Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the annual Hendrickson Christmas Eve Party. We shared a tasty dinner, played the mystery gift game,* sang carols, and listened to Aunt Laura tell the Nativity story using pie crust she had cut into the shapes of wise men, an angel, a shepherd, etc. I always look forward to this gathering. Some elements vary from year to year, but we always have a fun, uplifting time.

. . . putting our family's gifts under the tree once the kids were asleep. I've long known that Santa is more an idea than a person, but Christmas gift-giving still feels magical.

*I can't think of a better name for this game. The family sometimes calls it a white elephant game, but the gifts are new--usually ornaments purchased by Mom. We take turns choosing a wrapped gift or stealing someone else's, and after all the gifts are chosen we trade until everyone is satisfied. Good fun.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Fun

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . lots of family fun: sharing blueberry muffins for breakfast, going to the archery range, and strolling the temple grounds looking at the lights.

. . . shooting my last two arrows into the target so close to each other that they touched. Of course, I also shot one into the branch above the hay bales. Oops.

. . . watching Joy dash across the temple lawn toward Papa shouting, "Look! I have new boots!!" We bought them for her yesterday to keep her warm and dry in the rain, and now she wears them everywhere, and shows them to everyone. I even noticed her showing them off to a senior missionary in the Visitor Center. Simple pleasures.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Joy of Giving

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . singing carols while Phillip played the piano.

And another thing . . .

. . . all month I've been thinking that since Christmas celebrates Christ's birth, it would be good for our family to give Him "gifts" by serving others. I particularly wanted to involve Joy, so she would see this season as a time of giving and loving, not just getting.

Today I talked with her about how fortunate we are to have plenty of food, a warm home, clothes to wear, and even a few toys. I explained many families in the world don't have those things, then I showed her a catalog for Heifer International, through which we can give a family a goat, sheep, or other animal that will provide nourishment and income to help support their family. I asked Joy which animal we should help pay for. She chose rabbits, and I added a flock of chicks. It felt good to help other families take steps toward self-reliance.

When we were done, Joy said she wanted to help more people. I suggested that we sort through our toy bin and donate the toys we don't use to kids who don't have any. I was surprised to find that she had an easier time parting with things than I did. As she filled a paper bag with a third of her toys, I resisted the urge to comment about how cute one item was or how long we'd had another. I'm proud of her for being willing to give so many of her toys to others.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You, Egg Nog Lady

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . wrestling with the complicated, buggy music program we installed this week. I despise that program. Not a mild loathing, mind you. A tooth-clenching, depths-of-my-soul hatred. I had more choice things to say about it this morning, but we'll leave that between me and the delete button.

. . . when I was in child's pose trying to de-stress from using the music program, Daniel pulled my hair and Joy climbed on my back.

. . . burning my tongue on hot cider. The cup felt lukewarm; the cider felt like it had been heated at the center of the Earth.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . rubber stamping with Joy.

. . . hearing her say "I love you."

. . . lots of husband hugs.

. . . eating chocolate graham crackers with homemade icing between them. They're best after they've sat a few days and softened a little. Who needs Oreos?

And another thing . . .

. . . the Trader Joe's egg nog shortage continues. This evening I reached the dairy section just in time to see another woman reach in and remove the last carton of regular egg nog (there was still lite and chocolate, but I'm not a fan of the first and I'm scared to try the second). She noticed me watching and asked if I'd like her carton. I replied that I couldn't take it, but she handed it to me insisting that she'll be just has happy with a carton of lite egg nog. Bless her. Joy immediately began flapping her wings up and down the aisle shouting, "Yay! We have egg nog! That's my favorite thing!!"

Tinkerbell's Pack Mule

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Daniel giggle when I tickled him.

. . . having a long, thoughtful discussion with Joy about a picture of Lehi's Dream (she had a lot of questions), then making caramel corn for our home evening activity.

. . . making a suicide smoothie with Joy. I got six kinds of fruit out of the freezer and asked her which of them we should add to the blender. She decided to throw them all in. The result tasted like tropical punch (no surprise).

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy has decided she's Tinkerbell, and she runs around the house flapping her "wings" all the time. It's cute, but since her hands and arms are necessary for flight she has decided that she can't carry anything (unless she really wants to, or briefly forgets and falls out of character). In such cases of emergency, she has concluded that it's my job to carry anything she wants moved from one room to another. Most of the time I play along (if she says please), but I'm hoping this particular game will be shortlived, or that Tinkerbell will learn to fly with a backpack.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Much Learning, No Nog

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . Trader Joe's being out of egg nog again. I like their variety of it, but I've only seen it in stock once all month. What's with the nog shortage??

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending a chapel session at the temple, where a member of the temple presidency spoke about the symbolism of the temple and its ceremonies. I always learn so much from those sessions.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Elvis and Yoda

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . spending hours cooking a delicious dinner, only to wind up eating it by myself because the kids ate s'mores for dinner (don't ask) and Phillip was occupied entertaining Daniel who has been stir-crazy because of the rain outside. Sigh.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . singing Christmas carols to the kids at bedtime.

And another thing . . .

. . . you learn some very interesting things from the internet. For example, when I was shopping for tree toppers on, Joy asked to look at the 11" Lighted Elvis Presley Star Christmas Tree Topper, and we learned that customers who bought related items also bought strings of plastic Yoda Christmas lights. We also learned that sells ornaments, garlands, and pepper spray. Who'd have thought?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Trees and Lullabies

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . Joy falling out of a tree, then asking me WHY she fell out of the tree. She was totally unsatisfied with my answer because she doesn't comprehend the concept of getting distracted.

. . . Joy waking up with a barking cough hours after bedtime. Time to get out the humidifier.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . after we got the humidifier going, I asked Joy if she wanted me to sing her a song. She requested "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet" and I started quietly singing as I rubbed her back. I had scarcely sung two lines when her eyes drooped closed and she fell back asleep. Sweet girl.

Slightly Less Cluttered

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . standing a little straighter after a visit to the chiropractor.

. . . decluttering my desk while Daddy took the kids to run errands. Thanks sweetheart!

. . . hanging out with my mom this afternoon. It was nice to just sit and chat about random things.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Is More Than Cookies

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . finally baking a holiday cookie recipe I've been yearning to try . . . and finding out it wasn't that great.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . smooching with my sweetheart.

. . . watching my kids play together.

. . . hearing a friend who recently joined a Christian church say that Christmas is especially exciting for her family this year because their new faith gives the season new meaning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pigs-Frogs and Paint

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy announcing that she's a pig-frog. Later in the day she said, "Too bad you can't paint air."

. . . holding Daniel's hands and spinning him around and around, then watching him lay down and giggle on the grass until he could see straight enough to reach up and ask me to do it again.

And another thing . . .

. . . I wonder if anyone has conducted a scientific study to determine how long the average child will paint on paper before they get bored and try painting other things. You may infer what you will about any real-life experiences that may have sparked that question.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Mixer, Bad Parent

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . trying to calculate half of 2-1/4 cups of flour (with 1/4 of the result being whole wheat flour), while my toddler cried a few feet away because I banished her from the kitchen for getting into things while I baked her birthday cupcakes. Sometimes it's really hard to tell whether I'm tenaciously teaching important life principles or just making needless mountains out of molehills.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . baking bread with my new Bosch mixer, and finding that it really does knead so well that you only have to let it rise once. Awesome.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Old Friends Never Get Old

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending my office's annual Christmas party. While nightclubs aren't normally my cup of tea, it was fun to see old friends. I worked for that company full time before Joy was born, but since she arrived I've worked from home just a few hours a week. The vast majority of the other employees were hired after I "retired" and many have no clue who I am, but the ones who do know me were delighted to see us and hear how we're doing. I was touched by their excitement and genuine interest in our family. It's easy to love people who love you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Menchie's and Muppets

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy's birthday party with family, then a trip to Menchie's with many of her friends (and their families). Joy had a blast, and we had fun, too.

. . . watching The Muppet Christmas Carol with my sweetheart. I love this film, and try to watch it every year. I like the yin and yang of Michael Caine's serious performance as Scrooge contrasted with the zany Muppets around him. The film's both fun and heartwarming, and it always reminds me what Christmas is really about.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . Let's just say today reminded me that a good night's sleep is vital to one's physical, emotional, and domestic well-being. Early to bed tonight.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hanging a Trader Joe's centerpiece wreath in our home (hooray for Command Strips!). For some reason, that little wreath makes me happy every time I see it.

Crooners But No Kissing

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip taking care of the kids all day so I could work, shop, and relax a little. Much as I love my kids, kid-free time is my favorite gift to receive.

. . . decorating the Christmas tree while Daniel napped. It was fun to watch Phillip and Joy both get so into it, and for Joy the decorating never really stopped. She spent the rest of the day rearranging the kid-friendly ornaments on the bottom third of the tree.

And another thing . . .

. . . My daughter Joy has told me in no uncertain terms that she likes hugs but does NOT like kisses. When I give her a hug, it often requires some serious willpower to resist kissing her cheek, too. Good thing my son Daniel has no such compunctions.

. . . I initially told to create a Christmas station based on Josh Groban's "Little Drummer Boy." One of the first songs it played was a Frank Sinatra carol, and when I indicated that I liked that Pandora started playing all crooners, all the time. I eventually convinced it I wanted some variety, but along the way it was kind of interesting to sample the music of the Rat Pack, etc., and decide what I thought of them.

I like Frank Sinatra – he has a solid, clean style of singing. Andy Williams has a good, straightforward sound, too, but Johnny Mathis rubs me the wrong way somehow. Nat King Cole is pretty good, but he adds flourishes here and there that can be distracting to me. Dean Martin sounds smug and cocky, and I tend to skip him. Sorry Dean.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Library Meltdown

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . Joy having a meltdown in the library. I had tried to explain the Dewey Decimal System to her, and apparently it was a little overwhelming.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing my kids laugh as they played together.

. . . putting up Christmas decoration with my sweetheart.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Embrace the Chaos

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . cutting a cookie recipe in half, but forgetting to halve the flour. You know a cookie recipe is good if you double the flour and the dryish result is still pretty tasty.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . listening to Josh Groban sing O Holy Night. I think that song is the king of Christmas carols, and Groban sings it like an angel.

And another thing . . .

. . . I've decided to put my not-so-favorite moments before my favorite ones in each post. Better to end on a good note.

. . . I've noticed that most of the stress in my life stems from the fallacious assumption that children behave in an efficient manner. For example, I wrongly expect that we'll walk directly from the car to our front door, that bedtime potty breaks will be expeditious affairs, and that articles of clothing will be donned in rapid succession with no pausing to roll around on the bed or pretend one is a farm animal. My life is much less stressful when I just accept that toddlers move at half-speed, with many detours. Sometimes the detours are more fun than the main journey, if I remember to embrace the chaos rather than resisting it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Talk and Listen

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . helping Joy give her first talk in Primary. I consider it a success in the sense that I only had to give 80% of it by myself. Joy said the whole first line before clamming up, then she answered a few questions (Me: "Who's this?" Joy: "Joseph Smith") and reprimanded me when I tried to leave a line out. She said the final line ("InthenameofJesusChristamen!") with a big smile on her face.

. . . the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional. Babysitting was available at the chapel, so I was able to savor a whole, uninterrupted hour of music and uplifting messages with my sweetheart. Bliss.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pumpkin Pie and Electric Carols

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating Costco's pumpkin pie at the church Christmas Party.

. . . having several opportunities to genuinely help someone out. It always amazes me that when I pray for the chance to serve someone, opportunities to do so fall right in my lap, often within a few hours of my request.

. . . finally going one whole day without an elf fail.

And another thing . . .

. . . the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" song is a guilty pleasure of mine. You haven't lived until you've heard "The Carol of the Bells" played on electric guitars.

. . . I used to crochet a lot, but I've done it very little in recent years. Today I looked through some afghan patterns and felt tempted to plan a new project, but my hobby time is very limited and I decided there were other things I want to do more than spend hours making a blanket. I'd rather read to enrich my mind, or hone my cooking skills making food that can nourish and give pleasure to my loved ones and me. There may be a time in my life when I need or desire to make blankets again, but it isn't now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wreath Score, Elf Fail (Again)

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daddy coming home from his trip!!

. . . finding out that a wreath hanger is just $2.50 at Michaels, then purchasing said hanger so I could hang my lovely Trader Joe's wreath that kept falling off the little bracket on my door.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . yet another elf fail. I forgot to relocate it last night, and when Joy woke up this morning she was disappointed to find that the elf's magic was apparently gone because it hadn't moved. Fortunately, when we left home this morning I quickly moved it to the piano after Joy walked out the door. When we returned she was delighted to find that the elf had magically moved while we were gone.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pandora and Farkle

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . listening to Christmas music on

. . . seeing Joy lead Daniel out of the front room so he wouldn't be frightened by the loud vacuum. I was touched that she noticed his distress and took action to help, and that he trusted her enough to follow her.

And another thing . . .

. . . Remember yesterday's reference to the elf you can't touch? At naptime today I was ushering Joy toward the bedroom and she announced that she's and elf so I shouldn't touch her or her magic might go away. She then asked me to make up an elf name for her. I dubbed her Farkle.

. . . Also, I babysat a friend's two-year-old son this morning, and the kids and I took a walk to Trader Joe's. With the two boys in the stroller and Joy tagging along, I got some interesting looks and comments that I had my hands full. It's kind of odd that while I'm excited by the idea of having three children someday, many non-Mormons I know think I'm either brave or crazy to even consider it. Sure, there are crazy moments, but when I watch my kids play together and see how delightfully different they are, I'm excited to meet the next Hendrickson and see what they contribute to the mix.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cookie Lament and Elf Fail

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . turning on Christmas music and putting up some of our decorations.

. . . taking a power nap while the kids slept. It was really short--I'm not even sure if I actually fell asleep--but it made a world of difference in my energy level (see below).

Not-so-favorite moments:

. . . Daniel waking me up at 3:15am because he had a 103.2 temperature. Fortunately Infant Motrin and half an hour of rocking brought it down so we could both go back to sleep. Yawn.

. . . committing an epic Mom fail. Last year we received an Elf on the Shelf--a little elf doll with a cute book explaining his story. Joy and I unwrapped the elf for the first time tonight, and I set him up on our piano. Then we read the book that said the elf watches kids for Santa, flies to the North Pole each night to report, then returns by morning to watch in a different spot (translation: parents move him to a new spot after the kids are in bed), and kids can have fun finding his new location in their home each day. The book emphasizes that you should not touch the elf, or his magic may go away so he can't fly to Santa and tell him how good you are.

Of course, Joy immediately pointed out that we had ALREADY touched him. I realized that that detail, plus the fact that Joy had seen me unwrap him from the box, probably destroyed any illusion she might have that the elf was really Santa's helper. When I suggested that we shouldn't touch him any more so his magic won't rub off, Joy patiently replied, "Mom, it's just a game." Sigh...yes, it is.

And another thing . . .

I like baking cookies. I like eating cookies. I don't like the fact that most recipes yield several dozen cookies, most of which will be eaten by me since I'm home with them all day, every day. I'd happily share with friends, neighbors, and even random strangers, but when I do their enthusiasm often seems tempered by visions of each cookie going straight to their hips. I guess I could make smaller batches so I won't eat so many each time, but eggs are so darn hard to halve, quarter, or (heaven help you) third. Maybe I'll start freezing half the dough--I've read that you can store dense cookie doughs for four to six weeks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Open Doors and Doggerel Ditties

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel calming down when I sing to him. I just sing little doggerel ditties about how much I love him and how cute his feet are, but I guess he finds their familiarity soothing.

. . . eating cashews. Sometimes they're just so good.

. . . Joy saying that some mint-chocolate cookies we made were "picey" (spicy). Years ago I visited Cathy's family, and when her young niece declared that a carbonated drink was "picey" I thought it was the cutest thing I'd ever heard. It made me smile to hear my own daughter use the same pronunciation all these years later.

. . . reading part of Luke 2 with Joy at scripture time. This afternoon she asked me to tell her a story about "people," so I told her about the shepherds who saw angels near Bethlehem when Christ was born. When I mentioned that the story was in the scriptures, Joy requested that we read it when we got home. We agreed to put our Book of Mormon reading on hold tonight and read from Luke 2 instead. It was sweet to read that marvelous story together.

Not-so-favorite moments:

. . . dozing off and having Joy awaken me with a poke to the nose.

. . . realizing that after I left the car door open for Joy to climb out in our parking spot, I never got around to closing it. Fortunately, a perceptive neighbor apprised me that my car door was still wide open . . . three hours later. Miraculously, my battery wasn't dead (yet).

And another thing . . .

. . . self-reliance was not a high priority among the Hendrickson kids today. Daniel's coming down with another little fever, so he wanted me to carry him everywhere, and when we came in from the car Joy was pretending she was blind and wanted me to lead her by the hand through the parking lot.

Also, it's hard to know how to classify the memory of rocking my toasty little boy this evening. I love cuddling and comforting him, but it's sad that he wasn't feeling well. Thank goodness for medicine to bring his fever down.

Cider and Song

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . drinking mulled cider with my sweetheart (tasty mulling spices courtesy of Trader Joe's).

. . . Daniel watching in bemused wonder as Joy and I sang a discordant duet of "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet" during family home evening.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . Daniel opening the closet door and revealing Daddy's and my hiding place when we played hide-and-seek for home evening. Ironically, Joy saw me immediately, but she didn't find Daddy until Daniel opened the door a second time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Chard Cometh

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making some really great rolls.

. . . having relatives to dinner.

. . . making garden plans. I think I'll plant some chard.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Toys and Tag

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing tag with Joy while we were out for a walk. She would chase me as I quickly pushed Daniel in the jogging stroller while he kicked his feet in excitement. Eventually Joy would call for me to slow down, whereupon I would start walking and she would catch up and tag me. Then I would tag her right back and start running again.

. . . hearing Joy chime as she walked around the house. She put her star stacker in her backpack, and every time she took a step something else in the backpack bumped the stacker's music button.

. . . taking my kids to a toy store and watching them play with lots of fun things.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . Joy asking me for nearly everything she saw in the toy store. Apparently she absolutely needs a watch, a glittery ball, a rocket launcher, and a plastic ear of corn, among other things.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Improv and Roadblock

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Joy's adaptation of a Thanksgiving song Pink Grandma taught her. Joy began with the usual chorus: "Pilgrims and Indians ate together, Pilgrims and Indians ate together . . ." then she added her own lyrics: "Pilgrims and Indians jumped on the bed, Pilgrims and Indians jumped on the bed . . ." As if that weren't enough, she then improvised a whole extra verse about Pilgrims and Indians jumping on the bed, sung to the tune of the hymn Come Thou Fount. I tried to laugh as quietly as possible so I wouldn't disrupt the creative process.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . happened while I was riding down the mall escalator with my kids. I was holding Daniel, and Joy was standing behind me. When we reached the end of the line I stepped off and looked back just in time to see that Joy had fallen on her toosh at the bottom and thirty people were about to pile down onto her. I grabbed her foot and yanked her out of the way just before an elderly couple fell on top of her. Yikes.

Game Day

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing Settlers of Catan with Pink Grandma.

. . . playing the Thanksgiving Alphabet game. This year's alphabetical list of things we're grateful for is:

Apple Slices
Bread & the Brain
Gerbera daisies
the Heart
Phillip and Priesthood blessings
the Restoration
Spencer and Stained glass windows in the temple
Vladimir Horowitz
eXternal hard drives
Yellow Sunshine
Zyzzyx Road

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tastes of Zion

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . having my family all under one roof. I love hearing my brothers laugh together.

. . . dropping off some food at a local charity, and seeing the place abuzz with volunteers and other donors. It makes me feel like my town is a true community when I see so many people caring for others.

And another thing . . .

. . . my favorite Joy quote of the day: "Daniel's cranky, but I'm not. I'm just frustrated."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Joy Has All The Answers

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finally dropping off my ward's donated candy at Operation Gratitude's site in Van Nuys. The congregation donated thirty-nine pounds of sweets to be sent to troops overseas.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . Joy sobbing in the car's back seat because I didn't know when the next election was. She can't wait to vote again.

And another thing . . .

. . . my effort to give Joy some firsthand experience with the phrase "I don't know" kinda backfired. While I don't have all the answers (even when she REALLY wants them), she is apparently never at a loss:

Me: How tall is a giraffe?
Joy: Very tall.
Me: How many bagels come in a bag?
Joy: Lots.
Me: Where is Zimbabwe?
Joy: Very far away.
Me: When is the next election?
Joy: Um . . . January!

Well-Punctuated Fun

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Phillip play Christmas music on the piano.

. . . teaching Joy how to type periods, question marks, and exclamation points.

. . . tickling Daniel's tummy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pupusas on a Rainy Day

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing rain fall outside.

. . . sitting in the temple's celestial room with my sweetheart.

. . . trying a local El Salvadorian restaurant and loving the pupusas, horchata (El Salvadorian-style), and the soccer game on the big TV across the aisle. I usually find TVs in restaurants annoying, but there it seemed like part of the fun.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Must Remember That Hiding Spot

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing hide and seek with my family, and finding a spot where Phillip couldn't find me.

. . . giving Mom H a big hug.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . every time Daniel woke up crying during the night. I'm still not sure what ailed him, other than the runny nose.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hugging my little family.

And another thing . . .

. . . my kids both got haircuts today. Daniel looks like Daniel-with-shorter-hair. Joy looks like a totally different person. That's partly because her hair was cut a bit shorter than I expected, but also because my friend styled it very differently from what I am used to.

I usually just brush Joy's hair, put a clippie or two in it, then leave it to its own devices. My friend brushed, blow-dried, and curled it into a cute little flip. It made Joy's hair seem more like an intentional style, and therefore a statement about what she (or the person grooming her) likes and values.

If boy haircuts make any statement at all it tends to be something like "I am a boy." Girl styles can say anything from "I'm practical" to "I'm sporty" to "I'm high maintenance; ask me out if you think you're up to the challenge." While I'm sure that my no-frills approach to Joy's hair made some statement about me (and possibly about her), I wasn't so conscious of hair's impact on people's perceptions until I saw Joy's new do and thought, "Who is this child, and what does she stand for?"

Maybe the effect will wear off as I get used to Joy's new haircut (and as the flip relaxes--goodness knows I couldn't replicate it even if I wanted to). In the meantime, the whole thing is a little surreal. It also makes me wonder how others' perceptions of me would change if I did something so trivial as change my hairstyle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Missed the Husband and the Plate

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daddy coming home from his conference. Hugs for everyone!

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . Daniel using one of the plates as a discus.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Ending and Homecoming

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the happy ending of Toy Story 3. And the the interrogation scene--"No! Those were vintage!!"

. . . getting home to my kids and enjoying their familiar little quirks. It was fun to help Daniel turn on all the lights in the house when he got up from his nap, and to help Joy microwave s'mores just the way she likes them: without chocolate. It was great to get away from home, and now it's great to be back.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pomodori = Yummy*

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . an overnight getaway with my sweet husband. Thanks to Papa and Red Grandma for watching the kids!

. . . Corner Bakery Cafe's Chicken Pomodori Panini. Yum.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . this interchange:
Mama: "AAAAH! Daniel just broke my glasses!"
Joy: "Blow my nose."

*Actually, "pomodori" is an Italian word which roughly translates to "made with tomatoes," but in this case I felt that "yummy" was a more effective description.

I Heart VT

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . visiting teaching. I was tempted to stay another hour, but my kids were getting tired. She's one of those people I just click with, even though we differ widely on some things. In that sense, she reminds me of my friend Siobhan.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lead By Following

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending today's leadership broadcast regarding the new Church handbook. You wouldn't think two hours of instruction on Church administration would be enjoyable or inspiring, yet it was both in spades. Apostles are just like that. I came away with a firmer conviction that I can do good in this work and this world if I invite God to guide me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Was Closed

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . driving up a mountain with my mom. It was nice to have some time to just talk without lots of distractions.

. . . telling Joy about Neil Armstrong's historic lunar landing when she asked for a story "about the Moon." Mom even got to chime in with her memory of watching it on TV as a girl.

. . . hearing Joy tell herself a story as we drove along. It went something like: "Once there was a frog who wanted to go to Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving was closed. He waited outside to see if it would open, but it stayed closed. The end."

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . two words: flat tire. Don't worry--it went flat and was fixed before I drove up the mountain. However, the fixing process was tedious and decidedly not fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Only A Model

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . baking cookies with my sweetheart.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy is still into watching rocket launch videos on YouTube, and to a certain extent I am, too. Even after watching it the tenth time, I still think it's pretty awesome to watch four million pounds of space shuttle launch into space.

As long as Joy sticks to her favorite space shuttle and Saturn V videos I'm happy to watch them again and again. Unfortunately, she's also taken a shine to a video of five model rockets lifting off. Repeatedly. In slow motion. With rock music in the background.

Near the end, Joy commented, "I don't like this one." I then felt free to confess that I didn't like it either. Then, fickle toddler that she is, Joy said, "Well, I like it. Let's do it." And she played it again. Sigh.

One and Two

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking Daniel to the park on his own while Joy was at preschool. It was nice to just have some one-on-one time and follow him around wherever he wanted to go.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . having two kids crying on my lap at the same time. Daniel was wailing because Joy accidentally closed his fingers in the bathroom door, and Joy was distressed because he didn't calm down when she said she was sorry.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Squashed Pancakes

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a looong nap this afternoon.

. . . looking into Joy's big brown eyes.

. . . adding some leftover pureed squash and pumpkin pie spice to pancake batter, and finding that the result actually tasted good.

. . . writing my first poem in years--a haiku inspired by my job (of all things).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Incentive to Vote

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my husband fixing the kids breakfast so I could sleep a little longer. I love him so much.

. . . my bored toddler whining, "Mom, let's go vote!" Anything to get out of the house.

Reverently, Quietly

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching my kids close their eyes and bow their heads at prayer time. Daniel only keeps his bowed for a moment, but it's still cute.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

O, How I Knead Thee

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making a good batch of rolls.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Perfume and Spaghetti Sauce

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Elder Scott's recent fireside on marriage with my sweetheart.

. . . watching a space shuttle launch on YouTube with Joy. It was awesome. Joy liked the Saturn V model video better, though. Maybe it was because of the background music.

Not-so-favorite moments:

. . . when Joy asked me to click on the video of the Challenger explosion. Then kept asking to watch it again. I told her once was enough.

. . . glancing up from my grocery list just in time to see Daniel pull a glass jar of spaghetti sauce off the store's shelf. The cleanup crew was very gracious.

And another thing . . .

. . . I recently happened upon a random blog post about what it means to the author to be/feel feminine, especially now that she's a few years into motherhood. It made me consider where my sense of femininity comes from. Is it from my appearance, what I do and am, or some combination thereof?

I was reminded of Audrey Hepburn commenting on her role as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. In the opening scene of the film her character was dirty and unsophisticated, but Hepburn recalled, "I was wearing my perfume. Inside I still knew I was a lady." I don't wear perfume, but I do have a few little things that make a big difference in how I feel about myself. I keep my toenails painted, I always wear my silver hoop earrings when I'm awake, and I rarely leave the house without putting on lipstick (when I'm at home there's no point, because I just kiss it all onto Daniel's cheeks). It's a simple regimen, but I stick to it and feel like a frump when I don't. Ironically, my fashionista sister who owns every cosmetic on the planet feels little inclination to wear earrings or lipstick. I guess between the two of us we cover all the bases.

That said, is femininity really about appearance? How we look impacts how we feel and how we act, so I'm sure there is some visual aspect to femininity, but in a larger sense I think it is more about what we do and are. I believe the ultimate expressions of femininity are nurturing children, being a supportive wife, cultivating good character, and lifting others (and likewise the ultimate expressions of manhood are raising children, being a supportive husband, cultivating good character, and exercising the priesthood to serve others). It is those activities that realize each gender's similar yet unique mission in mortality. It's a lot easier to focus on applying lipstick than refining character, but down the road the latter will have a far greater impact on my happiness and destiny, and those of my loved ones, too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Literature and Life

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Joy say "Whoosh!!" every time her Lego plane took off from the carpet runway. She was feeling inspired by a library boardbook about airplanes. She was also inspired by Calvin and Hobbes to say that something under her bed was drooling and she had to feed it some blocks.

Tea and Wolves

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . a great discussion at book group tonight. We enjoyed discussing the book, but I think my favorite part was the discussion of siblings afterward. It was interesting to reflect that my sister and I are so different, and she doesn't always make the choices I would, yet she has strengths that I admire and sometimes yearn for.

. . . reading Three Cups of Tea. I particularly enjoyed the chapter called Haji Ali's Lesson. It made me reflect that, like many Americans, I am in such a rush to complete tasks that I often forget to build relationships and enjoy the simple goodness of life.

And another thing . . .

. . . I hosted our co-op preschool class today. One of the boys morphed into a snarling wolf, whereupon one of the girls declared herself to be Belle and dubbed the other boy the Beast who should save her and the other princesses. However, the Beast decided he would rather color his picture and Joy opted to be a wolf instead of a princess, at which point Belle and Ariel took matters into their own hands and tackled the original wolf themselves. Girl Power.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote for Hobbes

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . voting.

. . . taking Joy along to the polling place, and watching her practice inking in a sample ballot. She voted for Thomas Jefferson for President. And Lincoln and Kennedy, too. We left proudly wearing our "I Voted" stickers. When Phillip arrived home wearing one, too, Joy was delighted.

And another thing . . .

. . . I tried to have a teaching moment with Joy, showing her pictures of the state gubernatorial candidates as I prepared to go vote this morning. She interrupted to ask me to help her find the page in her book where Hobbes does a big cannonball into the tub and splooshes Calvin onto the floor. Priorities.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hungry for Popcorn

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Joy say, "We're going to play a game you never played before. It's called . . . Run On Your Toes!!!!"

. . . eating popcorn this afternoon. Cuz popcorn makes everything better (kinda like chocolate). PowerPop, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . .this exchange:
Joy: I'm hungry.
Me: I'm stressed, dirty, and overwhelmed. What's your point?
Joy: I'm hungry.

Chuckles and Sighs

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy participating in the ward Primary program. She actually remembered her line (with a little prompting), but she didn't sing a word of the songs.

. . . a smile exchange while Joy was up in the front of the chapel. I noticed her looking at me, whereupon she smiled at me and I smiled back. Then she grinned, and I grinned, too. Then she made a super ugly frog face and I turned my attention back to the kid at the pulpit.

And another thing . . .

. . . voting is a vital right and a privilege, but I am eager for the election to be over. I'm sick of hearing harsh voices calling each other liars, and of wondering whether a proposition is truly worthwhile or whether the supporters just hired a really skilled publicist.

I think Americans agree on the fundamental things we want--good education, the means to support our family and afford a home, reasonably affordable healthcare--but the details of achieving those things are complicated, and it's hard to know which expert to listen to, and which politician is both willing and able to clear the road instead of blocking it.

Capitalism and democracy--they're messy, imperfect systems, but at this point they're the best we've got.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Eve and the Ruly Mob

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cleaning house with my family. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I feel happy and united when we're working together.

. . . trick-or-treating at Pink Grandma's house. The adults all waited inside rooms along the hallway, and when when Joy knocked and said "trick-or-treat!" we opened our door and let her choose a piece of candy. Joy loved it, but the concept went right over Daniel's head until Daddy helped him. Just wait until next year.

. . . reading about Jon Stewart's D.C. Rally to Restore Sanity. Much of the rally was humorous, but Stewart also made the serious observation that "if we amplify everything, we hear nothing." I like the principle of standing up for civility and dialogue rather than divisive, hyperbolic demonizing that characterizes so much of American politics and news.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Leia's Belt and My Snooze Alarm

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . having a bunch of people recognize me as Princess Leia at the ward Trunk-or-Treat activity. My white dress and braided, non-cinnamon bun hair didn't really look much like Leia's, but somehow the belt I made out of posterboard, paper, and foil allowed people to identify me instantly. Funny--they probably never took a close look at Leia's belt in their lives (I sure didn't until I tried to replicate it), but somehow they just knew who it belonged to. :)

. . . seeing a few of the kids from the ward donate some of their treats for our troops. You can donate candy to Operation Gratitude, and they will ship it to US troops overseas who really appreciate the sweet reminders of home and holidays. I was proud of the kids for sharing their bounty.

. . . Joy agreeing to let me sleep ten extra minutes this morning.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . Joy watching me like a vulture as the ten minutes ticked away, then dogpiling me when the time was up. Mmmph.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Menchies frozen yogurt with my family. Pumpkin pie yogurt + graham cracker crumbs = yum!

. . . kissing Daniel's chubby toddler cheeks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading some of my old Calvin & Hobbes comic strip collections with Joy. I thought she'd find them boring, but we read half the book until my voice started giving out. Ah, Calvin--I relate to your parents so much better than I did fifteen years ago.

. . . reading one of the rare interviews with C&H artist Bill Watterson in 2005, ten years after he chose to stop drawing comics. Fans from around the world submitted questions for him, and he answered 15 of them. It's interesting which questions he dodged or parried, and which he embraced.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . .you really don't want to know. There are some aspects of parenting I enjoy soooo much more than others.

Not So Fast

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . fasting for someone I care about.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . .whilst observing said fast, resisting the temptation to help my kids eat the ceiling of our haunted mansion (constructed of chocolate graham crackers, cream cheese frosting, and candy during home evening last night).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sounds Fishy

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . checking out the Science Center's aquarium with my family and a bunch of missionaries on their P-Day.

. . . rubbing my husband's back after he'd had a rough day. It's nice to be able to do something to help, even if I can't take the problem away.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . a really uplifting lesson about priesthood blessings. It strengthened my faith that God is truly mindful of us, and that even when our prayers are answered with a "no," it is done out of His love and intimate knowledge of what will bless us most.

. . . sharing popcorn with four generations of relatives. There's something about just being together that draws us closer to each other.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . my tired, cranky daughter telling me she's going to cry until Tuesday.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finally making a really good calzone.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . eating way too much of said calzone.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing "Tickle the Boomerang" with Joy until she laughed so much that she started hiccuping.
Step 1: I tickle Joy.
Step 2: Joy runs away giggling.
Step 3: Joy comes back for more.
Repeat until hiccups commence.

. . . watching boomerang videos on Youtube so Joy would know what on Earth a boomerang was.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . discovering that the mysterious white pellets around our home and car had escaped from a stuffed animal with a hole in its leg.

Working Dough and the System

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy's impish smile when she got out of bed to use the bathroom . . . for the third time.

. . . looking through some recent photos of fun times and smiling kids.

. . . savoring the return of baking weather.

. . . Posh Potatoes for dinner.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Snakes and Silliness

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . substituting a cup of whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour in my pumpkin cookie recipe, and finding that the result tastes just as good as the regular version. Since they're healthy cookies I can eat more of them, right?

. . . listening to a hilarious NPR interview with an artist who got bored, devoted a website to his doodles of almost naked animals, and consequently got offered a job with Disney.

. . . halfway through the interview, hearing Joy (who always finds it unsettling when I laugh at something she doesn't understand) shout, "When can we get out of the car? I don't like these funny things!"

And another thing . . .

. . . even as we rapidly approach November's election, I find that few subjects are more polarizing than pet snakes. Whenever it comes up that I own a legless, scaly vertebrate, I invariably get one of two reactions: the person either thinks it's cool and they want to know more, or they shudder and change the subject. I freely talk about religion, and occasionally about politics, but I tend avoid the subject of my pet corn snake.

Yes, I'm a Geek

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . this (courtesy of Freaking News; you find the darnedest things with Google):

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken in the Corn

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . helping Daniel run down a hill over and over again.

. . . Phillip's cookie bars. The cookies are tasty, but I could eat half the dough with a spoon.

. . . finding my way out of a corn maze. Don't be too impressed--after a few twists and turns I just doubled back and went out the way I came in. If I'd been on my own or with other adults I might have kept searching for the real exit, but since I had the kids with me I thought it unwise to spend an hour or two wandering through a corn field. Respect naptime.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Solemn Assembly

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel running up to give me a hug.

. . . Joy wanting to sit on my lap when we had dinner at a friend's home.

. . . eating delicious chowder.

. . . coming in out of the cold, and walking on warm carpet in bare feet.

. . . attending the annual devotional for temple workers (and their spouses) in the LA Temple solemn assembly room. Meetings I have attended in that room have been among the most spiritual experiences of my life, and tonight was no exception. As I listened to the beautiful music and the inspiring words of an apostle of God, I felt such peace, happiness, and love for my sweet, good husband.* We closed with the hymn “Redeemer of Israel,” and as we sang “the hour of redemption is here” I felt deep gratitude for our Savior.

*Galatians 5:22 lists love as a fruit of the Spirit, and I have found that to be literally true. My love for my husband is always fullest when we are in the temple or some other sacred context where the Spirit is strongly present. I feel greater love for others, too, but for him most of all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . going to the park with my kids and seeing a couple artists painting some nearby homes. I particularly liked the watercolor.

. . . Phillip coming home after being away a few days. I've missed him.

. . . attending stake conference tonight with my husband. Spiritual experiences are even sweeter when I get to share them with him.

. . . this quote: "You can't ponder if you don't have questions." (Elder Robbins in stake conference tonight). Too often I open the scriptures looking for answers without bothering to form any questions first.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ten Little Daniel Toes

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hugging my sweetie.

. . . counting Daniel's toes.

Be What You Want to Become

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating raspberries in vanilla yogurt.

. . . hearing Phillip's voice on the phone - I miss him when he's out of town.

. . . this quote: "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day." (Elder Richard G. Scott, Oct '10 Conf. talk on character). It's a rather empowering thought.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Firefighters Are Cool

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . touring the local fire station with Joy's preschool group and learning lots of interesting things.

. . . watching Joy have a great time playing with a friend at the park.

. . . making a good smoothie.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slides and Witch Hats

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . helping Daniel learn to go down the slide on his own.

. . . hearing lots of people say how much they liked the super-easy witch hat cookies I brought to class.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Dragons Said They Were Wild About Red

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . keeping Daniel in fits of giggles while I hid a ball under two of his stacking cups.

. . . reading The Color Wizard to Joy over and over - it has simple yet lovely illustrations.

. . . Daddy squeezing my hand at prayer time.

Not-so-favorite moment:

. . . trying to do yoga while Daniel pulled my hair.

Ten Ten Ten

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy giving her first prayer in Sunday school (with a little help from Daddy).

. . . hearing Daniel giggle when Daddy tickled him.

. . . thinking of my dear friend getting married in Hawaii today. I hope it was a joyous day, the first of many more to come.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Heart Menchie's

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . enjoying Menchie's frozen yogurt with my family. Twice. Ironically, my favorite combo on today's menu involved not yogurt but sorbet: ginger lemonade sorbet swirled with raspberry pomegranate sorbet. Mmmmm. No toppings - I take mine straight.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Useful Women Unite

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading Shanna Swendson's thoughts on "The Sad Literary Fate of Useful Women." I couldn't help thinking of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It was a thrilling mystery, but didn't work for me as a romance. What did he see in Laura, anyway? Marian rocks.

Baby Beluga and Three Cups of Tea

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading to Daniel. He's into Baby Beluga these days.

. . . the monthly book group meeting. As usual, we had a lively discussion (sometimes on topic, sometimes not). Since I hosted, I get to pick the book for next month. I chose Three Cups of Tea, partly on STM's recommendation, and partly because I'd like to see a kinder, gentler side of Islam. I'm sure there are many normal, decent Muslims in this wide world, but all you ever see on the news are jihadists, politicians with an agenda, angry people reacting to the latest bombing, etc. I suspect that they no more represent Islam than the guy who recently threatened to burn Korans represents Christianity, but it would be nice to ground that assumption in stories of real people, not just my belief in the general goodness of humanity. I hope Mortenson's book will reinforce that belief.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thank You, Umbrella Lady

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my one-year-old unlocking the library bathroom door a mere two minutes after he locked himself in.

. . . a nice woman sharing her big umbrella with us when it started raining.

. . . randomly discovering this quote on the internet: "It's all fun and games until someone marries their avatar."

Spam Surprise

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cooking a food storage meal that actually tasted good.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thanks, Sweetie

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing our daughter pray for her daddy to come home safely.

. . . talking with my husband about Conference.

. . . my husband drying dishes so it wouldn't take me all night to hand-wash them (our washer is broken--long story).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Conference Weekend

This weekend's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cinnamon cake.

. . . cool mountain weather.

. . . baking bread.

. . . President Uchtdorf's airplane comment. :)

. . . hearing the inspiring words of modern-prophets and apostles. It was good to be reminded of the divine power and guidance available to all of us if we will only seek it and live worthy of it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mmm, Curry . . .

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . standing a little straighter after a visit to the chiropractor.

. . . making a delicious Thai dish with red curry and coconut milk, and savoring the aroma for hours afterward.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On the Wings of Eagles

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy and some of her friends flap around our house pretending they were eagles.

Nienie and Artie

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading some recent entries on Nienie Dialogues. Her love of life and family always inspire me to appreciate mine more.

. . . reading some nummy bread recipes in the King Arthur Flour whole grain cookbook I recently checked out from the library. Now if only the weather would cool down so I could bake a few of them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hot Stuff

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing my son giggle as waves washed over his feet at the beach.

. . . rearranging the furniture in my kids' room - it's nice to have the dresser by the changing table.

. . . letting the solar oven cook my dinner outside, since it was a whopping 113 degrees today. Makes me think of Malachi 4:1 ("For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven . . .").

. . . eating popsicles for dessert with my family.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love Scarf

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . meeting with the humanitarian service committee at church and feeling inspired about the projects we're considering. If we don't end up including the Love Scarf Project in our plans, I'll probably make and donate a few on my own.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pumpkins and Prophets

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing big, green pumpkins growing on the vines in my garden.

. . . sitting next to an acquaintance and worrying we'd think of nothing to say to each other, but finding we had plenty to talk about.

. . . hearing inspiring and occasionally entertaining words from the Prophet. It's nice to know that a man with so many serious, important things to say also likes to have a good laugh now and then. :)

New Direction

For nearly four years now, I've struggled to find a good direction for this blog. I think I've finally come up with something I like that I can also manage.

A few times a week--perhaps even every day--I'm going to post one or more of my favorite parts of that day. Not necessarily THE favorite, since that's hard to quantify and I'm not sure I really want to--just a favorite, or two or three.

It'll be good practice for me, and hopefully it will make pleasant and occasionally uplifting reading for you.

Here's to many favorite moments shared.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Impressive, Yet Insufficient

Last year we bought a solar oven, for two reasons: 1) So we can cook if the power goes out, and 2) so we can cook without heating up our house on hot days. All summer I've been trying out various recipes, and this morning I prepared a dinner recipe that needed to simmer all day. The weather report promised clear skies by 10am. It lied.

I couldn't even see a ghost of a shadow until 2pm, but even with so little sunshine the solar oven managed to heat up to 150 degrees. I was impressed that it could double the outdoor temperature on a cloudy day, but that still wasn't enough to cook our dinner. I had to finish it in the oven inside. Good thing it wasn't a hot day.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Actually, Daniel DOES find my singing relaxing, but Joy doesn't (and she tells me so in no uncertain terms). If this family were a strict democracy, Joy would be out of luck. It happens to be a biarchy, though, and we try to keep it a benevolent one, so I try to keep my musical outbursts short or let Joy choose the song.

Sometimes, though, you just gotta sing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sing a Song

I find singing soothing in stressful situations. Too bad my kids don't feel the same way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great Benefits

Parenthood is like any worthwhile career: There are times when it's boring and times when it's aggravating, but there are also lots of times when you feel incredibly blessed to be part of something so rewarding and wonderful.

One big difference is that with a career, you may change the world, but you may not. By contrast, as a parent you make an indelible impression on your child's life and indirectly influence every person they will ever meet.

Also, you get to hug your coworkers on a regular basis. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Song Association

I always sing a hymn or Primary song to my three-year-old when I put her down for a nap. I usually ask if she has a preference, whereupon she asks for a song about painting (I sing "Primary Colors") or bed time ("Did You Think to Pray?" - "Oh, how praying rests the weary . . .").

Today she asked for a song about hangers, so I sang "Hold to the Rod." :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Couldn't Agree More

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -- Groucho Marx

Friday, May 14, 2010

Character Test

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: Some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all." --Sam Ewing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At Table

"It's a French term, à table, like time stops and that you're breaking bread, and you're drinking wine. And you're telling stories, and you're talking, and you're sharing. You know, I think back on Thanksgiving memories and how that brought the family together and cousins. And in a little way, that's what we do is that we bring people together, and it's almost like a little Thanksgiving dinner and that just sensual joy of eating and drinking really good things."--Chef Frank Stitt

And on that note, I recently discovered that Martha Stewart's strawberry bread recipe is delish.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good Dirty Fun

"If a kid is dirty at the end of the day, they probably had a good time." --Cousin Jodi

The first time I took my first baby to the park, I was traumatized by the idea that my pristine angel might come in contact with . . . dirt (shudder). I've loosened up a bit since then, but I still have to remind myself that it's more important for my kids to experience life than to keep their fingernails perpetually clean. That's why the good Lord gave us soap and water.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'll Untie The Knot

With thoughtless and impatient hands
We tangle up the plans
The Lord hath wrought.
And when we cry in pain He saith,
“Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot.

cited by Pres. Packer

Monday, March 22, 2010

You Don't Have To Read This

As I was reading Elder Christofferson's recent conference talk on Moral Discipline, it occurred to me that we often say that we "have" to do things, when the reality is that we choose to do them because we want the benefits or are unwilling to accept the alternatives.

I don't HAVE to put gas my car (no one is standing there forcing my hand to swipe my credit card), but I do it because I want to quickly and easily transport my family. I don't HAVE to get out of bed when my kids wake up, but I do it because I want them to be safe, fed, and happy. I don't HAVE to read the scriptures, but I do it because I need the strength and direction they offer. You get the idea.

I suppose this is all rather obvious, but I mention it because I find that my feelings toward an activity improve when I think about the positive reasons I CHOOSE to do it rather than the sense of obligation that I "have" to do it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Celestial Fire

"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience." --George Washington

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Basket of Water

I attended a conference in my parents' stake yesterday, and one of the speakers shared a story I really related to:

One day a young boy asked his grandfather what good it did to read the scriptures, since he didn't understand them very well and usually forgot what he'd read shortly after he closed the book. The grandfather responded by asking the boy to take his dirty coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.

The boy tried to do as his grandfather asked, but all the water leaked out of the basket long before he reached the doorstep. The grandfather suggested he go faster the next time, but although the grandson ran as fast as he could, the basket was still empty before he made it back to the cabin. He exclaimed that the task was futile, and declared he would use the bucket instead, but the grandfather insisted that he wanted a basket of water, so the grandson went one more time, just to demonstrate the impossibility of his task.

When he returned with an empty basket yet again, the boy said, "You see--the water leaks out of this basket every time!" The grandfather replied, "Yes, but do you notice anything different about the basket now?" The boy glanced down, and saw that the filthy coal basket had been washed clean. "Scripture study works the same way," said his grandfather. "We may not retain everything we read, but the act of studying cleans us from the inside out."

I try to remember and apply what I study each day, but most of the time I feel like my mind is a leaky basket rather than a watertight bucket. The same is true of temple worship--I've learned many beautiful truths there, but there is still so much more that I don't fully understand. Still, I find that the act of studying scriptures and worshiping in the temple brings me peace and recalibrates my moral compass. Bit by bit it makes me a better person. Thank Heaven for that.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Danged If You Do . . .

Humans like to think we are rational creatures, but most of the time we really aren't. For example, when I stopped blogging a few months ago, I pined for that opportunity to share my thoughts and participate in the worldwide conversation. I thought of countless things I wanted to write, and it seemed cruel to deprive myself of the opportunity to share them.

Now I'm back, and I can't think of a dang thing to write.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Always Right

“Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds.” --J. Finnegan, USC

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Godspeed, Katydid

This afternoon we saw a katydid outside our apartment, and decided to take a closer look at it. Its delicate movements reminded me what a miracle the natural world is.

Unfortunately, this particular miracle made the mistake of hopping onto Joy's pant leg. It startled her, and when she jumped the katydid fell to the ground where Joy accidentally stepped squarely down on it.

I felt terrible that our clumsy curiosity had made this creature suffer and ended its life, but I took some comfort in the knowledge that there is life after this one. I'm grateful to know that we only ended the katydid's mortal life, not its existence, and that it is probably happier where it is now. That's not to say we should go wantonly destroying things to send them to a better place, but it is good to know that as we make our imperfect way through life, our little mistakes don't cause too much sorrow in the long run.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Great Chemistry

"While cooking is art, baking is not -- it is mostly chemistry." (Alton Brown)

The man speaks truly. I recall the time I accidentally put triple the usual amount of baking soda in some cookies . . .

Thursday, February 11, 2010


This is why I have no interest in Twitter. It's also one of the reasons I avoid Facebook.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bad Judgment

"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." (Jim Horning)

I made a colossal error in parental judgment today. When I took my two kids to Trader Joe’s, I only requested one balloon from the cashier. Both my kids love balloons. I won’t make that mistake again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh Yeah

We often speak of "Ah ha!" moments--big epiphanies that open our eyes and motivate us to make sweeping changes in our lives.

Instead of having the occasional "Ah ha!" I seem to have lots of "Oh yeah" moments. As in oh yeah, building relationships with my kids matters a lot more than checking things off my to-do list. Oh yeah, if I want my sweetheart to be cheerful and thoughtful, he'd probably appreciate the same from me. Oh yeah, if I don't savor childhood moments now they'll soon be gone and I'll miss them.

I find that I offer a lot of prayers these days thanking God for patiently, perpetually reminding me what matters most. Cuz it's so easy to forget.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Food and Fire

"A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as for the body." --Margaret Fuller

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Forth

"I thenth a dithturbanth in the Forth." --Dars Vader

Friday, January 29, 2010

Favorite Things

As of this week, my blog has received over ten thousand views since its inception three years ago. While I know there are many blogs that receive that many views in a single day, it's still touching (and a little humbling) to think a few people care enough about what I think to drop by here that many times.

I considered writing something profound for this momentous occasion, but I decided to follow my friend Liesl's lead and do something fun instead. So with out further ado, I give you a list of ten of my favorite things:

The Gospel
Every good thing in my life--present, future, and eternal--stems from Jesus Christ and His teachings. His Gospel is a constant source of hope, perspective, strength, and inspiration to me.

My Family
My husband, kids, and extended family bring such joy to my life (no pun intended).

I love learning, and I love good stories. My all-time favorite book is Garlic and Sapphires.

Yes, they deserve their own category. I love cooking and trying new recipes, so every page of a cookbook is a potential new adventure. My favorite cookbook is probably How to Be a Domestic Goddess, not because I actually use it that much, but because the photos are luscious and it always inspires. As for which collection of recipes I use the most (aside from my own cookbook), I love trying things in the Taste of Home magazines I subscribe to.

Kitchen Gadgets
Something about kitchen stuff just makes me happy. I'm particularly fond of my citrus zester,* probably because it makes me feel like I'm some sort of haute cuisine diva (and sometimes I am, but usually not).

Public Radio
My local public radio station is brain food for me. I rarely turn it on at home (cuz I'd get nothing done), but I nearly always listen to it when I'm in the car. I like the fact that they strive for balanced, in-depth news coverage, and I enjoy the segments on books, current happenings, global culture, you name it.

I love different blogs for different reasons. Some are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. Others provide recipes or entertainment (or both). Still others offer inspiration when I'm having a rough time and need a smile.

I'm so grateful to live in So Cal, where even in the dead of winter I can take the kids on a walk for some fresh air. It rejuvenates the soul, and is the best cure I've found for cabin fever.

I'm a compulsive gardener. Not necessarily a skilled one, mind you, but I am persistent. Since I'm currently an apartment dweller my garden presently consists of lots of herbs and greens in pots. When I think of my future dream house, I don't dwell much on the interior; I tend to think most about the yard (and the kitchen--duh). In the meantime, I garden vicariously through other people.

And last but not least . . .

Foaming Hand Soap
I'm ridiculously fond of BBW's Gentle Foaming Hand Soaps. It's hard to say exactly why. I guess the kid in me loves that they make bubbles and smell good. The OCD adult in me is kind of picky about fragrances, though, especially since I have to find one that my husband won't mind exuding each time he emerges from the bathroom. I wouldn't mind smelling like wild honeysuckle, but it's hard to imagine Phillip splashing that fragrance on before heading to school. I like Coconut Lime Verbena, and I think Phillip does, too (if he hated it, he would have said as much by now); Kitchen Lemon is a good choice, as well.


*Note: I don't actually own the zester I linked to; I couldn't find a picture of mine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Needle in a Genetic Haystack

My friend Caitlyn has a daughter with disabilities, and no doctor has been able to figure out what's causing them. Caitlyn recently posted about another parent in a similar situation, a geneticist named Hugh Rienhoff who copes with the frustration of unanswered questions in a unique way: he's spent years combing through his daughter's DNA sequence one nucleotide at a time, looking for variants that might be responsible for her condition.

I followed Caitlyn's link to a recent Wired article on Rienhoff. It notes that many of his colleagues and friends call the project a fool's errand, and he himself admits that there is little chance he will ever find the offending gene(s), let alone be able to use that information to help his daughter. However, he says that's not really that point. He’s sifting through that huge mountain of data because it feels better to do something potentially helpful than to sit on the sidelines helplessly wondering and worrying. The author notes that “to Rienhoff, being the father who never relents is itself a noble goal. ‘In the end,’ he says, ‘this is simply about the extra ways a daddy can love his little girl.’”

While I've never faced any challenge as grave as Caitlyn's or Rienhoff's, the latter's quest really resonated with me. The most staggering problems of my life have been the ones I had no clue how to solve. It's easy to despair when you feel powerless. On the other hand, once I hit upon something--anything--I could do to improve my situation, hope rekindled. Taking action, even in a small way, lifted my spirits and made me feel like I was steering my ship, not being keelhauled under it. I'm sure that effect is compounded when the trial involves your children.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Burning Twice

The first thing that burned today was me. At least, it felt that way. A friend invited me to attend a Bikram Yoga class, which involves 26 strenuous poses in a room heated to 110 degrees with a few humidifiers running. I won't deny that I feel great now and my posture is much improved, but it was the most grueling experience in my recent memory. The kicker is that when you pay for your first class you get a second one free. I'm still debating whether I want to accept that offer.

The second thing that burned today was the maple pecan topping of the pumpkin pie I made this afternoon. Part of the topping sloshed onto the baking sheet when I put the pie in the oven, and our home still smells like burnt sugar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fight Fire with Water

“Conquer the angry man by love. Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness. Conquer the miser with generosity. Conquer the liar with truth.” (Buddha)

. . . and the impatient man with patience, and the rude man with courtesy, and the grumpy man with (measured?) good cheer . . .

"Conquer" is an interesting word choice, since as I understand it Buddhism is a rather peaceful philosophy. I suppose the implication is that it requires more strength and discipline to respond positively than to react negatively.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


"Man’s partial good resolutions that always succumb to ingrained habit are like the cleaning, scrubbing and adorning that we practice on Sundays and feast days. We always get dirty again, to be sure, but such a partial cleaning process has the advantage of upholding the principle of cleanliness." --Goethe

This seems a fitting quote for the new year, when so many of us are making (and all too soon breaking) resolutions to be better. It's important to remember that even an imperfect effort to improve makes us better, if only because it reinforces what we value.

I don't know how often I'll post this year--maybe weekly, maybe monthly, maybe this is the only thing I'll write this year (I hope not)--but every now and then I read or hear something that I want to share with you, and I believe it will do me (and hopefully you) more good if act on those good impulses rather than telling them to go play somewhere else.

Happy New Year, gentle reader, and here's to resolutions, kept or otherwise.

P.S. For whatever reason, most of my readers seem to be of the non-commenting sort. While comments are still very much appreciated if you feel so inclined, I've added a feature at the bottom of each post where you can just click to say if the post made you smile or made you think. I appreciate your feedback in whatever form you prefer to give it. --KB