I have been MIA, but with good reason: the kids had three days off from school last week, and we took full advantage of our time together.
Thursday and Friday were UEA days (UEA stands for Utah Education Association), and we went to the convention the first day, kids and all. Having two parents who are (or were, in my dad’s case) teachers, it was always a tradition for them to scope out the booths and go to lunch. When I was attending BYU and working on my own teaching degree, I remember joining them for the first time. It was a lot of fun to wander through the displays and see what innovative things teachers came up with to use in their classrooms, and I loved being included in what was previously just my parents’ tradition. I went pregnant, I went pregnant with a six-month old, I went with a baby and an 18-month-old, I went 8 months pregnant with two toddlers, and 7 months pregnant with three kids under the age of 5. (Thank GOODNESS I always had an extra set of hands… or two.)
My kids’ favorite part of UEA, besides lunch “out” and spending time with their grandparents is the amount of free crap stuff they collect from the booths. Pencils, pens, notepads, magnets, brochures, stickers, candy… I could go on and on. They fill bags full of this crap stuff, and after a few days of reminding them to get it off the kitchen table, I go through the bags and replenish my pencil supply, keep anything especially useful, and toss the rest. Most times they don’t even know. (Whew!) Last year I tried to assimilate Alex’s incredibly cool highlighter pen (it was shaped like a flower and had different color petals… I could have SOOOOO used that!), but he won out. Well, that is, he won out until it got left on the floor, he was warned several times to put it away, and finally I scooped it up and put it with my cross-stitch stuff.
(See, Mom? There are a few benefits to having sloppy kids!)
So, here’s my gang outside the convention entrance. Notice the manic gleam in their eyes… (oh, and Kendra totally did her own hair that day. Just clarifying.) Just minutes after this photo was taken, we caught up with Grandma, Grandpa, Kristi and Abbie.
After we wandered through the booths, we had lunch at Chin Wah, a really fantastic local Chinese restaurant. (I highly suggest the Phoenix Chicken.) The kids spent a good share of the meal shouting out which animal represented everyone on the Chinese New Year calendar. Perhaps it’s because he’s nine, or perhaps because he’s heard the word at school without knowing what it really means, or perhaps because it was printed on the menu that way (please, let that be the ONLY reason), Alex took great delight in shouting, “Grandma, you’re a COCK! Grandpa, you’re a [I forget the correct animal], and it says you are attracted to the COCK!” It was completely innocent (albeit LOUD), and maybe it was because I was tired, or maybe it’s because I have the emotional maturity of a fourth grader, but after a few shout-outs, I got a bad case of the giggles. I’m sure the other diners thought we were completely without class, athough I swear I heard some snickers from the dining area AND the kitchen.
On Friday morning, we took advantage of not having Abbie (thanks, Mom!) and headed over to Engh Gardens, a nearby flower shop that never fails to blow my kids’ minds. Now that it’s decorated for Halloween, it’s even cooler, if that’s possible. They assembled a giant pirate ship in the middle of their giant pumpkin patch, and several employees dressed as pirates. They also made a hay-bale maze that is kid-friendly, and they had all sorts of monsters and witches on display. We let the kids loose and giggled ourselves silly over their antics.
(Anthony was unsure about the giant monster above my head, so he was making his most intimidating hand gestures to scare it away.)
Sunday was my favorite day of the long weekend. I started the morning with a church meeting at 8:00 AM, and when I walked into the bishop’s office, all of the men in attendance stood and bowed. I am still unsure if it was an obnoxious coincidence or because it was my birthday, but it was funny and sweet. I was touched. After church, we packed up and headed over to my parents’ house for a fantastic birthday celebration. My mom makes the best hamburger gravy, so I requested it for my celebratory feast. She made jello (of course) with fresh bananas and strawberries, a mountain of mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and parkerhouse rolls. Then, she created this really great pudding cake that tasted like an eclair.
I left in a diabetic coma.
I had all sorts of fun birthday surprises, too. Kenny bought me some cute serving dishes in Halloween and Winter themes, I got a CD set, some DVDs, some cash with very specific instructions to spend not a penny of it on bills (thanks, Dad!), and a gift card to Amazon.com. Oh, and an i-tunes gift card for $67.50, although that wasn’t a birthday gift; rather, it just happened to be cashed in on my birthday.
[Not-so-funny story– while I was standing in Harmons dumping 23.5 pounds of change down the Coinstar chute, which took at least 15 minutes and left my fingers FILTHY, a middle-aged couple passed me on their way out of the store and the man sarcastically asked me, “Trying to make rent?” After I punched him right in the nose I explained that my sister’s ex had paid me in change, to which he replied, “So what? At least he paid you.” (I could TOTALLY see this guy adopting Jim’s tactic next time he pays a bill. He was THAT obnoxious.) His poor wife was mortified, not only by my plight but by her husband’s behavior.]
My kids were out of school on Monday as well, and they spent the majority of their day outside, playing. No fighting over the Nintendo, no running through the house, no lounging around the couch and whining about being bored… it was all fresh air and family and fun and FABULOUS. We’ve taken full advantage of the nice weather all week long, and my yard has never looked nicer! (You know, except for when flowers are in bloom. Right now the beds are all cleaned out and bare, but whatever.)
It was a great weekend, it’s been a great week, and aside from the small snow hiccup a few weeks ago, it’s been a great season. Here’s to six more weeks of fall! (At least!!!)