Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rocking, Jumping, and Jumping Some More

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

. . .  a big dog barking at me from the car I parked next to at the store.  The car's windows were only rolled down a few inches so the dog couldn't actually do me any harm, but of course I didn't realize that until the neurons in charge of jumping and screaming had already fired.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . making caramel corn with my family.

. . . meeting two of Joy's schoolmates at Trader Joe's after school.  We always seem to see someone from school when we stop there on the way home.  It's like an after-school playdate.

. . . watching my kids play happily with the neighbors in the courtyard.

. . . rocking in our rocking chair.

. . . seeing Phillip smile as Anna crawled laps around him on the bed.

. . . learning that 10 minutes of jumproping burns as many calories as 20 minutes of jogging.  I'm glad, because I like jumproping a lot better than jogging, and I can get a great workout without leaving my house.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Being a Lion

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

. . .  drama at dinner about who would get the last apple slice.  Daniel always wants the last one of anything, and lately Joy wants the last one, too.  Whenever there are two of something left, they end up haggling about who's going to take the penultimate one.  Sometimes I just take it when one of them isn't looking.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my Primary lesson going well.  The kids seemed really engaged and asked lots of questions, which can be good and bad.  I want them to participate and share their thoughts, but if I allow more than one or two comments I start getting flooded with increasingly off-topic remarks.  Moderation in all things, no?

. . . visiting teaching a sister in our ward.  I sometimes feel like a third wheel because she speaks mostly Korean and my companion is fluent but I'm not, but I'm grateful to at least learn a little more about her, pray for her and her family, and give her a hug when I see her.

. . . reading Aslan's lines in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (Joy wanted to reread it).  I think it does me good to imagine what it's like to be calm and majestic, powerful and yet gentle, then to try and communicate that to my daughter.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chives Challenged and Second Base!

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing new shoots coming up on my chive plant, and tiny blooms on the thyme.

. . . watching Joy run the bases at baseball practice, gleefully shouting the name of each base as she bounded onto it.

. . . Daniel rushing over to give me a hug every time he successfully navigated the jungle gym.

. . . practicing a few swing moves with Phillip in our front room.  Thank you, YouTube.

And another thing . . .

. . . the predictive text feature on my phone routinely suggests all sorts of quasi-English weirdness (srsly?), but is apparently unable to predict the word "chives."

Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Straighten a Vinyl Jump Rope

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . going for a walk with my kids.

. . . making Protein Poppers (yum!).

. . . Anna learning a new word.

. . . finally getting the kinks out of my vinyl jump rope.  I bought the thing a month ago to get a little cardio workout here and there, and was told if I just hung it up for a while the bends would straighten out.  I hung it for weeks, and the kinks persisted.  I read somewhere that I should soak it in hot water, but that didn't help much, either. 

Tonight I finally did an online search for "how to straighten a vinyl jump rope."  After looking through a dozen sites, I found a comment on some obscure blog post (not unlike the one you're reading now) that suggested boiling the vinyl jumping rope to straighten it.  I set a big pot of water boiling, immersed all but the handles of my rope, and within a minute the kinks had disappeared like magic.  I hung it up by the handles to cool, and an hour later the kinks are still gone.  Yessssss!

So if you, too, are wondering how to straighten a vinyl jump rope, and your search engine has directed you here, I hope my experience will be helpful to you.  Happy jumping!

And another thing . . .

. . Protein Poppers are one of my favorite snacks when I want something kinda sweet but kinda healthy, too.  I just pop a couple and I'm good.

Protein Poppers

1 cup dry oats (rolled or quick)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can buy them at Whole Foods and the like)
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup nut butter (I use peanut butter, but almond would probably work, too)
1/4 cup honey
1 T cocoa nibs (optional; you can also try mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, other dried fruit)

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Chill one hour (this helps the dough hold together), then roll into  1” balls and enjoy.  I store them covered in the fridge because I like them cool, but you could store them covered at room temperature, too.

Makes about 25 poppers.

Note: You can tweak proportions or substitute other things for most of the ingredients, but don’t mess with the honey and nut butter much because they act as binders.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bitter about a Sweetener

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

. . .  learning that agave is just as refined as sugar, contains even more calories, and has no real health benefits.  I had thought it might be a nice, healthy sweetener to add to smoothies, but I guess I'll stick to honey.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . looking at Daniel's preschool artwork and seeing that he'd written his whole name himself.

. . . Joy's teacher showing me a picture where Joy was supposed to draw four penguins, and she drew two with four flippers each.  Joy explained that it was because the other two penguins were standing behind the first two.  I thought that was pretty clever.

. . . producing streamlined pollo asado with the pressure cooker, and cooking properly sweet fried plantains because I used one with a brown peel instead of a green one.

. . . chatting with my visiting teachers.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Corn Tortillas and Chopped Liver

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

. . .  telling Joy it was time to leave for a mama-daughter date, and learning that she would rather go for a walk with Daddy and the other kids.  Since she's around me all day, even a mundane Daddy activity is apparently more enticing than a fun Mama activity.  Don't worry--I'm used to it, so it didn't bruise my ego too badly.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . hearing Anna say "Yeah-yeah!" when I ask if she wants me to lift her up.

. . . going to the park with some friends.  The kids came home super sandy, but they had a great time.

. . . finally managing to heat a corn tortilla in such a way that it won't break in half while I'm eating my taco.

I Still Love Jupiter

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . feeling the cool, almost-spring breeze.

. . . listening to Holst's Jupiter.  My classical-music loving husband has introduced me to a lot of great music during our marriage, but Jupiter is still my favorite.

. . . getting a thoughtful email from Phillip this afternoon.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pearls and an Old Dent

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

. . .  someone backing into us in the church parking lot.  She immediately got out to survey the damage and was horrified when she saw the side of our car, but we assured her that the big dent had been there since we bought the car.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . seeing an unusually high number of people wearing green at stake conference today.  There were green dresses, green sweaters, a green hairband, green ties (a few even had shamrocks on them), a green suit coat, and an enormous, iridescent, green bow tie on one ten-year-old boy.  Most of us aren't Irish, don't know who St. Patrick was, and had no plans to pinch anyone for not wearing green, but hey, it's fun to dress up for a holiday now and then.

. . . Joy helping put hundreds of chairs away after the conference ended.  She really does like to help out.

. . . relaxing in the swinging chair on Pink Grandma's patio.

. . . Joy wafting about wearing lots of Grandma's rainbow wrist ribbons.

. . . Daniel laughing with delight when he caught sight of the moon through our little telescope.

And another thing . . .

. . . as a parent of young children I have very mixed feelings about the general session of stake conference.  On the one hand, I always come away with some precious pearls of wisdom.  On the other hand, two hours is a very long time for kids to sit still.  It went a little smoother this time because I brought tons of snacks and asked the big kids what they wanted to include in our activity bag, but a child can only eat so many Cheerios and star puffs.  When the closing prayer was done and Joy jubilantly shouted "It's over!"  I confess I felt a similar sense of relief.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Two Hits and a Drop in a Cluttered Bucket

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

. . .  Anna scattering a box of dried currants all over the carpet.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy play her first baseball game.  It basically consisted of two innings in which every kid on each team got to hit the ball, then they switched and it was the other team's turn at bat.  Joy got a hit pretty quickly in the first inning, but in the second the coach had to throw it about twelve times before she finally got a hit.  He was really kind and patient, and giving her tips on how to hold the bat and swing it, and she kept at it until she connected.  I was proud of her.

. . . making shamrock sugar cookies with the big kids.

. . . attending the adult session of stake conference with my husband, then going to dinner with him afterward.

. . . writing a birthday email to my brother-in-law, and having him write an even nicer one back.

. . . praying for someone who needs it.  I love them, but I can't help them very much.  God can, though.

And another thing . . .

. . . I decluttered and organized a messy shelf in our hall cupboard this morning.  It felt great until I remembered that the other 99% of our home is still a mess.  I love my kids, but I wish someone would take them for a week so I could just go through the whole place from top to bottom, toss or donate half our stuff, and organize the rest.  I also wish someone would give me a million bucks.  Hey, nothing wrong with dreamin'.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jogging and Drums

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cheering Joy and her classmates on at their annual school jog-a-thon.

. . . playing with Anna and Daniel at a playground while Joy's team practiced baseball nearby and some dude played his drum set in the parking lot.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Painted Stars and Bread Kebabs

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

. . .  the slow but relentless increase of clutter in my life.

. . . finding out that Google is pulling the plug on its blog reader in July.  Grrr.

. . . discovering that Anna had pulled apart a quarter of a new loaf of bread, and stuck two pencils through it.  We won't be leaving the bread board on the kitchen table again for a while.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . helping Daniel practice writing his name.

. . . painting stars on Joy's T-shirt using freezer paper stencils.  The result was cute, and I may just revisit it for future holidays, or just for fun.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Peekaboo and the Pizza Challenge

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

. . . making pizza that had great crust and disappointing toppings (which has always been my challenge with pizza).  I even bought quality sauce and mozzarella, but the results were still mediocre.  Perhaps I overcooked the cheese.  Sigh.  I see more pizza research in my future.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna giving me hugs and playing peekaboo.

. . . the big kids running out the door to hug me goodbye as I left for a visiting teaching appointment.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Plantains and Pizza

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

. . .  frying plantains for the first time in my life, and having them turn out with the flavor and texture of potato chips.  Not exactly what I was going for.  I guess I bought one that wasn't quite ripe yet.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking a pizza-making class at a local restaurant.  The class was fun and the teacher/owner/chef was a delight.  You could tell he loves people and loves good food.  My favorite line of the night: "There is no such thing as a perfect pizza.  Don't try to make one.  Have fun!"

. . . eating the pizza I made.

. . . sharing a late dessert with my sweetheart after the kids were in bed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cinnamon Dunes and Ice Cream Mountains

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

. . .  getting out of bed this morning and discovering that Anna and gotten hold of the cinnamon-sugar shaker and emptied its contents all over the table and carpet.  At least it wasn't maple syrup, right Cathy?

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . attending an emergency preparedness fair and learning a lot of useful things.  I also got to sample such delicacies as Dutch oven wheat bread and brownies made with mashed beans instead of butter (laugh if you will; I went back for seconds).

. . . watching Michelle Obama demonstrate the jump rope workout routine she uses to stay fit when she's on long trips.  She has impressive rhythm, and it's hard to say which was more entertaining--watching our First Lady jump rope or watching Dr. Oz struggle to keep up with her.

. . . revisiting a recipe I haven't made in a while, and hearing Phillip reminisce to the kids that I made it a lot in the early days of our marriage, and it always reminds him of our time as newlyweds.  I think I'll make that dish more often.

. . . taking a family walk to an old-fashioned ice cream shop, where we shared an enormous banana split.  The dessert was delicious, and we had fun just being out together and trying something new.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Garland and the Lone Girl

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

. . .  driving home from the pediatrician, then getting a call from the nurse saying we had left before Daniel got his shots.  There was no way we could go back and still get Joy to school on time, so I guess we'll be making a follow-up visit next week.  Sigh.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking Joy to her first baseball practice.  She's the only girl on the team and has virtually no experience, but she had fun and we're looking forward to the rest of the season.

. . . making a St. Patrick's Day garland, adapted from another that I found through Pinterest.  It was a bit of work, but it makes me happy every time I look at it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mysterious Tapioca

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . waking to the pleasant sound of rain.

. . . gratitude that I found a recipe for cheap homemade laundry detergent before I began potty training Daniel.

. . . looking through our family history to see where our different lines came from.  We've got a lot of Danes, Brits, and Norwegians, but there's also a German line, a Scottish line, and at least one person from Ireland.  It might be fun for our family to celebrate each country's national day and talk about the ancestors who came from it, but then again, that also might be way, way too much work.  I think I'll let the idea mull a bit.

And another thing . . .

. . after puzzling over Boba Fett's popularity last night, I actually read a little about him ('cuz I'm geeky like that). The writers of his Wikipedia article theorize that fans like him because he conveys an air of "danger and mystery," and the fact that he can just stand there exuding confidence and power without saying a single word.

I guess I can understand that, but he still doesn't do much for me personally. Han Solo has an equal measure of confidence, and he's a lot more fun. Plus, he's Harrison Ford. Hard to beat that.

Boba, on the other hand, is a term for a beverage with tapioca balls in it, and it means "female buffoon" in Spanish. So yeah, it's hard for me to take someone named Boba very seriously, even if he does hang out with Jabba and occasionally disintegrate people.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Milennium Pancake

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . going to dinner with some friends.

. . . getting an awesome package from my friend Vonnie.  X-wing pancakes--how cool is that?!?  Apparently you can also buy Star Wars cookie cutters.  P.S. Why is Boba Fett so popular?  He only has about five minutes of screen time in the original trilogy (we will not speak of the newer trilogy), and says about three lines.  Do people just think he has a cool helmet??

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stew and Addled Bowling

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

. . .  taking my daughter bowling to a place that has big screen TVs at the end of all their lanes.  Half the TVs showed an NBA game and the rest showed a string of music videos.  For some reason, my brain is wired so that I can't tear my attention away from a television. Even if I dislike what's on the screen and try to focus on something else in the room, before I know it I'm glued to the flickering screen again.  That is one of the main reasons our family does not own a TV, and tonight it put a real damper on my outing with my daughter. I did my best to focus on her and our game, but I felt like half my brain was constantly craning to look at the screen.  I won't be going back to that bowling alley.  Bleh.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . buying a baseball mitt with Joy after our round of bowling.  She asked to try playing baseball this year, and was so excited about her new mitt that she asked to play catch with me when we get home.  That was a lot more fun than bowling with the Lakers.

. . . cooking some delicious beef stew, then eating sugar cookies for dessert.  Comfort food city.

. . . reading the annual newsletter of a family in our ward whom we love dearly.  Their "Christmas" newsletter is always a few months late but worth the wait.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cookies and a Tired Dog

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

. . .  working like a dog to wash and fold laundry, prepare and clear away dinner, and do a mountain of dishes, then having Phillip arrive home and say, "Wow--the house sure is a mess isn't it?"  Sigh.  Picking up all the books and toys ranks at the bottom of the Necessity List, but at the top of the Appealing First Impression List.  It ain't fair, but that's life, isn't it?

. . . realizing I am a hypocrite for eating a cookie after I told Joy she couldn't.  O repent ye, repent ye . . .

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . cutting out sugar cookies with the kids. Joy wanted to decorate some for our home evening activity, and we all had a great time decorating and eating them.

. . . playing Uno with Daniel, and seeing him grin.

. . . Anna asking me to read to her.

Monday, March 4, 2013

An Awesome Smoothie and a Reluctant Storyteller

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . husband hugs.

. . . eating sweet potato casserole.  That stuff is so yummy.

. . . playing with the kids.

. . . taking a nap.

. . . Phillip making a delicious smoothie at dinner time.  It was so well-received that he had to make a second batch.

And another thing . . .

. . . is there anything that you love doing but hate starting? Whenever we get in the car, Joy asks me to tell a story. I tend to enjoy the stories while I’m telling them, but I hate thinking them up. Sometimes the job is fairly easy—Joy just asks me to relate a specific scripture story, or part of a movie—but other times she asks me to make up a story about a character or two, and that’s challenge for me. I try to say yes most of the time because I want to support my daughter, and I really do enjoy the stories once I start telling them, but I also strictly enforce my “only tell stories in the car” rule because I don’t want to spend my entire life making up new tales, especially when I need a substantial part of my brain to work on something else.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Flan and a Short Trip

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

. . .  opening my mouth to tell Joy to get off the cultural hall stage just as she tripped over a cord and unplugged some AV equipment.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing "Touched You Last" with Daniel.

. . . eating Bess's delicious flan at a church activity.

. . . finally tackling a bunch of big, nagging tasks while Phillip watched the kids this morning.  Thanks, Honey.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Suspense and Fish

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

. . .  waiting to find out what happens to Shasta because Joy's at a sleepover with Pink Grandma and I don't want to read without her.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing hide and seek with Daniel.  He's so cute when he laughs or gets excited about things.

. . . seeing all the crazy hats at Joy's school in celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Someone had also drawn  amazing chalk pictures from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish on the kindergarten playground.  Cool.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Good Morning

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna giving me lots of  cuddles this morning.  What a lovely way to start the day.