Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Weed Whacker Cometh

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

. . . waking up feeling like I'd swallowed a weed-whacker. Mornings like that make me grateful for Christ's resurrection, so that someday we'll have perfect bodies that don't get hurt or sick.

. . . nearly every time I swallowed today.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . drinking lemon tea (warm water with lemon juice and honey), prescribed by a nurse friend in the ward and by virtually every Uruguayan I met during my mission. I'm not sure how much it actually helped my throat, but it felt physically good to drink it and emotionally good to be doing anything to ease the pain.

And another thing . . .

. . . thanks to my dear husband who held down the fort so I could rest today.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Post-Its, Cocoa, and a Wretched Virus

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

. . . waking up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Upper respiratory infections are no fun.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing "Find the Post-It" with Daniel. I'd stick a post-it on his head, then he'd run his fingers through his hair to find it and hand it back to me. Kids get a kick out of the darnedest things, and their parents do, too.

. . . making cocoa with my sweetie tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Muffins and an R.O.U.S.

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

. . . spotting an R.O.U.S. (in this case a big possum) on a wall outside. I know they don't eat people, but it still tingled my spine a bit.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . baking muffins with Joy.

. . . kissing Daniel's little cheeks.

. . . cleaning out the fridge. It wasn't the most pleasant task, but it feels good to finally have it done.

And another thing . . .

. . .

Eggs and Thorns

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . strolling in the park with Daniel while Joy was at preschool. Sometimes it’s nice to be there with just one child and let them wander where they will without having to worry about keeping an eye on the other one.

. . . hearing Joy tell this (paraphrased) story as we walked in from the car: "Red Grandma needed eggs to make pancakes. The grocery store didn't have kind she needed, so she sat down and prayed for help. Heavenly Father told her to go to Trader Joe's because they'd have the kind she likes." I'm glad Joy is learning to have faith that prayers are answered, even prayers about finding ideal eggs.

. . . eating delicious blueberry pancakes for dinner.

And another thing . . .

. . . at one point Daniel wandered into the park's rose garden. As he walked among the thorny branches, I felt I was living a metaphor for parenthood—watching my son navigate a treacherous path, hoping he’d gained enough experience and wisdom to stay clear of the thorns. In this case, he had.

. . . this afternoon I learned that a zillion is a fictitious, indefinitely large number.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Orzo and Entropy

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating Parmesan Orzo, one of my favorite side dishes. It's nice to know that even if the main course doesn't turn out great, the orzo will still be good. Even Joy likes it. Daniel's still getting there.

. . . my daughter actually requesting to eat lettuce (without dressing). It gives me hope that some day she really will eat most of the things I cook for dinner.

And another thing . . .

. . . we set up yesterday's bowling pins again this morning and had a good time knocking them down. Of course, after a few minutes Joy tired of the conventional approach and decided to take things to the next level: body bowling. She body-slammed the pins and scored a strike the very first time.

. . . yesterday in the grocery store Daniel pulled a cereal box off the shelf and Joy asked what he was doing. I replied that he was increasing the entropy (disorder) in the universe, then I heard a nearby shopper chuckle. It's nice when people appreciate my geeky comments.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bowling and Bawling

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . "bowling" with my family at FHE. I put a little water in some water bottles to help them stand up on the floor, then we took turns throwing a ball at them. Even Daniel got into it, but since he's nearly two he burst into tears every time it was someone else's turn. It's tough when you want something, but have no perspective about its timing or relative importance. Most of us still struggle with that as adults.

. . . taking a nap.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dookens and Brahms

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

. . . spending the sacrament hymn picking up about 200 raisins Daniel scattered on the floor. I think I got all of them except for one that landed under the pew two rows in front of us. It's still there.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making cookies with Joy, and eating the dough. Honestly, in most cases I enjoy the dough more than the resulting cookies.

And another thing . . .

. . . during church today, Joy leaned over and declared that when she is twelve years old she will choose to be a "dooken." I explained that boys become deacons at twelve, and girls get to be Beehives and go to cool activities.

. . . after I dropped the kids off at their classes, I found a seat in my own Sunday school class and was surprised to hear classical music playing softly. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Then I pulled my iPod Touch out of its purse pocket so I could open the lesson, and I discovered that Daniel had somehow instructed it to play Brahms's Requiem. For the life of me, I couldn't make it stop. I couldn't unlock the screen, or even turn the little gizmo off. I finally turned the volume down, whereupon the screen when dark and I was able to unlock the iPod and stop the music. Sheesh.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carnival and Calvin

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

. . . giving Joy an extra hard push on the swing and watching her fall out of it. Oops... :(

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing carnival games with Joy at the Primary ice cream social.

. . . reading to Daniel while he snuggled in my lap.

. . . watching my husband get hooked on Calvin & Hobbes this evening. I guess he'd never read that comic before.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Missed the Happy Bus

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

. . . the kids waking me up two hours early today. We were all tired and cranky, and nothing I did would dispel the dismal funk I was in. I felt like I’d missed the happy bus, and no matter how hard I tried to catch up, it always stayed a stop ahead of me.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . when my dear husband took charge of the kids and let me sleep for an hour or so this morning. It made a world of difference in my mood.

. . . tossing a ball around with Pink Grandma and Joy this afternoon.

. . . hearing Daniel giggle when I tickled him.

And another thing . . .

. . . I learned today that laughter is unique to humans. Apes will chuckle a bit if you tickle them, but only humans laugh at something just because they find it amusing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carrots and the Superpipe

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

. . . let us just say that potty training is an ongoing process.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finally clearing out my overgrown container garden.

. . . planting carrot seeds with Joy. She loves carrots. We planted chard, too; we'll see if she goes for that.

. . . Daniel giving me five after we figured something out together.

. . . eating donut holes.

And another thing . . .

. . . this evening, as I watched Joy perform creative leaps off random furniture, I had a brief vision of her competing in the snowboarding superpipe in the Winter X Games. Who knows?

Contemplating the Tiger

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . sharing frozen yogurt with my kids.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy decided to call our cell phones from the home phone this morning. It was kinda weird to have a phone conversation with her while she was standing just a few feet away.

. . . perhaps you've heard of (or even read) the Jan 8 Wall Street Journal essay Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. The author, Yale law professor Amy Chua, explains that Chinese mothers build confidence and success in children by using coercion to help them realize their potential.

The essay has ignited a firestorm of outrage and opposition, which Chua says is largely due to a misunderstanding. In an interview with Yale Daily News, she clarifies that the essay is actually a tongue-in-cheek excerpt from the beginning of her new memoir "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." The excerpt reflects her early views on child-rearing. When her teenager later rebelled against her super-strict parenting style, Chua realized she needed to make some serious changes to her "Tiger Mother" approach or risk losing her daughter.

I'm curious to read the book, because the excerpt gave me a lot to think about. Though I totally disagree with some parts of it (e.g. using insults to motivate), and Chua herself later says that some aspects of her early approach weren't good for her kids, some of her statements made me seriously evaluate my own parenting style.

I want my children to be well-behaved, hard-working, disciplined, and successful, but I feel hamstrung by doubt and my own weaknesses. I hesitate to set the bar unreasonably high for them, and even if the height is attainable I wonder if I can push them to reach for it without them rebelling or disregarding me. I worry that I expect too little of my kids (and of myself as their parent), so they are coming to expect little of themselves.

One of the greatest challenges of life is achieving balance--firm vs flexible, strict vs nurturing, optimism vs realism. May God guide me as I strive to strike that balance.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Donuts and Littles

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

. . . Daniel chomping down on the last bite of sandwich, unaware that my finger was still attached to it. Ouch!

. . . serving a dinner that was OK but not as good as it could have been. It's dispiriting to put so much work into something, and not produce a result you can be proud of.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making funny faces with Joy.

. . . finding donut holes on sale at the bread outlet. Score!!

. . . hearing Joy laugh like crazy every time I tossed her on the couch.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy has taken to calling Daniel "Littles." It's kinda cute.

. . . in school I never understood why many girls wanted friends to come along when they went to the restroom. I always thought of the bathroom as a private place, not a venue for socializing. Joy apparently does not share my opinion--whenever she goes to the restroom, you can virtually guarantee she'll want me to come in and "keep her company."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ribs and Relatives

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the biggest gathering of my relatives in my recent memory. Aunt Lisa and her family are in town, and we all gathered at Grandma's house for dinner. It was great to be there with so many people I know and love, and reinforce the ties that keep us close even when we’re far away.

. . . hearing Daddy tell Joy the story of how he and I met.

And another thing . . .

. . . Aunt Lisa served barbecued ribs for dinner. I’d actually never had them before, assuming there would be little satisfaction in nibbling so little meat off so much bone. Boy, was I wrong. I would have eaten even more than I did if I’d just had more room.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Peahen and Blueberries

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . wanting to visit someone we like, but not being able to get in touch with them. :(

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing a honking noise outside during breakfast, and looking out the window to see a peahen* wandering around the courtyard.

. . . standing on a hill with my daughter and watching the sun set into a molten pool of ocean.

. . . eating blueberry pancakes with triple berry syrup. And sausage. Mmmm, sausage . . .

*Female peacock

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Temple, Train, and Tacos

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . serving in the temple with my sweetheart.

. . . eating carne asada tacos from a taco truck.

. . . hugging Joy.

. . . rearranging my kids' train track with them.

. . . praying to find their missing engine . . . and finding it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . looking out the window and seeing that Daddy was home. Yay!

. . . shopping at Whole Foods with my kids. I rarely go there because it's a bit of a drive, but when I do I feel like I'm at Food Mecca. Joy loves it because our shopping cart gets to ride its own escalator next to our conventional one.

. . . dancing to swing music with Daddy.

And another thing . . .

. . . this morning Joy told me she had stepped in "car poop." I suspect she was referring to an oily patch in one of our neighbor's parking spots, but I thought it wisest not to inquire.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"I Love That Guy!"

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . putting egg nog in my Malto Meal because we were out of milk. Never, ever do that.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . when I was playing a homemade matching game with Joy, and as she turned over a picture of good old Wolfgang her face lit up and she exclaimed, "Mozart! I love that guy!" Why, Joy? "Because he writes music!" Can't argue with that.

And another thing . . .

. . . I opted not to take our camera along when we walked to the store this morning, figuring that nothing notable would happen on such a routine outing. Of course, on our way home we saw a peacock walking down the sidewalk in front of us. It was a good reminder that remarkable things can happen in even the most mundane circumstances.

. . . Joy still likes pretending she's Curious George, and the more she gets into character during our matching games, the better I tend to do at them. She gets so focused on jumping from one side of the pile to the other that she doesn't pay attention to whether she's turning over Moses or a moose.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chocolaty Goodness

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . surfing the web with Joy. I opened two windows, and we took turns using the mouse. I checked friends' blogs, and Joy checked the weather report on The temperature here is supposed to hover around 70 for the next ten days. It's really not fair to the rest of the country.

. . . hearing Joy request her multi-grain English muffin "not toasted, with chocolaty goodness [Nutella]."

And another thing . . .

. . . I survived another day of teaching preschool. [big sigh of relief]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowballs and Mutts

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . noticing that yesterday's post made someone smile. :)

. . . swinging at the park with Daniel.

. . . Joy "reading" Goodnight Moon thus: "a comb, and a brush, and a bowl full of mutts [mush]."

. . . reading Nienie Dialogues. The first photo on her Christmas Day post is magical.

And another thing . . .

. . . at the park today, we played with a little boy named Gavin and his mom. When Joy gave their paratrooper a mighty throw up into the air, the mom clapped for her. I'm so grateful when people love my kids, because it reminds me to enjoy them, too, in additional to reminding them to obey rules, eat right, and stay out of traffic.

Peace Among Monkeys

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . my grand plan of taking a much-needed shower being cruelly thwarted when Joy opened Daniel's door as he was starting to wake up from a nap. He would have been good for another ten minutes if we'd left the door closed. Sigh.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Daniel giggle as he went down a slide at the playground.

. . . feeling the peace of the Spirit as I prayed in a quiet moment.

. . . my husband hugging me for a long time when he got home. It's always nice when someone is grateful to see me; it made me even happier to see him.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy's still keen on Curious George. She even insisted that I call her George this morning, so when I called for "George" in the store an employee said "I think he went that way."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bread Quest

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading this quote in a bread cookbook: "The changing of clay made from flour, salt, and water into dough, through the infusion of leaven, represents a transformation from dead to alive; it does not get much more radical than that in the kitchen."

And another thing . . .

. . . I used to think baking bread was hard. I have since decided that baking bread is actually easy; finding a really great wheat bread recipe I want to eat gobs of every day is hard. I actually sampled such a bread in the temple a few weeks ago, and I'm seriously considering going back at 4:30am some Saturday morning to beg the baker to teach me her secrets. Or I could just try baking The Bread STM Knew in the Preexistence; I even have some vital wheat gluten on hand. I guess that will be next experiment. Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Questions of Boredom and Bread

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . Joy asking for the 638th time, "Mom, what's something I can dooooo?" Odds of her liking any of my suggestions: 1/20.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching my kids run up and down the ramp at Pink Grandma's house.

. . . trying a fun, different recipe, and having it actually taste good. You wouldn't think pasta and roasted sweet potatoes would work well together, but apparently they do, especially when you throw in cream sauce and toasted walnuts. Even my carnivore husband conceded the dish was good, despite the regrettable absence of meat.

And another thing . . .

. . . in a baking book I'm currently reading, the only difference between the Country White Bread and the Honey Wheat Bread recipes is 1/2 of wheat flour. If a bread recipe contains over 80% white flour and your taste buds can't detect any whole grain goodness, how do they justify the title "wheat bread"? Just asking.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Monkeying Around

Today's not-so-favorite moments included:

. . . touring an open house in our neighborhood and learning that they want over $800K for that cozy little home. Sigh.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . peeking at Daniel during family prayer and noticing that he was standing in a bucket . . . with his arms folded.

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy watched the Curious George movie tonight, then spent the rest of the evening making monkey noises and insisting that we call her George.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Toast and Mitochondria

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making good garlic toast with my new panini maker.

And another thing . . .

. . . this afternoon Joy drew a Christmas tree that looked like a mitochondria illustration from my high school biology class.

. . . lately Joy's favorite game is to tell me that she's a toy, and if I want her to do a certain thing I have to push the corresponding button somewhere on her person. For example, she might say that her "get dressed button" is on her forehead, or her "put her bowl away button" is on her hand. At least I know that if I play along and push the button, the desired task will be done.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sun, Sparklies, and Abe

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a walk with my kids on a clear, sunny day.

. . . watching my sister go wild over the ring her fiance bought her for her birthday. Jewelry holds not appeal for me, but it was fun to see her so excited.

. . . reading about a friend's son's dearest Christmas wish: a gold statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Heart Cookbooks

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . leafing through a cookbook this evening. We all have our weaknesses . . .

And another thing . . .

. . . Joy informed me this morning that I couldn't smile at her during breakfast. Fortunately she placed no restrictions on smiling at Daddy or Daniel.