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My brother, my friend.

27 February 2012
I'm pretty open about the fact that I didn't meet most of my family until I was 19. I was raised by my biological mom, who married when I was 4, and I grew up with 2 half-siblings. When I was 19, my friend Dove encouraged me to write a letter to my biological dad's family. I had heard my whole life that they hated me and wanted nothing to do with me, but I just wanted to know where my ancestry/background was from, and if there were any medical concerns I should be aware of.

I was shocked when, in response to my letter, I gained a whole new family. They didn't hate me, and they did want me around and to get to know me.

I knew very little about them. I knew I had 2 brothers and a sister that I hadn't met. I knew that my biological dad lived in North Carolina and was married. That's about it. My grandma, my mom's mom, saved anything from the newspaper that had to do with my dad's side of the family, so I got obituaries and wedding announcements sometimes.

So I met them when I was 19. Sometimes it has been awkward and sometimes it has been terrifying and hard. Sometimes it is sad. I love my dad and I feel bad that I missed out on 19 years with him. I adore my siblings (I actually have 3 brothers and 3 sisters) and I feel bad that I didn't get a childhood with them. But I am trying to make up for lost time.

When I first met my eldest brother, he was 13. Now he is 19 and leaving for the Perth, Australia LDS mission on Wednesday. We both lived out of Utah for a while, so we didn't really start hanging out until we were both moved back here 2 years ago. But we have crammed a lot of hanging out and bonding time in the last 2 years! And here is what I have learned.

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My brother Daniel is one amazing guy.

I didn't know that teenage boys could be so mature or so intelligent. I thought they were all kind of morons. Well, Daniel impresses me on a daily basis. He took my expectation of "teenager boy" and beat them into a pulp (his brother Scott did the same thing, actually.) He is basically a genius and takes computers apart and fixes them for fun. He's done all sorts of trades and swaps to get different parts so he could put together epic things. He builds robots and wants to go into robotics someday. He speaks Computer with Hawk all the time. He loved marching band in high school and plays the clarinet beautifully. He sings very well too.

Daniel has a wonderful sense of humor. He is a geek, but he's not a creepy geek. He likes Dr. Who and got me addicted to it. He loves dragons and I shared the movie Dragonheart (great show!) with him. It's neat that we like the same things. It's funny to me that we are so much alike despite not growing up together.

Daniel is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. He is a very brave young man. He is determined to keep himself clean and to hold himself to his very high standards, and that is impressive to me. He works hard - like, crazy hard. He worked construction for a while, and most recently he was working at Target during their holiday season. He would go to work at crazy hours in the morning (like at 3:30 a.m.) and get off work very late at night. And get up the next morning and do it again. The days he had off, he would volunteer at the Bishop's Storehouse. I mean seriously, this is one dedicated kid.

One of the things that impresses me most about Daniel is how well he plays with Sparrow. I have never met a boy who wasn't at least a little intimidated by kids, and Daniel isn't at all. He is so cute with Sparrow. Sparrow adores him. Daniel came over a few days ago and built Sparrow a marble run and Sparrow cried and cried when he had to put it away that night. We love uncle Daniel! He is so fun to be around.

Daniel is a spiritual giant. He is kind, thoughtful, caring. He thinks about other people and considers their feelings. He's very handsome, too. Just had to throw that in there.

I am so proud of my little brother. He is a wonderful young man and I know he is going to do great things with his life. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know him and that we have become close. I am glad to count him among my friends. I love him very much and I am going to miss him like crazy! Good luck on your mission Daniel. You will be great! Remember how much Sparrow, Hawk and I love you and we'll have an amazing epic movie party when you come home.

Love,

Your Sister.

(Your Favorite Older Sister. Booyah.)

Fotofly does it again

19 February 2012
The other night, as I was spacing out on a combination of Robitussin and Ambien (best. sleep. ever.) I made a random appointment to get Sparrow's 4 year pictures done.

I had no memory of this the next morning. It was only because I got a confirmation email that I was able to piece together what I'd done. Hawk now takes the computer away from me after I take that drug combination. Heh, heh heh.

Fotofly once again got fantastic shots of my goober. He was being a little beast that day, but they were able to get some shots of him that are cute, and shots of him which captured his true personality (evil, cheesy, not so cute. Evil.) Thanks Fotofly! We look forward to going back there next week for a picture with my extended family - the last time all of us will be together for 2 years, but more likely 4 years (since my brother is leaving on his mission in 2 weeks, and our second brother will likely leave before brother 1 returns.)

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Toby This one is my favorite.

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Toby jumps

Thanks Fotofly! Once again, we had an amazing time and I was super impressed with your photographers, editing, and especially your patience. You've definitely earned our business - for life! (No, that was not a threat.)

My handsome boy

15 February 2012
I just can't help it - I have to brag for a minute.

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Look at those eyelashes!

We went to dinner at a fairly nice restaurant with some friends the other night and Sparrow was so well behaved. He ate his food nicely (and it wasn't chicken and fries - this is a huge deal for my kid!) He asked lots of questions and talked a lot, but he used his inside voice and was cute about it. When I offered him bites of different foods, if he didn't want it he would say "No, thank you." And "May I please have some lemonade?" He was so sweet to our friend's little 8 month old baby girl; he wanted to kiss her and teach her how to talk and when she cried he burst into tears - "I don't want her to cry! I don't want her to be sad!" What a sweet boy.

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He wanted to hold my hand everywhere we walked, even saying "Mommy, when we go up the stairs we always hold hands to keep us safe." As we walked along the streets he talked and talked and asked ten thousand questions because he's in the "why?" stage right now. When we ran into some girls from London, I talked with them for a minute and when we were done Sparrow wanted to know where London was. I told him it is in England.

"Daddy," he said, "we need to move to England now."

That is a boy after my own heart.

Isn't he just adorable? And here's a silly picture of him so you can see his beautiful red-blond curls. He's going to be a heart breaker when he grows up!

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Just like his daddy!

Sparrow is funny

14 February 2012
I know it's Valentine's Day, but I kind of hate this holiday. It's always been a waste of time to me, even as a kid. Except for in 4th grade when my mom made me this truly EPIC Valentine mailbox. I wish we'd gotten a picture - it was a huge 3D Dalmatian made out of styrofoam. It was seriously awesome.

But Valentine's is so overrated, really. I'm not just saying this because I'm bitter that the grocery store was sold out of Reese's peanut butter hearts yesterday. I'm not just saying this because I had to wait in line behind thousands of husbands who were getting last minute gifts for their wives. I guess I'm kind of over American-ized, commercialized holidays in general, and Valentine's ranks only slightly below Mother's Day and Thanksgiving as useless excuses to buy more crap.

Anyway, lest I seem bitter, I do love my husband. A lot. And I'm glad he's mine. But I'm glad he's mine EVERY day of the year, not just on February 14th. Hmph.

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Check out this hottie on the ropes course last week. He's so amazing.

In other news, I had a mild heart attack this afternoon when I uploaded pictures from my camera to the computer. I was going through the shots I've taken this week and there were several I did not remember taking. At all. "What the heck?! Am I going crazy?!"

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Nope. Sparrow just found the camera and decided to take some artistic shots of my wall and himself. I love that kid. I'm kind of impressed he figured out how to turn the camera on, actually. Way to go smarty pants!

The time my grandma tried to get me arrested

07 February 2012
I love my grandma to death but sometimes I want to strangle her. Out of love. For example, she is not an old woman, she is only in her mid 60s. That is crazy young! And yet my mom, sister and I have been trying for twelve years to teach her how to use a computer. TWELVE YEARS. She still has no idea what "copy and paste" is. It makes me cry. And she still uses dial-up Internet. I bet you didn't even know they still did dial-up. Then she complains about how slow it is, but when we try to get her to upgrade she doesn't want to pay for it because she doesn't use it. But she doesn't use it because she hates waiting for sites to load. It's a never ending circle with this woman.

The other thing that drives me a little crazy is her hoarding. She doesn't hoard normal things, like cats or rubberbands or eyelashes. My grandma hoards medicine. Vitamins, pills, pills she no longer uses, pills that expired years ago, etc. They are all very neatly organized and her house is spotless, but every once in a while I go through her medicine box just for shock value.

"What the heck are you doing with this full bottle of painkiller?!" I yell.

"Oh, my doctor gave me that after I fell down the stairs and bruised my leg really bad and couldn't walk for a while."

"Do you realize it's full?"

"Yeah, I never took any."

"And do you realize it expired THREE YEARS AGO?"

"It's still good, don't throw it away."

AHHHH.

So back in August we had this conversation. I took the bottle and I threw it away because it expired THREE YEARS AGO. Three! THREE YEARS! You can't take expired medication! It is BAD.

We went to visit Grandma a week ago and while I was there I took a peek at her drugs. She recently had knee replacement surgery and has been in pain, so I checked to make sure she was using the right stuff. Surprise surprise - she had a bottle of Ibuprofen 800 that expired three years ago. And I KNEW she had a brand new bottle in her medicine cabinet. So I pulled out the new bottle. I made her smell the difference. The old pills smelled like rotten eggs. The new pills gave off no scent.

"Maybe the reason I'm still hurting is because my medicine is so old it doesn't work," she says.

YOU THINK!?

So I take the old bottle of Ibuprofen and (after making Hawk smell it and freak out together over the oldness) throw it away.

Well, a few days ago I get a call from my mom. "Give Grandma her Lortab (i.e., hydrococodone, i.e., narcotic painkiller)," she says.

Wait, what?

"Grandma said you took her Lortab."

Oh no she didn't. I explain to my mom that I took the three year old expired Ibuprofen and left the Lortab there on the counter just for her, with the top loosened and everything because childproof caps are often grandma-proof caps.

"Well, your grandma called your aunt and told her you took her Lortab, and now your aunt is freaking out about it." And from the sound of it, Mom was freaking out too.

So then I had to call my grandma and explain to her that I did not take her narcotics. And then I had to very carefully explain that she can't go around telling people I took her drugs because then I will get arrested.

And that is why my family now thinks I am a drug addict. Who steals from old ladies.

Thanks grandma.

LDS Scripture Rock review and video

02 February 2012
So, Sparrow was asked to share a scripture in Primary last week. He was assigned 2 Nephi 2:27, and the version they gave him was abridged, but I didn't see that until it was too late. For the record, if you teach him something (like a scripture, or a story) and try to abridge it later, there will be tantrums and tears and anger.

Earlier this year I bought a CD with 25 scriptures set to music called LDS Scripture Rock. It is intended for high school seminary students learning their scripture mastery. I bought the Book of Mormon version because I remember my seminary teacher back in 2003 playing the songs for us and I still remember those scriptures and the tunes!

So I was frustrated when the CD I bought was not the CD I remembered. I like the CD well enough but it is a little weird. The words are not always clear and easy to understand, which I find frustrating because I specifically bought this CD for Sparrow to listen to. And if he can't understand the words, what's the point? This is the debate that I go through in my head, because I was considering getting the Old and New Testament CDs, but I don't know if it's worth it.

For what it's worth, Sparrow does like the music and he did memorize the scripture in about a week. But 2 Nephi 2:27 is also one of the clearer sung songs on the CD, so who knows what results we'd have had with anything else. So I can kind of recommend this CD if you want a fun way to teach your kids scriptures. As long as you are listening too and correct and explain when they get the lyrics wrong, heh.

I'm sure this CD is probably helpful for all ages, but I do wish it didn't take itself quite so seriously. The singers all sing like...they're serious. The CD I remember had a sense of humor - they knew they were being a little cheesy but they didn't mind, and that made it fun. This one is just a little awkward because they're trying to be all American Idol-esque and it gets painful.

So I'll keep you posted if we decide to get the rest of the CDs. You can listen to samples at the website too. In the meantime, here is Sparrow reciting 2 Nephi 2:27, which is kind of a long scripture for a brand-new 4 year old to recite in front of a large room of children! (He didn't need an ounce of help either, wow!)