Keeping Up With the Jameses

Adventures in Modern Day Motherhood

I Totally Know How to Party November 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 9:31 pm

Whew!  I think I must have entered some sort of time warp because this week FLEW by in a blur of assemblies, church activities, and candy wrappers.  Before I knew it, Saturday was upon me.  I went to work (there are always at least five teachers at school every Saturday), ran some errands, and then I got to hang out with one of my most awesome friends for her (a few weeks late) birthday.

We began our evening with some yummy Sri Lankan food at the Banana Leaf. 

ImageWhy yes, that is a terrible food picture.  It could be worse though – at least I haven’t started taking duck-face selfies yet.

Once our appetites were appeased, it was time for the real fun to begin.

That’s right – we went to Barnes and Noble. 

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for me to call attention to an extremely disturbing Christmas trend.

Elf on the Shelf.

From the website:  “The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.”

Sounds innocent enough, right?


Exhibit A:


He’s creepy.  Just…creepy.  I don’t know about you, but even as an adult, the thought of that disturbed little elf prowling around the house and spying on me is the stuff of nightmares.  

Apparently, the Elf of the Shelf people are out to ensure that every child in America is suffering from terror induced sleep deprivation, because there were Elf displays EVERYWHERE.  I now give you exhibit B:





But wait – it gets worse.

Now you can accessorize your Elf.

With a sparkly skirt.

Exhibit C:



Because nothing says “Christmas Cheer” like a pint-sized cross-dressing pedophilic elf.

In case having the manic little goblin stare silently at you while you’re going about your day isn’t enough, you can also get interactive with your elf.

Exhibit D:




I really wish that I had more time to spend on this post, because I haven’t even come close to describing the true horror of the elf.

And just in case you aren’t convinced that the elf is the most insidiously creepy toy ever invented, I’ve saved the most horrifying part for last.

Exhibit E:  The BIRTHDAY Elf



That’s right.  It’s not enough for the Elf to terrify small children during Christmas time.  Now he’s out to ruin their birthdays, too.

While wearing a sexy cupcake costume.

I’ll just let you digest that for a minute. 

Sweet dreams tonight.

Oh, and lest you think that I spent the entire evening obsessing over an evil elf, I also did some serious shopping.

I present to you exhibit F:

ImageI think this needs to be my new coffee table book.


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! November 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 9:14 pm

Ah, Halloween.  So much fun, so little time.

My cute scouts carved some jack-o-lanterns all by themselves.




Believe it or not, no blood was shed during the carving of these pumpkins.

I wish I wish I wish I could show you some pictures of my sweet second graders on Halloween day.  We had a BLAST!  I loved having a day to just have fun with my students (now, now, don’t worry – we did some math – in the dark with flashlights and spooky music playing in the background).

Bizzie began the month with a very cute Minnie Mouse costume.  Then she broke the ears.  Then she lost the ears.  She ended up being a …princess?…doll?…mobster wife?…instead.


Please ignore the messy porch.  We had a rotten pumpkin incident.  Yes, it was nasty.

Also please ignore the non-traditional trick-or-treating bags.  It’s possible that I forgot that tiny detail.  Or maybe I just knew that giant gift bags would hold more candy.

No worries, though.  The Halloween weather was beautiful, and the munchkins have been solely subsisting on candy all weekend long.

And the weather now?  It’s snowing.


Apparently I Should Have Just Hit the Hornet October 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 6:37 pm

Did I say that I was going to do bi-weekly posts?  I meant weekly.  My bad.

Remember how a few months ago the girls and I went on a zipline?  This week, it was the boys’ turn.  (Except for Daniel.  He doesn’t believe in having fun.)

We arrived at the gear up station (no idea what it’s actually called) a few minutes late, thanks to a wrong turn taken by the driver.  (The driver is blaming it on taking too much cold medicine in a futile effort to avoid hacking up a lung mid-zipline.)  (And yes, I am the driver.  This is why I should totally be on the Amazing Race – I am constantly getting lost.  It would make for very entertaining tv.)

Jakester was SUPER excited.  He grinned ear to ear the whole time he was putting his harness on.  I took the obligatory pre-zipline picture of the boys and then…


Joshua said something was poking him under his chin strap.  I checked it out, and much to Josh’s dismay, it was a hornet.  A very calm hornet.  A hornet that was not about to move off of the warm softness of Josh’s throat.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to hit it and risk it stinging Josh, so I did what any good mom would do and took some pictures instead.


It was only after taking a dozen pics or so that I realized it had already stung poor Josh.  So I did what any good mom would do and smacked the hornet (and Josh) as hard as I could with my glove.  The hornet flew off angrily and Josh…

…well, Josh wasn’t too happy with me.

Now that the hornet was taken care of, it was time to load up in the giant van that takes tour groups to the top of the mountain.  The last time I went ziplining, I was in a middle seat on the passenger side of the van, so I just assumed that we were on a safe little mountain road.  This time, I could see exactly what we were driving on.  Holy dangerous narrow high up road, Batman!  Now that I’ve seen the “road,” I seriously think the drive up is the most dangerous part of the whole ziplining experience.  Yikes!

We were miraculously able to reach our destination without further mishap, and then the zipping began.  The boys took to it like pros, although it was quite comical to watch the tour guides trying to attach tiny little Jakester to the lines.  I tried to get some action shots, but this is the best I could do:



WP_001302Oops – stopped too soon.

There was a small incident on the third line where the tour guide on the receiving end of the line accidentally threw Jakob’s brake out onto the line instead of the emergency brake, and as he was desperately trying to bring it back in nearly had a collision with Josh, who had been sent down after we mistook the guide’s frantic waving for the “all clear” signal.  I’m told it was kind of hilarious, but unfortunately I hadn’t gone down the line yet and didn’t get to see it.

Here the munchkins are on the last line.



All done!  We can’t wait to go again next year!

WP_001305Hmmm…maybe I should have adjusted his helmet.



Surprise – I’m Still Here! October 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 8:32 pm

I know – you’ve all (all three of you) been waiting with bated breath to see what I’ve been up to.  Sorry – July and August sort of got away from me and September just about killed me.  Luckily for you, today I Skyped with Daniel and he requested that I resume blogging.  (Awww….he misses us.)  Luckily for me, my trusty phone managed to capture a teensy bit of my life from the past few months.

And now, without further ado, I present….

A ridiculously brief recap of the past three months as told by the contents of my phone gallery.


We enjoyed a fantabulous but all too brief family reunion smack dab in the middle of the most gorgeous mountains in Utah.  There I was, enjoying the best that Mother Nature has to offer and visiting with families members that I only get to see once or twice a year, and guess what the only thing I thought to take pictures of was:


That’s right – a Calvin and Hobbes-style snowman family created by Daniel during a rainstorm.  Because who needs pictures of actual people when you have playdough?  Sometimes I’m not very good at life.

The munchkins had swimming lessons.  Jakester can now go off the diving board all by himself – no life jacket needed.  Or at least that’s what he thinks.  Those of us watching from the sidelines are never quite sure that he’s going to make it out of the water.


And as for Bizzie…she can now put her face in the water and blow bubbles.


I successfully fought off the urge to join my favorite cows in their swimming hole during a particularly hot run.   It does NOT pay to sleep in when you have a long run planned in the middle of summer.



Daniel turned 19.  See how excited he looks?  He moved up to the eeeevil U a few weeks later.  I’m still trying to get over the pain of having a Ute in the family.


Don’t mock the girlie birthday cake.  Daniel decided that it’s deliciousness was worth any teasing he might have to endure for choosing it.

When I realized that school was about to start and our carefree summer was about to end, I went into summer-fun-having overdrive mode.

First, Sarah, Em, and I spent some quality girl time getting pedicures.


We went ziplining instead.  It was much more fun.

Before we headed up the mountain, we amused our fellow zipliners as we unsuccessfully attempted to take a group photo.  After about seventy bazillion attempts, we finally managed to get a keeper:


I am not even kidding when I say that that’s the best picture we got.  And why didn’t anyone tell me to fix my helmet?

Em and I went horseback riding with some friends.  I think that I love riding even more than hiking.  Now I need to get rich so that I can buy some horses.  Or maybe I can just steal Sadie.  Russ…Mindy…what do you think?


And in the spirit of continuing the adventure, we went to the Olympic Museum at Park City.

Emma and Jakob tore up the track.


Daniel, Josh, and Biz?  Not so much.  Those big boys love their brakes.

Jakester couldn’t get enough of the ropes courses.  He totally lapped some buff college dudes on one of the challenge courses.  The look on their faces when they realized that a small-for-his-age seven-year-old was showing them up was priceless.


School started, and I was introduced to the cutest class of second graders on the planet.  Seriously.  I love them.

But….in between teaching a grade that I had absolutely NO experience with, soccer games, football games, church activities, and GETTING A PR IN A HALF MARATHON, I might have been just a tiny bit overwhelmed with life.

So I gained a lot of weight and started fighting with my fellow teachers.

Sorry, Facebook friends, that joke never gets old.  Unless you’re not me.

This brings us to October, which has been a much better month.

We found some time for hiking and climbing.



And we headed to Jakers (best. pumpkin patch. ever) to enjoy some dangerous fun pick up some pumpkins.WP_001234Jakob had just jumped off those really high hay bales in that picture.

WP_001236Bizzie was the only one with enough common sense to walk through the maze instead of on it.

We rode the train up to the big city for some Fall Break fun.  Pssst….don’t ever go to Discovery Gateway.  Trust me on this one.


We also caught a football game.  BYU won because we were there.  I think they should give us season tickets.


Our beloved Sabrina endured a very difficult shed.  We were sure she was dead twice.  We even all started crying over her crumpled, broken body once.  Then she got up and started walking around and we felt kind of silly but also very relieved.  Someone please tell me that tarantulas can live forever, because I don’t think we’ll be able to handle it when she really does die.

By the way, have you ever wanted to see a close-up of tarantula fangs?


You’re welcome.

This all brings us to today.  The combination of long teacher hours and short winter days was wreaking havoc with my running, which in turn was wreaking havoc with my sanity.  The girls and I put together my solution tonight.


Please ignore the safety cord thingy in front of Bizzie’s face.

After all that hard work, we rewarded ourselves by decorating some sugar cookies.


Whew!  Not that I’m all caught up, I can begin a serious of ridiculously brief biweekly posts dedicated to Daniel.

He’s going to regret this.


June Ketchup June 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 9:54 pm

Yep.  June happened.  Here’s the recap.

Week One:

Jennifer is delighted to learn that she will be teaching second grade next year.  She spends the rest of the month throwing away box after box after box of junk inherited from not one, but two retiring teachers. 

ImageOh, the clutter.  I am pleased to report that it is looking much better now.  Pictures are on their way.

Jennifer also successfully completes another half marathon.  She chooses not to focus on her finish time and instead defines “successfully” as “finishing without dying.”

ImageThat’s right – I took a picture of the computer screen with my phone.  I was fully prepared to pay up to $10 for a real digital copy.  Unfortunately, the photo people were charging $35.

Week Two:

Jennifer, Sarah, Emma, Joshua, Jakob, and Elisabeth hop into the Suburban for a fun-filled trip to the California Redwoods.

ImageThe drive up was just the tiniest bit desolate.

ImageWe made a quick stop at Crater Lake.  A-MA-ZING!

ImageThat night, we stayed in an adorable little cabin next to a creek.  Canoes were even provided. 

ImageThis looks like a picture of Sarah paddling peacefully downstream.  It isn’t.  Instead, it is a picture of Sarah shivering her way downstream after she and Emma managed to tip their canoe over mid-ride. 

ImageThe look on Emma’s face says it all.  Later that night, Sarah got attacked by a bird.  Not kidding.

ImageThe Redwoods were unreal.  Pictures cannot possibly do them justice.  You’ll just have to go visit them yourself.

ImageImageWe also made friends with some sharks.

ImageImageAnd of course, played in some tide pools.

ImageImageImageImageImageWe also went on a boat ride where we saw a pair of golden eagles fighting over a stick mid-air.  Seriously.

Week Three:

Jakob turns seven!

ImageBizzie might be a little bit excited.

Week Four:

Sarah loses her python in the springs of the living room couch.  After much coaxing and facebook frivolity, she finally manages to coax him out.



A Soldier Came Home For the Last Time Today May 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 4:38 pm

This afternoon our community came together to honor Cody Towse as he returned to his home town.

He went to school with Sarah, and she says he was an incredibly nice kid.  It’s no surprise that he died trying to save others.

I am heartbroken for his family.



Oh May, You Always Get the Best of Me May 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommyoffive @ 9:49 pm

Every year at this time, you can find me doing a happy dance.  This is largely because once again, I somehow managed to survive the month of May.

Here’s a super quick recap:

I spent four weeks subbing in the cutest class ever.  The good news – this age group has a focus on outdoor education, which meant that I got paid to go camping.  The bad news – they also focus on the arts, which meant that I had to teach dance.  When it comes to anything requiring rhythm and skill, I am so, soooooo white.

Here are a few pictures from one of our field trips (I can actually post them, since no faces are showing):

WP_000714Bird watching

WP_000715I’ve been spotted!

WP_000717We had just finished reading Holes, and the kids were super excited when they found wild onions to eat.

Speaking of school, Daniel graduated again.

WP_000727And again.WP_000783He attended a small high school with an academic focus, so as every graduate walked onto the stage, his/her scholarships and educational aspirations were announced.  You can imagine our surprise when Daniel’s turn came and his principal proudly proclaimed to the world that Daniel would be studying dentistry at Westminster.  Oops.  Although for one brief, shining moment, I thought that Daniel’s decision to attend the U really was just a bad dream…

Moving on to GOOD universities, BYU held a fan fest just a few short blocks from our house.

Bizzie slid…

WP_000746Jakob flirted…

WP_000763And Josh got a super cool football signed by all of his heroes, including none other than the great Bronco Mendenhall.  (I am trying not to focus on the fact that I miss LaVell Edwards desperately.)

WP_000762Yep, they make those uniforms look good.

WP_000765We also endured enjoyed another Pinewood Derby.


Why yes, that is a cute pink princess.  Don’t judge.

Joshua chose to break with tradition and turned his block of wood into a skateboard.  And not just any old fancy-schmansy skateboard, but the old, beat up, ugly skateboard that we have hiding in our garage.  Sigh…

WP_000708Yes, we have in fact cut Josh’s hair since this picture was taken.  Again, don’t judge.

And now that I’ve successfully established a judgement free zone on my blog, I’ll make a small confession.


I almost forgot Bizzie’s birthday.

Not even kidding.  As I was putting the munchkins to bed on a Saturday night, the horrible realization hit me that Biz’s birthday was the next day, and I was completely UNPREPARED.

Luckily, the blonde little thing still has no concept of dates, so we just bumped her birthday to Monday, instead.

She chose to have dinner at Chuck-E-Cheese.

WP_000731Sometimes the games require a little bit of cheating teamwork. 

WP_000745You’ll never believe this, but this cake was actually…wait for it…YUMMY!

School FINALLY ended on Friday.  What better way to celebrate than a full moon lift ride at Sundance?

WP_000802We Jameses take our pictures very seriously.

WP_000804The girls were in the car in front of us, thus making it possible for them to turn around and mock me every time the lift stopped.  Ski lifts are almost as terrifying as ferris wheels.

Josh and Jakester rode with me.  This cute happy face made all the terror worth it.

WP_000807*A quick note about the lift ride.  You’ll notice that it isn’t very dark in these pictures.  I like to time it so that we start up the mountain while the sun is just beginning to set.  That way, we can see the gorgeous mountain (and deer, and wild turkeys) on our way up, and we hit the top of the mountain just as the moon is rising, which is mucho cool.  The lift ride takes about fifty minutes, so it’s completely dark on our way back down the mountain.  It works out perfectly!

Now that school is out, you may be wondering what I’ll be doing with all of my extra time.

I’m wondering the same thing.