Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So. God created all men equal. Right?

Well, He may have created them equal but I'm not sure we all stay equal. For instance. Some people have extraordinary gifts that are developed. They are not born with them. Therefore I must conclude that they took what was given to them at birth and made something special.

I must also conclude that my mother is one of these people and has done something extra special. For Christmas this year she made 21 knit hats, 20 pairs of knitted socks, 10 pairs of pajama bottoms, and 11 nightgowns. (that's somewhere in the range of 160+ hours of knitting and sewing!) It was indeed a homemade Christmas.

She brought nothing for any of the grandchildren or her grownup children and their spouses that was not handmade by her.

And you know what? It was the most amazing thing.

Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, put their new pajamas or nightgowns on, donned their hats and socks and we had a HUGE pajama party in my living room. Every slid around on the floor, we had a few accidents (it was really slippery) and we laughed and laughed.

It was truly magical, and it didn't come from a store.

She carefully picked everyone's colors and fabrics so that they matched that person. And she did a bang up job, I must say.

Although, I'm not sure what her choice in fabrics says about me. But I will embrace pink and purple unicorns as a sign that she loves the fanciful part of me, and I'm glad it shows enough that she would choose that for me.

I give you Bonnie Granger's handiwork.

I love you Mom!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Allen Family Fun Center

I am hungry.

Not just slight tummy rumbling hungry, but nauseous, pains in the back of my neck hungry.

Why don't you go eat?

Because I can't decide what to eat. I really want pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup.

But I am not eating anything white or filled with sugar, which totally wipes out pancakes and maple syrup.

I'm so hungry though that I'm starting to eye the chocolate bar my dad left here. But that doesn't really fit into the no sugar thing either.

I should have stayed in bed. You don't have to think about breakfast yet AND Nora and I were snuggling, all warm and toasty. I rolled over to my other side cuz my arm was starting to cramp and within minutes of me rolling over, she rolled over too, so that she was right up next to me again.

Finally I realized that I wasn't tired anymore and that I was just laying in bed because I can, being vacation and all. SO she is still up there, all snuggly and sleepy. And I'm downstairs all hungry.

I need to fuel though. Jeff, my dearheart, and I picked out our own Christmas presents this year. He is going snowboarding, I got one of these:

Mine is red though. So I need fuel so that I can punch and kick the cr*p out of this later. It's been a while since I've enjoyed the exhilerating feeling of sore muscles and sweat pouring down my face and barely being able to lift my arms to hit the bag one more time. So if you're my neighbor and you hear punching noises and a lot of "whooo"s coming from the direction of my bedroom, don't be alarmed. It's just me kicking the boxing bag's bu**! (Just so you know, we don't say cr*p or bu** in my house :)

For Christmas we got our family this!

Seriously, who needs a Wii when you have actual live ping pong and boxing in your house? (I think everyone in the world besides us owns a game system of some type, since we seem to be the last ones on earth to not have one I think) The kids have already had their turns punching the you-know-what out of my freestanding bag. And all of my children are sure to be ping pong wizards! In no time they will surpass my level of expertise.

SO if you're tired of boring ol' video games come on over and punch or ping pong it out and take a crack at the air hockey table while you're at it. Visitors are always welcome

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

So I'm sitting here, Christmas night.

Just a Thomas Kemper Rootbeer and Redvines by my side.

It was a good day. Presents are unwrapped, huge amounts of sweets have been consumed. All the children and one tired husband are snuggled up in their beds.

This gives me time to introduce you to the newest member of our family.

Her name is Erica.

Erica came to us via Santa Claus. She is quite easy to have around. She doesn't eat much, doesn't interrupt when you're talking, and she makes Anne Marie really happy.

We learned quite a bit about Erica from Anne Marie.

At dinner tonight, to which Erica was invited, Anne Marie told us that Erica is 4 years old. She told us that Erica likes Anne Marie to feed her. Also, Erica doesn't like to talk very much so she whispers everything to Anne Marie and then Anne Marie tells us.

Anne Marie also informed us that Erica can READ, but she has never been to preschool.

Julia was quite amazed at this and asked,"Does Erica have a private tutor?"

To which Anne Marie replied, a little puzzled, "Well, she has a private, but not a tooter."

Poor Erica. No tooter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

He's Super. He's a Man. And he loves me. Superman loves me.
Superman also writes poetry.

Dancing with Amy
by Jeff Allen

When I close my eyes I see you
When I open them you're there
I see the beauty in your smile
I feel the softness of your hair

Your blue eyes twinkle like the starlight
When they gaze into my own
Your silky skin surrenders when
You're in my arms your home

Your every movement is a love song
Bringing you and I so close
I feel your breath upon my lips now
Standing with you nose to nose

Who you are defies the distance
You are every thing I seek
Life goes far beyond the first dance
You're the woman of my dreams

Yes, I know, I'm a lucky woman. Lucky, lucky me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Before I had a blog

I was looking through some old pictures tonight. I found these great pictures from around the time we moved across the country from Rhode Island to Utah for Jeff to go back to school. Some were from our road trip out to Utah. I didn't have a blog back then, so I thought I'd share now.

Carthage, Illinois~That is the jail behind where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred.
Nauvoo Temple, Nauvoo Illinois~You can't tell from the picture, but it was so stinkin hot!! I have never been anywhere as warm and muggy in my entire life.
Niagara Falls~The sound of the falls is hard to describe, just a constant roar.
Boston Temple grounds~so beautiful.

Our Kitchen (that we remodeled all by ourselves) in Manville, Rhode Island

Just a little trip down memory lane. This was only 3 years ago. Wasn't I hot? I will totally be so again, oh yes, I will.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Martha Stewart I ain't

I have a great amount of success in a number of things that I attempt.

However, gingerbread/graham cracker houses are not one of them.

We make them as a family pretty consistently, and my spouse as well as a good number of my offspring are fairly adept at it.

(This one is Jeff's, see how neatly put together it is)

I however, stink. I can never keep the walls up, I get bored so fast that my house is usually lucky to have any candy roofing at all.
Lately, I've been "helping" the younger children with their houses so that I don't actually have to do one.

It's pathetic really.

But I feel a pretty persistent need to make sure they have this experience. In this instance, it seems more about being together then actually creating something that is beautiful.

And of course the sugar rush ain't so bad either.

The finished products.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The weather report says there will be a chance of drinking hot chocolate by the fire with occasional gusts of fort building and snowman making.

Watch for school being cancelled as well as the possibility of sleeping in and curling up with a good book all day.

Be advised that the current weather conditions will keep residents from wanting to go back to school due to flurries of cookie making and moving watching.

Use caution when playing with brothers and sisters all day as there may be intermitent spot-on-the-couch stealing and moments of "give that back!".

This weather report will be updated as conditions change.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Much is going through my head this morning. It snowed the last couple of days, knocking out my cable, phone and internet for a while. So now that my computer is working again I am ready to unleash all of my profound brain-thinking-stuff.

For starter, weight loss has not come this time around post baby. For whatever reason, every time I attempt to eat less, my milk supply for Nora diminishes. As always, this is a reason for utmost panic on my part. I am uncomfortable with current proportions, but I am more uncomfortable giving her formula just so I can get skinny. That will all come in time.

However, I need reminders as to why this is ok. When the scale doesn't move. When the next size down still won't fit. When I purchase one more "just until I get back into my other clothes" shirt or pair of pants. When I look at pictures and go "uggh, who is that?".

But the reminders do come. I woke up leaking and full of rich, yummy made just for Nora milk. (This is quite a phenomenon for me. I've never still been so able to produce mass quantities of the good stuff by the time my other children were 5 months old. So lack of weight loss has indeed had it's benefits, for Nora. )

The problem, however, was that Nora was still sleeping.

So I had to wake the poor child up because I needed relief from the pain. On awakening my little princess, I discovered she had done some leaking of her own. I stripped her down, changed her, and was attempting to dress her when she suddenly became aware of an empty tummy.
She happily ate naked. Soft, fuzzy, warm little diaper only baby. Aahhhh. And I marvelled at the gift of feeding a hungry child. Of being blessed to nourish her with my own brand of liquid gold. I felt full myself. Full of appreciation for the not so little gifts. Full of awareness that being skinny is not the most important thing. Full of love for the chubby, pink little gift snuggled in my arms. On this beautiful snowy day, we were both Happily Fed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


"I have secrets." I announce.

" Ooohhh, secrets?" you say, in a hushed whisper.

"Yes, oodles and oodles of secrets."

"Like what?!" you ask breathlessly.

"Well..." I begin, "I don't really like to talk about it".

"Oh COME ON! You have to tell me, I won't tell a soul, I PROMISE !" you say fervantly.

"Well, alright, I have been dying to tell someone." I say with relief. "Soo, here goes."

Deep breath. " I'm broke."


"What?that's it? No skeletons in your closet? No torrid affairs? No illegal activity? No illegitimate child fathered by some Bavarian Prince? No AA meetings? No criminal record? No plastic surgery? Nothing juicy at all? You're just broke?!" you cry.

"Yup." I say. "I'm terrible with money and now I'm in debt up to my eyeballs."

"But, but", you stammer, "that's not a good secret, everybody's broke, everybody's in debt."

"Maybe, but I'm one of the few admitting it." I say with conviction.

"How did this happen? I thought you had it all together?" you wonder.

"I was just good at acting. But a combo of school loans, stupid decisions, and a paycut are making it pretty obvious now." I say quietly.

You look at me for a moment, a little furrow in your brow as you take in what I've told you. "So what does this mean for you now?"

"It means that I will be cutting back, selling things, not going out to eat, living with less until I fix this and make it right. It might even mean a second job." I say firmly.

"A second job? Do people still do that? Isn't that, well, hard?" you say with a puzzled expression.

I sigh. "Not as hard as feeling like a failure at managing my own life."

"So that's it, really? Nothing seedy or shocking whatsoever?" you ask.

"Well...." I say with a dramatic pause. "I'll tell you this much, there may have been some plastic surgery, but if you can't tell, then I probably got my money's worth."

I walk away with my head held high, looking back only to see your mouth still hanging open.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Festival of Trees

Yesterday was my dream come true that happens once a year.

My dream come true is that we decorate for Christmas, as a family, not just me.

I love Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas. I love Christmas music. I love Jesus Christ and that he is truly the Reason for this Season.

We had big plans for a real tree this year. Not the tree farm real tree, but the get a permit go hunt it down in the real woods kind of real tree. But due to our attempt at a frugal, low key Christmas we decided that we would use the fake trees we already have. But I LOVE the way it all turned out.

The RED tree. This was the tree the whole family decorated together. Notice the awesome hand crocheted angel that my aunt gave me. Those lights are also hers (thanks Aunt Cathy). Most of our strings were without light, so thankfully she had given us a box of stuff and we didn't have to buy anything. Joy.

The BLUE tree. This was the tree that I hovered over protectively saying"It's mine, I get to do it by myself, back off!" (I wish I were joking)

This is Kate and Julia's little tree. They've got the decorating spirit. It sits in their window for all to see.

Sadly there are no pictures of us decorating. What's wrong with me? My brain is too full, obviously, of something.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A star is born

Saturday for Julia was payday.

Pay day for her patience, for her resiliency, for her belief in herself.

Last May, Julia endured with grace and maturity beyond her years, what many adults could not have endured. When her sister was given the lead role in the school play, Julia was so happy for her. She bragged to everyone that Kate was playing Dorothy. She listened happily to all of the details of rehearsals and costume fittings. Julia spent only one day feeling sad for herself when she did not get a part in the play. The rest of the time she spend being happy for her sister.

How many people could do that?

Julia did not give up. When the Missoula Children's Theatre came to Lake Wilderness Elementary for tryouts, Julia went, she gave it her all. She knew there was a chance she may not get a part again. But she didn't let that stop her. And she earned a part worthy of her talent, her patience and her tenacity.

Who knew that there were Leprechauns in the story of the Princess and the Pea! Julia played Derby, the comic relief among the Leprechauns. She spent much of the play onstage (they were narrators of sorts) and she did wonderfully. Not a line was forgotten, every facial expression a treat!

We are so proud of her and know this is just the beginning of bigger and better things!

Oh Happy Day!

(Julia is standing, in the middle) The fists were for everytime they were referred to as elves! It was quite funny, really it was.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thief in the night

Have you seen these?

They have become the bain of my existence. Charlie is OBSESSED with them. They are called Bakugan. The have managed to replace Pokemon as the coolest thing on the playground. They start as a ball. When they are put on anything metal, a little magnet inside clicks the whole ball open into some sort of character. LIke the red guy above.

Charlie saves his money for them. He trades with his friends for them. He sleeps with them and asks for nothing else for Christmas. He will hunt obsessively all over the house if he can't find one. And when one breaks, well, you can imagine the devastation.

Knowing his love of all things Bakugan, and being the smart mother I am (you'll see later why this is actually NOT true)I purchased a huge Bakugan set at Costco. This was going to be the ultimate surprise. It had everything needed for the Bakugan oficianado. I was so excited because I knew what the look on his face would be Christmas morning.

Well, not being as smart as I thought I was, I left it in the way back of the 12 passenger van on the floor behind the last of the seats. Charlie doesn't sit back there. And I was worried that if I left it in the garage he would go hunting for Christmas presents, which he has been known to do. So what better place than right under his nose, right? WRONG!!

Somehow, while I was running in somewhere, he ended up in the trunk. And spotted the Bakugan set of every little boy's dream. He was excited, I was downright super duper annoyed with myself. I told him as gently as I could that he had found his Christmas present and so it would have to go back. (A cardinal rule in my house, if you find your gift before the big day, you will not get it.)

But I reminded him that he could ask Santa for it, and maybe if he was lucky, Santa would bring it for him. See, I had a back up plan so save that oh so sad little face from bursting into tears. Well....if you know Charlie, you know that was soo not a good enough answer once he had seen the goodies.

He kept asking me for it over and over and over and over again. (I could fill a paragraph of over and overs). I said no over and over and over. Reminding him over and over and over that he could ask Santa for it. But he continued to reason that I should just give it to him since he already saw it and "MOM, what if Santa DOESN'T give it to me? What if MOm?!" I should have know then that something very bad was going to happen. Silly me.

So I locked the car and figured I would find a place to hide it while he was at school the next day. We all went to bed, end of story? Not even remotely.

I woke up around 12:30 to do something that I seem to do a lot more now in my old age, pee. I immediately sensed that something wasn't right. It felt too cold in the house. I hestitantly walked down the stairs to find the source of the cold. What I saw unnerved me quite a bit. My front door was wide open. (Insert appropriate gasps and oh no's! here)

But instead of worrying that a burglar was in my house or one of the children had finally escaped, I immediately thought of Charlie and a very large Bakugan set out in the van. (Isn't it funny how you always know?)

I had heard him wandering around after we were all in bed, but he does that a lot, so I didn't think much of it. But as my mind put two and two together I did some investigating. So out to the car I went. It was unlocked. And in the back seat, I found this...

Yes, that is the opened box. So with heavy heart I made my way up to Charlie's room. And I found this......along with my keys on the floor of his bedroom.

What did you do?you ask. Did you beat him? Wake him up and yell at him? Write him a strongly worded letter about his disobedience and blatant disregard for authority? No. I did none of those things. I just quietly gathered everything up, hid them and went back to bed.

When Charlie awoke in the morning I acted as if nothing had happened. I watched with twisted pleasure as he hunted around the house. I kept asking "are you looking for something Charlie?"

"No", he would say, and continue to search. This continued all morning. I'm not sure if he thought it was a dream or if he was losing his mind. I finally decided to help him in his fruitless search.

"Charlie?" I asked. "Is there something you want to tell me?"

Stunned silence, sheepish look. "Here it comes," I thought.

"No", he said.
Okey dokey. I stood up and continued the morning routine, waiting for him to need to get it off his chest. Finally, he came to me as I was getting Henry ready.

"Mom, you know what I did, huh?"

"Yes, Charlie"

"Can you give it to me now Mom?"

"No Charlie"


So ensued a conversation of how disappointed I was, how he thought it was all my fault, how I couldn't believe he would be so sneaky, how he thought he couldn't help it.

So now, he has to ask Santa for something else, because I'm telling Santa that Charlie can't have Bakugan's for Christmas. It's sad really. Sad that my son is so smart, clever and completely diabolical at age 6. And the saddest of all?

That I thought to take pictures of his shenanigans at 12:30 in the morning.

I wonder where he gets his obsessive personality from? Go figure.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We had an Incident

Be looking tomorrow for a recap of "The Incident". You will be amazed at the tenacity of a certain 6 year old in our house.

Loving it!

Things I am loving today. My kids artwork.

My artwork

Thanks for the inspiration NieNie
Goodwill find. (the pear tree is goodwill, the frame Ikea)

My new haircut. It seriously took me 18 minutes start to finish including shower time. That is sooo what I need right now. More time. Paula-if you see this, notice the butterfly necklace. I think of you every time I wear it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yes, I know Thanksgiving was a week ago.

The Man of my house.

It's Karaoke Time
My loverly Thanksgiving Table
One of the little Indians that ran around all day.

Lazing about

I did almost nothing yesterday.

I say almost, because well, I did do something. It just didn't fall into the category of accomplishing anything.

Anne Marie decided she did not want to go to kindergarten. I don't know why. I just got "mom, I don't waaant to go!". Who am I to say no to such reasoning? So instead of kindergarten, Anne Marie and Henry played. They played Jenga and Zingo and they colored and painted. (the last two occured mostly on eachother) They ate pretzels and fishy crackers and spilt milk and took out every toy in the baskets. Then, when the chaos was about to consume me, I put in Kung Fu Panda and they settled in for a good 15 minutes before Allen Style kung fu ensued. There was a bit of screaming, the good happy kind. There was some sword play and rolling around.

At one point Henry was covered in some sort of mushed up food so we took his clothes off and he spent a good part of the afternoon in just his diaper. Later, we dressed him (again), started Kung Fu panda (again) and Anne Marie played on the computer while I fell asleep on the couch.

My reason for all of this was that I woke up yesterday and felt a very instinctive need to cuddle Nora all day long. I brought her into bed with me in the morning after the kids got on the bus and we fell back asleep together. I sat on the couch and smooched her little fuzzy head for a good 3 hours I think. I nibbled on every delectable part, fingers, toes, cheeks, bottom lip, ears, tummy.

Anne Marie and Henry enjoyed a good nibble on her themselves. Even though Anne Marie protested that "Henry can't kiss her, he's too slobbery!!". I let him kiss her anyway.

The dishes didn't get done, not a bit of laundry was put away, I didn't blog. (Although around 3:30, I tidy'd up just a bit cuz Kate had a friend coming over. I mean really, a destroyed house is a total no no when you have a friend coming over). Anne Marie wore whatever she could find in the heaps of toys and clothes scattered about her room. And nobody brushed their teeth. But both Nora and I got much needed mommy/baby time.

Well, I must be going, I'm pretty sure I have a full schedule today.
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