Monday, January 31, 2011

Basic, and maybe a little boring. Just the way I like it.

So, here's our weekend report:

Friday Heather and I went to get Frozen Yogurt together (Eric opted to stay home).  There's a new place close to our house that serves fat-free and low-fat and no-sugar-added frozen yogurt.  You serve yourself, add your own toppings and then pay by the weight.  We opted for a chocolate yogurt with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and shared a small one. After yogurt we went to Wal-Mart where I bought a mini muffin tin, some cookie cutters, a heating pad, some soda for Eric, and some night-time diapers for Heather.

That day Despicable Me came via Netflix, and I watched it after Heather had gone to bed.  Eric sat a few feet away from me and watched something else on the computer.  My review of Despicable Me is that it's not a bad movie, but not all that compelling.  I only got through half of it Friday night (I got up at 5:30 Friday morning, which resulted in me running out of gas around 9:45 that night), and I haven't finished it yet, if that tells you anything.

Saturday morning Heather and I went to pick up our Bountiful Basket, and found that it contained asparagus, strawberries, and pomelos.  Wa-Hoo!

We came home, put the produce on the counter, picked up Eric and headed to Aunt Donna's house.  Once there we deposited Heather, and went to the Logan Temple.  We did sealings together, and while enjoying the peace that I nearly always feel when I'm in the temple, I was able to get a better handle on something that had been tickling the back of my mind for about three months.  A little benefit that I hadn't expected.

We went back to pick up Heather and took a family jaunt to our new favorite taco dive for a family lunch.

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I spent probably fifteen minutes of our lunch contemplating whether or not I could make a hat like that blue and black one behind Heather's head.  I think I could, but I don't know whether or not I want to make the time to do it. 
Eric got the chimichanga, I got the carne asada, and Heather got beans and rice.  She spilled her lime soda all over her coat, which was definitely not a highlight, but it's been unseasonably warm for January, so it wasn't all that big a deal.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out, piddling around with this and that.  On the recommendation of one of my cousins, I made these cupcakes (sans filling and frosting and decorative cookies on top), and they were delicious.  Be aware though, they contain three sticks of butter per 24 cupcakes.  So, as good as they are, they will be joining the ranks of foods that we save for very special occasions around here. 

And then we come to Sunday.  We got a late start on the morning, but fortunately we have church at 11, so it was no big deal.  Church was fine.  Eric's home teaching companion was one of the youth speakers, and both of the non-youth speakers spoke on missionary work.  For the rest hymn we sang Let us Oft Speak Kind Words to Eachother, and I was reminded of how my mom used to sing that to me and my brothers and sister when we got arguing or fighting. 

After church we came home and had lunch, and then all three of us took naps.  (Hooray!)  I finished reading one of the books that Eric gave me for Christmas, and pondered a bit on how I should teach next months song to the  primary children.  Then it was bathtime, and then storytime. 

* * *

Heather has a favorite song from her Best of Sesame Street Video.  We sing it almost every night as we're heading up the stairs to go to bed.  On Sesame Street, the song is sung by Elmo, Zoe, Grover, and Destiny's Child, and it goes:

I've got a new way to walk 
(walk walk)
I've got a new way to walk
(walk walk)
I've got a new way to walk, and my new walk suits me fine. 

That's kind of how I'm feeling about life right now.  It's not perfect (I'm missing the sunshine, for one thing), but really, all things considered, it suits me fine.





Sunday, January 30, 2011

Following Paul (or trying)

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A favorite scripture, and one of my two "watchwords" (or "watch phrases" as the case may be) for 2011:



Philippians 4:11

 . . . for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


It helps me to remember that christian historians believe that Paul's Epistle to the Philippians was written during a two-to-three-year period when he was under house arrest in Rome. 

(My other watchword for 2011 is "moderation".  More on that later.  Maybe.)






Image courtesy of HokutoSuisse

Friday, January 28, 2011

40

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So, lately I've been contemplating on the subject of my 40th birthday, which is coming up in March.  Specifically, I've been contemplating how I want to celebrate.

It used to be that turning one of the big decade-ages was tough for me.  (Well except for 10.  Turning ten was about as easy as easy could be.  I spent it in Disneyland.  Can you believe it?  Disneyland! Twenty was a little rough because I just didn't feel ready to leave the teens behind.  Thirty was hard because my life wasn't going at all according to plan, and that was discouraging.  But forty?  Forty is nice.  To my joy (and ever-continuing amazement), I'm heading towards forty in the enviable position of having my life pretty much exactly the way I like it*.  So, that's definitely something to celebrate if you ask me.

The question is, how to celebrate?  I've thought about doing a fancy dinner party where I cook some delicious meal for a few close friends, like Julie does for her thirtieth birthday in my flavor-of-the-month-favorite-movie Julie and Julia, but I'm not sure I want to go that far.  I mean, it sounds like a good idea, but how am I going to feel after I've been cooking in a hot kitchen with little Heather underfoot for four hours, and a sink full of dirty dishes?  Am I going to be up for a big celebration after all that? 

I've thought about doing the same thing that we've done for Heather's birthday the past two years, essentially inviting family and friends-that-are-practically-family over and having a very casual celebration that is all about love and not really about anything else.

I've thought about getting someone to watch Heather and getting Eric to take me away for a day date, or even an over-nighter, but Valentines Day is next month and our anniversary is in April, and so there are ample reasons for those kinds of activities then. 

I've thought about a lot of things, and to be honest, I haven't decided, and probably won't decide, until I have a week or two left before the big day.  And then I'll probably determine to do something that feels special to me but doesn't entail a whole lot of money or work, and I'll turn forty and I'll be happy because whether there's a big celebration or not, I'll have made it to forty, and I'll have a really good life, and that will all be something that is exciting and thrilling and happy.

One thing's for certain though.

There will be chocolate cake involved. 



*If I'm being truly honest, my life isn't 100% exactly the way I like it.  If it were exactly the way I liked it, I'd be a stay-at-home-every-day-mom instead of a stay-at-home Tues-Thurs-Sat-Sun mom, and Eric would have a job that he loved and that paid him around $85,000 per year with ultimate health insurance benefits and job stability while only requiring forty hours per week and no commute to speak of.  And, as long as I'm dreaming, I'd have another kid, maybe two, and I'd weigh thirty forty pounds less than I do, and I'd have chocolate brown eyes (like the kind I had as a kid, before the hazel genes took over), and a cleaning lady that would come in once a week to do all the deep cleaning that only gets done around here when my mom visits.

But, barring that life, I must say that my current life is pretty much exactly the way I like it.

Image courtesy of 3liz4

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Southern Lions, featuring the cutest model ever

These fine specimens are courtesy of Corrie, (the original member of USoSL) and her adorable daughter, Both of whom spent some quality time in the Atlanta Zoo earlier this month.

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I know this isn't a stone lion.  I think it's adorable all the same. 

(Said daughter just might have attended my 38th birthday party, where we made construction crowns and everything.)

Yeah, I only celebrate with the coolest people.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

we generally avoid major housework on Sunday afternoons, but . . .

I had the fright of my life less than 48 hours ago. 

Sunday afternoon around 4:00, I was looking in the back of one of our kitchen drawers and I saw something very suspicious (and scary) looking.  I called Eric in to get a second opinion.  Within minutes, we were cleaning out drawers, scrubbing drawers, vacuming out drawers, pulling out the stove and checking and cleaning under there (something that hadn't been done since the previous owners lived here), and discussing different mousetraps and even the possibility of getting a cat.  When I say "we", I really mean "Eric", because I was too freaked out to help all that much.  I hate mice.  They scare me to death, and the thought that I might actually see a live one (or worse, a dead one) churns my stomach even now. In my defense, once the drawers were pulled out, I did take over the scrubbing detail. 

And then, just as we had drawers and contents and vacuum cleaners and bleach and dustbins spread throughout the kitchen, I noticed a small packet of something on the floor.  I leaned down, and found the small, opened package of basil seeds that I'd been missing for six months.  I used to store it in the top "junk" drawer, and it had apparently slipped down to the bottom, spilling seeds along the way.

Whew! 
basil seeds

(I guess that explains why we didn't find anything suspicious underneath the stove.)

(Eric's a little bummed that the cat negotiations have once again stalled.)




Monday, January 24, 2011

further proof that necessity is the mother of invention

So, since we started the new year, I've had a hard time getting some of my Primary kids to sing.  I'd tried some of my best tricks, (letting the "better" singers hold pictures, and be my helpers in other ways, praising those that do sing with overwhelming flattery, even abject groveling) and hadn't gotten anywhere.  It was time to enlist help, preferably (since the biggest non-singing culprits were little boys) male help.

I secured Eric, asking him to bring his "coolness" and his art skills into Primary, and figure out a way to motivate those kids to be all that they could be, singing-wise.

This is what we decided to do:  I would teach the kids songs, as I usually do, but every 5-7 minutes, a child would be chosen to go hang out with Eric in one corner of the room.  There, Eric would draw their portrait, using our (kitchen) whiteboard and a marker.  The teachers could nominate their students to be chosen, based on singing effort.

I won't say that it was the most successful trick I've ever tried, but it was definitely one of the most fun.  Some of the kids really got into it, and (unsurprisingly) some had a hard time focusing on me and songs, instead of continually checking out what was going on in the corner.  All the same, I enjoyed it, the kids enjoyed it, the teachers enjoyed it, and I found that the next week, everyone was a little bit more focused, perhaps because we'd had a little break the week before.

The point of this post though, is to tell one little story from that day.

Our last kid chosen was a boy named Jake.  Around six years old, he's the youngest of three sons, adorable, precocious, with sparkly mischievous eyes and a good-natured grin.  He and Eric sat in the corner, while Eric worked on his portrait.  When it was time to show the finished product, we all admired Eric's work, but no one was more pleased with it than Jake.  Looking it over, he proudly advised,

"That is so good, you should hang it on a wall in your house."

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So, we did.  



Thursday, January 20, 2011

I just had a "Cool Runnings" Flashback

(I love that movie.  In addition, the soundtrack is great work-out music.  Just in case you were wondering.)

So, my brother and sister-in-law recently celebrated their 10th wedding annniversary by taking a  snorkeling and sunbathing trip to a beautiful Sandals resort in Jamaica.

Naturally, I'm totally jealous. 

However, I'm also absolutely flattered and grateful that in between all the romantic candlelight dinners, lying on the beach drinking pina coladas and chocolate dipped strawberries, and swimming in sparkling tropical waters, they took the time to photograph these babies:

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I'm not entirely certain that this officially counts as a stone lion, since it's obviously some kind of woman/lion hybrid.  I'm counting it though.  I mean, the paws alone I think makes it qualify, and you've got to admit, it's pretty interesting. 

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My wish is for you to have ten and twenty and thirty and more and more years of joy!
(with a little bit of good-natured marital sarcasm thrown in for good measure.)

(Seriously, thanks for the pics.)
(Not that I wasn't serious about the wish.  I was.)
(And still am.)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some of my favorites from Christmas

Warning:  This is a really long post with a bunch of pictures of our Christmas activities, and it's probably not going to be all that interesting to most of you.  However, as this is my blog, I'm going to post it anyway, because it's very interesting to me. 

We left on December 23rd for Cedar City.  On December 20th, I convinced Eric that, rather than loading up all the gifts, driving them to Cedar, opening them and loading them all back again, driving them to Logan, and unloading them again, we'd be better served by having a mini-Christmas at home first with the bigger/more-likely-to-get-lost stuff.  He agreed, much to my joy.  (Neither of us are very good "wait-ers" anyway.)

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Eric shows Heather how to get the most enjoyment out of her new mini-kitchen with matching mom and daughter.

The next morning, we hopped in the car and drove to Cedar.  We arrived an hour or two late, thanks to some unscheduled road work that caused us to crawl along at 15 mph on the freeway for over an hour.

As frustrating as that was, it was soon forgotten once we were in the middle of family.

 

As per tradition, we spent Christmas Eve Day doing pretty much exactly the same things that I did as a kid.

We went sledding up at the cabin,

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where Heather was more interested in eating the snow than anything else,

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and where I spent a good portion of the day coercing brothers, sisters, and nieces and dads (as in, mine) to model Salutations! inventory.

That night we went to Aunt Sybil and Uncle Steve's house for our Christmas Eve Meal, Nativity enactment, and talent show.
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Upon returning home, my mom presented us all with the traditional beloved Christmas pajamas, and we all tried (unsuccessfully) to get a shot of three kids smiling at the same time. (the top left is my favorite)
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The kids soon started losing interest,


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and our nice portrait opportunity degenerated into a footrace that later became a human demolition derby. (I loved watching every minute of it.)


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As reported, Santa brought Eric's favorite treat.

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Heather played at being a kitty for exactly 1.7 seconds.

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Daxton got an awesome Lightning McQueen race set, and Eric helped set the boys up with a sweet jump.  An hour or so later, my mom was wondering what her treasured Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook was doing on the floor (the kids had long since gone on to other diversions.)  I covered for Eric as best I could.  (Not really.  I ratted him out almost immediately.  What can I say?  I'm weak weak weak.)

We spent Christmas Day like that, playing with toys, & stuff, with everyone that was in town filling up the house for several hours.  At one point in the evening I looked around to see the living room full of kids and adults, but not one single child was playing with another child.  Every kid had paired off with one of the grown-ups.  (To be fair, there were six or seven adult-less kids downstairs at the time.)
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The next day I held yet another Salutations! photoshoot:
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(Don't think that I don't know how lucky I am to have such an amiable family.  I do.)

Meanwhile, Mark and Eliza dressed up in Nerf Gear and proceeded to terrorize the rest of the family.
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I think it's a little fishy that they are only ones with protective eyewear and shields on, and yet THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES WITH WEAPONS!!

HOW IS THAT FAIR??


One night my parents and brother teamed up to give us a delicious in-home steak dinner.  (My parents bought all the food, Robert cooked the steaks to perfection, and my mom made the other fixins.)

I was too busy inhaling my food during the meal to take any pictures, but here's the beautiful table before it all began.
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Every year all my siblings get together and we get a group gift for my parents.  These dishes were a gift from a few years ago.
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My mom has a thing for Santa Claus.


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The kids had a pizza party before the grown-up meal (Heather had 3 large pieces.  I'm not kidding.  That kid can eat more than me or Eric), and then we banished them downstairs to watch a video.  They were originally going to watch Cars, but that got out-voted.  I don't remember what won out.  (You don't really care though, do you?)
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That night, we had a slumber party, with some kids (and adults) crashing on couches and floors.  This was my mom's doing, and it enabled all the grown-ups who wanted to, to stay up until midnight or so, talking and playing Ticket to Ride.  I came in dead last.  Big surprise there.



The next morning, grandma treated all the pajama-clad grandkids to a delicious cinnamon pancake breakfast.
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There was some late-to-the-party opening of Christmas gifts, which resulted in some unique headwear modeling for the next few hours
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(in perfect daylight, I might add)

A few hours later, I led a little tamale-making workshop:

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(They were delicious.)

And so followed the day.  There was more hanging out, chatting, and playing, and I roped in the only sisters-in-law that I hadn't already photographed for one final Salutations shoot.
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It started to snow in the middle of me demonstrating my mad photo skillz, but Krista and Maegan (those saints!) soldiered on with me.   


The next day we packed everything up and headed home.  We drove on wet-sometimes-slick roads through a semi-mild snowstorm, arriving home safe and sound with good memories of great times.  

When I think about it, my memories are a jumble of joy.

Kind of like this:
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