Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cheerios, Chocolate, and Cochinita Pibil

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

. . .  eating way, way too many sweets today.  "Death by chocolate" sounds so blissfully indulgent until you actually attempt it.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking up to the sound of Joy getting little Anna some Cheerios to eat.  I'm really proud of Joy for taking care of her little sister without even being asked.

. . . my family getting excited about the gifts I gave them.

. . . talking with my brother Andrew, who's in town for the holidays.

. . . looking through a cookbook Phillip gave me for Christmas.  It has recipes from a region where he served as a missionary, and though I can't imagine what some of the ingredients taste like, I'm looking forward to trying the recipes (including the cochinita pibil).  I wonder if the local Latin markets carry banana leaves and epazote?

. . . finally learning (courtesy of Phillip) how to crack a pecan and get it out of its shell without turning the fragile nut into nut-crumbs.

. . . noting that Blogger's best spell-check suggestion for "epazote" is "newspaper."   Oh, Blogger.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve Carols

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . singing beautiful Christmas carols with Pink Grandma and Aunt Laura.  I even got to sing a couple a capella numbers with my kids when they asked to sing the Christmas songs from Daniel's preschool program.

. . . the big kids dressing up as Mary and Joseph to act out the nativity story.  They looked so sweet.

. . . Anna crawling eagerly to Pink Grandma to get scooped up and cuddled.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Birthday Ride and Festive Francesco

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy recounting a story she heard in school in which Santa considers what animals should pull his sleigh.  He tries ducks and a few other animals before settling on reindeer.  He's planning to try butterflies next year.

. . . Joy announcing her happy discovery that Francesco Bernoulli's patriotic Italian paint job uses Christmas colors.

. . . celebrating Phillip's birthday by going on our first motorcycle ride together, eating delicious Indian food at one of our favorite restaurants, buying a few goodies at a local bakery, and watching a Star Wars movie while eating homemade kettle corn.  Happy birthday, Sweetheart. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jogging, Dancing, Done

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . dancing to Christmas music with Daniel and Anna.

. . . getting my Christmas shopping done.

And another thing . . .

. . . as I hurried out to my car this evening to run seven different errands after the  kids were in bed, I suddenly grasped (for the first time in my life) why some people might actually enjoy jogging.  I've never understood why people would repeatedly exhaust their bodies just to get right back where they started from, but tonight I realized that it might be because jogging is simple and achievable in a complex and uncertain world.

The road to your other life goals (e.g. romance, career advancement, good parenting) may be confusing, maddeningly slow, and devoid of guarantees, but the process of running a mile is very straightforward and you can do it as fast as you're willing and able.  It's refreshingly simple, and you're guaranteed success as long as you just keep going.

This is not to say that I have any plan to take up jogging (aside from running to the car or the laundry room because it just feels good to do something fast now and then), but I can understand why a person might say, "Life is making me crazy; I need to go run a few miles."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Carol and a Lion

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

. . . cooking a quick dinner while poor Anna cried because she really, really wanted me to pick her up.  I'm sorry, Baby--there are some things I just can't do one-handed.

. . . glancing in the mirror and noting that Anna's runny nose had made contact with my black shirt at least nine times.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the big kids singing a Christmas carol together.

. . . snuggling with sweet Anna.

. . . smelling bread baking.

. . . Phillip giving me a hug.  I love husband hugs.

. . . reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with Joy at bedtime.  It really is a magical, lovely book, and I'm glad she's enjoying it.  She even reads ahead during the day to see what happens next.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lights and Music

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

. . .  trying to keep my sanity in the grocery store with three energetic kids.  I really must remember to go when Joy's in school.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making up little ditties for Anna and Daniel as we walked toward Joy's classroom this afternoon.  I usually just take a familiar tune, and add my own phrases depending one which children are with me, and what we're doing.  Today the tune was "Are You Sleeping, Brother John?" and the words went something like this:

"Here comes Anna
Sweet girl Anna
  To get Joy
  With Daniel Boy
Time to pick up Sister
Goodness how we've missed her
  Walkin' along
  Singin' a song"

No one's going to nominate me for national poet laureate any time soon, but Anna doesn't mind.

. . . strolling the Los Angeles Temple grounds, which are decorated with thousands of Christmas lights for the holiday season.  I appreciate the lights a lot more now that I'm seeing them through my children's eyes.  The grounds were a wonderland to them, and they would have played there happily for hours.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scary Goal and Fine Print

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

. . .  looking up a recent post on my blog and discovering (as you, gentle reader, are no doubt aware), that some technological quirk in Blogger has rendered parts of some posts in very tiny script.  Grrrr.  Fortunately I know just enough about HTML to go back and fix those errors (I found them in about a dozen posts over the last few months).  Hopefully I got them all.  At any rate, I guess I better preview future posts before hitting "Publish."

. . . previewing this post and finding a whole paragraph rendered in that dang tiny script.  Apparently Blogger no likey when I past text into a post from Word.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . sharing a short but inspiring video about Christ's birth with the Primary kids today.   My favorite part was when the Savior hugged someone who obviously needed comfort.  It reminded me that Christ loves me immensely despite my flaws, and He loves everyone enough to help and encourage them when they need it.  May I remember and follow His example more.

And another thing . . .

. . . This afternoon I sat in the back of the Primary room reflecting on potential goals for the coming year. I’m considering a goal to set and stick to a budget, and setting twelve preparedness goals (one for each month, such as “conduct a family emergency drill” and “identify local ham repeaters we can use”), but those seem very temporal, and removed from my character and personal relationships which are so much more important. I've been wondering what concrete goal I might set in that area of my life, and there in the Primary room the answer suddenly came to me: I need to set the goal to get enough sleep.

The idea was perfect, yet somehow terrifying at the same time.  Consistently getting to sleep by midnight would help immensely with my effort to be more patient, kind, spiritually sensitive, and generally happy, yet I know from experience that it would be very challenging for me, and easy to fall off the wagon even if I do manage to climb aboard.  Still, it makes sense and feels like the right direction to go.  I have two weeks to practice before the new year begins—wish me luck.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Birthday Surviver

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Phillip letting me sleep in, and vacuuming the front rooms to boot.  You're my hero, Honey.

. . . getting up to find that Joy had hung a bunch of our ornaments in unexpected places: on our nativity, on cupboards, on light switches.  It made for lots of fun surprises throughout the day as I would discover yet another relocated ornament.

. . . successfully hosting a birthday party for Joy.  It's our first friend party, since we have lots of family in the area and in the past she's been too young to care about having yet another party for friends.  This year she asked for one, though, and I've been really stressed about it because I'm not much of a party planner.  I kept having visions of kids staring awkwardly at me with "this is so lame" written all over their cute little faces.  Phillip assured me that it would be fine, and as long as they had sugar and other kids to play with they'd all have a great time.  He was right.

. . . playing little games with Anna and hearing her laugh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Birthday, Soup, and Stubborn Bread

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel finding the lost plastic pin that holds our tricycle together.

. . . the chocolate zucchini bread finally deigning to come out of the pan. And in one piece, no less.

. . . eating yummy soup for dinner. I love soup weather.

. . . extended family gathering at our home to celebrate Joy's birthday. It's fun to talk and laugh together, and it's always a happy thing when you see people love your kids.

Monday, December 10, 2012

O, Christmas Tree

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

. . .  Phillip having some mechanical issues with his new motorcycle

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the Primary kids decorating one of their teachers as a Christmas tree.  They wrapped him in green crepe paper, taped on ornaments, and put a star headband on his head.  The chorister even brought some lights to wrap around him and plug in at the end.  The kids loved it, and the teacher was a really good sport.

. . . finally getting some posts written for our family blog.

. . . the big kids laughing as they wrestled with Daddy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Zoo, Soup, and Angel Voices

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing all the kindergartners dressed in animal costumes for "zoo day" today. Many of the girls (including my daughter) just had bunny or kitty ears on, but one kid wore a giant squid hat. Awesome.

. . . making some really good, hearty soup for dinner.

. . . hearing Phillip accompany some friends as they practiced O Holy Night for Sunday. I love that beautiful song. It has such an air of reverence, joy, and worship about it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Pageant and the Imprudent Night Owl

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

. . .  feeling incredibly tired when Anna woke me up this morning because I stayed up incredibly late last night.

. . . struggling to keep the preschool kids focused.  I really need to hide the toys when it's not play time.  Of course, their favorite toys are the swiveling desk chairs, and I'm not sure how I'll manage to hide those.  They also love the bicycle pump--go fig.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . reading The Best Christmas Pageant ever.  It was surprisingly thought-provoking for a children's book that I literally finished in an hour.  It left me thinking of the Holy Family more as actual, normal people, and it reminded me that there more than one way to be a good (or bad) person.

. . . giving Daniel a big hug.

. . . talking about the book and Christmas traditions at the book group meeting tonight.

. . . eating crispy jalapeno poppers at said meeting.

. . . seeing Anna cuddle her stuffed dog when I hand it to her at bedtime.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Snow Queen and the King of Kings

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . trading kisses with the big kids under the mistletoe.  I'm surprised at how much they like that little tradition.

. . . sharing some frozen yogurt with the kids.

. . . Joy getting a kick out of the Garfield comic book she checked out from the library.  I loved Garfield as a kid, and it was fun to hear her laugh out loud, then hurry over to show me comic strips I remember from a couple decades ago.

. . . attending our ward's Relief Society Christmas activity.  The program was uplifting, and the music was absolutely lovely.  As one woman sang O Holy Night, I felt immensely grateful for Christ's unconditional love for me.  I left wanting to hug and smile at everyone.

And another thing . . .

. . . I read Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen" while the kids and I were at the library this afternoon.  The meandering tale wasn't at all what I expected, and I'm still trying to decide whether I like it or not.  Old Hans had an interesting style, both more grim and more childlike than I'm accustomed to.  They are also unabashedly Christian, despite being inhabited by witches and mermaids and the like, and it's pretty obvious that Anderson's goal was to teach children to make good choices (e.g. say your prayers, look for the good in life and people, play nice with your toys, if you truly love someone get married in a church).  I appreciate that, but I wonder how the current Disney generation of kids would respond to fairy tales where the ending isn't always happy (in the short term), and the key to ultimate joy is Christlike love, not romantic love.  I guess I could read a few to my kindergartner and find out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hornet Mom

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

. . . wasting over an hour of my very limited time on a leisure activity I didn't actually enjoy very much.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . eating breakfast for dinner.  Sausage, how do I love thee?  With multigrain pancakes and orange juice, that's how.

. . . reading a mom blogger's disclaimer that, while she posts mainly about positive family times because that's what she wants to remember and share, she doesn't want to discourage other moms by giving the impression that her family is blissfully perfect (and yours is not). She insists that her kids "fight like the best of them" and (my favorite line) "I get mad as a hornet about dumb stuff." I completely relate.

In my entire adult life, I don't think I ever lost my temper until I had kids.  Now I seem to blow my top at least weekly, sometimes daily.  I'm cultivating self-control I never knew I lacked, but I'm also learning a lot about humility, love, and healing relationships.  While I'm striving to establish a home where there's lots of nurturing and no shouting, realistically the yelling may never go away completely.  And I think my kids will be OK in spite of that if, as soon as I calm down each time, I communicate to them that I was wrong, I'm sorry, and I love them.

So basically, if you want your mortal experience to be a vacation, do not have kids.  On the other hand, if you want mortality to be a growing experience where you can learn to confront your flaws, love others (and yourself) despite imperfections, and devote your existence to nurturing others like God does, absolutely have kids.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Silent Screams

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

. . .  feeling so stressed about Christmas, preschool,  planning Joy's birthday ('cuz she's now old enough to care about it and I'm totally not a party person), my calling at church, and lots of general mom stuff that I often want to scream and/or curl up in a fetal position on the floor.  Of course, the only way out is through, and if I can just survive the next two weeks I probably won't feel like I'm suffocating anymore.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel dropping some colorful rocks off the sofa about fifty times, and laughing like it was the most hilarious thing ever.  Every single time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Decking the Hall (We've Only Got One)

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . sleeping in while Phillip fed the kids breakfast.

. . . Anna cracking up every time I squirted her with a little toy in the bathtub.

. . . working with Phillip to get our Christmas decorations out of storage.  I love doing just about anything with him, even organizing our storage closet.