Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thumbprint Art and Kleenex

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . trying to make Joy's new recorder do anything but shriek. I managed to produce a few normal notes, but I'm not sure what I did to achieve that, and the internet videos I checked out didn't add much clarity.

. . . going through lots of Kleenex.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making thumbprint art with Joy.

. . . my African violet blooming.

. . . getting stuff done.

. . . working with Phillip to get the last Christmas decorations away.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Photos and Waffle Halves

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna waking up early from naps.

. . . forgetting to grease the new waffle iron, and ending up with waffle stuck to both halves of it.

. . . catching a cold.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing catch with Phillip and the big kids after dinner.

. . . looking through family photos from the past couple weeks. Good times.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gifts and Decor

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . starting to put away the Christmas decorations. It's really fun to see them during the holiday season, but it takes forever to put them up and take them down.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna cuddles.

. . . my husband liking the birthday gifts I gave him. I like that I know him well enough to give him things he'll enjoy but not necessarily expect.

. . . listening to Phillip play with Daniel while I prepared dinner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Movies and Daydreams

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hanging out with my family and watching everyone's favorite movie clips.

And another thing . . .

. . . this evening my sister asked what I would splurge on if I had a bunch of discretionary cash. Since I have most of the kitchen items I need and I don't have a yard for a garden, I said I would go to a nice restaurant with Phillip once or twice a month. I love spending time with my husband and eating really good food.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas and Easter

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . when Phillip suddenly stopped accompanying a musical number I was singing in church. For some inexplicable reason, the third page of music was missing from his music stand. I handed him my copy and finished the song.

. . . Anna having an epic blowout.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . wishing friends Merry Christmas at church.

. . . my family enjoying the presents I gave them.

And another thing . . .

. . . in church today, a speaker shared President Hinckley's observation that "There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection." As beautiful and inspiring as the Nativity story is, it only really matters because Jesus came to fulfill His mission thirty-three years later, to make it possible for us to go Home. Christ Himself is the greatest gift of Christmas, and I'm grateful for the matchless gift He gave us that first Easter morning.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Music

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up super tired. I stayed up too late wrapping presents. I'm determined to retire by midnight tonight.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cuddling Anna.

. . . having a dance party with Joy while Pink Grandma played "Let It Snow" on her piano.

. . . singing with the Hendricksons in their annual Christmas Eve program. The tone is always reverent and the music thrilling.

. . . receiving a beautiful painting from Pink Grandma as a Christmas gift to our family.

. . . eating the best pumpkin pie I think I've ever tasted.

. . . not overcooking the gingerbread this time.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chips and Vixens

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . looking at the Candyland game I ordered for my five-year-old daughter, and noticing that they've "updated" the illustrations to include a sultry princess with a "come hither" look on her face. We're talking Barbie meets Bratz meets some vixen from the red light district. Seriously? I'm tempted to return it and search the net for an older version of the game, but tomorrow's Christmas Eve and there's no way a replacement would arrive in time. Still, I'm not sure I want to give my sweet daughter a game which teaches that princesses are skanky supermodels who go ice skating half dressed. Grrrrrr...

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting my hair cut. It's nice to have my hair look like a style again.

. . . playing around with my giggly little son.

. . . mixing up another batch of gingerbread dough.

And another thing . . .

. . . Lately I've been thinking about a quote I saw on Pinterest. Part of it reads: "Friends let you have the last chip. . . . Best friends grab the last chip and yell 'Sucker! Haha!'" I often take things too seriously, and this quote reminds me that it's OK if my kids are a bit feisty sometimes. Part of being in a loving family is feeling safe to be a little mischievous or silly now and then.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookies Galore

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . having a slightly sore throat this evening. I hope I'm not getting sick.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading books with Daniel.

. . . watching the old cartoon version of the Grinch story at Pink Grandma's house.

. . . eating (way too many) spritz cookies.

. . . decorating a gingerbread house with Phillip and Joy.

. . . seeing Daniel happily spend over an hour coloring with Pink Grandma's Twistables crayons. I think he loved the bold colors.

And another thing . . .

. . . should you happen to undercook a batch of gingerbread men, putting them in the toaster helps the texture a bit.

Kicks and Ginger

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . wrapping presents late into the night.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . listening to the big kids talking happily together about Joy's activity book. She even offered to draw Daniel a picture of his lizard. It was right after snack time, and I've noticed that they always seem more friendly and better behaved after they've eaten something. I must remember that.

. . . Anna happily kicking her little feet.

. . . the lovely smell of gingerbread baking.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Joy's Philanthropy and LOLA

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . actually making a grocery trip with all three kids.

. . . watching Little Old Lady A catch Little Old Lady B's grocery cart just as it was rolling away from LOLB's car, then LOLB reaching down to pick up LOLA's bag, which had fallen off of her walker. They agreed God had arranged for their paths to cross at just the right time. "You're an angel," said LOLB. LOLA replied, "No, you're angel--I can't bend down!"

. . . Joy deciding to donate $10 of the $20 she received for her birthday to the Church's Humanitarian Aid fund to help people "whose houses broke in earthquakes." She also opted to pay $2 in tithing, and when she noticed that the offering slip had an "other" category she wanted to donate $1 to that, too. We had to specify what "other" use we wanted the money put to, and I recalled that the prophet recently announced a new fund to help members attend the temple if they live far from one and lack the means to attend. Joy agreed that she'd like to donate to that cause, so that's what we did. She also spent $3.29 of her birthday money on a big tub of animal crackers at Trader Joe's today. Goodness only knows what she'll do with the last bit of cash in her pink purse.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Witch and a Pinwheel

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . being a grouchy witch this morning. Even I didn't want to be around me, but I couldn't seem to muster the mental and emotional strength to break the vicious cycle. I prayed desperately for help, and as I humbled myself the Lord helped me gradually turn things around. By lunchtime we were having a pretty good day.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . dancing with Anna.

. . . eating chocolate zucchini bread with Joy.

. . . coloring with Daniel. I gave him a high five after he colored part of a dinosaur, then he wanted another high five every time he colored another portion of it.

. . . putting a pinwheel at the top of our Christmas tree because I can’t find a tree topper I like.

And another thing . . .

. . . having a new baby with two young siblings has seriously complicated my life, increased my stress, and impeded my ability to get things done, but some of my most genuinely happy moments each day involve little Anna. Parenthood really is the best and worst of times.

. . . Joy and I worked on a little puzzle together this afternoon, and its picture of Mickey and Minnie elicited some interesting questions: "Why do they wear gloves (and why does Donald not wear them)? Why are their faces a different color than their bodies? Why don’t they have hair? Why are they mice? "

The Return of Chuck

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . assuming it was safe to set the table before my son "Chuck" was restrained in his high chair. A few minutes later Daniel chucked one of the ceramic soup bowls across the room. Now we only have four left.

. . . getting all set to make gingerbread this afternoon, then noticing that the recipe calls for the dough to chill overnight. Apparently it's a case of good things coming to those who wait.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . singing while Phillip played the piano.

. . . chatting with Anna.

. . . having a couple friends over to visit. Tidying up beforehand wasn't so fun, though.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gifts, Grins, and Soap

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . discovering that I had left a bottle of liquid bath soap open, and it somehow tipped over and spilled all over the tile floor. I hate wasting things. On the bright side, that corner of the bathroom is now uber clean.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip watching the kids so I could get a ton of things done today.

. . . getting nearly all our presents purchased. I'm really excited to give some of them.

. . . exchanging grins with Anna.

. . . chatting with my husband.

And another thing . . .

. . . I really want to make Christmas a fun, inspiring time for my kids. Every year I hear about more great traditions people have and I'm tempted to incorporate some of them, but I worry we'll end up with tradition overkill if I'm not careful. I'm still trying to find a good balance of traditions that is fun, reminds us to be reverent, inspires us to be generous, and doesn't stress me out as I try to pull it all off.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pears and Awesomeness

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy explaining that she had "accidentally" bitten her little brother on the cheek.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating an excellent pear.

. . . a friendly stranger offering to put my shopping cart away as I shepherded my kids into the car at Trader Joe's.

. . . listening to my guilty holiday pleasure on Pandora. We're talking The Carol of the Bells on wailing electric guitars. Phillip thinks it's sacrilege. I think it's awesome.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thunder and Chauffeuring

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . giving someone from church a ride to the airport so she could visit her family for the holidays. She doesn't attend meetings often so I'd actually never met her before today, but someone from the ward had mentioned that she needed a ride so I didn't think twice about volunteering. It didn't occur to me how unusual that is until she thanked me profusely for giving a total stranger a ride to another county. I guess that's just what we do in the Church.

. . . watching a thunderstorm with Joy and talking about the science behind it (such as I recall from my school days many moons ago).

. . . hanging out with my sweetheart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cocoa, Cuddles, and Geekiness

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna spitting up all over both of us.

. . . spending much of the day feeling restless. It's hard to get out or get much done these days. I know it won't be this way for long, and that helps a bit, but there are still some days when I really wish I could take a vacation from being a mom.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading a book with Joy.

. . . snuggling with Anna on the couch. With things being so busy lately, it was nice to just spend some quiet time cuddling a warm bundle of contented cuteness.

. . . Joy giving me a hug when I needed it.

. . . thinking of a fun gift for my husband.

. . . Joy declaring that the cup of cocoa I made her was "perfect."

. . . reading this shirt. The imaginary friend one is fun, too. And yes, I am a geek.

Double Dinner and Battle Scene

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . a friend offering to help me carry things from my car. I had six items to carry, plus a baby.

. . . Anna snuggles.

. . . finding a really fun and easy Halloween craft on Pinterest. I still find that site occasionally buggy, but it's fun to see the creative things people come up with.

. . . using household objects to reconstruct a Book of Mormon battle scene so Joy could visualize what is going on in our current chapter.

And another thing . . .

. . . Phillip had to work late at the lab tonight, so I ate a light dinner with the kids then had second dinner three hours later when Phillip came home. It was weird to set the table for two people--I always set it for three or four these days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Books and Brownies

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . doing lots of fun things to celebrate Joy's birthday. I made a little sign for our front door, baked brownies with her, let her choose what we had for dinner (hamburgers), then hosted a little party with extended family. I enjoyed doing things to make her feel special on her special day.

And another thing . . .

. . . while we were baking brownies, Joy commented that she is very careful with eggs as she lifted one out of the carton. A split second later she dropped it. Fortunately the carton was just a couple inches below, so there was no harm done.

. . . this morning I came across this cool tradition for promoting reading among kids. The idea is that on Christmas Eve you wrap a book and place it at the foot of your child's bed, so it is the first gift they wake up to on Christmas morning. I love that idea, and I may even try doing it this year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Variations on an Uno Theme

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna woke up every hour or two. Perhaps it was because we were both so tired that we’d fall asleep as she was nursing and she wouldn’t get enough to fill her tummy, so she’d wake up hungry soon afterward. I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning, but once I got going I was fine. I wasn’t thrilled when the big kids woke me up, but it’s a good thing they did or we would have missed church.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a nap.

And another thing . . .

. . . a family from church visited us this afternoon, and their boys got excited when they saw our pack of Uno cards. Soon the two boys and Joy had started a lively game, and Joy made the unsettling discovery we all make at some point: games may come with official, printed rules, but every family plays them differently.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Waffles and a Wreath

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . trying to plan next week's groceries while Joy asks me a hundred questions. I usually try to plan at night after she's in bed, but I've had to postpone it so many times lately that it was now or never.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . feeling Anna's fuzzy hair.

. . . making Daniel giggle.

. . . working in the borrowed garden with Joy.

. . . kissing my sweet husband.

. . . buying a wreath, and smelling its fresh, piney scent as I walked in our front door this evening.

. . . visiting Pink Grandma and Aunt Laura, and eating on of my favorite meals: belgian waffles with whipped cream, fresh berries, and a little maple syrup. Mmmmm.

And another thing . . .

. . . the other day Joy asked me what first grade is. I answered her question, and we eventually wound up talking about college. I told her college was my favorite kind of school because there are so many interesting things you can choose to study. She said she thinks she'll like college, too. The next day she commented that she wants to take a class on folding blankets correctly.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mmm . . . Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . being really, really tired.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . talking with Anna.

. . . eating lots of chocolate zucchini bread with the kids. It is so good. Here's the recipe (not sure where I originally found it; possibly Martha Stewart):

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (or ¾ c all-purpose and ½ c white whole wheat flour)
¼ cup baking cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup shredded zucchini

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to an 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poetry, Prose, and Zucchini Bread

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . learning that the LA Arboretum may be closed for months while they clean up after the wind storm.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating homemade chocolate zucchini bread. I would choose it over chocolate cake any day.

. . . meeting with my monthly book group. It was pleasant to talk with a bunch of grown-ups, especially ones who like books.

. . . browsing through Anguished English (a book I own but haven't read in years) and getting a good laugh out of it. It is full of accidental bits of humor such as "Why go elsewhere to be cheated, when you can come here?" and "Unless I get my money soon, I will be forced to live an immortal life."

And another thing . . .

. . . the book group met at my home tonight. I ought to host parties more often--it is practically the only thing that motivates me to seriously tidy my house.

. . . while I was driving today, I heard a public radio interview about the old practice of having students memorize poems. I don’t usually consider myself a fan of poetry, mainly because I don’t like puzzling over the hidden meanings enshrouded in the abstract murkiness of many poems. As I listened to the interview, though, I got to thinking about the handful of poems I’ve memorized over the years: “The Jabberwock” and “O Captain, My Captain” because my dad loves them, “A Psalm of Life” because I admired Longfellow in high school, and “The White Rose” by John Boyle O’Reilly just because I fancied it. It was pleasant to recall those familiar bits of word music I carry around in my heart.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Good Garlic, Bad Back

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . straining my back again putting the kids in their car seats. It was in a different spot this time, and fortunately it was a very minor strain that already seems to have gone away. I worry I'll really do a doozy one of these times, though.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing the garlic growing happily in the borrowed garden. The potatoes aren't doing so well, though. I suspect they didn't hold up well in the recent wind storm.

. . . reading more from this month's book group book. It's a story of the Lewis and Clark expedition, told from the viewpoints of Sacajawea and Captain Clark. The story itself is engaging, and I enjoy to two distinct voices.

And another thing . . .

. . . I made red beans and rice for dinner tonight. Joy ate mostly rice, and Daniel ate mostly beans.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Buzz and Twinkle

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . going out back to do laundry, only to discover that the owners had installed a security door on the laundry room but hadn't given any of us keys yet.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy having a blast running around a park with some friends.

. . . seeing our Christmas tree twinkling through the window.

. . . curling up under a blanket to take a nap.

. . . Joy saying, "Trust me--I'm Buzz Lightyear."

Lost and Found

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . trying to relax for a chiropractic adjustment while my big kids were being crazy and my tired baby was having a meltdown. I think I'll get a sitter next time.

. . . realizing that I had left my purse in a shopping cart at a store. Fortunately a good citizen brought it (and all its contents) to the Customer Service desk. I think I lost my purse in a store last December, too.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting our tree decorated.

. . . Daniel saying "Thank you" on his own.

. . . snuggling Anna.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Noel and No Sleep

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . my exuberant big kids loudly waking me up this morning after Anna had already woken me up three times in the night. Grooooan.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . noticing Daniel holding Anna's little hand in the car.

. . . listening to the Tabernacle Choir sing "The First Noel" during the annual Christmas devotional tonight.

. . . watching that Devotional with family at my Grandma's house.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . hammering at my to-do list all evening and feeling like it's still just as long as when I started.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Phillip practice carols on the piano in preparation for a music program later this month.

. . . listening to Christmas music while I was working in the kitchen. It made me want to make gingerbread.

Party Time

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . occasional grumbles from my lower back. It always takes about three days to heal after I strain it.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Pink Grandma visiting to play with the kids. They're always excited to see her.

. . . attending a Christmas party. Good company, good food, and a white elephant exchange in which things I had no use for went to people who were excited about them. No if only someone hadn't stolen that gift card I had.

. . . baking mini pumpkin pies with Joy. I omitted one egg and the egg wash step, and topped them with a little Cool Whip instead of the chocolate. Yummy and fun.

And another thing . . .

. . . our area is still recovering from the big wind storm a couple nights ago. A bunch of stoplights are still dark, some neighborhoods are still without power, and on some streets the downed branches and palm fronds are piled on the curbs like snowdrifts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two Orders of Chicken

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . walking through an outlet mall. All the ads make me want to buy things I don't need, and I don't like that.

. . . straining my back putting Anna in the car. I don't think it was a serious strain this time--just an annoying one.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the power coming back on after last night's wind knocked it out for about ten hours.

. . . Anna dozing off in the sling. It's sweet to feel her little body snuggled against me.

. . . eating chicken nuggets for lunch with the kids. I'm not sure they qualify as real food, but sometimes (in Nigella's words) they're "just, perversely, what we want." The same goes for corn dogs.

. . . reading this month's book group pick while I iced my back, and for another hour after that (you know how it is with good books).

And another thing . . .

. . . I made another attempt at roasting chicken tonight. This time I tried a recipe that required me to crank my oven up to 500 degrees. It never occurred to me that an oven could get that hot (but not hotter, apparently). I liked the recipe's flavor (I omitted the lemon, since I didn't have one on hand), but I don't like the way it raised the apartment's temperature ten degrees, even on a cold evening with the windows open (it also mysteriously generated some smoke, even though my oven seems clean and nothing was burnt). I may make the recipe again, but never in the summer time.

Restful Morning, Blustery Night

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . missing my blender. Ordered a replacement jar tonight.

. . . driving along on a very windy night, and realizing that the car in front of me was moving over until it was actually in an oncoming lane. I soon realized that it was because a tree had fallen across both lanes on our side of the road. Fortunately there weren’t any cars on the other side of the road at the time.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . nestling back into a warm bed for some extra sleep while Phillip watched the kids this morning. Sheer bliss.

. . . feeling a lot better today than I did yesterday. Sufficient sleep really works wonders.

. . . playing Uno with the big kids. I actually won a round this time.

And another thing . . .

. . . it is really, really windy outside right now. The wind is so loud that it's distracting and a little unnerving, not because we're in any danger, but because the noise is so very different from the nighttime quiet that I'm used to.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Of Those Days

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . feeling overwhelmed and stressed in a hundred little ways today. I got a lot done, but there's always so very much more to do.

. . . feeling a little helpless when my daughter felt sick to her stomach.

. . . pining for my blender.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip being very supportive and comforting when he got home tonight. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

. . . making good soup.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Pillow Fight and Fro Yo in the Cold

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna starting to cry just as we were sitting down to eat frozen yogurt. We should have known better than to go out so close to her bedtime. I ate most of my yogurt outside, pacing to and fro trying to calm my little girl. She never really settled down until we started walking home. Live and learn.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . tossing pillows around with Daniel.

. . . playing Uno with the big kids.

. . . relaxing on the couch with my sweetheart after a long day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sleep, and the Lack Thereof

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . spending half of church pacing outside, trying to get my tired and fussy baby to fall asleep in the sling.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy bound up to the podium and read her Primary talk without a hitch. I was really proud of her, and gave her a big thumbs-up when she came back to her seat.

. . . taking a nap.

. . . looking at the family portraits my dad shot when we were all together this past weekend. They turned out really well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sick, Clumsy, and Smoked

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up feeling tired and a little sick to my stomach. Not sure whether I caught a bug or whether my poor GI track is struggling to recover from back-to-back Thanksgiving feasts.

. . . setting our blender jar unevenly in its base, and having it fall down and shatter on the floor when I turned away. Fortunately the jar costs just $15 to replace, but I feel like a klutz and I mourn the dearth of smoothies in our home until the new jar arrives.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing Uno with Joy and Daniel. Daniel smoked us twice, even though we were looking at all his cards to help him choose which ones to discard. When he woke up from his afternoon nap, the first thing he said was, "Play Uno!"

. . . smiling and "chatting" with Anna as she lay on her play mat.

. . . Phillip washing the dishes for me because I wasn't feeling well. Thank you, sweetheart.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bravery and Bedlam

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting a flat tire on the freeway tonight. Fortunately we made it to the shoulder and Phillip was able to change it successfully and safely.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy and Red Grandma trim the big Christmas tree at the cabin.

. . . having a conversation with Anna. We both said "aah" a lot.

. . . attending a second Thanksgiving dinner with Phillip's uncle and aunt, and their whole family. All of their kids’ in-laws live in the area, so they attend in-law Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday then gather at their parents' home for dinner on Friday. I believe there were fifteen adults and about as many kids in attendance. It was bedlam, but it was a friendly, joyful sort of bedlam.

. . . Joy helping her daddy change our tire. There was a point when he need some light and couldn't spare a hand to hold a flashlight, and since I was feeding Anna at the time Phillip asked Joy to come hold the light for a minute. She was a little nervous about the cars passing on the other side of the car, but she agreed to come help. I was proud of her for being so brave.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Things To Be Thankful For

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . actually feeling rested when I woke up because I went to bed early last night. It was glorious to actually have energy and be in a good mood when I got up this morning.

. . . spending the day with family.

. . . eating some delicious turkey.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Uno with Dos

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . being really tired.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . visiting some friends.

. . . playing Uno with Joy and Daniel. Joy understands the rules pretty well, though she doesn't always grasp the strategy of the game (and she usually forgets to say "Uno"). Daniel just gets that you put cards in a pile, and colors or numbers are somehow involved (I'm sure that exercises his brain in some way or other). We all manage to have fun, regardless of who wins (or how they win).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Craig and Nick

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . nicking poor Daniel's ears as I trimmed his hair. I'm still trying to get the hang of those clippers.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing Anna smile.

. . . Daniel gasping with delight when I handed him some raisins.

. . . bumping into a friend at the grocery store.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy was playing with a stuffed dog tonight, and she explained to me that she needed to buy him a bed but didn't have enough money. She asked me to give her $90 in imaginary cash. I encouraged her to save up her money to buy the bed she wanted, but she was kind of vague about her source of pretend income, so I suggested she try looking on Craig's List to see if anyone was selling a used bed that she could afford. A minute later she reported that she had found a great deal that easily fit her budget. She even had enough left over to buy her dog an imaginary bathtub.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hugs, Kisses, and Burritos

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Joy say "I'm a kissing machine."

. . . hugging my kids.

. . . praying for help being the parent my kids need, and being reminded that they're God's kids, too, and He cares how they turn out. If I live worthy of His help and consistently seek His guidance, He'll help me be what they need.

. . . Phillip arriving home with a big smile on his face.

. . . making a dinner everyone enjoyed (Huzzah for burritos!).

. . . a relative sending me their yogurt maker in the mail. Looking forward to experimenting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Love, Water, and Soup

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . being really, really tired by the end of the day. I need to get to sleep earlier.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . someone bringing me a glass of water when my voice started to give out as I taught a Relief Society lesson this morning.

. . . listening to the rain outside.

. . . a triple play at dinner: great soup, great bread, great smoothie.

. . . hugging Phillip.

And another thing . . .

. . . this morning a Sunday school teacher asked what the scriptural phrase "God is love" means. I reflected that everything God does is done in a loving way, and because He loves us. He created the beauties of this earth to bring us happiness; He gives us commandments to show us how to avoid some sorrows and gain eternal joy; and so on. May I parent the same way He does.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Garlic and Jeans

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . clearing tons of clutter off my desk while Phillip took the kids to a birthday party.

. . . more garlic shoots coming up in the borrowed garden.

. . . shopping for jeans and finding a pair that look good and feel like heaven.

. . . eating vanilla ice cream.

. . . cooking apple crisp with Phillip.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chicken and Potatoes

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . losing my temper with Daniel over something trivial. I tried to make it up to him by finding positive ways to interact the rest of the evening. Sometimes I'm so glad kids have short memories.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . dancing to The Mummer's Dance with Anna.

. . . successfully roasting my first whole chicken. I say "successful" in the sense that it didn't burn or dry out, and I managed to remove most of the meat from the bones. It could have used some more flavor, though--perhaps more salt, or some herbs under the skin. I also finally cooked some skillet potatoes that had good texture and weren't bland.

. . . Phillip liking the chicken and loving the potatoes; he couldn't stop talking about how great they were. I was also pleasantly surprised that Joy ate a bunch of the chicken and tried a piece of broccoli. You can't please everyone, though--Daniel wouldn't have anything to do with the chicken or the broccoli. I tried to convince him that the potatoes were french fries and he permitted me to put some on his plate, but he wouldn't touch them. Maybe next time.

And another thing . . .

. . . when I was growing up, chicken was all white meat at our house and never contained bones. I didn't even know you could buy chicken thighs until my college roommate Cathy decided to put some in a soup. I still prefer breast meat in soup and in recipes where chicken is just a convenient protein letting other flavors take center stage, but when the chicken is the star I find I prefer dark leg meat. It's more flavorful, and doesn't get dry and tough as easily as breast meat does.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading someone's forum sig: "If you can't take the heat, don't annoy the dragon."

. . . taking a nap. I wouldn't have made it through the day without it.

. . . Joy helping me do a little service for a sweet elderly sister in our ward.

. . . hugging my husband.

. . . watching Matt again.

And another thing . . .

. . . childbirth tends to scramble my brain for a little while. Today when the kids and I ran an errand, we got a few minutes from the house before I realized I had forgotten my cell phone and the maps I printed off. And I was on the wrong freeway.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dinner Questions

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating fresh, homemade bread.

. . . watching Anna smile and kick her feet.

. . . finally planning dinners and a grocery list for the coming week. I'm still trying to figure out how to consistently get dinner on the table. If I wait until Anna goes to bed at 7:30 to start cooking, we don't sit down to eat until the big kids' bedtime. I'm sure I'll figure it out, just in time for everything to change. Ah well--I keep trying to remind myself that someday I'll look back and miss these days.

. . . talking about our favorite memories of the day over dinner.

And another thing . . .

. . . this evening I got to talking with another mom about the pressure we feel to make the holidays creative and fun for our kids. While it's great to have traditions and make fun memories, sometimes less really is more. My kids need my love and attention more than they need a half dozen crafts or parties with a stressed out parent.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fruity Pasta and Anna Smiles

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel deciding to cool down his macaroni by pouring smoothie into his bowl. I let out a howl of dismay at the tragic waste of a smoothie, but once I calmed down I realized that when we drained most of the liquid back into his cup he was perfectly content to eat fruity pasta and drink slightly cheesy smoothie. Phillip commented, "Nothing personal, but you sometimes overreact." Sigh--it's true, especially where spilled smoothies are concerned.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing some garlic shoots coming up in the borrowed garden.

. . . gazing at a planet through the boughs of a tall pine tree. I think the planet was Mars.

. . . some neighbors inviting us to a play group.

. . . watching Anna stare in fascination at her own hands.

. . . hearing Daniel call his smoothie a "foofie."

. . . seeing Anna respond to my smiles by smiling back. Moments like that are pure gold.

. . . having a silly conversation with Daniel. He would say "Y!" in reference to the Y on my BYU shirt, and I would reply "I don't know!" We both thought it was hilarious, even the tenth time around.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gamma Lids and Jeans

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel sticking a Cheerio halfway up his nose. Ew.

. . . shopping for jeans. Every brand seems to have a dozen different variations to choose from, and none of them seem to come in my size.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finally putting wheat and flour into some five-gallon buckets I recently bought. It was a really struggle to get the lids on. Thank goodness someone turned me on to gamma lids, so I'll never have to pry the main lid off again.

. . . helping my kids figure out how to resolve a conflict on their own. Lately I've been reading Siblings Without Rivalry, which is an interesting read and seems to have a lot of good insights. Among other things, the authors encourage parents to have kids resolve their own conflicts most of the time. This afternoon when Joy wanted a cereal box to stand up and Daniel wanted it to lay on its side, they yelled for me to mediate and I encouraged them to work out a solution they could both live with. Joy suggested that it stay up most of the time, and they'd put it on its side when Daniel wanted to get cereal out to snack on. Daniel was perfectly happy with that proposition. Cool.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roller Coasters and Pinterest Pains

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy giving me a hug when she learned that I was bummed about something.

. . . a comment in Relief Society that the Gospel is like a seat belt on a roller coaster. Sometimes I feel like I've climbed aboard a wild ride, and it is good to know that no matter what happens, if I follow God's counsel I'll come through all right in the end.

. . . posting about our recent Arches trip on the family blog. It's fun to relive the memories.

And another thing . . .

. . . I have very mixed feelings about I decided to create an account as a convenient way to organize recipes I want to try. It has great potential, but I think the site is experiencing some growing pains.

First of all, when I requested an invite I got an email that they had put me on a waiting list. I waited several days, then asked a friend with an existing account if she would send me an invite. She did, and seconds later I had an account. I had to create it through Facebook (or Twitter, but I have no account with them), and Pinterest automatically made me a follower of a dozen or so Facebook friends. Okaaaaay. It also made me a follower of half a dozen people I've never heard of. Maybe I'm not adventurous enough, but I just didn't like that. I unfollowed them, then set to work creating some pinboards.

I made a couple recipe pinboards, then decided to make some humor ones since I'd found some delightful comics on my first visit to the site. Unfortunately, I'm good at finding funny comics and quotes by accident, but when I intentionally go looking for them all I seem to find is pages full of swear words and mildly crude humor. Bleck.

Of course, the content is the pinners' responsibility, not the site's. My biggest gripe with the site is that I get error messages a lot. I can't even access one of my pinboards, and when I tried creating a second version and repinning two recipes directly from their sites they never even showed up. Siiiigh. Few things are more frustrating than technology that doesn't work the way it should.

So, the jury is still out on Pinterest. I love the concept, but if half the recipes I save become inaccessible then there's no point in continuing. Plus, the site is proving to be a real time-sucker, and that's the last thing I need in my life right now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lazy Baby Gazes

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel being distraught that I didn't let him close the bathroom door for me this morning. Usually I try to indulge his door-closing obsession but--um--I was in a hurry. Sorry, Dude.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . spending downtime with Anna, just watching her kick her little feet and curiously look around for a while. It's so much easier to enjoy the simple pleasures of life when you don't have a million tasks clamoring for your attention. I'm finally beginning to understand while people go on cruises. I used to think it was a boring waste of time to sit around on a boat for days, but now I realize it can be a welcome relief to set aside your cares for a week and just relax, preferably with people you love.

. . . watching the rain fall among the trees while I was cozy inside the cabin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The iPad and Moses

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . typing on my dad's iPad. Yes, the thing is a marvel of modern technology and it is nice to have Internet access virtually anywhere, but are arrow keys and an undo function too much to ask? Maybe they exist and I'm just a newb.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hanging out with my parents at their cabin.

. . . reading Mom's Martha Stewart magazine and watching half of The Ten Commandments with her. It is nice to spend time doing things just because I genuinely want to do them. At home I always have so little time and so much to do; here I have lots of free time and little to do. It's a nice change, at least for a weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Schizophrenic Soup

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel tearing a page out of one of our picture books.

. . . cooking what turned out to be one of the blandest, most disappointing recipes I've tried in years. I spent twenty minutes stirring more and more things into it just to make it palatable. When we finally sat down to dinner, Phillip and I agreed that the soup was good, but it had so many random flavors in it that it seemed kind of schizophrenic.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing a game with Joy.

. . . making a good smoothie.

And another thing . . .

. . . Daniel's language skills are progressing by leaps and bounds. This morning he referred to himself and his little sister as "Danyo" and "Anna" instead of "Da-da" and "Mih-mih." I'm proud of him, but I'll miss hearing him call his sister Mih-mih. I may keep doing it for a few more years.

Stars and Morning Glories

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . pulling up yet another morning glory vine in the borrowed garden, and discovering that I'd uprooted a pea plant with it.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . yanking enough morning glories out of the borrowed garden to fill another trash can.

. . . walking into Trader Joe's and seeing dozens of boxes of their holiday chocolate star cookies. I could eat those all day. If they'd had Pink Lady apples in stock, too, I might have hugged every employee I met.

. . . seeing Anna smile.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy borrowed Chutes and Ladders from a friend, and as we played it I noticed an interesting pattern. Every chute or ladder is flanked by illustrations showing good or bad choices and their consequences. The bad consequences tend to be directly related to the bad choices--if you pull a cat's tail you get scratched; if you carry twenty dishes at a time, you may drop some and break them. On the other hand, many of the good consequences seem only indirectly related to the good choices, especially if those choices involve chores. The kids who mows the lawn gets to go to the circus; the one who vacuums goes to the movies; the one who takes out the trash gets a big bowl of ice cream.

I guess you can make the point that if you do your chores you'll have time (and perhaps money) to do fun things, but what about the satisfaction of a clean home and a job well done? Is it hard to depict that in a kid-friendly illustration, or does our society only value work as a mean to obtain a treat?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Voting, Chili, and Not Enough Time

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up super tired because I stayed up too late and Anna woke up an hour early.

. . . feeling like there's always so much to do and so very little time to do it. I know it's just a phase, but it's still a bummer sometimes.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . remembering that I had all the components for 5-Can Chili on hand, including some browned ground beef in the freezer. Sometimes I savor cooking, and other times I just want to eat good food as soon as possible.

. . . Joy getting excited when I told her it was time to go vote.

. . . Daniel giving me a big hug.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Day in the Life

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Daniel try to say "trapezoid." It came out more like "ong."

And another thing . . .

. . . Sometimes when I get to the end of a day I feel like I've been very busy doing a hundred little things, but I can't remember what any of them are. Today I decided to keep track:

Feed Anna at 5:02am
Put Anna back to bed
Turn on the heater
Feed Anna at 7:36am
Help Daniel out of his crib
Get everyone dressed
Prepare breakfast
Eat breakfast while bouncing on an exercise ball to soothe Anna
Try to persuade Daniel to leave Joy's blocks alone
Fail to persuade Daniel to leave Joy's blocks alone
Shepherd kids out to car
Say a quick morning prayer as I'm walking because I forgot to do it when I woke up
Drop Joy off at preschool
Listen to her teacher tell me Joy has a major aversion to going out in the rain
Discover that the toy bag containing Joy's doll was left at church yesterday
Put Anna to bed
Tidy up front room a bit
Oversee Daniel's speech therapy session
Put bananas in the freezer for future smoothies
Get Anna's next-size-up clothes out of storage
Remove kids' warm weather clothes from dresser drawers
Sort through stuff the hospital sent home with me two months ago
Check email
Forward the upcoming lesson schedule to one of the teachers
Note school vacation days on my calendar
Put a toy out of reach after Daniel chucked it at the wall
Gather plastic bags to recycle
Have a snack with Daniel
Finish yesterday's blog post
Punch holes in some papers for my Relief Society notebook
Research correct bottle nipple size for a two-month-old
Get said two-month-old out of bed
Nurse Anna
Admire Anna's toes
Talk with Daniel about the blocks he's playing with
Glower at messy desk, which is barely visible beneath piles of clutter
Put Daniel in time-out for throwing blocks in Anna's direction (none of them hit her)
Put blocks away
Drop off plastic bags to be recycled
Pick up Joy from school
Talk with her about the fun things she did today
Shepherd the kids inside
Prepare lunch
Say a silent prayer of thanks that Anna was content in her swing the whole time I made lunch
Eat lunch
Put kids down for naps
Prepare a home evening lesson
Check email
Log in to telecommute
Note an email announcing that a coworker brought cream puffs to share at the office
Lament that telecommuters miss out on communal cream puffs
Try to sit with better posture
Text Phillip that I love him
Get a reply text that he loves me, too
Remember Joy running over to hug me at the end of church yesterday
Get a little drowsy
Consider taking nap
Get drowsier
Take nap
Dream I'm hosting a cupcake party
Dream I get a text from one of Herman Cain's harassment accusers (dreams are so random)
Awake to the sound of Joy's Lego airplane crash-landing in the bathroom
Spend the next half hour groggily trying to wake up the rest of the way
Consider waking Anna to nurse
Decide to let her sleep
Color with Joy
Help Daniel out of his crib
Have a snack with the big kids
Make a doctor appointment
Nurse Anna after she wakes up
Try to help the big kids resolve a conflict, with decent success
Begin thawing meat for dinner
Change yet another Anna diaper
Put Joy in time out for bugging Daniel after he and I asked her to stop
Hear Daniel asking to play with Joy a minute later
Get Joy out of time out on condition that she play nicely
Try to figure out why my fed, clean, rested baby is fussing
Offer Daniel a piece of paper to color on; two kids coloring on one page wasn't working
Compliment my kids' colorful pictures
Suggest Joy ask Daniel's permission before coloring on his page; he says no
Bend down with Anna so Joy can kiss her for the tenth time
Bounce Anna a lot
Suggest Daniel ask Joy's permission before coloring on her page; she says she'd prefer he didn't
Tell Joy that Anna wants a break from being kissed
Watch Joy kiss Daniel instead; he screams
Thank Joy for tidying the table a bit
Bounce Anna some more
Nearly trip on Joy's scooter
Recruit Daniel's help cleaning up crayons
Compliment Anna on a nice burp
High five Daniel when we finish with the crayons
Bounce Anna some more
Get a text from Phillip that he'll be home a little late
Pointedly ask Daniel what we color on; he correctly replies "paper"
Take Daniel's pen away because he's still coloring on furniture
Clean spit-up off my sleeve
Put Anna's Moses basket away
Change Daniel's diaper
Tell Joy to give Anna some space
Turn off a faucet someone left slightly on (maybe Joy, maybe me)
Put more wipes in the diaper bag
Read to Joy
Kiss my husband when he arrives home
Hand him Anna
Start preparing dinner
Set up the step stool so Joy can help me press hamburger patties
Set the table
Nurse Anna
Delegate burger grilling and tomato slicing to Phillip
Realize we have no lettuce for the burgers
Change yet another Anna diaper
Put Anna in her swing
Put some books away
Remind the big kids not to jump on my bed
Toast hamburger buns
Burn my finger getting the buns out of the toaster
Give Daniel a nice cup to drink from since he hasn't thrown any dishes lately
Give Anna a goodnight kiss before Phillip puts her to bed
Eat dinner
Compliment Phillip's delicious smoothie
Watch Daniel wind up and pitch his empty cup across the table
Check the cup for damage; none visible
Resolve to give Daniel the cheap cup again for the next month or so
Sit down on the couch for home evening with my family
Hold Daniel on my shoulders during the hymn because Joy's on Daddy's lap as he plays the piano
Teach a home evening lesson
Toss Joy's pool ring around for our activity
Eat the rest of our haunted shack for home evening refreshments
Dress Joy for bed (Daddy took care of Daniel)
Brush Joy's teeth
Have family story time
Help Joy read a verse for family scripture study
Discuss a picture from our big Book of Mormon with Joy
Help Daniel say family prayer
Put Daniel to bed
Remind Daniel how to pull a blanket over him so he doesn't get cold
Plug in the kids' heater
Sing a short Primary song
Tell the kids I love them
Answer one last question from Joy
Close the kids' door
Coordinate calendars with Phillip
Discuss possible family reunion plans while Phillip does the dishes (it's my turn tomorrow)
Talk about a panel discussion Phillip attended last week
Discuss future career ideas
Talk about how his PhD research is progressing
Plan my day tomorrow
Change into pajamas and brush teeth
Look through some papers I brought home from Joy's preschool
Finally put those hole-punched papers in my RS binder
Put an outdated paper in the shredder pile
Set two alarms on my cell phone for tomorrow
Pray with Phillip before he falls asleep
Study for tomorrow's local election
Publish this post
Remove contact lenses
Do a few yoga stretches
Fall asleep

Monday, November 7, 2011


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hanging out with Pink Grandma and Aunt Laura.

. . . seeing Anna smile.

And another thing . . .

. . . it was a little surreal to look at Anna while Phillip held her in church and Pink Grandma held her this afternoon. Most of the time when Anna is awake she's in my arms or the sling, with her face just a few inches from mine. Somehow she looks a little different when she's across the room from me.

. . . this morning in Relief Society I taught a lesson about the new book Daughters in My Kingdom, a history of Relief Society recently published by the Church and distributed to every sister who wanted a copy. Apart from being an interesting read, it made me feel that I have a rich heritage of love and service to live up to. I'm grateful for the way RS has enriched me over the years, and the way it constantly encourages me to look outside myself for ways to lift others. That still doesn't come naturally to me by any stretch, but as Emerson said, that which we persist in doing becomes easier.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tuberous Fare

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip showing Daniel how to make a paper airplane.

. . . having warm potato soup waiting when Phillip walked in out of the cold tonight. It's nice to serve someone food they're excited to eat.

. . . watching the big kids play together and learn to work through their disagreements (some of the time).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Frankenstein and Epidurals

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . shopping at Bath & Body Works alone while Pink Grandma watched the kids for a little while. It was lovely to browse at my own pace without worrying that one of my bambinos would knock over a display or ask to buy a dozen different things.

. . . dancing with Pink Grandma and the kids back at home.

. . . eating a Twix bar.

. . . attending book group. We discussed Frankenstein (and also our childbirth experiences, because that's what women do when one or more of them is pregnant or has a new baby).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tired and Geeky

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing a loud thud in the front room, then both of the big kids saying, "Uh oh."

. . . Anna waking up early from her naps. That tends to make both parties tired and fussy--Anna because she didn't get quite enough sleep, and me because I didn't get enough down time to rest and regroup, and because I end up spending at least an hour doing the "soothe-the-baby dance" with a ten-pound infant. I feel like a boxer who only gets half a second's rest between rounds.

. . . trying to schedule a play date around semi-unpredictable naps. Who know planning fun could be so stressful?

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . this conversation--Joy: "Little, say light saber." Daniel: "Yigh-yigh fayfer."

And another thing . . .

. . . Phillip turned on Return of the Jedi this morning so he could play the menacing Empire music for Joy. Before we knew it, both the big kids were watching spellbound as Ewoks and and Tie fighters flashed across the screen. I guess my kids have now been officially initiated into the world of geekdom, since they've seen their first Star Wars film. For the next few hours, Joy kept asking why Luke's dad was bad. Maybe we should have shown her the earlier movies first.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Morning Glory War

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up this morning feeling hammered.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . pulling weeds in the borrowed garden. I was only able to spend a short time there this morning, but I want to get in the habit of going regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes. That's still plenty of time to check my crops and pull a few weeds. A dozen morning glories down, scores to go.

. . . watching a praying mantis walk. They're very elegant, in an alien sort of way.

. . . making a good smoothie. Since I produce smoothie mud about half the time, it's always rather gratifying when I blend up something that tastes really good. It's especially satisfying if Phillip is there to sample it, because he's such a fan of smoothies. It's always fun to serve him a winner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Treats and Lockdown

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up exhausted because I stayed up too late again. I finally asked Phillip to rig the computer to start shutting down at 11pm again, to minimize the temptation to stay up late.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending a short Halloween program at Joy's preschool. The kids filed in wearing their costumes, then sang a couple songs and made spooky sound effects while Joy's teacher read a (very slightly) scary story.

. . . taking the kids trick-or-treating. I took Joy and Daniel to a few houses on our block, and people were very generous (partly because so few children knock on our doors around here, so the residents had plenty of candy to share). As I walked home, I reflected that generosity is yet another thing to love about Halloween.

. . . seeing Anna smile.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cartoons and Pumpkins

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy sing in the Primary program. Occasionally she became distracted and stopped singing along, whereupon Phillip and I started mouthing the words (if we knew them) in the hope that she would see us and start singing again. Sometimes it worked. Even when it didn't, it was fun to watch her.

. . . a pumpkin carving party at my parents' house. Joy and I collaborated--she told me what she wanted, and I made it so.

And another thing . . .

. . . at church a couple women encouraged me to check out They said it had tons of craft ideas, recipes, organizing tips, etc. They also said it is easy to spend hours there, and wonder where the time went when you finally resurface. The last thing I need in my life is another time sucker, but against my better judgment I decided to check it out. It seems like a bunch of pleasant randomness. I chuckled at a couple cartoons (this one and that one), then shut the page before I could find anything I couldn't tear myself away from. Maybe I'll revisit the site again, but I think it would probably be asking for trouble when I already have so little time to spare.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Garlic and Wheat

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . planting some garlic in the borrowed garden. In the past I've had a hard time getting over to it often enough to keep weeds at bay and harvest what the plants produce, but I can't bear to have someone offer me their plot and not take advantage of it, at least in a small way. I've made a plan to get over there at least twice a week to check the garlic's progress and do battle with the morning glories. I may plant a few other things, too, but for now I'm just happy to have something in the ground. I've never grown garlic before, and I'm curious to see how it will do.

. . . buying wheat and flour for a ridiculously low price at the local bishop's storehouse. It was also nice to show my kids the little grocery section where bishops can refer ward members who need financial assistance. I explained how we take care of each other in the Church, paying offerings to help others in need, and when they get back on their feet they'll pay to feed other people, maybe even us if we ever run into trouble. It's comforting to be part of a community that takes care of each other, and to know that we have that support system if we ever need it.

. . . checking out the creative costumes at the ward Trunk-or-Treat. I love seeing what people come up with.

. . . watching a BYU quarterback high-five the referee.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bouncy Breakfast

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . bouncing on my exercise ball during breakfast to keep my fussy baby content. Eating oatmeal whilst bouncing upon a big plastic ball is not as difficult as one might think, but drinking orange juice was a challenge.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . checking out all the creative costumes at a community Halloween party.

. . . fixing a very bland soup.

. . . giving my baby corny nicknames like Kick-A-Foot, Cuddlebug, and Little Fuzzy (because her hair is fuzzy, and I love feeling it against my cheek; Daniel likes to rub his nose in it).

. . . hugging my husband.

And another thing . . .

. . . Daniel is learning a lot of new words and sounds, and for the most part I encourage him to say things correctly, but I find myself reluctant to phase out some of the random toddler words from the days when he first started talking. I know that someday he needs to learn to say green, orange, and yes properly, but I'll still feel a bit wistful when he stops pronouncing them nee-nee, jar-jar, and nuh.

. . . yesterday I heard that the city officials in L.A. may ask the local Occupy Wall Street protestors to vacate city property. Apparently there are sanitation issues at their encampment, and the lawn and trees are starting to die because the city has thoughtfully turned off the sprinklers. Also, as one city official pointed out, the mayor and city council can't actually do anything about Wall Street, so it might make more sense for the protestors to do something that will more directly help their cause. The whole business, reminds me of a snarky editorial I recently read about people's desire to "do something" when they're actually doing nothing. Perhaps the OWS folks should pull up stakes and vow to move their bank accounts on November 5.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Good Takeout, Bad Directions

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . driving 80% of the way to an appointment before remembering that my doctor recently moved her office to a different city in the opposite direction.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . buying Menchie's takeout for two on my way home from a meeting. It was fun to see the look of delighted surprise on Phillip's face when I set two bowls of fro yo down on the table.

And another thing . . .

. . . after reading about some pioneer women this afternoon, I am so grateful to live in an age when living conditions and medical advancements make infant mortality very rare. On the other hand, as my kids get older they will face greater moral dangers than they might have in other eras. I'm grateful that God loves us enough to teach us how to navigate these troubled waters, and I pray I'll do a good job of passing that knowledge and love on to my children.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Naps Good, Cabin Fever Bad

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . thinking my computer was on the fritz because I couldn't type anything in a spreadsheet. Then I realized my son had turned off Number Lock when he was tinkering with the keyboard earlier. Whew/duh.

. . . trying to think of ways to keep three kids and me from going stir crazy after we've been together for hours on end. I'm sure it will be easier down the road when Anna's schedule is more flexible and she wants to do something other than recline in my arms all the time.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Anna breathe as she napped against my shoulder.

. . . Daniel laughing uproariously as I helped him stay atop the big exercise ball.

. . . the smell of baking bread.

. . . Anna taking a long nap this afternoon. Yessss.

And another thing . . .

. . . I got to talking with a Mexican this morning about the thousands of people who have died in the recent drug wars in his country. Until this morning, I had always assumed God gave us the Word of Wisdom to spare individuals and their families from the blight of addictions. Today I realized that, as President Hinckley noted, there would be far less suffering in many areas of the world if all people heeded God's counsel to avoid drugs and treat their bodies like the temples they are.

Voices In My Head

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my kids breaking out in cheers when I mentioned we would have a sliced pear with lunch. Joy played a celebratory fanfare on the piano, and Daniel gave Mih-mih two kisses. It reminded me of the day Daniel gasped with delight when he discovered we would be having beans with our meal. Just plain beans. I'm glad they enjoy healthy food. Of course, they were also excited about the chicken nuggets, but I thought it was cute that the pear got the bigger reaction.

. . . introducing Anna to the little play mat we bought when Daniel was a baby. It was fun to see her kick her feet excitedly as she gazed at the colorful animals suspended above her. Her siblings were even more intrigued by all the toys, and I bet they'll play with it even more than she does for the first few days.

. . . my mom calling to say how much she enjoyed the post I put on our family blog last night. While I've long since reconciled myself to the fact that my handful of readers prefer to lurk rather than comment, it is encouraging to get a little feedback now and then, and know that my posts are meaningful to someone.

And another thing . . .

. . . as the mother of a newborn, I have an uncanny ability to hear Anna crying before other people do. I also have an uncanny ability to hear her crying even when she’s not actually doing it. I’m so tuned in to catch the very first whimpers that I sometimes think I hear them when Anna is perfectly content or even asleep. It doesn’t help that there is another baby in our building who is just four days older than Anna, so sometimes I really do hear a baby cry; it just isn’t mine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Building a Shack and Dragging a Tire

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting hit by the baby bus (translation: Anna woke me up about every two hours last night, and I got up this morning feeling tired as heck). Fortunately Phillip was here to help me get the kids ready this morning, but I was really dragging by dinnertime.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . throwing convention out the window and making microwaved s'mores using peanut butter cookies smeared with Nutella. They were pretty good. Would have been better if the mallow had been roasted with an actual fire, though.

. . . making a "haunted shack" for our home evening activity. It's like a gingerbread house, but we used graham crackers instead of gingerbread, and decorated with candy corn, gumdrops, and M&Ms. I handled the icing, Phillip supervised construction and carved graham cracker tombstones, Joy stuck on the candy, and Daniel ate up all the sweets we gave him.

And another thing . . .

. . . sometimes parenting reminds me of my days on the high school track team, when my coach made us sprint with a heavy tire tied behind us. While I'm sure it strengthened me, it was also very frustrating when I wanted to dash along at top speed but the weight I was towing cut my pace in half.

I often feel the same way these days. There are tons of things I need to do, and many more that I want to do, and I would love to work through them quickly and efficiently. I can't really do that when my hands, my attention, or both are occupied by at least one of my children most of the time. I know this is just a stage of life, and there will be phases when I have more time than I know what to do with, but sometimes it's hard to be patient and enjoy the phase you're in.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vampire Beetles and Erupting Water

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna waking up early during naptime. Having my baby unexpectedly wake up while her siblings are napping is like getting your tax return, then backing your car into a light pole. Sigh . . . I had big plans for naptime, little baby.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing a vampire ladybug in one of our Halloween books. The writing is just decent, but the illustrations crack me up.

. . . sitting on the couch hugging my husband. It's been a busy week, and it was wonderful to finally share some quiet time together.

And another thing . . .

. . . this evening Joy decided to express her affection for me with a kiss, then Daniel chose to express his affection by clobbering both of us with the exercise ball. Yes indeed, boys and girls are very different.

. . . I read today that if you microwave water for a long time in the right conditions, it can actually explode. I could have sworn that happened once in our microwave a few years ago, but it's never happened again and for a while I thought I'd imagined it. Snopes says it really can happen, though, which is both reassuring (I'm not crazy) and unsettling (who wants superheated water erupting in their kitchen?). Take home message: don't microwave water longer than you need to.

The Anna Remedy

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing all the junk on the covers of tabloids at the grocery store. One of my favorite things about Trader Joe's is that their checkout areas don't include tabloids, girly magazines, or any other periodical that leaves you worse than it found you.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy commenting that when she's sad, it makes her feel better to kiss her baby sister.

. . . dinner coming together quickly because I had prepared most of it beforehand.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Joyful Hug and a Snarky Vegetarian

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy running to greet me when I picked her up from school. Her hug nearly knocked me over, but the memory kept me smiling hour later.

. . . women from the stake watching my kids so I could worship in the temple today. Thank you. The temple always lends clarity to my life, and recharges my spiritual and emotional batteries.

. . . randomly happening upon a snarky vegetarian food blog, and reading "the golden rule of bad kitchen habits: cheese fixes everything." Yea, verily. Bread helps, too. Also, the roasted yams with walnuts post make me laugh. Hard to say whether it was genuinely funny or I was just up too late. Probably both.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Singing Grandmas and What's-Her-Name

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Pink Grandma coming over to visit and share some more musical videos she's made. They included Teddy Bear's Picnic, which she did as a favor for me. My mom used to sing it as she read a picture book, and it was fun to hear it again all these years later.

. . . the planets aligning so I could bake bread and prepare dinner. It felt good to take some time to cook an actual meal, rather than just throwing something together at the last minute.

. . . hearing Daniel laugh.

And another thing . . .

. . . sometimes Joy chides me for forgetting to address her by her latest pretend name (e.g. Curious George, Chloe the Dog, etc.). I usually tell her that I forget because the name changes so often, whereupon she vows that she will never change it again. That usually lasts about an hour.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Huzzah for Tacos

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . being really hungry and having no clue what to fix for dinner tonight. We ended up having takeout from a Mexican food joint down the street.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . going out to the car all by myself while the kids were inside with Daddy. Sometimes it's just awesome to get from front door to driver's seat in thirty seconds, rather than ten minutes.

. . . eating a potato taco. It sounds weird, but it was actually pretty tasty.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Sleeping Angel and Honeydew Sorbet

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . feeling really tired, and still having lots to do.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . visiting our new pediatrician. You can tell that she really likes kids and cares that they are healthy and happy.

. . . reading a cooking magazine for a few minutes.

. . . going to Menchie's with my family.

. . . watching Anna while she was sleeping. She looked so cute and peaceful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cocoa and Shooting Stars

We just got back from a family trip to Arches National Park. Some of my favorite memories included . . .

. . . seeing some incredible sandstone arches up close. When you're standing right under an arch, it looks both more awesome and more fragile because you can see all the cracks and places where slabs of rock have fallen away. One fellow hiker at the North Window Arch commented, "Yeah, this thing's coming down any minute . . . geologically speaking."

. . . seeing lots of chipmunks.

. . . sharing jokes and memories with my parents and siblings.

. . . stargazing together and watching for shooting stars.

. . . Anna sleeping for hours at a stretch in her little Moses basket. Thanks, Mih-mih.

. . . drinking lots of cocoa.

. . . hanging out with my brother Andrew (he lives out of state, so I don't get to see him often), and talking with him about his big vegetable garden. I had no idea he even had a garden until he handed me a jar of homemade jalapeno jam.

. . . eating Papa's Dutch Oven cherry cobbler.

. . . my parents watching the kids while Phillip and I hiked around the Windows on our own. It was nice to be able to talk without interruptions and hike at our own pace. And smooch a lot.

. . . sleeping in on Saturday morning while the family played with Joy and Daniel. Sweet bliss.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Kick An Elevator Shaft

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . an unfortunate mishap on my way to a doctor visit. For some reason, when the elevator doors opened the floor of the elevator was still several inches lower than the main floor, so as I stepped toward the lobby my sandaled foot kicked the side of the elevator shaft. Owwwwww. I guess if I'm going to get hurt, the best place to do it is outside a doctor's office.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Phillip give the kids piggyback rides as he waltzed along to the Blue Danube Waltz. After that he lay on the floor and let them climb on his chest and jump off. I can’t imagine enjoying that, but he let them do it over and over, and they loved every minute.

. . . figuring out a way to get three kids to nap in two bedrooms, at least for now.

And another thing . . .

. . . I recently an interesting thought on acting by George C. Scott (who played the title role in the film Patton, among other things): "I think you have to be schizoid three different ways to be an actor. You've got to be three different people. You have to be a human being. Then you have to be the character you're playing. And on top of that you've got to be the guy sitting out there in Row 10, watching yourself and judging yourself. That's why most of us are crazy to start with, or go nuts once we get into it. I mean, don't you think it's a pretty spooky way to earn a living?"

Clowning Around

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel curiously poking his baby sister's eyes. Of course, my efforts to dissuade him just make him want to do it more.

. . . accidentally ordering the double cheeseburger combo instead of the regular hamburger combo at In-N-Out. I didn't mind the extra patty, but I'm not a fan of American cheese (or of paying an extra two bucks for the privilege of eating it). At least the lemonade was tasty, and the kids had a good time.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the mother of one of Joy's classmates mentioning that her daughter likes Joy and wants her to come over to play.

. . . Daniel gleefully pressing on my nose to hear me make the sound of a bicycle horn (I learned that little trick from a missionary companion who always told people she wanted to be a clown for a living; she was kidding but they all believed her).

. . . going to Menchie's for our FHE activity. Pumpkin fro yo + cinnamon graham fro yo = bliss.

. . . Anna looking at all the lights and colors with wide eyes as we walked home along a busy street this evening.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Candy Train and Yellow Conference

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . my dear son constantly forgetting to whisper during stake conference. Still, I have to admit it was kind of cute when he got excited about the colors in his book and shouted "Yellow!!" right in the middle of someone's talk.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . chatting a lot after conference today. It is always pleasant to talk with friends, but especially when you spend most of your time home with a baby, interacting with people under the age of five.

. . . playing with our electric train as a family. Phillip put candy in the cargo car and let us choose a piece each time the train stopped in front of us. Once the candy was all gone, he let the kids and me take turns driving the train around the tracks. It was fun to watch Joy experiment with the different switches, and see Daniel captivated by the train as it slowed or accelerated in response to his turns of the dial.

And another thing . . .

. . . after conference today, a mother of seven children said that the transition from two to three kids is the hardest by far.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Clear Signal and a Clean Floor

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting blisters walking the halls with Anna, who inexplicably refused to doze off at stake conference tonight.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a nap while Phillip watched the kids.

. . . vacuuming. It's nice to finally have a clean floor again.

. . . playing dominoes with Joy. I was falling asleep by the fourth round, though.

. . . listening to a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy speak tonight (while Phillip took a turn doing laps with Anna). It's always a unique experience listening to a General Authority at a local conference. Even if the other speakers were really good, when an Apostle or Seventy comes to the pulpit there's a different feeling in the room. It's as if things come into focus more, or the static in a radio signal goes away and messages suddenly come through more clearly.

Christians and a Flu Shot

Today's not-so-favorite moments included . . .

. . . my arm being sore from the flu shot I got this evening.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel inviting me to sit next to him so he could tell me that he has two eyes and two feet.

. . . the times I parented positively and effectively, instead of just reacting. Today was a much better day than yesterday. I think it helped that I got more sleep last night, and did much more praying today. I asked for God's help more fervently because I was so keenly aware of how much I needed it.

And another thing . . .

. . . This evening I indulged in reading a few blog posts. One of them was STM’s in which she linked to a thoughtful post by a non-LDS Christian. The woman recalled how fellow Christians in high school spoke derisively of Mormons, but her experiences as an adult taught her that Mormons are generally good people who share many of her values, and that it would be better to learn from and draw strength from each other rather than focusing on our differences.

It was lovely to read the warmth and respect the author and many of her commenters feel for Mormons and for each other. They are Christians in the true sense of the word. I hope I am, too.