Saturday, February 28, 2009


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Long Red Scarf

Jane is almost walking officially. Chris is not joining the Air Force. I am no longer the Queen of England.

Would you like any details?

Ok, one at a time. Jane is becoming more and more confident with her foot skills. She has started walking towards inanimate objects, and she can even switch directions mid-trip. Every once in a while, when she falls, she will actually stand back up by herself and keep walking. The funniest so far, though, was when I was trying to get her to walk to me from the middle of the room. Instead of walking straight to me, she walked to the couch (farther away), then used the couch as support to get to me. I don't mind. She was still walking, right?

It took this picture to show Jane wearing the cute outfit Amy gave her. Amy, did I ever send you the picture? Even the shoes match...

Yes, she is standing on the counter. And yes, she is rather short but still has a very large head.

You may recall that Chris and I made the decision a while back that he was going to join the Air Force via the Technical Degree Scholarship Program. If you don't remember, you can read this post. The process was quite involved, including a novel's worth of paperwork (at least it seemed like it), a very thorough physical, a hunt for several letters of recommendation, background checks from many people from the last forever of Chris's life... In short, it took a long time.

Once all the applications were in, we were fully committed to the idea of the Air Force and simply had to wait for the yea or nay from them. In the mean time, Chris was offered the programming job with Pearson's (remember--the Diary of a Wimpy Kid author is going to be his boss). Things were looking up for the present (and future), but the Air Force was still the main plan of action for the long term.

I was surprised when during this last week, Chris received word that he was accepted, yet he wasn't particularly excited about it. I was surprised because of the long time and much effort we put into making the Air Force decision in the first place, and now that it was actually available, he wasn't so thrilled.

The things that we were looking forward to most about the Air Force was the ability to get a very good (compared to standard Logan wages) salary while Chris is still a student, and it would be nice to have some additional health insurance to supplement what I get from the school district. We also very much liked the idea of a guaranteed job once he graduates, despite what happens to the economy in the next year and a half.

With Chris's new job, he will be paid more than what the Air Force was going to give him, and they have a very good (and affordable) health plan for which he qualifies. This job is not necessarily a 100% for sure thing economy-wise, but the company has done very well amidst all the current economic issues, and there is nothing thus far to suggest that that is going to change. Also, Chris has done very well as a student in the engineering program at the university, so he has good chances of getting the job he wants after graduation.

So, considering all the present benefits, we have opted to take our chances with the economy in favor of maintaining the power of choice in where we live and where Chris works.

Lastly and quickly, I am no longer the Queen of England. I have had several people ask me how our colonial unit turned out, so I thought I'd give a quick sum-up. After a few weeks of heavy taxes (my favorite was the recess tax: 2 pounds to go outside, 10 pounds to stay inside), my class was fully prepared to rebel and declare independence from England. We found a website where you can "sign" the Declaration of Independence (it's pretty cool--it actually prints your name at the bottom as though you were one of the signers back in the day). I took my class to the computer lab, they all signed the declaration, and they all breathed a sigh of relief that they no longer had to pay taxes.

Well, there's always a catch, right? We had been promising this huge party all along that they had to save up their English pounds to be able to go to. When we got back to class, I made a big stink about how they no longer had to pay taxes. I then informed them that since they were no longer citizens of England or subjects of the Queen, their English money was completely worthless. One boy shouted out that the party was going to be free! I quickly corrected him and informed them all that there was going to be no party. If they couldn't pay, they couldn't go. And no one could pay. Needless to say, they were not very happy with me that day.

To wrap everything up, we immediately went out to the playground and proceeded to burn all their money. Literally. We had a 10# can and a lighter. It all went up in smoke. No more taxes, and no more pounds.

Some people have given me a hard time about building up their hopes for having this great party, then completely fake them out and take it away. From a teacher's perspective, I know that they will remember this lesson much, much longer and better than they ever would had we just read out of the textbook and done worksheets. Now they know what it feels like to want to declare independence, and what it feels like to have to live through some of the less appealing consequences.

That wasn't as quickly as I intended, but now you all know. Jane can almost walk, we are not joining the Air Force, and all the English pounds are nothing but a pile of ashes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Purse

So, I haven't posted for a while because I didn't have anything new to say... then Britta tagged me. Let me say that this is a first for me. Hopefully you'll find my purse interesting. I know Jane does.

1) Post a picture or two of the purse you are carrying now. Do not cheat and go and grab that cute purse that is stashed away in your closet, post what you are using now.
2) Post how much you spent on your fabulous bag, and if there is a great story to go along with it then include that.
3) Tag some people to see what they're using as their bag and the stories that go behind them.

Here is my current purse:

A little background first. For several years now, I have been dubbed "The Bag Lady" by my family. I would frequently buy bags of differing shapes, sizes, styles, and intended purposes mostly just because I liked to have them. (Several of the bags I've bought are now laying on the floor in the backseat of my car...the idea is to use those instead of grocery bags when I go shopping, but I usually forget to take them into the store...). In the realm of purses, I usually went for the cheaper Wal-mart variety. I could find something cute, but not necessarily the highest quality.

Someone told me once that when you have kids, you no longer need to have a purse. Everywhere you go you'll now have a diaper bag, so you can just combine them all and only have to carry the one bag. With that in mind, when I needed a new purse when I was pregnant with Jane, I went for a cheap last-until-the-baby's-born purse. Well, I tried the diaper bag/purse combo for about a day and a half. That doesn't work at all for me mostly because I happen to be a working mother, so once Jane goes to day care, I have no need to be hauling around a diaper bag. But my purse was still pretty darn cheap and fell apart quickly. By this time, I was tired of having the less-than-stellar quality.

My sister Lisa told me that REI was having a huge sale, so we went there and I bought my current purse for $40. Much more than I've ever spent on any bag, but I have much more faith in the quality of the product, and I hope that the investment will last for years yet.

Lisa actually has the same purse, but in red. I believe she is still satisfied with the purchase. Although, she did just have a baby. Maybe she'll convert to the diaper bag method.

The contents of my purse:

In no particular order:

several old receipts
WIC envelope
one dollar bill
a note from Chris that says "Love you much" with a heart and smiley face
two pens, a mechanical pencil, and a purple highlighter
pack of Trident Original Flavor gun (can't go anywhere without it!)
two small notebooks
Logan temple schedule
business card for the Air Force Recruiter
three gift cards that amount to something like $3
my wallet (a whole post all on its own...)
$3.45 in change
miniature screwdriver (thanks Dad)
miniature needle nose pliers (thanks Dad)
foldable scissors (only 69 cents...they still have the price tag)
glasses screwdriver and nail clippers attached on one chain
lotion (cetaphil cream is the only kind I can use)
Benadryl anti-itch cream (can't go anywhere without it!)
some weirdo Mark Kay lip gloss that I really don't like (I forgot it was in there)
a wrist brace with a cotton lining made from the cut-off sleeve of an old t-shirt
a bottle of tylenol
a picture of me with my sisters Lisa and Sarah (don't look too close...I was way pregnant and I just look really fat)

I think that about covers it. I had no idea I had so many things in my purse. The carrying capacity alone must be worth $40.

Back in the day, my mom would always do the "wallet test" on any boy who expressed a more-than-slight interest in one of her five daughters. The contents of a wallet can tell a lot about a person. They always got more points for having things like cash (self-sufficiency), drivers' license (responsibility), temple recommend (worthy), and, of course, a lack of anything potentially questionable. I guess my purse can tell just as much as the wallet test, eh? Like the fact that everything I touch makes me itch.

Rule 3: I tag JeriLynn, Jess, Rebecca, and Kate. And anyone else who may be interested. And Jess, I'm sorry, but we might not be able to be friends until you respond... :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Puzzle World

Or should I say World Puzzle?

A little background: Many of you know that I was rather unhappy when I discovered that I was pregnant with Jane. In the first weeks after the discovery, I wasn't a terribly pleasant person to be around, particularly for Chris. To avoid conversation while still spending time together, we starting doing puzzles. We started with a puzzle we had on hand...I think it may have been a wedding present, although I can't remember for sure.

It was a nice picture, so we opted to glue and frame it rather than sticking it back in a box in the closet. That particular picture now hangs in our living room:

The not-talking version of spending time together worked so well, we continued our puzzle adventure with a 2,000 piece old style map of the world. It took a long time, but we did manage to finish it eventually. Again, we opted to glue. Who would want to do this puzzle twice?

I attempted a close-up shot so you could see how small the pieces are, if you can even tell:

That puzzle had been hanging in our dining room, but its wall space was taken up when we had to buy another (our fifth) large bookcase. The puzzle has been upgraded to our bedroom.

But, we have a lot of open wall space in our bedroom, so we had to expand our decorations. It's still a work in progress:

The main puzzle is on the desk where Chris is, and the pieces are spread on the card table next to it. Well, some of the pieces. The rest are on another piece of cardboard...

It's big. 3,000 pieces. If you're ever bored on a Friday or Saturday night...or Sunday or Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday... please come over! We might just need help with our puzzle... And I'm not even kidding. If you like to do puzzles, call me!

P.S. Yes, our bedroom really is that big.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dalton James Mortensen

Note: This is my third post of the day. I saved this one for last, knowing then that it would show up first, but do go down and read the other things I posted. I guess you don't actually have to, but...

I have been a parent for over a year, but I only just barely became an aunt on Tuesday. My sister Lisa had her first baby, him being the second grandchild on the Phillips side. Dalton James Mortensen was born on Tues. January 27, 2009 at 9:44 a.m. He weighed 6 lbs. 12 oz. and was 19 inches long (I think...sorry if that's not exactly right, Lisa...)

This was the first picture I saw of him:

Sorry to say, not the cutest picture ever. I blame the fact that it was taken about two minutes after he was born. Here are some much cuter pictures.

Dalton with Mom

Jane meeting Dalton for the first time

It was very cute. Jane wanted to hug Dalton and she kept rubbing his head with her hands. It was a nice show of affection, although I'm sure Dalton found it to be a little rough. Particularly right at the end when she shoved him away. Don't worry, no babies were harmed (too bad) in the taking of this picture.

I'm very grateful that we were able to get these next pictures taken. My dad's dad and stepmom came over to see their great-grandchildren, and we were able to get four-generation pictures taken.

Grandpa Jeff, Great-Grandpa Phillips, Dalton, and Lisa (aka Mom)

Grandpa Jeff, Great-Grandpa Phillips, Jane, and Laura (aka me)

While I'm at it, I went back and found this picture. Again, I am very grateful that this was even possible. It is a five-generation picture with Chris's family. How many people are able to have five generations in the same room?

Back row: Grandma Janet, Chris (aka Dad), Great-grandma Pyper, Front row: A very unhappy Jane with Great-great-grandma Jensen

I wish that Jane would have been more cooperative that day. But, you can rarely decide the mood of a small child. Grandma Jensen passed away about two months after this picture was taken. I'm glad we were able to visit when we did.

Well, I think that's enough posting for today. Chris keeps asking if I'm done yet. He wants me to help with the puzzle. I'll have to post about that adventure soon.

Bragging Rights

As preface to our announcement of the day, I must first ask: How many of you have read the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

For those of you who haven't, let me tell you that it is hilarious. It is the diary of Greg Heffley, who is quite the wimp. He has a very dry sense of humor and has a rather amusing way of pointing out the obvious. The entire book is done as one very long comic strip.

I highly recommend it to anyone. As a reader myself, I was quite entertained. And as a teacher, this is the book I use to get the kids who won't read anything ever to want to read all the time. Good book. (I can't say quite the same for the second two, but the first is well worth it.)

And let me preface once more that I have always had this same opinion about this particular book, even before what I'm going to tell you next.

Chris has been offered a job, programming games for the website The cool thing here is that the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney, is going to be his boss. I told my fifth graders that and they just about melted in their chairs.

Ok. Enough corny build-up.

Besides the bragging rights of having a cool boss (he seems like a really nice guy, and hopefully a good boss, too), this job fits a lot of things we have been hoping for in terms of employment. Chris quit his previous job at the beginning of last semester because there was just too much stress with trying to stay caught up in his classes, maintain a good gpa, work part-time, and have some semblance of a family life. We adjusted our budget such that we could survive just fine on my salary, and he quit. It worked out very well for his grades. 4.0 last semester. Yay! It was also nice for him to be able to be around and be husband and dad at the same time as going to school.

We had been planning on him finding some sort of engineering internship for the summer. We were expecting to have to live in the Salt Lake area during the summer, allowing him to get the engineering experience that would be helpful when trying to find a job down the road.

The idea of being in Salt Lake for the summer became less appealing when he was called into the Elder's Quorum presidency. He didn't want to ditch out only a few months after being called, and he wanted to keep the calling when he came back, which he most likely wouldn't be able to do if we left. Now he will be able to stay in Logan and continue to fulfill his calling.

It works out very well in several ways. One, they are willing to let him work for only 15 hours a week during school, then full time during the summer. Two, they will most likely keep him until he graduates and goes into the Air Force. Three, they are letting him wait and start a month from now, giving him time to finish the big senior design project he has to do to be able to graduate. Four, the whole staying in Logan thing. Five, he will make just as much money, if not more, than what he would with an internship. It just all works out.

He has been offered the job, but the official details have not been worked out yet. There is still the slight chance that things could take a nosedive and someone on either end of the deal will pull the plug, but so far, it's still looking promising.

We are blessed.

Lessons from Jane

1. Don't multitask.

I was feeding her cereal for breakfast, while simultaneously reading blogs. I was particularly distracted by a video clip on Tannie's blog (sad story!) and wasn't paying any attention to Jane. When I finally did look over, she was reading Chris's Norwegian Liahona, which moments ago had been sitting on the opposite end of the table. How did she get it, you ask? She pulled on the tablecloth. She even pulled it just far enough to get the magazine, but not far enough for the tablecloth to fall on the floor. But...if I had been watching better and not multitasking, she wouldn't have folded up the nice magazine in less than exciting ways.

2. Clean out the high chair.

Also while feeding Jane cereal, while I was still reading blogs, she managed to find some extra breakfast treats. I turned around from the computer to give her another bite of cereal and when she opened her mouth, several Cheerios fell out. I didn't give her Cheerios. She didn't even have the tray on the high chair. That's right! She found them down underneath her bum. Way to go, Mom, for picking up the leftovers last time we had breakfast...

3. Don't multitask.

Ironically enough, while I was writing this very post, Jane came over without me paying much attention again and hit the power button on my computer. If you didn't know, this has the effect of the computer itself exiting out of all the open programs and then shutting down. Annoying when you're right in the middle of writing a post. But, can I really blame her? Who can resist blue shining buttons?

4. Don't leave large glasses of water sitting on the living room floor.