Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rules of the Road


Every family needs rules as they go through life's journey together.  It's my humble opinion that children thrive with rules by which to govern themselves.  Rules created in mutual agreement, for the good of the family in total.  Unchanging general guidelines by which to judge their life choices.  I'm a firm believer.  I made this canvas for our home this week as a gentle, loving reminder of our rules.  This in stark contrast to the our old rules, scrawled on a poster board with a Sharpie in true Moses-like fashion (a la the Ten Commandments) in angry response to a violent disagreement between my then six year old daughter and four year old son wherein one got a door slammed on his fingers.  Those rules included such things as "Mom and Dad are the boss.  The ONLY boss!  Children are NOT the boss."  and,  "Bedroom doors are a privilege, not a right!"  I'm a little calmer now.  And a lot more humble.  So our rules focus on the positive behaviors we would like our children to develop.  Things that, for the most part, we see them doing on a regular basis.  Things that we can all strive for as a family.  Things like:  ask first; say thank you; use kind words; be the bigger person; say your prayers; share everything (except bad ideas); act responsibly; be respectful; choose wisely; encourage your siblings . . . share in their joy; clean up after yourself; and count your blessings.  I considered also adding "Wear pants in the common areas of the house", but decided some dirty laundry isn't meant to be aired.  You're welcome.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

A Good Cause

This is what we did last weekend.  We made "treasure boxes" of school supplies to be distributed locally  to teachers in need through Treasures 4 Teachers.  We went to the store as a family and let loose on the school supply aisle.  I've always loved buying paper and scissors and crayons and such.  Oh, and pens . . . especially pens.  It's an(other) odd little obsession of mine.  Then we came home and all the kids wrote the nicest notes while I wrapped.  "Thank you for this opportunity," wrote D, my second grader as Ri etched out his sentiments in his best cursive.  Sydney bopped away, listening to her iPod while Brent cracked jokes and tried to guess which ribbon I was going to use with each paper.  Such a fun Saturday afternoon.

(The fact that it also counts for Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Day" program didn't hurt either . . .  Disneyland for fall break again?  Don't mind if we do!) 

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

One Year Ago . . .

. . . I was happily preparing to go on a week-long cruise to Mexico.  NOT stressing about teaching a class or cleaning up dog vomit.  Those were happier times.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Soothing Frazzled Nerves

I'm nervous about teaching at Women's Conference on Saturday.  Really nervous.  I'll be fine.  I'm prepared.  But the anticipatory jitters are killing me.  So I decided to craft to take my mind off of it all.  And because I wanted to make something really cute to decorate my table with on Saturday.
Do you like it?!  I think it's beautiful.  (If I do say so myself.)  It's a combo of two ideas I stole from Amy at The Idea Room and Lindsay at Living With Lindsay.  I had an old copy of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood that I got at Goodwill for a quarter one time.  I had intended at the time to read it . . . I guess now if a situation ever comes up where I need to be divinely inspired by the Ya-Ya's secrets I'll just have to rent the dvd.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it after Saturday, but it served it's purpose today.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

History in the Making

I've been asked to teach a class about writing personal histories at our Stake Women's Conference this Saturday.  It's something that I'm passionate about, I guess, though I didn't really realize it until now.  As I was researching what kinds of things are considered personal histories, I realized I had done all of them . . . collections of letters I have written, journals, photo histories, collections of memorabilia . . . all of them in my possession.  I can remember writing in my journal when I was a teen, wondering if one of my descendants would one day read the experiences I was recording.  (I have since re-read many of those journal entries and they will be of little to no worth to anyone, ever, I am sure.  Except for maybe a good laugh.)  In my research for the class I  found a beautiful quote from John H. Groberg, the man whose personal history was the basis for the movie The Other Side of Heaven.  He said,
"There is something eternal in the very nature of writing, as is so graphically illustrated by the scriptures themselves.  In a very real sense, our properly written histories are a very important part of our family scripture and become a great source of spiritual strength to us and to our posterity. ... I have a strong feeling that when this life is over, our personal and family histories and the influence they wield will be of much greater importance than we now think." 
I have recently had this little old blog of mine published into a book, using the Blurb website.  I don't know if it's "properly written", but it is what I have to leave behind as a record of these past few years in the lives of my family.  And, for what it's worth, I'm proud of that.  Spencer W. Kimball, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said, " . . . let no family go into eternity without having left their memoirs for their children, their grandchildren, and their posterity".  I agree whole-heartedly.  I want those who come after me to know who I was, what I believed, and how I lived.  Whether or not they will find it inspirational remains to be seen.  Hopefully they'll learn, at the very least, that I strongly believe in laughing your way through the hard times, looking for the silver linings in the dark clouds, and supporting those you love.  It's humbling to think about what you are doing now and how it fits into the grand scheme of things.  Kind of makes me want to do better and pull a little more of my own weight.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Dilemma

Last night my son brought up an interesting "what if" scenario:

D:  What if me and Ri were hanging off a cliff and you could only save one of us?  Who would you choose?

Me:  I don't think I could choose.  I'd probably let both of you fall so that the one I saved wouldn't bring back bad memories.  Yep, I'd have to let you both fall and start over by having two new boys.  (Yeah, baby.  I'm not getting caught in that trap.  Ha, HA!)

D:  Well, then your two new boys would probably be ugly.  What then?

An interesting dilemma, indeed.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heartbreak

This is what an eleven-year-old's broken heart looks like:
She was running home so as not to be late for dinner.  And then she fell.  On the bright side, it still works perfectly . . .

This is what a happily married, thirty-six-year-old woman's broken heart looks like:
Dumb, dumb dog has had it in for that one spot on the rug since we got her.  This morning as I slept late and the children blissfully watched cartoons she seized her opportunity.  On the bright side, misery loves company . . .   Sis and I are two sorry, sad souls today.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Do You Know This Man?


He has become somewhat of a hero in our home.  Dylan is a little bit obsessed with him and his adventures solving mysteries of history for the Discovery channel.  Yes, this {piece of man candy} is Olly Steeds.  Together Dylan and I have joined him on his searches for the Arc of the Covenant, the lost city of Atlantis, and the Amber Room (stolen from Russia by the Nazis during World War II).  Seriously, it's fascinating.  I've said it for years: that little punk kid of mine is wise beyond his years.  Mature, no.  Intelligent, yessirree.  Set your DVR's, folks.  {Ladies . . . &  history buffs}You'll be glad you did.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baby Brent

Did you all see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs?  Funny show, I guess.  My sister's kids particularly enjoyed it.  Particularly this tall drink of water:
He reminded them of their uncle Brent.  My dear husband was not offended.  No, he was not.  But all the while he insisted there was no real similarity and, were it not for the name, the children would never have made that connection.  Perhaps not.
On second thought, however . . . they may be on to something.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Love . . .

 . . . holding a tiny new baby (who remembered 7 pounds could be so small?!)
 . . . watching Cash Cab with Sis before school
 . . . raucous family dinners filled with light-hearted teasing and laughter
 . . . pie month at Marie Calendars
 . . . witty, clever children
 . . . eternal families

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Parenting . . .

My friend Shiela is having her third baby right now.  RIGHT NOW!  I'm so excited for her and her little family.  And I'm really, really glad it's her and not me.  It's an exciting thing, this parenting.  The giving and shaping of human life.  Exciting and challenging and heartbreaking and difficult and, at the end of the day, completely lovely. New babies are so full of unadulterated potential.  You have NO IDEA what they are going to become or how they will become it.  Will they show grace under pressure or will they kick and scream their way through it all?  Will they fight you tooth and nail, questioning every single word that rolls off your parental tongue or will they humbly, trustingly follow you to the ends of the Earth?   Even now, at ages eight, nine and eleven my children still have some of that "newness" about them.  I feel like I know so much about them, based on our shared experiences, but where they go from here is anyone's guess.  I know what they have become to date and what they can ultimately, eternally become.  But there's a lot of living to be done between here and there.  Every single day is a wonder and a mystery.  Not that I always see it that way.  But if I did . . . if I really tried . . . what a joy this journey could be.  I've been reading the book Parenting the Strong-Willed Child by Kevin Hinckley.  It was given to me with a wink and a nudge from my parents who have a fantastic sense of humor.  Because really, isn't strong-willed the kindest way to describe some of my children's antics?  Truth be told, I had been looking at that book for months, thinking about purchasing it.  It is really giving me an interesting perspective into what I can do as a mom to nurture these feisty children of mine into greatness.   Greatness that has nothing to do with the size of their salary or their rank and standing in the world.   Greatness that has everything to do with integrity and kindness.  Greatness that they will pass on to their children someday.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Baking Again

This was another part of our Valentines Day celebration.  Donut Muffins for breakfast.  With 1 and 1/4 pounds of butter, it's definitely an indulgence.  Worth. Every. Single. Mouthwatering. Calorie.  You MUST try them.  I'm also including the recipe for fortune cookies in case you want to give those a try, too.  Enjoy!



  
(click to enlarge)

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

I love Valentines Day.  Brent doesn't really care for it.  That's OK.  I understand his reasons.  He really DOES try to make me feel special every day. So no, he doesn't have to feel pressured to spend a fortune this ONE day, chosen at random, to keep up with every other husband/boyfriend/significant other in America.  He's usually already way ahead.  But I still like to celebrate it so I take this opportunity to dote on our children.  They're really very nice children, as children go.  This year I tried my hand at fortune cookies.  They're pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and way more delicious than the ones you get at restaurants.  I made mine giant (about 4 inches -- the scale is hard to see in the photo) and put fortunes customized to each child in theirs.  I also stole those cute iPhone valentines from a fun crafty blog and customized them in Gimp.  (For the record, I also "stole" those Chinese take-out boxes from Pei Wei.  Just because Brent and I didn't have any Vietnamese Caramel Chicken left over to bring home doesn't mean we can't have a couple of boxes, right?) So, Happy Valentines Day one and all!  If you are reading my random ramblings, I love you.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Many Thanks

Thank you, Uncle Sam, for buying me a new dining table and chairs yesterday.  Actually, you're welcome for letting you borrow my money all year.  But thanks for returning it so promptly when I asked for it back.  Or proved by filling out an eighteen page document that it was, in fact, rightfully mine.  Whatever.  Tomayto, tomahto.  Oh, and thanks for paying off one of my credit cards today.  You're a real stand-up fellow, Uncle Sam.  Keep up the good (?) work!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Let Them Eat {Cup}Cakes!

It's hard to take a picture of a three tiered cake plate without it coming out looking wonky, you know.  I assure you it is beautifully straight and level.  This was one of my fun projects before the baptism last weekend.  I planned a little "brunch" of salads and mini-cuppies for family and close friends after the baptism and I really wanted a pretty way to display the food.  Because I'm getting crazy like that in my elder years.  AND I have ALWAYS wanted a cake plate.  Always.  Why have I not just purchased myself one in any of the past fifteen years or so?  Because I wanted just THE PERFECT cake plate.  Yeah, anyhoo . . . I went to Goodwill and purchased three lovely white plates and three candlesticks for about $4 total.  The candlesticks were neither lovely nor white so I sprayed them down with gloss white spray paint when I got home.  Voila!  Then I stacked them all up and, for the safety of my cuppies, secured them together with Plasti-tack (yep, the stuff we all hung posters with in our college apartments).  You could secure them with E6000 adhesive.  I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be a permanent fixture or if I was going to take it apart to store it.  I think it is super lovely and worth every one of my 400 pennies. It's even prettier filled up with Banana Butter Pecan mini-cuppies.  I'll give you the secret recipe so you can see for yourself.  It's pretty fancy though, so consider yourself warned.  Ready?  Are you really ready?  OK:

Buy a Butter Pecan cake mix.  Make it according to the directions on the box, but add a mashed banana along with the oil, eggs and water.  Bake and frost with {store bought} Cream Cheese Frosting with a dash of vanilla extractwhipped in.  Simple, but delicious.  I've discovered the secret to making people think your food is fancy.  It's all in the naming of it.  Fancy foods have very descriptive names.  For example, these are not just banana cupcakes, they're

Banana Butter Pecan Mini-Cuppies with Real Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

  See?  Instant fancy.  It goes with the cake plate.  Enjoy.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Phew!

It was all I could do to keep looking at that picture of myself from the baptism.  Seriously, yikes!  I got more problems than just bad bangs going on there.  Whatever.  And changing subject with a flourish . . . I taught myself a new trick in the Photoshop knock-off program Gimp.  I know I'm about ten years behind the trend here, photography-wise, but we were talking about doing these "color splash" pictures for something in Young Women and I thought I'd give it a go.  I love learning new tricks, however old they may be to everyone else.  Not too shabby for a first attempt, I think.  If anyone is interested in a little tutorial, I'll gladly post one.  In the mean time, I'm just thrilled to death to see these beautiful paper peonies instead of my own mug whenever I open up the internet.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Big Weekend!


Yeah, I know.  That picture does no one any favors.  But it was a wonderful day and I'm working on being less critical of myself so . . . it is what it is.  One of my favorite traditions in this ward is that they have all the guests at the baptism write a special note to the child who is getting baptized.  They are always fun to read through later.  Dylan has a big, close group of friends from Primary who attended his baptism and they wrote some of the sweetest notes.

I just love that these rough and tumble little kids have such tender hearts underneath it all.  We are so blessed to have such good friends here.  We also feel really blessed that so many members of our families made the effort to be here for D's special day.  You don't get much luckier than we are.


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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Juggling

Sometimes we women, Mormon women in particular, try to juggle too much.  We try to be all things to all people.  We really want to.  We keep adding in balls.  And when we do, we inevitably drop one here or there.  We don't want to, but we're only human running at such a frenzied pace that we loose track of a thing or two.  Like having the wrong date printed on the Women's Conference invitations of which you were in charge.  All 450 of them.  And then distributing them to the entire Stake.  With the wrong date.  Because you forgot to fix it like you said you would.  Moments like that are, at first, humiliating.  I just wanted to die when I realized my mistake.  And then again when the woman in charge of the conference called me this afternoon.  I'm still sick about it now.  She's not mad.  No one is mad.  We're just doing what we can at this point to mop up the figurative spilled milk.  No crying.  Well, maybe a little bit on my part. 

And, while I'm still a little humiliated, I'm also a little grateful.  Grateful for the reminder that I'm human and that I need to slow down a little bit.  Grateful for the reality check.  Grateful for the self awareness that no, no I cannot speak at a baptism, host a boatload of family, keep a spotless house, make hand-crafted gifts for baby showers, bake six batches of homemade bread and twelve dozen mini-cupcakes, shop for and create a custom vintage cake stand, sew curtains (and otherwise spruce up my home decor), shampoo my carpets, watch the latest episodes of Lost and Project Runway, start working on Girl's Camp with it's associated meetings, attend Presidency Meeting, do my monthly Visiting Teaching visits, file my taxes AND do Women's Conference invitations all in the same five day stretch.  At least I can't do all those things well.  Or error-free.  Nor should I expect that of myself. 

But what do you give up?!  I really, really wanted to do each and every one of those things.  It's hard for me to know where to draw the line.  But draw I must because I'm not going to make a fool of myself like that again.  OK, who are we kidding?  Of course I am.  But not intentionally and not soon.

Oh, and if you live in my stake, Women's Conference is on February 27th.  Not the 20th.  Thanks!

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Some Things Will Never Change

Remember when you were six or eight or whatever age and you cut your own hair?  I'm not talking about the two-year-old-gets-into-the-scissors scenario.  No.  I'm talking about when you intentionally cut your own hair -- just a simple bang trim before a piano recital, maybe -- with disastrous results.?  I know I'm not the only one who ever did that.  I may, however, be the only one still doing that.  Ate the ripe old age of 37.  Yessirree.  I was doing my hair yesterday, thinking how my bangs were in my eyes and I just had too much on my plate to call Alina for one of her complimentary bang trims.  Really, I trim my own bangs all the time.  This time, in particular, I just got a little overzealous.  And it's really not cute, if we're being perfectly honest.  15 family members are arriving at my home today.  And I've been asked to speak at the baptism tomorrow. 

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!


Thank goodness for hair clips..

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fuhgeddaboudit!

My "baby" is being baptized this weekend.  Lots of our family are coming to visit.  Lots of things in our house are in need of repair.  They have been since the last time we did a general fix-up before Riley's baptism.  A year and a half ago.  Why do we do that?  Why do we live with the towel bar dangling from one end, the other having been ripped from the drywall when one of my precious children decided to try some chin-ups? Just dangling there for years when it really only takes a few minutes to fix.  Why the unpainted pantry door for six months?  Why the nicks in the paint on the dining room wall for so long when it just takes moments to swipe a little fresh paint over them?  Why has there been a fork in the bottom of my dirty oven for almost a year?  OK, the fork is because I only remember it's in there when the oven is hot.  But, hello, my oven is self-cleaning.  Why is it dirty?! Why is it not always a sparkling beacon in my sometimes dreary kitchen?   And why, why is my kitchen so dreary?  Why haven't I replaced the light over my cook top sooner?  Why does it take my parents and in-laws coming to shame me into wiping down my white, but filthy doors and cabinets? 

I think my house is, generally, clean.  I really try.  Am I the only one who lets the little details slide until someone else is coming to town?  Please say it's not just me.  Maybe if I "detailed" my home more often I'd have time to blog in the week before we hosted visitors.  As it is . . . fuhgeddaboudit!

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