Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Voting Good, Electoral College Bad

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . doing research in preparation to vote.  I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to.  I'm not thrilled about either presidential candidate, but as I read about the people running for local offices I was pleased to learn that many of them seem like good people who share my priorities.  And as always, it felt really good to vote, whether my choices win or not.  I'm grateful to live in a country where I'm free to raise my voice.

And another thing . . .

. . . I've spent the last  couple decades voting for Republican presidential candidates in a very blue state, and now that I've moved to a red state, what do I do?  I vote for a Democrat for president for the first time in my life.  It's an amusing irony, but it also sparks my quadrennial rant against the electoral college.  When will we finally abolish that thing?  In the presidential race, at least, I feel like my vote  has never really counted, and the candidates have little incentive to appeal to my home state because they either have no hope of winning it, or no fear of losing it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bikes and Badminton

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing badminton in the backyard with the kids after school, and watching Joy lead some of her siblings on bike/scooter tours of our neighborhood.  I'm grateful that my kids have safe places to play, and a few toys to play with.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

My Guiding Light

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . going to church with my family.  I'm grateful to know why I'm here on Earth, and that my Heavenly Father and my Savior love me; and I'm grateful that I can share those wonderful truths with my children when they have questions or doubts.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Home Stretch and Thankful Prayers

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy gently encouraging her little brother Todd on the last stretch of our hike today.

. . . listening to Anna say her prayers.  She always thinks of so many things to thank God for.  She's an example to me--I tend to do more asking than thanking.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Gratitude, Gifts, and a Chestnut Smoothie

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my three big kids all preparing birthday gifts for Todd of their own accord.  Daniel and Anna each gave him something from their Halloween stashes, and Joy drew him some pictures of things he likes (i.e. numbers, a train, and his stuffed doggy).  The numbers she drew were among his favorite birthday gifts today.

And another thing . . .

. . . lately I've been feeling that I need to work on being more grateful.  I live a very blessed life, even by American standards, but I appreciate so little of it and am too quick to focus on the little things I wish I could change.  I'm setting a goal to post in this blog daily for the rest of this month (and possibly beyond) to write at least one thing I'm grateful for each day.

. . . when I opened this blog tonight, I realized that I promised a month ago that I would tell you whether I found a chestnut smoothie recipe that was any good, then I never reported back on that.  I know you've all been anxiously awaiting my verdict so let me just say that blending roasted, shelled chestnuts with pears, bananas, and some water makes a pretty good smoothie, but not so great that I'm not going to run out and buy more chestnuts any time soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Squirrels and Chestnuts

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . verifying that orange peels really do seem to be deterring the squirrels from digging up parts of my veggie garden.

And another thing . . .

. . . ever wondered whether Google would return any results for the search "chestnut smoothie"?  I can now tell you from personal experience that the answer is yes.  My tai chi teacher gave me a big bag of roasted chestnuts (which I've never tried before today--funny how Americans sing a Christmas carol about roasting chestnuts by the open fire, but few of us have ever tasted one), and I'm not really loving them by themselves.  Phillip suggested I could put them in smoothies, and as it turns out, the good ole internet has lots of suggestions to make that happen.  I'll report back tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Eating (or Drinking) Meals with My Kids

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . sipping a green smoothie  for breakfast with Todd, while he says cute things like, "Thanks for the smoothie, Mama," and, "Guess what!  I'm two!"

. . . eating lunch with Joy at school.  The kids' school lets parents come and eat lunch with their kids, and I've started doing that once a week, with a different child each week.  I'm finding it's a good way to have one-on-one time with my big kids (since each grade eats at a separate time, and Todd doesn't talk much), and to learn about their school experience.  They're much more inclined to talk about the ins and outs of their school day during lunch, maybe because things from class and recess are still fresh in their minds.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Music and Mushrooms

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

. . . watching the presidential debate tonight.  I'm not enthusiastic about either option, for different reasons. 

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . playing catch with Todd, and counting with him to twenty-two, or seventeen, or whatever his favorite number of the moment was.

. . . listening to my playlist of favorite songs.  If only it were longer.  Every time I look at the run time and see that it's only an hour and forty-six minutes, I think, "There really must be more five-star songs out there that I can add to this list.  If only I could think of a few."  Any suggestions?

And another thing . . .

. . . I recently learned that the white button mushrooms they sell at the grocery store are actually immature portobellos.  And crimini mushrooms?  They're the stage between white button and portobello.  I had always assumed they were three different species.  What's more, the mature mushroom's name can be spelled four different ways: portobello, portobella, portabello, portabella.  All four spellings are considered correct, depending on who you ask.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Few Minutes Late

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

. . .  taking too long at the grocery store, and arriving at our house a few minutes after my big kids got home from school.  You can bet they gave me the business about leaving them locked out.  Mom fail.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . snuggling the giant teddy bears in the kid section of our library.  Todd loves to frequent that area, and I confess, cuddling those bears was one of the best parts of my day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tired Mama, Buggy Kitten

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

. . .  waking up tired again.  It seems that the more firmly I commit to getting a full night's sleep, the more the universe conspires against me to prevent that.  Late night + 5.5 hours of sleep = tired Mama.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel and Anna getting a kick out of Kitten's First Full Moon.  Their favorite part is when Kitten gets a bug stuck on her tongue.  They read that part over and over, giggling every single time.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

British Omelettes and Rejected Toast

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

. . .  my child asking for some toast then deciding they're not hungry when I set it on the table a few minutes later.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Todd imitating Jamie Oliver's British accent as we watched his YouTube video about making silky omelettes.

And another thing . . .

. . . Anna told me that the girl who sits next to her in kindergarten is her best friend in the whole wide world . . . but she can't remember her name.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Persistent Veggie Cook

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

. . . that awful, sinking feeling when I'm about to put a nourishing, flavorful dinner on the table, and I realize my kids won't be willing to eat it. 

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . the kids surprising me by actually eating what I served tonight (some of them more than others), even though it had things like red bell pepper and bok choy swimming in a red curry sauce.  Maybe I'm wearing them down with my stubborn insistence on putting vegetables in meals.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

School Blessings and Lunches

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

. . . realizing that I have to pack three school lunches nearly every day for the next nine months.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Anna being super excited to start kindergarten tomorrow.

. . . the three oldest kids receiving priesthood blessings from Daddy tonight to get their school year off to a good start.

And another thing . . .

. . . it's supposed to rain every single day for the next week.  We're definitely not in California anymore.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An Exotic Reptile on Our Porch

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . spotting one of the little geckos that like to spend the evenings hunting bugs on our porch.  For some reason it feels fun and exotic to me to have geckos living around our home.  It's probably because the only other time I've seen wild geckos was when my family visited Hawaii many years ago.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Zeus and Alaska in Arkansas

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

. . .  glancing out the window just in time to see a big bolt of lightning strike a mile or two away.  That was a little unsettling.  I'm still getting used to the fact that we've moved from dry-sky California to Zeus's playground.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . introducing myself to someone who said my name was pretty.  I don't think anyone has ever told me that before.

And another thing . . .

. . . I met a mom today who named her baby girl Alaska because she thinks the name sounds pretty.  She says some people get really upset when they learn her baby's unusual name.  I'm not inclined to give my kids names that make people do a double take (I think kids have enough to deal with in life without having to explain or spell their name over and over), but I feel baby names are a very personal decision and I wouldn't criticize someone else's choice.  I might try to talk them out of it if I thought the name was a magnet for playground derision, but once the baby is named I don't think there's any benefit to making a fuss about it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Shrimp and Scritchies

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

. . . buying raw shrimp to cook for the first time in my life, and discovering that I had inadvertently bought the kind with their shells and legs still attached.  I opted out of dissecting things in my junior high science class, but decades later, after a quick internet search for how to shell and devein shrimp, I gained more firsthand knowledge of shrimp anatomy than I ever cared to have.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . saying, "Here you come!" and hearing Todd reply, "Here comes me!"

And another thing . . .

. . . poor Joy has a couple bothersome bug bites right now.  I sympathize deeply, but I also think it's kind of adorable when she calls them "scritchies" ('cuz they itch and she wants to scratch them).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Golden Dragonflies

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . looking out across a meadow in the late afternoon, and seeing dozens of dragonflies flitting about in the golden sunlight.  Daniel said they looked like flying coins.  I thought they looked like pixies.  Either way, the effect was magical.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Triforce Kite and Cake

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

. . . reading a book about healthy, whole-food, plant based diets the day my kids decided to make s'mores and cake.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . my kids starting a club to do activities together.  It probably won't last more than a day (they never seem to), but it's sweet to see them having fun together.

 . . . helping Joy construct a tetrahedron kite out of straws, string, and tissue paper.  I made one like it in grade school many years ago, and it was fun to build one with my daughter today.  She and Daniel agreed it looked like a Triforce.  Now if only there had been some wind outside so we could fly it.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hugs, Fights, and Sunday Sundaes

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

. . .  my two youngest kids being the age where they play-fight-play-fight-play in rapid succession.  The dynamic is so fluid that there's almost no point in intervening, so I usually do it just when I sense that someone is about to get clobbered.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . meeting new people at church.  One woman said, "I'm a widow, so I hug a lot.  I need all the hugs I can get!"  So I gave her two hugs. :)

. . . eating Sunday sundaes for dessert tonight.  It's a family tradition that we started back in California on the weekends when we weren't visiting grandparents, and it's one more thing that makes our new house feel like home.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Costume Party, Watermelon Pizza, and Massive Dinner Fail

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

. . . serving what turned out to be an utterly vile concoction for dinner tonight.  When I was young my mom sometimes served us Chinese food from a can, and I recall it being pretty good.  I saw that same can in the store this week and decided to serve it for dinner some evening when I was short on time.  Either the brand's recipe has changed drastically in the last twenty years, or my childhood memories of food are not to be trusted.  In any case, the kids decided they'd rather eat plain quinoa-rice or wheat bread than the ill-tasting mess in the pan.  I supplemented (and kind of apologized for the dinner fiasco) by serving extra dessert tonight.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Joy hosting a costume party for Daniel, Anna, and their favorite stuffed toys.  Coincidentally, a package from Red Grandma arrived right in the middle of the party.  It contained some patriotic shirts for the kids, red and blue glow sticks (which are also whistles, but it might be better if the kids didn't notice that), and a big bag of red, white, and blue Skittles.  We're saving the glow sticks and most of the candy until July 4th, but we decided that a few of the Skittles would make a nice addition to the party.

. . . discovering that our new town has the coolest public library ever.  They offer free weekly classes in yoga and tai chi, and they have a community garden out back that donates produce to a local food bank.  They also have a little garden-related class for kids each Thursday (we happened to arrive right before it started), and my kids got to go out and pick blackberries and blueberries to use as toppings on a slice of watermelon "pizza."  Then they went out and helped the teachers water the crops (except for Todd, who decided to stay inside where there was air conditioning).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kittens and Nuts

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

. . . getting bitten by a cute little kitten at the local animal shelter.  In the kitten's defense, it was a little keyed up from being held by three separate children who have no clue how to cradle a cat.

. . . learning that a seven-foot alligator was recently spotted in a nearby lake.  Note to self: don't let family members swim in the lake.

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . receiving a sweet note from a friend in the town we just moved from.

. . . spotting a variety of almonds at the store which my mom is fond of.  I texted her a picture of it, along with the caption, "Wish you were here."

And another thing . . .

. . . while playing Balderdash this afternoon, Joy and I came across a reference to Francesco Lentini, the "three-legged soccer player."  You can bet we Googled that guy when we were done playing.  Apparently the "soccer player" part was just a stage name, but the "three-legged" part wasn't.

Simple Treasure and Helpful Joy

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . finally finding my can opener after days of unpacking in our new home.

. . . my oldest daughter offering to help me haul a bunch of boxes in from the garage.  Thank you, Joy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hamming It Up Over Cereal

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching my three oldest kids and some of their friends be filmed for a spoof cereal commercial by a friend of ours.  Joy and Anna felt a little awkward in front of the camera, but Daniel followed directions like a natural and said some pretty hilarious things.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Joy Notes and Easter Eve

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . taking Joy to dinner, and then watching the semi-annual LDS Women's Broadcast together at our chapel.  I'm always kind of amazed that my boisterous nine-year-old daughter looks forward to sitting on a pew for over an hour listening to grown-ups talk about faith, love, and service.  She even takes notes.  I'm so proud of her.

. . . watching a touching little Easter video.  It was a sweet way to spend Easter Eve.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Homemade Leprechaun Trap

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . watching Joy demonstrate a leprechaun trap she constructed with yarn and a shoebox, using a small bucket of pennies as bait.

. . . hearing Anna say, "My face is doing a thing!"

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Humility and French Toast

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . walking to a restaurant for breakfast with my daughter Joy.  We had a nice chat as we walked, and passed time in the restaurant drawing pictures of things in the room to see if the other could guess what we had sketched.

And another thing . . .

. . . "Being humble means recognizing we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others." --Gordon B. Hinckley

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Aloha, and Gracias

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . opening a late Christmas gift from Hawaii. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tuber Awesomeness

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Daniel announcing at dinner that the potatoes "taste like awesomeness."

. . . playing a Groundhog Day game that Daniel brought home from school.  I learned that groundhogs are also known as marmots or whistle pigs, and they are the largest member of the squirrel family.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Big Thought, Little Problem

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

. . .  parking outside church just as the meeting was starting, and discovering that I had two big orange spots on my blue sweater.  At times like that, I try to remember what Great-Grandma Lu-Lu used to say: "What makes you think anyone's looking at you?"

And another thing . . .

. . . "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." --Mother Teresa

Monday, January 4, 2016

Cake and Nursery

Today's favorite moments included . . .

. . . Todd finally deciding he likes playing in the nursery at church (as opposed to weeping whenever we'd try to leave him there last year).  He didn't even bat an eye today when I said I'd be back soon and went to Sunday School and Relief Society.  Hallelujah!

. . . Daniel deciding of his own volition that he wanted to try fasting today.  We hadn't even suggested it; he just heard that it was fast Sunday and told me he wanted to try fasting.  I had a sweet conversation with him about choosing something to fast for, and he chose to fast for help being kinder.

. . . playing Anna's Christmas memory game with the kids this afternoon.  Note to self: only play it once next time, because the kids tend to get kinda zany if we play a game a second time.

. . . congratulating Joy on producing a yummy cake in her new cake pans.  We ate it for dessert, and everyone asked for seconds (except Daddy, who's feeling under the weather).