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.