Friday, November 30, 2012

Bubbles and the Back Burner

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

. . .  most of today.  I really got up on the wrong side of the bed.  Here's to a better day tomorrow.

. . . having to cancel a friend's plan to watch my kids for a few hours.  I was really hoping to finally get a certain nagging task done, and it's discouraging to have it thrust to the back burner again.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . little Anna being absolutely delighted by the bubbles someone blew at the park.

. . . trying on a shirt that looked really nice on me.  I don't shop for clothes often, and I try not to base my sense of self-worth on my appearance, but every now and then it feels really great to look in the mirror and think, "Dang! I look good."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In Which Clouds Crash My Solar Party

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

. . .  clouds rolling in an hour after I put something in the solar oven.  "Hey, clouds!  You weren't supposed to get here until tomorrow!  Why the rush?"

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending a parent/teacher conference.  Joy's doing really well in school, and she seems to enjoy it.

. . . Anna learning to drink from a cup.  I only give her about a teaspoon at a time, and it's always water, but she's totally got it down.  Maybe I'll try giving her milk or juice tomorrow.

. . . the kids and I presenting cards and flowers to a neighbor for her birthday.

. . . improvising dinner, and having it actually turn out well.

. . . playing a fun game with the big kids.

. . . the sound of rain falling outside.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Duck, Duck, Anything

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

. . . forgetting to take a jacket along on a chilly afternoon.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . discovering a new park that the kids all loved.

. . . having some neighbor kids over.  They introduced us to a game I'll call "Duck, Duck, Anything"  where instead of saying "duck" and "goose" while you tap people's heads, you choose some random thing to say over and over, then when you tap and say a different thing that person has to chase you.  One example was "Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, 
Halloween, Halloween, Christmas!"  My favorite one was "Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow!"  I think we'll be playing "Duck, Duck, Anything" at Joy's birthday party.

. . . chatting with an old friend who was in town.

. . . snuggling with my sweetheart.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Singing Sore

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

. . .  getting a sore throat.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a nap.

. . . watching Phillip play with little Anna in church.

. . . singing exuberantly along with a very animated Primary chorister.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Spies and Pupusas

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

. . .  some stranger shouting advice from her car window about how I can be a better parent.  Madam (since I'm sure you're one of the half dozen people who regularly reads my blog), please be apprised that the degree of derisive outrage with which you infuse your advice has a directly inverse relationship with my desire to heed said counsel.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making hamburgers for dinner, at Joy's request.

. . . hugging my sweetheart.

. . . seeing Daniel grin.

. . . watering my little herb garden outside. 

. . . looking up a pupusa recipe, and discovering that they're ridiculously easy to make.  I think I may try making some tomorrow.  I've been wanting to give them a go ever since we tried them at an El Salvadorean restaurant with some friends.  The food there is delicious but it's a bit of a drive from here, and pricey when you throw in the cost of a babysitter.

And another thing . . .

. . . since viewing Cars 2, Joy has been fascinated with the idea of secret agents, and Finn McMissile in particular.  This has led to some interesting conversations:

Daniel: I don't want Joy to hold my hand.
Joy: I'm Finn.  Who's Joy?
Daniel: I'm Joy!

Me: Which way should we go, Joy?
Joy: [Turns to me with a look of exasperation because I've called her the "wrong" name yet again]
Me: I mean Finn?

Joy: Secret agents don't cry so I'm going to take a break until I've calmed down!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey and Leaves

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking Anna for a walk and hearing the autumn leaves crunch under my feet.

. . . gathering with my family for Thanksgiving and seeing a half dozen dishes they've been serving every year since I was a child.  I love trying new recipes, but there is a certain comfort in sitting down to eat so many traditional, familiar things.

. . . talking and laughing with my family for hours.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Orzo and the Tickled Ones

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

. . .  dropping a bowl of cooked orzo (tiny pasta) all over the carpet.  Tons of fun to clean up, I assure you.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my mom and sister coming over to visit.

. . . the big kids playing happily together.

. . . snuggling with Phillip on the couch.

And another thing . . .

. . . it was interesting to see how each of my children reacted when Aunt Heather started tickling them furiously.  Joy nervously retreated to the other side of the room (which is probably what I would have done), Daniel kept rushing headlong back to Heather for more tickles, and Anna sat watching with cautious fascination a few inches out of Heather’s reach.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leaves and Cars, Too

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing the fall leaves flutter to the ground every time a cool breeze rustled through the trees.  It was fun to watch Anna carving twin trails with her knees as she crawled along the leafy sidewalk.  I love getting stuff done in my little home and on my little computer, but moments like this remind me that it's important to get out into the wide world.  It feeds the soul.

. . . the big kids giving me hugs when I was feeling really frustrated this afternoon.

. . . making a little autumn art project with Joy.  It was simple, yet creative--my kind of project.

. . . watching Cars 2 with the big kids.  The film didn't get much love on Rotten Tomatoes, possibly because it wasn't as jaw-droppingly imaginative as many of Pixar's other films, but I still enjoyed it a lot and would watch it again.

. . . stargazing as I walked back from the laundry room tonight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An Early Feast and Multnomah Falls

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . joining Pink Grandma for an early Thanksgiving.

. . . Anna giggling like crazy about Grandma's exuberant little dog.

. . . eating pumpkin pie while we played the alphabet Thanksgiving game.

. . . pouring through a list of books to read with young kids, and daydreaming about what to introduce to my kids next.

And another thing . . .

. . . this years alphabetical list of things we're grateful for is:

Alphabet games
Hours of Primary
Ice Cream
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Multnomah Falls
Pumpkin Jack-o-lanterns
Star Wars
Ticket to Read
Zoological Fantasy by Camille Saint-Saens

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ricola and Tom

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

. . .  coming down with a cold.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing some old friends who were visiting our ward today.

. . . reflecting on the people I'm grateful for.  There are so many of them.

. . . learning fun facts about turkeys in Primary.  For instance, mature turkeys have about 3500 feathers and can run at 25mph.  Males are called "Toms" but the females are just called "hens" (how boring--I expected something like "Jane" or "Linda").

. . . sucking on a Ricola.  It really helped my scratchy throat.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dry Dried Flowers

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finishing pressing some flowers right before it started to rain.

. . . getting more stuff done.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Herbs, Granola, and Solitude

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

. . . arriving home from the grocery store and realizing I had forgotten the main item I went to buy.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . listening to the kids at Joy's school sing in their annual choral program.  They even had a live band accompanying them.  It was a lot of fun.

. . . seeing olive branches waving gracefully in the wind.

. . . Phillip taking the kids to my parents' cabin for the weekend.  Ah . . . productivity!

. . . planting some new herbs in my container garden.  I got ambitious and tried some garlic, too.  We'll see how well it does.  Of course, the bigger question is how well I will do at watering and fertilizing consistently.  My vision of my future yard definitely includes a drip irrigation system and a timer.

. . . finally getting an updated version of my cookbook ready to print and bind (and by "bind" I mean a spiral-bound job courtesy of my local Staples store).  You wouldn't think it would take so long add a few recipes and modify others, but even today's final edit took me several hours.  I'm worn out, but very glad it's done.

And another thing . . .

. . . Cathy, I know you asked for my granola recipe a while ago, and I'm sorry I haven't gotten it to you before now.  There are two reasons for the delay.  One is that I didn't have it typed up yet when you asked, and the other is that I'm not yet sure whether I consider it "THE" granola recipe or just "A" granola recipe.  It's good, but I want to try a couple others before I settle on a keeper.

Of course, there's no telling when I will have the leisure to conduct said research, so in the meantime, here's the (finally typed up) granola recipe I've been using so far:

Brown Sugar Granola

2 c rolled oats
1/4 c wheat germ
1/4 c dry milk powder or creamer
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 c cooking oil
1/4 c water
1 t vanilla extract
Add-ins such as 1/4 c raisins, peanuts, dried cranberries, etc.

Stir together first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine oil, water, and vanilla, then stir into oat mixture. Put granola into a 9x13” pan and bake at 300 for about 24 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven and stir one more time, then let cool three minutes and stir in any add-ins you desire. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Parenthood and Pecan Pie

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . going to the temple with my sweetheart, and feeling peace and joy in a place where it's somehow a lot easier to commune with God.

. . . eating pecan pie in the temple cafeteria. 

And another thing . . .

. . . as I was reflecting on my blessings in the temple today, I felt particularly grateful for God’s love and longsuffering with me. He is so patient with my recurring foibles, and I’m immensely grateful that He keeps gently reminding me what is best even though He’s already taught me those principles countless times before. I prayed that He would help me show the same love and longsuffering to my own children.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude and Laundry

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . kissing Anna's chubby baby cheeks.

. . . finally getting all those piles of laundry folded.

. . . reading what my friends are grateful for this month.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rolls and a Hatchet

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

. . . Anna somehow hurting her hand this afternoon.  She cried off and on for a very long time, and at first I thought it was seriously injured, but I'm grateful to say that by the end of the day she seemed fine. 

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy actually sampling my chicken at dinnertime, then deciding to eat two servings of it.

. . . husband hugs.

. . . chatting with neighbors.

. . . Joy helping me out and telling me I'm her buddy.  I hugged her and said she's mine, too.

. . . mixing up some roll dough to chill overnight.  It's hard to say why I love trying new recipes so much, but it really is a fun adventure for me.  And since it's autumn and I need to heat my house anyway, I might as well fire up the oven, right?

And another thing . . .

. . . to my knowledge, my youngest brother has only voluntarily read one book in his entire life.  It was The Hatchet.  When I saw it on a library shelf earlier this week, I decided to check it out and see what had captivated him so much.  It was a quick read, and I finished it tonight.  It was interesting to see what Brian did to survive, and his behavior (setting small goals, enjoying the beauty around him, not focusing on being rescued, etc.) reminded me of Deep Survival, an intriguing non-fiction book about how people survive (regardless of training or lack thereof).  I wonder how I'd manage, alone in the wilderness with just a hatchet.  Kinda makes me want to go out and buy a little flint and steel for my purse (as if that bag needs anything else to weigh it down).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Upper Crust and Extra Flour

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

. . . ongoing potty training issues.  Basically, Daniel is so over using the bathroom, and doesn't want to take a break from playing to go use the toilet.  Any suggestions?

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . stocking up on wheat, flour, and sugar at the local cannery.  If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.

. . . emailing the ward Relief Society sisters asking if anyone had a random tool I could borrow, and getting two positive responses.  One of the women even lives down the street from me.  Thanks, Ladies. :)

And another thing . . .

. . . for whatever reason, I decided to make a savory pie today.  I even opted to make my own pie crust, which I've only done once in my life, about ten years ago.  It was a simple enough process, but I forgot that the dough needs to chill in the fridge for about an hour.  Oops.  In the end, the crust turned out fine but the filling was uninspiring.  Live and learn.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Busy and Blessed

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . getting stuff done while Phillip took the kids on an outing this afternoon.

. . . playing a Star Wars version of Angry Birds with Phillip and Joy.

. . . looking through old journal entries that remind me of my rich blessings.

. . . cuddling Anna.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three Kings and Aragorn

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . .  Pink Grandma coming to visit.

. . . reading Pioneer Woman's top ten lines from the film The Return of the King.

. . . playing checkers with Joy (except for the part when she burst into tears because I captured three of her kings in one move).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Two and a Half Voters

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

. . . Anna waking up at 6am because babies have no concept of Daylight Savings Time.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . breathing much, much easier now that my turn to teach preschool is over for a couple months.  The actual lesson is always fun, but the stress of preparation weighs on me like a boulder.

. . . going to vote with my whole family.  Daniel and Anna weren't very interested, but Joy happily cast her annual vote for poet laureate on the demonstration ballot, and I even let her ink in a few dots on my real ballot.  We both proudly wore our "I Voted" stickers for the rest of the day.

. . . nearly talking myself hoarse answering all my daughter's questions about the election and our government.

. . . eating lots of samples at Costco, and Joy summoning up the courage to dash into the fridge section with me to get some grapes.

. . . Joy and Daniel making up a kiss/freeze tag game.  You tag the other person to freeze them, then kiss them on the cheek to unfreeze them.  Sometimes my kids are so amazingly cute.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Proud to be a Purple American

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . deciding how I'll vote on propositions and such tomorrow.  It was empowering to weigh the arguments and decide what I believe is best for my community.  On the other hand,  it was rather deflating to do lots of soul-searching about the presidential race, finally reach a decision, then recall that my vote on that subject doesn't really matter since I don't live in Ohio.  I really hope we reform the electoral college system soon.

And another thing . . .

. . . to paraphrase an NPR host I heard last week, I hope that no matter what happens tomorrow, America wins.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Testimony and Turkey Jokes

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the big kids playing a game where they took turns giving each other kisses on the cheek.

. . . hearing Phillip bear his testimony.

. . . reading STM's posts about the silver linings to all her challenges.

. . . several people filling in at the last minute in Primary today.  Thank you so much.

. . . taking a nap.

. . . hearing turkey jokes at Primary.  "Why did the turkey cross the road twice?  To prove he wasn't a chicken."  "Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?  Of course--buildings can't jump."

. . . finding a bunch of fun Halloween ideas and pinning them to my Pinterest Halloween board.  Yeah, I know Halloween is over, but it'll be back before we know it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Teeth, Time, and Doodles

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

. . . Anna teething.  She's getting several new teeth in at once, and she had a really rough morning.  Thank goodness for Tylenol.

. . . taking down most of our Halloween decorations.  I left the pumpkins in place for November, but I was sad to see the bat mobile go.  I'll definitely make another (better) one next year.  

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . noticing a cactus blooming.  It feels like a treat to see something beautiful on a plant that is ordinarily so plain and uninviting.

. . . doodling with the kids.  I sketched lots of little, stick-figure animals while Joy drew characters from Monsters, Inc. and Daniel wrote some big letter S's.  I also tried drawing my kids' faces, with mixed success (one version of Daniel looked like a fat, German banker).  The drawings reminded me of my dad, who is great at sketching objects but can't draw realistic portraits well at all.  Dad once toyed with the idea of becoming a Civil War painter when he retires, but he soon abandoned that plan when he realized he wouldn't be able to paint the soldiers.  I guess landscapes don't fire his imagination.

And another thing . . .

. . . Daniel is learning to tell time on our digital clock.  He's pretty excited about it, as you can tell from this exchange we had this morning:

Daniel: [gasps] It's 9:03!
Mom: You're right, it's 9:03.
Daniel: [60 seconds later]  It's 9:04!
Mom: That's right.
Daniel: [60 seconds later]  It's 9:05!
Mom: [doesn't answer because she's in the other room and doesn't feel like hollering a response]
Daniel: Hey, Mom!  It's 9:05!  It's 9:05, Mom!  Mom, it's 9:05!
Mom: [finally comes around the corner to put an end to the shouting] That's right, it's 9:05!
Daniel: [eight seconds later] Hey, Mom!  It's 9:06!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cool, Clean, and Safe

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . savoring the cool autumn weather.

And another thing . . .

. . . The big kids were both good examples to me today.  On the walk to school, I heard Joy gasp, “Litter!”  There were Halloween candy wrappers and such scattered along our route, and Joy set to work picking up a bunch to throw away.  She inspired me to pick some up, too.

Later, when we reached the crosswalk by the school, I was about to cross when Daniel called out, “Wait, Mom!”  The crossing guard wasn’t in the street with his sign yet, and Daniel was reminding me that we are supposed to wait for him so we know it’s safe to cross.  On the way home I remembered the rule and obediently waited, whereupon Daniel said, “You waited for Tony; good job, Mom.”  Thanks, Little Man.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alchemy and Treats

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy and her fellow students in the school's annual Halloween parade.  It was fun to see the costumes kids had come up with, and I swear I saw little Anna tapping her feet to the Ghostbusters theme song.

. . . reading The Alchemist for my book group.  It's an interesting, thought-provoking book; I'm still mulling over it.  If nothing else, I'm grateful to the author for helping me recognize that I see the hand of God most clearly in my life when I face huge, discouraging obstacles and exercise the faith to climb them.

. . . taking the big kids trick-or-treating.  I was tempted to skip it, since they've already done several Halloween activities and acquired plenty of treats, but Joy and Daniel both wanted to go so I agreed to accompany them through the neighborhood.

I'm so glad that I did--it turned out to be one of the most purely joyful experiences I've had in a long time.  I love the generosity of Halloween as people cheerfully hand out treats to children they don't even know.  I love the creativity of decorations, costumes, and even an elaborate mural one man painted and hung on his porch.  And I loved hearing my kids tell so many complete strangers "Thank you!" and "Happy Halloween!"