Friday, November 19, 2010


Our Katrina was baptized last weekend. Because her birthday is on Veteran's Day, some relatives were able to come and share in the moments with us. We were so excited to have them come, although it made for a very busy and very full house: 18 people for 3 days.

Kristie holding Miles and Hope; Miles is holding her hand. He would be holding Faith's hand too, but I think she was asleep. Faith and Hope were born 4 days before Miles.

Katrina right before her baptism. We had some hair troubles that day. But overall, she looked lovely and it was a beautiful, autumn day.

Katrina invited her school teacher, Mrs. Webb. We were thrilled that she and her son came.

It was an especially exciting day because the church was locked and nobody had a key to get in. The bishop sent Mark off to get a key, but nobody thought to call him (I didn't have my phone) until someone else let us in and we were all sitting down. The other family was ready to go, but we were waiting for Mark's return and for Katrina's jumpsuit, which was in the van with him. Once he arrived and they changed, it started and turned out to be a lovely event. Thanks to those who waited so patiently, because it was a very important day for our girl.

Cousins together after the baptism. Matthew is being silly. Max fell asleep while Mark was driving all over creation looking for the keys, and needed to be held the entire time. I was sure grateful for extra hands!

Trying to take a family picture. Hence the invention of Photoshop?

Nana came from Alabama for the baptism. She had wanted to attend Felicity's, but Papa was dying and she really couldn't leave. We are really glad she could come this time. She definitely got her baby fix with 3 babies to hold!

Another Morris family photo attempt. Kristie and her girls are good with the cameras.

Most of the cousins together for a goodbye before the Kansans trekked back home. Miles (and I) were definitely ready for a nap at this point, Max is absent because he was napping. I think Hope and Matthew were too sad to be photographed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baby and Toddler Shenanigans

I realize it's been a long time since I've blogged. It seems that most of my journal entries have a similar introduction. Nevertheless, if I fail to keep current, I will try to blog again.

Mostly my excuse for not blogging is Miles. Book reading for me, exercising, and blogging have largely gone out the door with this child. He is a wonderful soul and we are so happy to have him in our family. Yet, he is what we call a High-Maintenance Baby. In fact, I sing a song to him along those lines when he's having an especially high-maintenance day. He is all smiles and contentment as long as you are holding him, although sometimes only you are standing up with your arm perched so. I don't mind most of the time, but it gets tiring and is particularly hard when cooking and cleaning. A soccer mom-friend observed that he looks so easy, but she knows that he is secretly a lot of work. But we love him and we're keeping him.

Have you ever used those old-fashioned sinks where there are 2 spigots, one of hot water and the other of cold? Yeah, those don't make a lot of sense to me... I'm glad they are for the most part antiquated and not coming back with other retro decor. We have an Austrian friend who says that it's like washing your hand in heaven and then in hell but never anything in between. Sometimes it seems like motherhood is like washing your hands in those sinks.

Take this morning, for instance. We were at the library when Max the Cutie announced to me that he needed to visit the bathroom, wherein he accomplished his goal of earning not one but TWO mini cookies for his fantastic production. I was very proud of him, and he continued his good behavior at the grocery store despite all temptations to do otherwise, since he saw some hot Cheetos like unto what Grandma bought for him when she was here in July and I adamantly refuse to buy. No ensuing tantrum, thankfully.

But then we got home, and after I'd unloaded the groceries, he announced to me, "I'm not in trouble!" and ran upstairs for me to survey the damaged ottoman and stuffed frog in the family room- both newly decorated with red marker. The Masked Marker Max strikes again.

Do not be deceived, he doesn't last long in the Bumbo.

Pondering future mischief

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Miles at home - the first 2 weeks

I blogged this a long time ago, but forgot to push "publish":

We have loved having a new addition to our home, although it's made life crazier than usual. Every day is a different adventure, as newborns grow and change so quickly. I only had to look at this picture of Miles in the hospital to see that he has already grown.
Miles posing for one of those baby pictures where babies pretend to be different beings other than humans(cabbages, butterflies, rutabagas, weasels):

We are always so thankful for a visit from Grandma. She is pleased as punch with our own 3 terrible twerps:

Peas porridge hot, pea porridge cold, pea porridge in the pot 9 days old. Here is Miles at 9 days, looking like a middle-aged man with a paunch. But at least he's happy about it.

Is it just me, or is there some resemblance here?

Nana and her TX grandchildren (Katrina's trying really hard to keep her eyes open)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


July 10, 2010 6:37 pm- Welcome to mortality!

The All-Sibling Picture. Matthew was grumpy because he wanted to hold the baby.

Max was super excited to see Baby Brother. He tried feeding him grapes and sting cheese after he got to hold him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


In June we took a quick trip to Houston. It was kind of a last-minute vacation, mostly to get out of town while we still could, but also to see my Uncle Charlie, Aunt Ann, and to go to the beach.

Our first outing was to the Children's Museum. It is a really fun museum- a little on the pricey side, but totally worth it.

The Bike Mechanics in their shop, making the big bucks. This was a really fun acty because they could earn a paycheck, deposit it in the bank, and withdraw funds to pay for needs/wants, and save the rest.

Water table fun outside- it was really hot and humid, but the water helped keep us cool. This was the boys' favorite part.

We went home to eat a great dinner and rest, thanks to the great hospitality of my family members. We all slept really well, which was good because the next day we went to the beach.
Building sand castles in the blistering sun. My poor swimsuit was stretched to the limit! (37 wks pregnant)

Max loved the water. He's trying to look polynesian here.

Not really sure what's going on here. We had lots of dramatic poses. Obviously we all had a great time.

Katrina's favorite thing was collecting shells- mostly tiny broken bits, but she collected whatever she could find. She has quite an affinity for small pieces of beauty.

We cleaned up -nothing feels so good as a shower when you're covered in sand, saltwater, sunscreen, and sweat. I lay down for a couple minutes and then we bid Aunt Ann and Uncle Charlie goodbye. It was a fun trip, even though we were only gone about 36 hours- which is pretty fast considering we drove about 11 hours of that.

Sadly, we came home to discover that our fridge/freezer in the garage had been left open, which meant a ton of thawed gross food. But it didn't ruin Father's Day. I think it was really Black and White Polka Dot Day- actually just a coincidence! But we had to take a picture.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bizarro Kitchen

Mark and I recently did a bunch of work in our kitchen. We thought we were possibly going to move, and asked a Realtor friend for advice about improvements we'd already considered. She gave us some input about what things should be our priorities and we decided to go for the kitchen. I thought about the "Before" pictures the day we started taking things apart; I was in the middle of babysitting for a friend and making cookies but you know if you don't take the pictures when you think of it they won't ever happen.

We decided to paint the cabinets white. I've always liked white cabinets and before I ever bought a house I thought I'd like white cabinets because of their classic look. However, we had white counters and backsplash and it seemed like it might wash out the room too much. So we decided to wait until we replaced the counters, which probably needed to happen since our previous ones had some damage (like drilled holes). What I was seriously wrong about was how much work it was going to be. We've painted a number of things, but this was just a ton of work. After all, we have a lot of cupboards: 34 doors and 16 drawers. It took probably 4 or 5 times as long as I'd thought. Mark was incredibly supportive of the project in every possible way.

What we ended up doing was buying a sprayer and spraying the cabinet doors. We laid them out in the garage on top of a tarp and sprayed. ( I took a picture of that, but it's on another computer which is currently in PA) It was a whole lot faster, although there was some learning curve with that, too. Since we have little kids and additional responsibilities, most of the work was done late at night. After one particular spraying session and the Day of the Countertops/New Sink & faucet, we waited a day and 1/2 to return to the project. Unfortunately, the cupboard doors stuck to the tarp. It took a lot of scraping and sanding to recover from that. Ultimately, Mark finished the project while I tried to keep the kids out of his way. With the new backsplash, I think our kitchen looks a lot different. We still have lots of touching up and the hardware pulls/knobs to add, but with my ADD tendencies, it may be awhile before I get to that.

And we determined that the new look is very different: a bizarro version of the kitchen we had before. Well, not totally- same basic structure and appliances. But the coloring is different on the surfaces: we had brown cabinets, white backsplash and counters, more brown cabinets, and a brown floor. Now all that is reversed! I told Mark it was like seeing the white version of him, or the black version of me. We had all sorts of fun imagining what the white Mark would look like: would he have red hair? Blond? Pale, freckled skin? And what about me? Would I have an afro or super short hair?

Of course the irony here is the same irony that applies to my insistence to replace carpet with wood floors: the girl who hates to sweep is also the one whose college roommate told me to decorate my kitchen in a "Spatter" theme (since I do enjoy cooking and baking but not so much cleaning). So yeah, white cabinets? Turns out they need a lot of wipedowns. That's okay, I can force myself into cleanliness.

The Happy Feet Spa

Wow, it sure takes me awhile to get around to posting things. We took this trip in the middle of May, I uploaded the pictures in June, and am just now pushing the "publish" button. We took a trip to Kansas on a last-minute spontaneous adventure. Mark and I wanted to vote in the very controversial mayoral election that morning, so we had a bit later start than we wanted (who knew how long the lines would be at 7 am on a Saturday at City Hall?!?), but we were blessed to make fabulous time and only had one 9-minute stop for gas and visiting the facilities. I stamped my legs as much as possible to get the circulation going.

The reason for the trip was our niece/cousin's baptism day! We were so happy to join her on this special occasion and made it just in the nick of time, thanks to changing in the car. She just glowed with joy.

The baptism girl with some cousins and siblings

Three sisters (in-law) all pregnant at the same time... Alice (far right) has since delivered. Kristie is having twins, so hers will probably be next. A child took this picture, which is why it's a less-than flattering view.

Katrina and Maria sharing a drink at Chili's afterward- Martha's pick of restaurant.

For Mother's Day, the children organized "The Happy Feet Spa" for the mothers and/or willing fathers. They gave massages, rubbed lotion, fanned us... it was very nice.

The best part of these trips is all the time we got to spend together. Only 500 miles and we have wonderful family members with whom to talk and play. Too bad we can't drop a zero (or two) from that mileage...

The Single Season of Texas

You thought this post would be about the hot TX summers, admit it! Well sorry to disappoint you, it's actually not- although it is a rant. To explain the seasonal reference: When I was a college student living in Utah, I was riding the bus one day to my dental appointment and overheard a conversation in which someone said, "There are 2 seasons to Utah: Winter, and Construction." (Mind you, this was in the mid-90s) If that is the case, then TX has one season: construction, construction, construction.

I realize that I am extremely whiny about this, and should be more patient with my town's growing pains. The city has grown by about 20-30% just in the 4 years since we've moved here, and it grew much more rapidly the ten years before that. Naturally, there are many adaptations that need to be made because of traffic patterns and residential and commercial changes. Most of it has not been too awful, because I prefer taking the back roads anyway. For that reason, I didn't even know the main road was finished until a few weeks after the fact. They did a great job and didn't take nearly as long as they could have. The next town spent a year and a half on one lousy intersection, just to add a silly turning lane and let me tell you, they chose to continue the traffic problems. So at least my town's better in that regard.

But the other main drag, a street which affects me more, they don't seem to be doing anything on! Which wouldn't be that big of a deal, except that they tore up the limited road that we had, reducing the already stifled amount of traffic that can pass on this highway. I know it's cheaper and more efficient, not to mention probably a lot more fun, to rip up road even if there are no plans to get to that road for awhile. But can there be some sort of deadline on when it gets done following the demolition?

My other beef is that the Construction Gnomes are busy trying to make life miserable for as many people as possible. You know what I'm talking about: they finish the road in spots, but does anyone get to drive on it? Of course not! They also pull little hilarious pranks like move a bunch of cones in an odd formation just so they can watch cars try to negotiate the new dimensions. Naturally, there are no needs for such cone manipulation. I think I brought on the Wrath of the Construction Gods one day because someone moved the cones and I had the guts to drive on the new road. The next day, they were back up in a swirly design, lest I lose my head and take that initiative again.

But that's all I can complain about for awhile, since this industry might be the livelihood of my family for the coming days...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Talent Vs.Hard Work

Recently, we have been making some improvements around the house. In some cases, it's taken quite a bit longer than we anticipated, and been much harder as well. I am really grateful for Mark for undertaking these tasks, despite having very little background in the Mr. Fix-It business, that is to say, almost none before we bought our house in 2006. However, since then he has:
  • Replaced the garbage disposal; installed the dishwasher- twice
  • Drained several clogged sinks and tubs
  • Taken apart the toilet to extract mysterious deposits from Max (a onesie plus a toothbrush); then put it back together
  • Painted/Stained numerous surfaces after repairing drywall and retexturing
  • Installed several light fixtures
  • Repaired appliances and machines
  • blah blah blah
I must admit, I have not always had complete confidence in his abilities, probably partly because my own father has not always succeeded in his efforts and sometimes a Trusted Neighbor or Father/Son-in-Law has come to the rescue. But both of them try, which is definitely saying something. And Mark has learned a lot. When we got a new sink last month, he spent much of his birthday reworking the plumbing since he had to switch a lot of pipes and move the garbage disposal to the other side, in addition to the new faucet. But he did it! And it works very well.

Some people seem to be blessed with natural ability to figure these things out, taking things apart and reworking them even from childhood. One time, I vacuumed up something that Matthew loved (and I had deemed "trash"), and he told me a few minutes later that he had rescued it from the belly of the vacuum. I did not believe his 3-year-old story, until I saw said item and he showed me how he had taken apart the vacuum and retrieved it from the bag, afterward putting all back together. Not that this is anything amazing, but I was surely much older when I even thought of opening a vacuum. My own construction/plumbing projects have met largely with frustration and disaster; I just don't think I have the mind to intuitively see how things work and to reconstruct. I lack "the knack".

We were talking about this at a Book Club meeting recently (we sometimes go off subject), and I noted that it is similar in my mind to how some people just don't have an "ear" for music, which I've noticed as their piano teacher. My own musical talents are limited, but I have taught enough beginners to notice when some students can really catch on, most improve after practice, and others struggle. This is not to say that hard work and practicing don't make a difference- I think most people can learn to play the piano if they are diligent practicers. However, for some it takes so much more work that it seems like another endeavor would better suit their time (Like me in the sports department), unless it is something they are determined enough to work hard for and eventually succeed, with patience and perseverance on their part, as well as the teacher's.

Upon further reflection however, I've thought back to the students I've had who are extremely talented, and realized that their talents can sometimes become their downfall. Because they can sightread well, they know they don't have to practice very much and can basically show up to their lessons unprepared. In addition, it is hard for the Artist Within to listen to the Voice of Experience, who might make suggestions about fingering, rhythm, practicing methods, etc. And so ultimately, they don't progress very much, at least not with me. (Admittedly, I'm much more of a note-reader than an improviser/composer.) I guess that's why I've concluded that when it comes down to a contest between talent and hard work, the work ethic wins: even a minimal amount of talent is magnified and as a side benefit, the person is stronger for his efforts, even though it has taken so much more work than for someone with natural ability.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How are you doing today? I feel like __________

I'm not intending for naughty words to go through your head; just to allow you the freedom to fill in the blank on your own. Rest assured, my blank is not "sunshine," "lollipops," or "rainbows". No, I feel more like I swallowed a watermelon, followed by a cantaloupe (which lodged itself in my chest), and finished the meal with a lemon. The lemon is stuck in my throat and trying to squeeze all its highly acidic juice all over the place in an attempt to join the party.

Recently, I read a report that when asked, "Are you finding everything okay?" by store employees, shoppers universally dismissed possible help, even if the shoppers actually needed help locating something. The article was basically stating that this was marketing at its worst- mindless questions become even more meaningless when asked routinely; it is more effective to ask specifically if the shopper needed this or that, or to point out things on sale.

I'm no marketing genius, but I do know that people frequently answer the questions, "How are you?" and "How's your day been?"-type questions with the same blank answers. Face it, do random strangers (or even good acquaintances) really want to know what's on my mind? "Actually, I'm recovering from the stomach flu [insert revealing details here], which is the real reason why I'm leaning over this cart, not entirely because of my large pregnant belly that I know you're dying to touch. Also, this store is way too crowded- you have corn husks all over the back, and people are swarming over the zucchini like 88 cents a pound is giving it away."

So why do we ask the questions? Is it poor manners to smile and say hello? I do appreciate conversation, after living in the northeast all of those years of the cold shoulder/suspicious glares/polite reserve if I say a few words. (It's still a little disarming, but in the end, you have to love the Texan hospitality/nosiness/"Bless their hearts...") I guess I really don't know. Tradition? Policy? Rules of etiquette? In any case, it's one of the oddities that makes up our culture. Since it keeps us talking, I shouldn't wonder and just accept that it's just one of the things we do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Arizona's awesome freeway system

Oh yeah, blogging... kind of have forgotten about this world since I am now sharing a computer and seem to have short moments to check information, not time to upload photos or wax philosophic on goings-on or life in abstract.

So I am decidedly behind, and will be making an attempt to catch up.

Mark suddenly has a lot more time with us and helped me go on a short trip recently, a last-minute vacation to Arizona. I hadn't been in 9 years, but I wanted to go visit my sister, who has visited me in nearly every place I've lived. She is expecting a child too, and since her husband is in dental school and his summer break is when I'm (hopefully) finishing up the M baby bake, my yearly pilgrimage to the Homestead will undoubtedly not coincide with her family's. So Mark gave me some ff points and I flew off with the sunrise a week later.

It was a nice trip. I enjoyed the break from regular life and it was a trip down memory lane: remembering grad school, apartment living, and life with one child. I think it was a bit exhausting for Ms. 8 months along, but we had a good time and I was also able to see some much beloved friends and family whom I hadn't seen in years. I was truly grateful to see them again and thankful they took the time to visit with me, even with just a last-minute notice. Part of that is due to AZ's great freeways, which easy access makes the Ferg apartment only 20 minutes from just about everywhere, except for one friend, who drove over 2 hours to make it happen.

Among our other activities, Aaron took me on a tour of his school, Arizona School of Dental & Oral Health. It was very techno-advanced and a lot of fun to see what and where he's learning the ways of dentistry. I used to work for dentists but never got to do anything cool (just a lowly filing clerk), unlike on this tour, where Aaron let me drill a tooth.

Heidi and Will. Just for the weekend, Will helped fill the hole in my heart where I was missing my own little shadow, who is just a couple months older than his cousin, and has a similar personality.

Aaron showing me (I'm in the geeky dental glasses) how to operate the drill while Will makes mischief.

Heidi and I went to the Mesa temple, and tried to get some fruit afterwards. It was lovely weather there and so nice to see the sun again.

The Hansen girls flanking the thin B'bents as we had a mini-cousins' reunion.

It was probably not as relaxing for my hosts, but I was definitely more rested and ready for life upon returning 5 days later. I wish I could go visit all of my family members, who are scattered around the country.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A couple of days in Talladega

Since Mark has the time to travel, we decided to spontaneously go to Alabama for Spring Break. We waited until after the Open House the elementary school was hosting, in which hundreds (thousands?) of students and parents and siblings mill around a space intended for much fewer numbers, to ooh and ahh over the work done up to that point in the academic school year.

But it's good to be invited into the school at all, and to see my children proud of what they have accomplished. Besides, it was raining and there was a cool rainbow we went out to see from the schoolyard. Max has been talking about it ever since.

But then we set off on our trip, which is about a 700 mile journey, so leaving at 7 pm put us crossing the Mississippi close to 1 am, which is when we decided to cash in on some Marriott points and crash in a motel. We made it to our destination the next day, which was a condo out in the sticks, the closest town being Talladega, where famous race cars speed around a track that we didn't see. We were too busy chilling at the condo, where Mark's mother and sister's family joined us too. It was fun to go somewhere else besides the family house and the weather was cooperative enough that the kids went out and dug in the sand or threw rocks in the lake, with Mark or Kelley supervising.

We took turns cooking, and the condo was a great deal. Although I was rather exhausted from all the travel and moving stuff in and out... plus being in a growth stage of pregnancy, it was good to get together with the other part of the Morris family,. Mark did a great job of entertaining kids, and Nana got a little break from the crazy teaching schedule she does week in and week out. And Kelley and Rewa from their usual busy lives enforcing and defending the law in Atlanta.

We found a church to go to on Sunday, which ward was extremely excited about our attending... they were very small, and we looked to be a bigger family, since we had our 4 kids plus nephew. Hey, that's big for 'Bama. That afteroon, after Rewa finished making dinner, we ran outside to get some pictures together.

Matthew was trying really hard to fall in. The water was disgusting enough under the docks that I told him I would not go in after him.
View from the balcony it was too chilly to use.
We stayed the last night with Aunt Rita, who recently turned 50, so we celebrated by having a late-night fried chicken meal and banana pudding. Actually, Felicity requested Nana's specialty meal, but it counts, right?
Mark and Nana went to do some legal stuff and we went to the park in Hueytown for the kids to get out some wiggles before resuming the trek home.

It was a long drive home, but thanks to books on CD from the library, we made it in one piece! (A little forlorn at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows though- Felicity asked, "Why do you have to get such sad books???") We love books on CD. The only unappreciative one is Max, who gets sick of his carseat regardless of entertainment.