most people on the planet. I explain that most of the population can't even dream of having the lifestyle we live. The poor kid is just trying to figure out where we stand and decided that home made play-dough must be a REALLY bad sign.

Grandpa Arnett

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my grandfather's death. I have thought all day about him. I stared at this picture for the longest time this morning. This picture was taken with Talan and Abe just a couple of weeks before he died.

He died in a way that everyone wishes they could eventually die. He was napping peacefully in his comfy chair and he just never woke up.

Lisa and I were two of the first people to arrive. Grandma was worried about his ring and wondered If it should be removed before he went to the mortuary. I had the honor of holding his hands and working the ring off of his finger while it was still warm. I knew it was a privilege to feel the last of this great man's warmth. As I sat there I thought about these same hands freezing (literally) as he was marched for four days across Germany and Poland as a POW in WWII. I thought about these hands piloting a huge B24 bomber using all manual controls and levers, and how they must have gripped and shook when they were forced to crash land. He was an honest-to-goodness American Hero and I am in awe of the legacy he left.

With those hands he helped raise 7 children. His hands performed countess sealings, endowments, and baptisms in the Lord's temple. He gave Priesthood blessings, he served two missions and shared his testimony at every opportunity. He was never preachy, just sincere and humble. He married John and I in the temple as well as all of my brother's and sisters. I'm only now realizing how huge a blessing that is to have been sealed by my own grandpa. He was always gentle but always strong. He worked hard his whole life for his country, for his family and for his God. I have never known such a perfect man.

I can't believe it has been a year. I miss him. I want to hold his hand again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Peeps are ruining my life

Okay, maybe not ruining my life, but having a serious impact.
Anyone who spends a lot of time with me knows that I get weird food obsessions. They are not always as totally horrible for you. I went for about 6 months requiring about a pound of fresh asparagus per day. Sometimes they are pretty unhealthy. I recently recovered from a serious Fry's fried chicken addiction (it couldn't be KFC, or another grocery store, it had to be Fry's.) Weird right? I always wondered if there was some ingredient in these things that my body was lacking, but since my recent Peeps dependency developed, I have ruled that out, since there is admittedly no possible health benefit to eating sugar coated marshmallow chicks. I like to open the package and let them dry out for a day or two so that they have a perfect crunchiness. I know its bad when I find myself hiding them in the house because I don't want my kids to know about them. Not that I wouldn't share, but as a mother I just can't let him eat such an unhealthy item. I'm like a drug addict who tell her kids to just say no.

The other day I was at Walgreen's stocking up for the week and the lady at the checkout asked me if I wanted to try a new type of candy bar. I declined the offer explaining that I now had enough Peeps to put any healthy person into diabetic shock and I am very particular about how I get my total lack of nutrition. She said "Oh yeah! I have seen you in here before buying Peeps!" Thank you very much for the friendly customer service but I am mortified and have since vowed to get a new Peeps dealer.

Easter needs to come and go or else I need a good twelve step program. Peeps are one of those things in life that people either LOVE or HATE. I would be interested to hear everyone else's opinions about them. Where does everyone stand?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Goat love

John took the boys to the Phoenix Zoo today. I might be biased, but I think this might be the cutest picture ever taken.
The great thing about one year olds is that they don't hold anything back. If Ham is sad he cries, if he is happy he laughs and if he wants to snuggle a goat, he snuggles a goat. Emotional honesty at its finest.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


When I was a little kid my mom bought me a set of hamsters. One was white and one was black and I named them Salt and Pepper. Salt was an adult and Pepper was her baby. The second day we had them, I looked into the cage and made a gruesome discovery. Salt had EATEN pepper. It wasn't like pepper was just missing or dead... he had been eaten by his own mother. I won't go into great detail about the crime scene, as it still makes me shudder.

Why am I telling this story on my blog? Its very simple: Today I want to eat my child. Perhaps Salt wasn't the psychopathic cannibal that I have thought she was all of these years. Perhaps she was just a mom who had put her kid in so many time-outs that she didn't know what else to do to get her message across and she just snapped. Maybe Salt cleaned up the same mess so many times in the same day that she just couldn't hold onto her little hamster sanity.

Don't worry. Don't call CPS. My kids are not in mortal danger, I'm just having one of those days.

I went on a walk with both the boys this morning. Before we even got four houses away Jack had a total temper tantrum. I just turned the stroller around and started waking in the direction of home. "How sad. I was really looking forward to a walk, but I guess we need to go home. What a bummer." Jack was outraged. The emotional breakdown escalated. We got home and he was sent into his room. After a while he started shouting out at regular intervals. "Can I come out now?" At first I answered him each time. "NO." Finally I stopped responding. After a while he tried a new tactic. "Mom, I need your help really bad."


"How do you spell 'let me out, please'?"

After a few minutes he was shouting for me again. "Mom, come to the door and look down!"

Here was his note:
It looks like a foreign language at first glance but then you realize that the letters are just backwards and all squished together and he used a P instead of an L in the word let so it says "Pet me out please". John and I had a good laugh about it, but we still didn't let him out.

A while later I went to have a chat with him, to see how the lesson learning was coming along. "Can I come out yet?"

"No, Jack, I'm here to talk to you about it."

"But didn't you get my paperwork?"

PAPERWORK? He thought that he could get out of time out if he submitted the right paperwork? Maybe he has a future in government. Maybe Pepper the Hamster should have better mastered the bureaucracy of being a kid. It certainly worked for Jack today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Castles N' Coasters

Strap on your weapons, brush up on your gang signs, We are having a Castles N' Coasters birthday party!

Jack has been begging to go to this place, and I keep saying, "We'll go for your birthday next year". I was just trying to put him off, hoping that he would forget about it, but of course he turned five and had but one request. Instead of having a full blown party there I called Kristen and had her come out with Emma and Ella.

We have been to Castles N' Coasters before so I thought I that I was pretty familiar with how it works. Apparently there have been some policy changes since last time. There we were at the gates, with three little kids so excited they could hardly see straight. The plan was to go in, ride the roller coaster and leave to have cake and ice cream at home.

I stood in line to buy the tickets.

Me: Six tickets to ride the roller coaster, please.

Minimum wage guy at the window: Uh, we only sell all day ride passes. If you want to ride anything you have to buy one of those. They are $25.00 apiece.

Me: Maybe you don't understand. We don't want to be here all day, we couldn't spend all day here even if we wanted to. We just want six tickets to ride the roller coaster ONE TIME.

Minimum wage guy at the window: We changed our policy last summer and I can't even ring that up on the computer. You can spend $25 bucks per person for a day pass or you can't go in at all.

John and Kristen in the back ground: Hey Jack, there are a million things we could go do that are better than a stupid old roller coaster!

Me: (getting a crazy look in my eye and a scary inflection in my voice) No. This kid has been waiting pretty much his entire life to ride the roller coaster and these guys just drove 60 miles to ride the roller coaster. We. Are. Riding. The. Freaking. Roller. Coaster.

Minimum wage guy: Sorry. I can't do it. I'm really sorry.

Me: (in a really really nice voice, that was clearly more terrifying than the scary voice because it made the guy wonder if I was emotionally stable.) We are not leaving until we get this little problem solved so I'm going to need to speak with your manager.

It was funny to see them all scrambling around back there. They might as well have had a flashing red light and alarm. CRAZY LADY ALERT! CRAZY LADY ALERT! THIS IN NOT A DRILL!

Eventually the manager came out, obviously having been briefed about what was going on. Everyone (including my husband) looking on nervously to see how this battle of wills would go down.

Long story short: The manager welcomed us in for FREE, and offered to personally escort us onto the roller coaster. He also gave us his name and told us that if we had any problems or questions to have him paged and he would take care of us himself.

Moral of the story: Being a total bitch pays off.

Ironic ending to the story: Jack REFUSED to ride the roller coaster.

Jack and Ella were so happy to see each other . They threw their arms around each other and hugged for the longest time. They are the cutest little pair of best friend cousins in the world.

The kids had more fun climbing on the rocks than anything inside of the park.

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


There are a few words in the English language that Jack can not keep straight for the life of him. It doesn't matter how much we correct him, he is guaranteed to get it wrong. He likes to sing the song We Will Rock You by Queen (who doesn't?). Every time its the same. "You got mud on your face, a big musgrace....." That one always cracks me up because what in the world is a musgrace, anyway?

The other word he always mixes up is REsist vs. EXsist. He says to me "mom, do aliens resist?" keep in mind that we are a law enforcement family in a border state. I totally thought he was asking me about how undocumented immigrants handle arrest. "I'm sure sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't, Buddy." He looked at me like I was crazy. I was surprised that a five year old was concerned about the immigration issue at all. "Mom, they DO resist. They come here in UFOs and do tests and stuff." OH.... those aliens! Sure Jack, aliens resist. He also made the statement yesterday: "Dinosaurs used to resist but now they are dead and they so they don't resist anymore." A true statement. I can't argue.

Instead of the word really he says lee. As in, "Mom, I'm lee hungry. Dad, I lee want to play with you etc. He just can't squeeze that first syllable in.

Peace Out, Bishop Haws

My dad got released today after being the bishop for 6 years. We went to the meeting and heard his and Mom's testimony. I can tell that my dad has such mixed feelings about this release. On one hand he loves the people in his ward with an intensity that I have rarely seen in life, but on the other hand, it has been a lot of hard and emotionally taxing work and the break will be appreciated.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of my dad with his counselors on the stand for the last time. After the release and call of the new bishop, member after member got up and told about what a powerful impact Dad has had on them. One man told about how he had prayed for help to straighten out his life and find got. He had written his prayer out in a letter to God. The letter was written on Saturday night and on Sunday morning there was my dad at his door, telling him that he had felt impressed to come over. The two men hadn't even know each other before this. Dad taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the man's life was changed forever. I cried as I listened to this miracle and thanked Heavenly Father for the privilege of knowing Milan Haws.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys