Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

What kind of man writes down snippets of overheard conversations on a plane so he can remember to tell his wife?

My kind of man.

Adam knows how to delight me.

On his recent trip to Phoenix, he sat in front of a man from Vancouver that cracked open the stereotype that Canadians are polite and quiet.  This man was loud and crude and perhaps a little daft.

Some of his gems of wisdom:

He said, "Everyone says it rains a lot in Vancouver.  Well, yes, but only when you look at the last 100 years."

Of course.  Vancouver, besides that little blip, that slight anomaly, those last inconsequential 100 years, is practically a desert.

Everyone knows that.


He also said he couldn't wait to get to Phoenix and shoot a gun and ride in a boat.

I wonder if that is because Americans everywhere spend all their time shooting guns and riding boats?  They're our national pastimes so a trip here without a good shooting and boating session would be kind of like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.

Or is it that best kept secret?  The one that Phoenix is known for its boating?  Phoenix:  the Venice of North America.


Perhaps my favorite part of Adam's report was the conversation between the aforementioned Vancouver man and his female traveling companion.  In talking about hunting, she said that she wished he didn't have to kill the animal.  Why not just watch someone else do it instead?

Maybe PETA will adopt that as a new maxim.  Rather than killing animals, just watch them be killed.  It's much more humane.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Corral Jewelry

I think I saw this idea in a magazine.  It has made my life easier.

I am a dangly earring sort of girl.  Dangly earrings are quick to become tangly earrings so this solution worked very well for me.

I bought a grate sort of thing at Lowe's.  I'm not sure what it's original purpose was.

I put it in a frame with white paper behind it (I'm sure you could put some dapper scrapbook paper in and it would be lovely).

Most of my earrings just hook onto the grate but I have S-hooks for those that don't (and for bracelets).

the paper gets a little scratched up from the can't really tell unless you're zoomed in like this though

My earrings are quick to find and not tangled.

And that makes me happy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Found A Time Capsule in My Closet

I am still (I'll never be done at this rate) on my cleaning rampage.  I get distracted.  I start wandering around in circles.  I get stumped.  I want to throw away everything.  I want to throw away nothing.

I came across a slim silver colored cardboard box on top of another box in the back corner of the enormous closet in our children's bathroom.  I had no idea what was inside.

It was full of wedding cards.  Wedding cards?!  This is ridiculous, I thought.  I have moved these cards from Nevada to Utah to Connecticut to California to Washington?!?  Wedding cards?

I decided to quickly glance through them and pull out the ones with precious grandma handwriting.  There's no accounting for the emotional reaction I have to seeing "I love you" written in either of my dear grandmothers' hand.

I sat on the floor and spread the cards around me.  I was unemotional.  I sorted quickly, skimming the cards.  I set aside a pile of Adam's family members and a different pile of his friends and neighbors.  I'd let him decide which he wanted to keep (if any).

Then I got a little deeper in the pile.

And a little deeper into trouble.

I got to the cards from my family and friends.

Some of them were beautiful and embossed and chosen with care.  Some of them were on scraps of wrapping paper folded over.  Some simply had "Best Wishes" or "Congratulations" written on them.  Some of them included heartfelt missives of love.  There were notes from school teachers, neighbors, people that are no longer living, couples that are no longer together.  It was a time capsule of almost 16 summers ago.

Seeing the cards transported me to an August full of promise and anticipation.  It reminded me of who I was then; who mattered to me.

What to do with piles (and piles) of cards from people wishing me a long and happy marriage, wishing me joy, reminding me of the care and love they put into the first 22 years of my life?

Stack them back into the slim silver colored cardboard box and put them carefully back on the top shelf in the back corner.

There's a certain amount of sacredness associated with that kind of love.

Who am I to toss it away?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weight Lifting

When Stephanie and I started running under Jill's patient tutelage, we ran for 60 seconds the first time, then walked, then ran again.

It wasn't easy for my non running self.  But we were on the Couch Potato to 5K Plan and we kept at it.  Every time we'd run, Jill would tell us the new schedule for the day.  Every day it was a little bit more.  When we ran our first 10 minutes a few weeks later, Stephanie and I remarked how much easier it had become to run, in not that much time.  It's amazing how our bodies adjust and strengthen when we coax them along.

There were several talks at our recent Stake Conference about strength.  There were analogies drawn between physical strength and spiritual strength.  It all made a whole lot of sense to me.  You don't get stronger without being challenged.  I've tried to teach my children that when their math was hard.  It's a difficult lesson to accept.

Because we don't like hard things.

One speaker said (and I'm paraphrasing) that when we're presented with a challenge, it's like the Lord is handing us a dumbbell.  What are we going to do with it?  Are we going to complain?  Curse God?  Feel sorry for ourselves?

Or are we going to accept the challenge?  Are we going to recognize an opportunity to be strengthened?

Some of the most memorable, sacred and meaningful experiences in my life happened when I was the most troubled.  When I was handed weights to lift that were too heavy.  In such times when I didn't make the conscious choice to be humbled, but was humbled by the enormity of my need, I have been strengthened.  I have been lifted right along with the heavy weight.

So now I look at the less cumbersome weights I've been given.  I look at the ones that don't devastate me, but annoy me.  I look at challenges I just want to oust.  What if I change my perspective?  What if instead of looking at them as an obstacle, I look at them as the resistance I need to make me stronger?

As Easter approaches, such a wonderful, happy holiday, I think about the reason my troubles have been lightened in the past.  Because of Jesus Christ, because of His atonement and gospel, I am strengthened.  I don't understand how it works.  But I know that it does work.

And I'm grateful.

I'm grateful for opportunities to become stronger.  I'm thankful for help along the way.

Happy Easter.

May your baskets be full of good chocolate (not the waxy kind) and nary a Peep in sight.

Because, ew.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Crazy Lady in My Neighborhood

There is one wacky lady in my neighborhood.


I spent the end of last week in a sort of haze of sickness.  I didn't feel well.  I occasionally rose from my sick bed to enter the human race.

Then I'd go back to bed.

Saturday afternoon I took a long deep nap.  I woke up and was sitting in my green chair in the living room, recovering from the deepness of the nap, when there was a tentative knock at the door.

It was a little neighbor boy, Jack (name changed).  Before Mark answered the door,  I said, "You have to play outside."

They went outside but not before I heard taunts from across the street.  There are boys in our neighborhood that are troubled.  And they're trouble.  They're brothers (names omitted but if you live in these parts you know who I'm talking about).  They have a chaotic home and we know for a fact their dad has taught them to fight with their fists.  Mark and Gavin, sturdy Campbell's Soup sort of boys, have been decidedly taught not to fight.  (We're trying.) It doesn't always work.

Friday Mark got slapped by one of these boys but he came home without fighting.

I was proud of him for keeping his fiery little self in check.

Saturday two of them (and another of their friends--we have a surplus of little boys around here) were outside on their bikes, waiting for Mark and Jack who is older but gentle and meek.  He's a target to boys looking for someone weaker.

"Hey," I heard them yell, calling him by name.  "Where's your ma-ma?"  "Hey, your zipper is down."

I propelled myself a little more upright and looked out the window.  Mark and Jack were standing straight.  Taller than their tormentors, I saw Mark indicate to his friend that they walk away.  I saw Mark stand a bit in front of Jack, I saw him stick out his chest a little in the instinctual way of boys everywhere when they're trying to look tough.  One of the little bullies, in his kind of screechy, kind of sad voice, said, "Hey, you have something on your shirt," and he did the classic point to the shirt and flick the face move to Jack.

That's when something snapped inside me.  I dragged myself to the door.  I was in pajamas, wild hair.  I opened the door, "Hey!" I yelled across the street.

Mark gave me sort of a salute and led Jack away.  "She'll take care of it," I heard him say, "And she's 38."  (Mark's younger than all of these boys, I guess it was nice to have a really old person on the scene.)

"Come here!" I yelled again.  And surprisingly, the lad complied.  This is a boy that's been in my house many times.  I've intervened in fights before.  I've made Mark be nice to this boy.  I've given this boy many many otter pops.  He came over to my driveway, at the bidding of a deranged lady (me).

I said, "Those boys have been taught not to fight.  They are both bigger and stronger than you but they are not. Supposed. To. Fight.  It is not OK with me to have you hit them.  Do you understand me?"

I don't know, maybe Jack isn't stronger.  But I wanted them to know.  We are doing all we can to civilize Mark.  To gentle him.  To convince each other that no, we should not let Mark just wallop them and get it over with.  You had better watch it!

I don't know if he understood or not.  He nodded.  He rode his bike away.

I went upstairs and told Braeden maybe I was crazy.  I had just yelled at a nine year old.

I probably wouldn't have reacted as strongly if Mark had been the target.  I probably would have just called him inside before things escalated.  (Usually once all the hot heads have been cooled, everything turns out OK.) But I can't handle seeing someone so mild and tender being bullied.

Some people have "No Soliciting" signs on their door.  Some people have "Please remove your shoes."

I'm going to get my own sign.  "No being mean to defenseless little boys.  An unhinged woman in pajamas will fly at you in a fit of rage."

You've been warned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Home School

Things are pretty exciting around our school days.  Pret-ty exciting.

Yesterday morning, I gave Mark a grammar assessment.  He said, "I need to put on my thinking cap for this one."

I looked over at him.

How cute is this kid?

Later, I was reading to Mark and he was running his fingers through the tangles that are my hair.  He decided he wanted to comb my hair.  I told him later.

Later came and Mark led me into our bathroom.  He had a stool for me to sit on and he'd assembled some accoutrements for the job...a hairbrush, a spray bottle, a blow dryer.

Oh boy.

You can tell by looking at me that I don't know a lot about hair but I know one thing.  If you brush curly hair too much, it gets really frizzy, fast.

Mark discovered this great truth too.  He kept brushing and saying, "'s not going flat."  Then he sprayed me with a generous dose of water from the spray bottle and turned the blow dryer on.  Then he forgot himself and the blow dryer became a gun...

He started digging in a drawer and found some clips and barrettes and was VERY satisfied with his results.

He took pictures.

just a little bit frizzy...
It was lovely.

Mark was a little offended that I didn't keep it that way all day.

Then Mark went to his room and started filming himself making crazy movies.  It's a favorite pastime.  These particular movies involved him, a dinosaur and certain death and doom to the villagers.  He brought me the camera and told me it was about out of battery.

I started walking downstairs with it to where the charger is located.  I started to open the camera while I walked because what a time saver!

Then I slipped.

And bump bump bumped all the way down the stairs (at least until the landing).  Mark flew to my side, "Mom, mom, mom..."  (I think he was worried about who would make lunch.)

Once he knew I was alive, he thought it was terribly delightful and loved to recreate the scene for me.

I sustained one injury besides the affliction of having an eight year old laugh at me all day.

ignore the creepy veins...they were already like that and have nothing to do with the injury
I really feel like we learned across the curriculum.  Kind of a holistic learning sort of day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to Feel Better About Giving Your Children Pancakes for Dinner

Recently when I knew Adam wouldn't be home for dinner, my lofty thoughts of pork chops fell flat.  It's no fun to make dinner when Adam's not going to be home.

I contemplated my options and decided pancakes sounded like a very fine dinner.  Then I remembered this recipe my irritatingly virtuous inspiring sisters that don't eat white sugar or white flour gave me.

It made me feel better about pancakes for dinner.  (And they taste really good.)

Peanut Butter Pancakes (makes 16):

2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 c. wheat flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter

Mix it all together in a normal pancake fashion and cook in a normal pancake fashion.

If you want to throw a few chocolate chips on, I will not judge you (or tell my sisters).

If you add a little smiley face out of chocolate chips, I will not judge you.

I love these topped with Greek yogurt but my kids doused them in syrup.

(Does that negate the whole no white sugar/no white flour thing?  I'm going with no.  Syrup doesn't count.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chicken Soup for My Soul

This weekend we had sickness (me) and drama (me).

Also, we're having the worst spring ever it turns out.

While I'm crawling back from the brink and attempting to dig myself out, here's just something to bring me cheer.

Things are never that bad when you have a red head that loves you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Reality

I read this blog post that resonated with me.  I'm in the same place.  I also don't know what I'm doing.

I'm on the cusp (past the cusp?) of a new frontier of motherhood.  It's uncomfortable.  The tag itches.  I want to go back.

A few years ago, we homeschooled.  I was wrapped up in children all day long.  We could pick up and go to London, Lake Chelan, Disneyland.  Our schedules were our own.

Now our children (two out of three) are in school.  They are busy.  The intensity of my days has shifted from zealous mornings of twirling around the school room, teaching children to frenetic after school hours when we're hurtling from one things to the next.

And I try very hard not to overschedule.

I do.

We're leaving town later this month and Braeden will miss a track meet and a band festival.

Emma will miss a volleyball game.

Mark will miss the Pinewood Derby.

They'll all miss piano lessons and church activities.

And I miss the days when we could leave guilt free.

And all this busy-ness business?  It would be one thing if it were humanly possible but sometimes it isn't.  Where we live, we're oriented in two directions--school one way, church another.  I was talking about it to Janet and Stephanie who have older kids.  I expressed my dismay at the unfeasible scheduling dilemmas that occur.

Yep.  Welcome to their world.

These pangs of being unhappily in over my head, feel familiar.  It reminds me of when I became a mother in the first place.  I realized that there was no going back.  There was a new reality and I'd better get used to it.  Sink or swim.

And I did get used to it.  It became normal.  And once all the kids could put their own shoes on and sleep through the night, it could be downright lovely.

So I expect this to be the new normal.  I'll get used to children heading off in different directions.  I'll get used to nights when dinner is in shifts or at a drive-thru.  I'll maybe even get to the point that I can handle the scheduling with panache rather than panic (here's hoping).

But here's what has me depressed.  (I never said this would be an upbeat post.)

The next stage.

The one after this one.

The one where they leave.

So I'll enjoy the muddy socks (What did I expect from track practice in the Pacific Northwest?), colliding plans, endless forms to fill out and checks to write while I have them.

Because time keeps marching on.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What I Aspire To

When I'm presented with a birthday/mother's day/whatever kind of card for my mom, I'm at a loss.  What to say?  How to express my gratitude?  I can't.

I doubt I'll be able to mother as well as she has/does.  To that she would say, "Of course you can," in her tone that tells me she thinks I'm being ridiculous.

Because that's what it comes down to.  My mom has this confidence in me, however unfounded or misdirected, that is unshakable.  She just knows I can do it.  Whatever it is.

I wonder why.

I wonder if it's because she has such an iron confidence in herself that it just carries over to her offspring.

I wonder if she's going for a fake it till you make it approach.

I wonder.

It's hard not to feel empowered after she's unequivocally expressed her belief in me.  It's hard not to want to prove her right.

Also, just like every good mom, my mom is a fixer.  A soother.  A convincer that everything-is-going-to-be-all-right.

And between her confidence, her help and her unrelenting will, it usually is.

I know enough to know when you're in a Mom.
Jennifer Garner

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rug Shopping

While I'm waiting for more flowers to bloom, I decided that my front porch needed a spot of color.  I looked on the Dash and Albert website and found the perfect candidate.  (Dash and Albert rugs are lovely.)

I didn't want to pay for shipping though.

Then I saw that there was a store in Poulsbo that sold the rugs.  I hadn't been to Poulsbo and never feel confident going into unfamiliar territory, so I wanted Adam to go with me to navigate.  He is always up for an outing but he was also up for 5 basketball games on Saturday (playing some, refereeing some).

I was impatient.  I wanted to go.  And I sensed Emma needed some fun in her life.  I decided the two of us should go.  I was just settling in with my laptop and google maps to get it all figured out, when I noticed the ferry times.  (When I am going somewhere new, I like to look over a map and read the directions and try to soak up as much information as my little brain will hold.  Because I am awful at directions or knowing where I am or how to get somewhere. Awful.)  The next ferry left in half an hour!  I frantically printed the google directions (without poring over the map), grabbed Emma, forgot my camera, and we were off.  I channeled all the adventurous spirit I wish I possessed.

I had bid my comfort zone farewell but when I looked in the rear-view mirror, it was wringing its hands nervously and telling me I was going to get lost.


When I was near Edmonds, I realized there was no way I was going to make the ferry so I relaxed a little.  Emma and I waited companionably for the next ferry and not for the first time, I realized how much I like just being with her.  She's funny and clever but also so independent that she's easy for an introvert like me to spend the day with (I would have been having to entertain my boys).  On the ferry she wanted to take pictures and we sadly lamented the forgotten camera.  She asked for my phone.  I told her I didn't know how to take pictures with it.  In about 20 seconds she was snapping pictures.

Off the ferry, I fearfully clutched the steering wheel in one hand and the directions in the other.  I don't know if I get nervous because I'm going to get lost or I get lost because I get nervous.  But I was nervous.  Especially since Adam was playing basketball and probably not going to take my "I'm lost and need directions" call.  It was really pretty easy though and before too long I was feeling fine.  Emma and I sang along to the radio.  When "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" came on, I told her Cyndi Lauper had been my first tape ever when I was in sixth grade.  "Tape," she scoffed.  Then she knew every word of the song.

"How do you know this song?" I wondered.


We found our destination and wandered Front Street in Poulsbo, making note of all the stores we'd visit after we had the rug.  We found the store we were looking for and found The Rug.  "I hear choirs of angels singing," I told Emma.

Then I looked more closely.  It wasn't the rug.  It was the store sample of the rug.  Emma murmured, "Do you still hear the choirs of angels?"

Cheeky girl.

I asked and it turned out they didn't have the rugs in stock, but they could order them.  My shoulders drooped.  "It only takes two weeks," the chipper store clerk assured me. I was envisioning another trip to Poulsbo in two weeks and my shoulders drooped lower.  Then I learned they'll ship it to my house!  For free!  I felt better.  I supposed my drab front porch could survive two more weeks of drabness.

Emma and I started exploring.  We walked in and out of pretty little stores and pointed out things we liked to each other.  Window shopping works up a powerful hunger (so do tantalizing bakery smells), so we stopped at Sluy's Bakery which may be worth a trip to Poulsbo all by itself.

We bought a Viking Cup (which is like a cup shaped cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting filling it) and a caramel pecan sticky bun.  We sat outside on a bench and each ate half and then traded.

Then we licked our fingers. 

We browsed through a Scandinavian shop.  I bought a straw goat and some nasty Finnish black licorice for Adam (he likes it).  Then I saw the clever t-shirts and had to buy one for each of my Viking children.  

Mark's shirt says, "Viking for Hire...Specializing in Madness and Mayhem".  It works for him.

the back of Braeden's shirt
I like the shirts.  (And the kids.)

Emma and I drove back toward the ferry and as I was paying for our return passage, I realized the money I was spending on ferry travel would have about exactly covered shipping had I bought my rug from the Dash and Albert website.

But when Emma taught me a new card game on the ferry and I listened to her laugh and I saw the glorious Puget Sound spreading out in every direction with all of its magnificent views, I think I still got a pretty good bargain.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How To Plan A Menu

I can't take credit for it myself (but I don't know who I should give credit to).  Someone, somewhere gave me this idea and I think it's a good one.

First write a list of your recipes in categories.  For example, you could have a chicken category, beef, pasta, seafood, soup, salad, pork, get the idea.

Then, get a blank calendar page.

Assign each day of the week a category.

Change your mind and cross things out.  (This step is optional.)

Using your list, fill in the calendar.  For example, if you've assigned chicken recipes to Monday, write down a different chicken recipe for each Monday.

In cooler months, you may include a soup category while summer may contain a salad day or a cook-out-on-the-grill day.  It's very adaptable.

In a matter of minutes, you'll have the entire month filled in.  If you're like me, they'll be plenty of crossing out and switching but I love having a general idea for the month.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I remember that I used to like spring when I was growing up.  It was my favorite season.  I loved the tentatively warm sunshine.  I loved the brave little buttercups poking up amongst the sagebrush.  I loved shedding gloves and heavy coat and especially cumbersome snow boots.

Now spring makes me cranky.  I complain more about the weather in spring than any other time.  The endless rainy/cloudy mild days wear me down.  Maybe because we've had rainy/cloudy mild days since October.  Yes, there is a lot more light.  Yes, flowers and trees are blossoming.  Yes, the grass is vivid and lush and so very green.

But I've got to get out of here.

What makes it worse is when a day like Friday comes along.  It was the first officially sunny day in 41 days.  (It has be less than 30% cloudy to considered officially sunny...according to the weatherman.)  Friday was glorious.  I spread out my new rug on the deck.

See how some of the deck stain is wearing away after only one year?  That's unrelated to this post, but what gives?
I knew as I was spreading the rug that I was setting myself up for disappointment.  It's not deck weather yet.  I'll probably have to roll the rug back up so it doesn't float away. Or mold.

I know.  Just call me Pollyanna.

Since it was sunny though, we headed to our favorite street, the one we'll live on when we decide to become bank robbers and can afford it:

Grand Avenue:

I'll keep referring back to these pictures until July.  They might help me through.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kindred Car Sitter

I had a few wishes for Spring Break:

I wanted to stay up late, sleep in, work on some projects, read, and go on one little adventure.

That's all.

Check, check, check and check.

It's been a successful Spring Break.

Yesterday Jill and I took our kids on a little adventure.  We drove a loop past not quite blooming tulip fields, over some bridges and across two small islands then took the ferry home.  It was lovely.  And freezing cold.  Spring with its longer days, stocked garden centers and patio furniture in the store gives me a false sense of hope.  It's still cold.  (Though it didn't rain and I'm grateful.)

We live in a really beautiful corner of the world.

We got out and crossed a bridge on foot:

It was a big bridge:

It made a few in our party (who are nervous about heights) skittish but since I'm afraid of balloons, I was in no position to judge.

When we got to Whidbey Island, Mark said, "Where are all the statues?"

"What statues?"

"There are supposed to be statues all over Whidbey Island."

We all looked at him with confusion and he said, "Maybe I'm thinking of Easter Island."

That kid is weird.  I love him.  But he's weird.

We drove to Fort Casey, an old fortress that used to protect the Puget Sound from invaders.  Since I was cold/lazy I didn't take any pictures at Fort Casey but I nabbed these from this site.

the bunkers

one of the cannons

When I travel with my own little family, I am always the first one to get cold, the last one that wants to get out of the car and the first one to climb back into the car.

In other words, the killjoy, wet blanket, party-pooper.

At Fort Casey, when the doors were opened in the van and the cold air gusted in, I said, "I don't want to get out of the van."

Jill didn't either.

We sat in the warm van, keeping an eagle eye on our children ("I think that's them...").  It was nice to have a fellow warmth seeker.

Do we look cold?  We were.
Watching our children (from the van), I noticed something about them:

Braeden and Chase:  the oldest in each family.  They like to be in charge.  They are confident and get things started.

Emma and Hannah:  they are mostly absorbed in their girl-friend-ness but occasionally venture into the boy world.  But only if they want to.  No amount of brother cajoling can make them do what they don't want to do.

Mark and Calvin:  the babies.  They are amiable and independent and happy and on the periphery but on their mothers' radars.  (Although Mark more often than not slipped from view.)

So look at that, some birth order analysis and that wasn't even on my Spring Break list!

An overachiever.  That's what I am.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


1) I used to listen to country music all the time.  KRJC from Elko, Nevada to be exact.  I loved it.  Now when I listen to country music it sounds whiny and yowling and utterly disagreeable.  It burns my ears.

I don't know why the difference.

2) I would never have voted for Hillary Clinton for president.  I don't agree with her politics.  But when I hear her talking trash to Gaddafi on NPR, it's heartening to me.  I feel like we're in good hands with her as Secretary of State.

I don't know why the difference.

3) I love Christmas decorations.  It makes me happy to see Christmas decorations in stores...even cheesy ones I would never put in my house.  Same goes for Valentine's Day.  St. Patrick's Day and especially Easter decorations are repellent to me. (Halloween too but I dislike everything about Halloween so that's not surprising.)  Even though I have nothing against St. Patrick's Day and Easter is one of my favorite holidays, their decorations assault me with their garishness.

I don't know why the difference.

4) Soon I'll pull out my "Easter Box" from my garage. I have a few kitschy Easter decorations that don't bother me a bit. Unlike the very similar things I see in the store, I think mine are kind of cute.

I don't know why the difference.

None of this is in danger of keeping me up at night.  But still.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Give Up

There are precious few things I feel expert about.  One of them is books.  I know books.  I have a degree in elementary education.  I took classes in children's literature.  I have read a lot.  All my life.

Nobody cares.

My children go out of their way to avoid my book recommendations.  Out of their way.  Braeden and Emma find their own books and read all the time but Mark...not so much.  He's a different breed, usually not happy unless he's running or spinning or jumping or building with Legos.

And I want him to read.

It's like if I had a child who didn't like chocolate.  I'd constantly be trying to convert them to happiness.

A while ago, in desperation, I took him to the book store (and when your husband works for, you feel a little disloyal at times like that).  I told Mark I'd buy him any book.  A normal person would have been happy about that (and by normal I mean a person like me).   Mark wasn't interested in any of the books.  Any.  How is that possible?  I pointed out several titles (and by several I mean 10,000).  Nope.

Demoralized, I offered to buy him some Calvin and Hobbes comic books.

He wasn't interested.

I bought them anyway.  (He told me he would never read them.)

A few days later, in answer to my plea, Jill sent her son Cal over with a book for Mark to read.  Since Cal isn't me, Mark took the book immediately and read it.  He liked it!   He finished the book in two days, which is something for Mark because he takes few breaks from his running or spinning or jumping or Lego building.  I was thrilled and got on the library's website and reserved other books in the series for him (Jigsaw Jones books). 

And Mark was not at all interested in them.

Then he decided he didn't want to listen to Little House on the Prairie books with me in the van anymore. He's resentful that Mary became blind.

I am SO clever so I put the Jigsaw Jones books in the van one day before we were off to do errands.  When he rejected listening, I'd have a book for him.  I know, how cunning of me.

"Mark, do you want to listen to our book?"


"Do you want to read a Jigsaw Jones book?"


"Won't you be bored driving around?"  (Of course he would!  That was key to my brilliant plan!)

"No, I brought this to read."  He showed me the Calvin and Hobbes book.  I should have felt at least a little triumphant about that (since I'd bought it to induce him to read) but I just felt a little defeated.

So we've had a sad little pile of Jigsaw Jones books in our library book basket, mocking me and reminding me of my failure.

Mark has been reading Calvin and Hobbes and he's been reading books that are way too hard for him that are Braeden's.  (He barely gets what's going on in the books.)  Anything except what I'd like him to read.

Yesterday after much cajoling/whining/persuading Mark agreed to read Jigsaw Jones for silent reading time.  He told me he wouldn't like it.  I said fine.

Today, I came downstairs and Mark was sitting on the couch, reading Jigsaw Jones.  I said nothing.  He finished the book.

That's when I made my tactical error.  I gloated.  I said, "See, I knew you'd like it."  (Why can't I keep my mouth shut?)

"I didn't like it," he said.

 There are three ways to get things done: do it yourself, hire someone to do it, or forbid your kids to do it.
- Monta Crane

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How To Lose A LOT of Weight

I love the book Organized Simplicity.  I was so convincing in singing its praises to my mom that she bought one for each of my sisters and SILs.  (Then she sent me a check for the price because my mom is like that.)

Marianne told me to keep telling my mom how much I like books.

There have been many, many, many books and magazine articles written about decluttering.

Here is my advice: make it a pleasant experience.  It makes it much easier...and more likely to be successful.

1. Don't get overwhelmed.

Divide your rooms amongst months or weeks or days if you're really an eager beaver.  Doing one little bit at a time helps you focus and when you focus, you notice things you had become numb to.

2. Let time do the work for you.

Back in December, I turned all the hangers in my closet backward.  When I wear something, I turn the hanger back.  Without even thinking about it, I have come to realize what I'm wearing and what I'm not.  In June, everything with a backward hanger is going away.

3. Don't feel guilty.

It is painful for me to waste money and sometimes I don't want to get rid of things that I spent money on.  I feel guilty if it's perfectly good.  It's not doing me any good (or making me feel any less guilty) by taking up space though.  Let it go.

4. Find a worthy recipient.

I love seeing my children's old clothes on my nieces and nephews.  It is easy to give something away when you know it is appreciated.  If you find a good charity for all of the things your sisters aren't interested in, that helps.  Considering how you are blessing someone else's life with the dress that never fit you quite right makes it easier to pass on.

5. Separate your memories from your stuff.

We have stuffed animals around here.  Too too many.  There's a bin in my boys' closet filled with stuffed animals.  Inside is the Donald Duck I got at Disneyland when I was growing up.  I've hung onto it because I loved that trip.  I don't need the Donald Duck inside a bin in my boys' closet to remind me that I loved that trip though.  I hope Donald makes someone else happy.

6. Involve family members only in moderation.

Sometimes you need when you're wondering if their clothes still fit or if they're still interested in reading a stack of books.  Sometimes, they are no help.  More often than not, they will never wonder what happened to the random/broken/never-played-with toy.  (But will be upset if they see you getting rid of it.)  Be sneaky.

7. Finally, prevent future clutter.

Marianne taught me this:  an elephant for a quarter is only a good deal if you have a quarter and need an elephant.  I am addicted to finding a bargain and it is hard to pass up a good buy.  I try not to buy anything that I don't have an immediate use (or place) for.  Also, I try to remember the sting of getting rid of past unwise purchases.

Taking boxes out of your house, boxes full of things you no longer need but that someone else may love, is a fabulous feeling.  It reminds me of how it felt as a child when winter was over and I no longer had to wear heavy snowboots.  Light and free.

It's the best way to lose A LOT of weight (and still get to eat chocolate).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Crusts and Loaves

What's not to love about General Conference weekend?  I love feeling full of goodness and light and inspired to do better.  I love the time lounging around with my family.  I love the traditions we've created around the weekends...we make Finnish rye bread which has nothing to do with anything except we like it.  Also we get together with the Jorgensens on Saturday night so I also get a feeling full of Janet goodness and light.

I want to remember every thing I hear but I know I won't.  Often when I read the talks later, they are completely new to me somehow.  (Should I be admitting that I'm such a bear of very little brain?)

When President Eyring spoke about service he said something that struck me and keeps rolling through my mind.  Because I know it's true.  He said that God will bless us when we serve.  If we offer a crust we will be given a loaf.

On Friday night, Jill and I offered a crust to Stephanie in the way of a painting party.  I think I got several loaves back.

Stephanie had a flood and her house is in disarray.  All the flooring is torn up and she decided to take the opportunity to repaint.  We promised to help her.  For hours that seemed to go by very quickly, we painted and laughed and (since we all three have sixth grade daughters) gossiped about who is the most crush worthy sixth grade boy (I had no idea...I don't think Emma does either.  Emma?  Tell me I'm right?).  We groaned about all the painting and snacked and teased each other.  Have I mentioned laughed?

Weary and sore and paint splattered Stephanie drove us to Skinny Dip and treated us to some frozen yogurt.   Tired as we were and as late as it was, we laughed and talked some more.

There is something indefinably wonderful about friends.  It is terrific to be united in a worthwhile goal.  And it is amazing that when we do offer our crusts, we have a loving Father who blesses us with loaves.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Good Idea

It has been parent teacher conferences at both Braeden's and Emma's schools.  It meant they got out of school early all week.  Besides wreaking havoc on my home school efforts with Mr. Mark, it's been lovely to have them home more.

I am thrilled next week is Spring Break.

Of all the things I miss about home schooling and having Emma and Braeden around all day, I've missed the spontaneous quirky sideshow they provide the most.

A few days ago, when things were relaxed and less frenetic than they have seemed to be lately, Braeden opened a jar of peanut butter.

He inhaled the scent and said he wished he had a peanut butter scented candle.

Then he said it looked like a candle. He said, "I just need a wick."

Then I slipped a spaghetti noodle into the peanut butter and pulled the matches out of the cupboard.

Is there a point to this post?  Probably not.  I just love Braeden. He makes me happy every single day of my life whether or not the peanut butter candle idea pans out or not.

 A good idea...sons
Eric Sykes


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