Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thinking about the year ahead

I've got a lot of crafting projects and goals, and am listing them here to keep them straight:

I'm most excited about Project 365, my major scrapbooking project of the year. I haven't bought the kit, and as of now it's sold out, but I'm loving the concept of a daily record of the year. I've got a Word file started and am taking daily pictures. I'm also debating blogging Project 365, since my blog has been so sadly neglected.

I'm also excited to get started on my own Library of Memories system. I already have and read through the book, and am looking forward to putting the thousands of photos I haven't scrapped yet into a usable system. As part of this ongoing project, I'll need to begin three (four?) School of Life albums, as well as the four basic albums Stacy recommends. I want to get my Christmas album current no later than Thanksgiving, too.

I need to decide if I'm going to re-do our wedding album, and, if so, get it done. My goal is to have it done and ready to show dh by our 10th anniversary this April.

I'm itching to learn how to use my new Photoshop software for digital scrapbooking. I don't anticipate becoming an exclusively digital scrapbooker, but I love so much about what I see others doing with Photoshop that I can't wait to get started.

I want to do a good deal more knitting. I'm happy I started knitting again this year, and want to get better at it. My goals as of now:
Finish the shawl I'm knitting myself
Finish the scarf I'm re-knitting for 7yodsC
Knit a hat for dh
Knit a hat for myself
Knit a hat for dd
Think about projects for next Christmas, and start early enough to complete them. Socks?

Other crafting projects:
Design and sew a cross stitch of Eccl. 4:9-12 for our wedding anniversary
Make a library book bag based off R's quilt-pattern bag
Finish the curtains for dd's room
Sew curtains for both boys' rooms
Think about making quilts. Maybe begin with a couple small projects--wall hangings and table runners?

Side editorial note: I dated this before the first of the year so it would go before my Project 365 posts. This was written on January 4, 2009

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Year End Questions

I snagged this from Carmen at Mom to the Screaming Masses.


1. Was 2008 good for you? Yes

2. What was your favorite moment of the year? Surprising my dad with an unexpected visit for his 60th birthday. Best of all was introducing him to his youngest grandson.

3. What was your worst moment of the year? I can't say.

4. Where were you when 2008 began? Asleep in my bed. What can I say? I'm old. And boring.

5. Who were you with? Dh. He was asleep, too. We're pretty comfortable being boring together.

6. Where will you be when 2008 ends? Probably the same as last year.

7. Did you keep your New Years' resolution of 2008? No. Still have lots of weight to lose, and didn't manage to keep up with birthdays, etc., as I had planned.

8. Do you have a New Years resolution for 2009? Yes, the same as last year.

9. Did you fall in love in 2008? Stayed there.

10. If yes, with who? My guy. And, a little bit, my kids' new school.

11. Are you still in love? Yes

12. Did you breakup with anyone in 2008? No. Well, unless you count homeschooling.

13. Did you make any new friends in 2008? Yes, especially some of the women at my church.

14. Who are your favorite new friends? The women I've gotten close with at church.

15. What was your favorite month of 2008? April

16. Why this month? I got to go home to Oregon for a visit. I think this is when I started to turn the corner with the PPD, too.

17. Did you travel outside of the US (or your home country) in 2008? No.

18. How many different places did you travel to in 2008? Oregon

19. Did you miss anybody in the past year? Oh, yeah.

20. What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2008? I'm not sure. Probably Twilight. Or Wall-E.

21. What was your favorite song from 2008? It's not from 2008, but my favorite song right now is We Live, by Superchick.

22. How many concerts or plays did you see in 2008? None.

23. Did you have a favorite concert in 2008? n/a

24. What was your favorite book in 2008? Probably the Twilight series. I'm really enjoying rereading J.D. Robb's "In Death" series, too.

25. How many people did you sleep with in 2008? Oh, good grief. One grown man, and a revolving number of short people.

26. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Yes.

27. What was the biggest lie you told in 2008? Probably denying my own anger and hurt in trying to smooth over some difficult situations.

28. Did you treat somebody badly in 2008? Yes.

29. Did somebody treat you badly in 2008? Um. Yeah.

30. What was your proudest moment of 2008? When my 8yodd read an entire book to me.

31. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2008? I've blocked it out. I'm sure there were several--I'm pretty socially awkward at times.

32. 
If you could go back to any moment of 2008 and change something, what would it be? Engaging in an couple unproductive and emotionally exhausting conflicts.

33. Where did you work in 2008? In my home.

34. 
Favorite TV shows(s) of 2008? Law and Order (in all its incarnations) Battlestar Galactica, The Mentalist, and House.

Favorite Band(s) of 2008? David Crowder Band

Favorite Food in 2008? Pad Thai, especially since I've learned to make it at home. I love my version almost as much as I love Green Papaya Pho's.

Favorite Drink in 2008? Ice cold diet Coke, with a slice of lime

Favorite Place in 2008?

 The Oregon Coast. Oh, of places I actually went? Then probably my church.

Favorite person(s) to be with in 2008? My dh, on a good day. Or our little guy. He's very snuggly and sweet.

Favorite person(s) to talk to in 2008? A toss-up between dh and a couple close friends.

Favorite trip in 2008? Going to Oregon in April.

Favorite stores in 2008? I don't shop for fun stuff anymore. I've been grateful for Walmart's low prices this year, especially for groceries. My Utah friends will understand why I shop at Ream's for produce.

Hardest thing you had to go through in 2008? Postpartum depression after the birth of my sixth, combined with some very un-fun family situations.

Most exciting moment(s) in 2008? When my 8yodd finally turned the corner with reading.

Funniest moment(s) in 2008? Probably one of the many times my baby did his bungee-style and balancing tricks with dh.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Christmas Meme

From GloryQuilts

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper with those curly ribbons. I use gift bags throughout the year for birthdays, showers, etc., but I really like wrapping the Christmas presents.

2. Real tree or Artificial? We've always had a real tree. I love the smell and going to the tree farm to cut it down ourselves, but since moving to Utah going to the tree lot is much less fun. Add to that the yearly cost, and I jumped when an artificial one was offered on our local freecycle board. This will be our first year with an artificial tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? It varies. Given my preference, we would put it up on the first Sunday of Advent, which is usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Dh usually wants to do it the first weekend of December, so that's when we do it.

4. When do you take the tree down? On January 2nd or 3rd.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes. But only once or twice. And the eggnog-flavored coffee creamer is repulsive.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I don't remember specific gifts. I got books every year for Christmas, and that was usually my favorite.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My father-in-law.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My kids.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? We have a kid-friendly one with plastic figures for them to play with and set up. I would like to start collecting a set, but haven't decided on the Willow Tree set or another one.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, definitely. Although I'm considering a hybrid this year--mailing postcards with our family Christmas picture (already ordered and on their way) and setting up a Christmas letter website. We'll see...

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Probably the fact that I didn't get a single book last year. I was surprised by how sad I was not to have a new book to start reading on Christmas day.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? LOTR is inextricably tied to the Christmas season for me, since that's when they were all released. I'll also often watch the five-hour Pride and Prejudice movie right around the holiday. As far as actual "Christmas" movies go, I enjoy White Christmas, Holiday Inn, It's a Wonderful Life, and The Santa Clause.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? January. I like to buy throughout the year. And my goal is to finish my Christmas shopping on Black Friday, so that December I can stay out of the stores as much as possible.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas gift? Yes.

16. Lights on the tree? Yes. I like slowly blinking white lights the best. Dh prefers flashing colored lights. We take turns. I think this is his year.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Hark, How the Bells; I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day; O Holy Night; Santa Got Run Over by a Reindeer *blush*

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? I wish we could travel, since almost all our family is in Oregon. But we'll be home in Utah.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Yes.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We have the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve, which amazingly always ends up being pajamas! :-) After the kids are in bed, the presents placed under the tree and the stockings stuffed, dh and I exchange a few small things and celebrate the anniversary of our engagement. Christmas morning we open all the rest of the gifts.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Having to deal with others' stress every time I need to purchase milk at the Walmart. The unceasing drumbeat of materialism.

23. What theme or color are you using? I'm never that organized.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner. The traditional turkey holiday meal.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A peaceful, happy holiday with my family. Materially, I'm not certain. My parents are giving our family a zoo membership, at our request. I'm really happy about that. Other than that, I'm asking dh for a gift certificate for scrapbooking supplies and hoping for some good books. Oh, and a bluetooth headset.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? ?

27. Who is least likely to respond to this? ?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just to be clear

I did not vote for President-Elect Barack Obama. My strong preference would have been for Senator McCain, primarily because of his support of the sanctity of life.

However, in just a little over two months Mr. Obama will be the President of the United States. My country, and my president. And I wish him the very best as he leads my nation, because his success will mean good for the country I love.

I will be praying for President Obama and his family, for their safety and for wisdom. May God grant him understanding, and direct his path.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Having a Biblical Worldview in the Voting Booth

My pastor posted an article on his blog that I agree with completely.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

For the last several weeks, three friends and I have been sharing meals Mon-Thurs. My day is Wednesday, and on that day I make dinner for all four families and deliver the meals to everyone else. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday I just sit back and eat bon-bons, while my friends bring me and my family their wonderful dinners. Between the four of us, we are pretty good cooks, and we are all enjoying sharing our meals.

For dinners, Mon-Thurs are the shared meals.

Mon-Chili, fritos; I'll add a salad and maybe heat up a couple cans of corn

Tues--Potato Soup; I'll make sandwiches and have salad, too.

Wed--Meatballs with Brown Sauce, egg noodles; this is my night, and I'm looking forward to this meal. It's always a hit around here. I usually make mini-meatballs, my kids' preference, so just a bit bigger than a standard marble or so. I make my brown sauce with mushrooms--it's delicious. I'll toss the egg noodles with a bit of butter and have green beans on the side.

Thurs--Baked spaghetti; I'll have garlic bread and salad, too.

Fri--(Dh getting home--YAY!!!) Beef stirfry (beef, green beans, onions, garlic, red pepper), sesame noodles

Sat--Probably meatballs again. I'm planning on making a lot on Wednesday. I'm thinking about having the meatballs with brown sauce and egg noodles on Saturday, and making Sweet and Sour Meatballs for my family on Wednesday. Dh can't have the S&S because of his diabetes constraints, but he loves my meatballs and brown sauce.

Sun--Main meal--(assigned) potluck after church. I'm bringing homemade potato salad and whole wheat pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting.

Breakfasts are all quick and simple, by necessity. Today we were out of 2% milk, so we had toast with peanut butter and bananas. Usually we'll have cold cereal.

Lunches this week will include the bigs on Thursday and Friday--they're out of school for Fall Recess.
Mon--ham and cheese on whole wheat buns (bakery markdown), baby carrots, applesauce
Tues--mac & cheese, baby carrots, apples
Wed--ramen noodles, baby carrots, bananas
Thurs--hot dogs, w.w. buns, corn, baby carrots
Fri--mac & cheese, bananas, baby carrots
Sat--at a Bible conference, lunch is provided
Sun--(evening) peanuts, popcorn, veggies with dip, apples

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I really hate feminist assumptions

Just because I am a conservative woman does not mean I don't care about women's issues. I do care--passionately. I just happen to disagree with their conclusions.

My being pro-life has nothing to do with wanting to restrict women, and everything to do with the value of each individual person.

A baby is not a punishment. Ever. A baby is ALWAYS a blessing and a gift from God, even if there are challenges to overcome or hardships to endure because of his/her existence. You can't escape the reality of that existence by killing it before it's born. He is still made in the image of God, even if he has an extra chromosone. She is still worthy of life, even if she is the result of a rape.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Anyone Remember Ross Perot?

You know, the guy who gave Bill Clinton the presidency?

Feel free to write in Alan Keyes. I love the guy--met him in person when I was 18 and voting for the first time, in 1992. He's everything he seems to be in public, as well as charming and humble.

Feel free to write in Ron Paul. Dh and I were early supporters of him, before it became beyond obvious that he would not get the Republican nomination. His pro-life position is excellent, and his ideas are exciting.

Heck, feel free to write in Mickey Mouse. I did, back in 1992, when my options for US Senator were some forgettable pro-choice Democrat and the incumbent, Bob Packwood, the slimey pro-choice Republican.

Of course, since then I've changed my political decision-making process from seeking the perfect to settling for the best I can get. I voted for Mitt Romney, back in his pro-choice days, when he ran against Ted Kennedy for US Senate in Massachussetts back in 1994. At the time I figured, given two pro-choice options, I should vote for the man who would do the least damage. Kennedy was an exceptionally effective Senator, and had Romney won in 1994 he would have done far better in at least the other issues that matter to me.

This is America. You can vote for whomever you choose. It is entirely up to you and your conscience. Just be clear on the reality of what your vote means.

Because if you vote for anyone other than McCain/Palin, your vote will effectively be cast for Obama/Biden. That's the reality of the situation.

Obama's camp couldn't be happier to have protestors at Focus on the Family because Dobson has publicly stated he'll vote for McCain. Obama's strategists are counting on Ron Paul and Allan Keyes rallying votes away from McCain. The conserservatives will split their votes, and Obama will win the presidency.

And, bottom line, we'll deserve him--because we knew better. We got Clinton in 1992. We've been here and done this before, gang. And McCain is a MUCH better option than Bush, Sr. was in 1992.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Look! I'm posting again!

Okay, so it's only for a meme, but I promise to start posting regularly again. I'm just dipping my toes back into the bloggy water with a meme first.

Snagged this off one of my favorite foodie blogs, What I Made For Dinner.

1. Last Movie You Saw In A Movie Theater? Not counting various outings to the drive-in, I believe the last movie I saw in an actual theater was 10,000 B.C. Suprisingly good, too.

2. What Book Are You Reading? A Monstrous Regiment of Women, by Laurie R. King. Second in the Mary Russell mystery series, and SUCH an enjoyable read. I actually got copies of the entire series from paperbackswap.com this time around, instead of getting them from the library for a fourth (or fifth?) time.

3. Favorite Board Game? Ticket to Ride

4. Favorite Magazine? Simple Scrapbooks and Cooking Light

5. Favorite Smells? Freshly shampooed baby heads

6. Favorite Sounds? silence, the ocean

7. Worst Feeling In The World? Being unable to fix my child/dh's hurts.

8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake Up? Sleep a little longer, baby--please!!! Mama is tired!

9. Favorite Fast Food Place? Panda Express and Taco Time, Subway when I'm being good.

10. If allergies/room/care were not an issue, what pet would you have? The same two kitties we already have, since allergies aren't a problem. If we ever move to the country and have some property, I would like to have a dog again, a good-sized one who would have space to run. I don't like little dogs very much, though.

11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money, I’d....hire a maid. Invest for my kids' future and our retirement. Hire someone to decorate our house, since I didn't get the home-decor gene. Have our basement finished, with a nice office space for dh and a playroom for the kids. Or maybe buy a new home with that already in place, and add a scrapbooking/crafting room for myself. Go home to Oregon at least twice a year, and bring my parents and sibs out for frequent visits. Pay off my sibs' student loans. How much money would this be, anyway?

12. What did you eat for dinner tonight? Pot roast in the crockpot for tonight. Also on the menu: oven-roasted diced potatoes, green beans, salad, and chocolate pudding.

13. What do you wish you'd eaten for dinner? Pad Thai. Pretty much could eat that six nights a week, but the kids would gripe, so I make other things, too.

14. Movie you love watching over and over again? The Hunt for Red October, Much Ado About Nothing, Steel Magnolias, The Incredibles, Miss Marple Mysteries, Pride and Prejudice (A&E)

15. What Was Your First Car? My youth leader's old Honda Accord

16. Favorite Drink? Icy-cold diet Coke with a lemeon or lime. Today, though, I've been drinking diet Dr. Pepper, and MAN is it good!

17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a lime, I Would... make Pad Thai. Or maybe Mexican. Nah, definitely Pad Thai.

18. What do you fear? My children getting hurt. Alzheimer's. Food poisoning.

19. If You could Dye Your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be? blue

20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived. Washington: The Tri-Cities. Oregon: Ashland, Medford, and a small town outside Portland. Massachussetts: Concord, Newton. Florida: Pensacola. Utah: suburbs of Salt Lake City.

21. Favorite Sport to Watch? Baseball. But during the Olympics, I watch gymnastics, diving, swimming, track and field, and beach volleyball.

22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You? She's a good cook, and writes engagingly about NYC and food.

23. What’s Under Your Bed? Nothing. The frame made the bed too high, so the boxspring is on the floor.

24. What are you currently hoping for? My dd to overcome her difficulties in reading and become a lover of books and learning, my sons to master toilet training, our church to find a large, affordable, convenient new facility, dh's traveling for work to slow down a bit, discovery of a great new sitter for my kids, restoration of some broken relationships. Oh, and whirled peas. Or something like that.

25. Morning Person or Night Owl? Used to be a night person. Now I have to get up early with my kids, but I'm still not a functional morning person without my caffeine.

26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up? scrambled

27. Favorite Place to Relax? Oregon Coast. Or the library.

28. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor? Coffee.

Tag! You're it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Countdown

Six days until my three bigs begin school.

I made them eggs in a basket for breakfast this morning. We're really starting to get into the routine of getting up early and eating right away. As messy as they are, though, I wonder if I should have them get dressed after breakfast, so they at least show up to school in clean clothes. Or maybe I'll make them wear bibs.

Later this morning we are going to go to the school and find their classrooms and the nearest bathrooms. If the teachers are there, we'll meet them, too. This isn't a school event, but I called last week and the receptionist said that we could come on Tuesday and look around.

We have lots of school supplies. A friend gave each of my children personalized backpacks in their favorite colors from Land's End, and when they arrived last week the kids wore them all afternoon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

God loves me and wants me to be happy

I found a forgotten package of Milan Double Chocolate cookies in the back of the pantry. Only a month past its sell by date, and not a hint of staleness. And undiscovered by the ants that got into our Oreos last week (hint: if your Oreo crumbs start walking around on the plate, you might want to do some further investigation.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why had I not yet discovered...

Why had I not yet discovered the magic that is oven-roasted drumsticks with barbeque sauce?

My children are all eating their dinner. Not a single one of them have informed me that they don't like anything.

This is gonna be on the menu twice a week, from now on!!!

Less than two weeks to go

On July 28 my three bigs will be starting their first year of public school.

Their school is on a year-round schedule, and my three are on Track C. This means that they will go to school for three weeks, and then will be off-track (out of school) for three weeks. They start back on track (in school) on September 8, and will be in classes through the month of October. Then they have the entire month of November off-track! They'll be back in class on December 1, only to have off two weeks for Christmas/New Year's.

I think the year-round schedule will take some getting used to, but I'm glad that it gives them breaks throughout the year, rather than one long break in the summer. This way, we can still do fun things together throughout the entire year--we'll just have to plan it for when they're off-track.

The local stores have some good back-to-school sales right now, and I've stocked up on school supplies. We haven't yet received any class supply lists, so I'm guessing. But it's probably a safe guess that they'll need pencils, crayons, colored pencils, and notebooks. Hopefully their class lists will arrive soon.

A good friend who understands my angst about sending the kids to school gave them (and me) a very thoughtful gift: personalized backpacks in their favorite colors from L.L. Bean.

My 8yodd will be in third grade, and my twin guys will be in the same second grade class, as we requested. I am most anxious about the fact that none of them are reading fluently, but are still in the decoding stage. So they are not to grade level, especially my dd. They are similarly behind in math. I'm trying not to convey my anxiety to them. I don't want them to be worried.

We've begun getting up/going to bed according to school times, which means they are going to bed (theoretically) at 8:30 and getting up at 7:00. I want them dressed, fed, and walking out the door by 7:40 each morning, so we'll see how that works.

I'm working on pulling together their school clothes and pulling them out of regular circulation. I'll have a bit of money for school clothes shopping after dh gets paid at the end of the month, but probably not much. My guys are pretty well set while it's still hot weather--they have tons of shorts and nice tees--but my dd is a bit short on nice clothes. I'm hoping to come across some good sales at yard sales/thrift stores to suppliment her wardrobe. They will all need new sneakers, and dd needs some new dress shoes eventually.

Please pray for us, that all these details will come together smoothly. Pray especially that God will be glorified by our family in this new venue, and that we will be a light.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The kids are registered for public school

This feels so strange, like suddenly I'm someone that I don't recognize.

Dh made this call, but I do agree with him that it's the right decision. Our kids deserve a good education, and they're not getting it right now.

Getting them registered was relatively painless. Thankfully, I could easily lay my hands on their birth certificates and immunization exemption forms. I wrote a letter to the principal explaining our concern that our kids' lack of reading skills will make it difficult for them to be in their age-appropriate grade levels, but left that call to them. I did request that our twins be put into the same classroom, so hopefully they'll do that.

The elementary schools in this area are year-round, so classes were in session today for B, C, and D tracks. Classes end for them in two weeks. Most of the month of July is summer break, and then A, B, and C tracks start back on July 28. I've requested that they not be on the D track, just so they can start sooner rather than later. My preference is B track, but I'll take A, B, or C and be content.

The school itself seems nice. The office staff were kind and helpful, both on the phone and while were were in the office. And the stack of handouts I grabbed look engaging.

I'm trying hard to be enthusiastic when talking about this with the kids. They have lots of questions, as you can imagine. I've been reassuring them that I LOVED school when I was their age--and I did. Junior high and parts of high school sucked, but elementary was mostly a good experience for me. They are excited and nervous, but we have over a month before they'll start, so I'm sure we'll have some ups and downs.

My 7yodsC has already told me a couple of times that he'll really miss me. I am glad that they're bigger, now, and not little 5yos. I can't imagine sending my 4yod to school in another year, even though he'd technically be the right age for Kindergarten.

This is all really overwhelming. We had talked about this in the past as a possibility, but dh very suddenly decided this last night. I'm still feeling somewhat whiplashed.

I was told to expect a letter from the school sometime next week, telling us what track and teachers our kids have. So I guess until then we'll just have to be patient.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Failure

Tomorrow I'm calling the school district and registering our three bigs for school.

This isn't how it was supposed to go, but homeschooling and my chronic inability to follow through aren't a good mix.

Dh and I both survived public school. Hopefully our children will fare better.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One Word Meme

Got this from Keer!

Rules:You can only use one word and it's not as easy as you might think. Now copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It's really hard to only use one word answers.

Here's mine:
1. Where is your cell phone? desk

2. Where is your significant other? garage

3. Your hair? annoying

4. Your mother? doula

5. Your father? pastor

6. Your favorite thing? Jesus

7. Your dream last night? sleep

8. Your dream/goal? harmony

9. The room you're in? kitchen

10. Your fear? SIDS

11. Where do you want to be in 6 years? diaper-free

12. Where were you last night? home

13. What you're not? well-rested

14. Muffins? blueberry

15. One of your wish list items? maid

16. Where you grew up? Oregon

17. The last thing you did? eat

18. What are you wearing? skirt

19. Your TV? dvr

20. Your pet? kitties

21. Your computer? slow

22 Your life? crazy-busy

23. Your mood? crabby

24. Missing someone? yes

25. Your car? minivan

26. Something you're not wearing? shoes

27. Your summer? school

28. Your favorite color? red

29. When is the last time you laughed? church

30. Last time you cried? today

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Father's Day prep

I was suprised when I looked on the calendar today and confirmed that this Sunday really is Father's Day. It crept up on me this year.

Since we have less than a week, and limited funds, I'm focusing on some attainable goals: good food, thoughtful gifts, low-stress projects.

I'll make certain to have some meat marinading on Sunday, so dh can get his grill on. I'll likely do a no-sugar version of a marinade rightly famous among our family and friends: Bob's Teriyaki, named in honor of my half-Japanese former youth leader and the pastor who married dh and I. I haven't yet attempted a sugar-free version, so this will likely be the first of several attempts to get the balance of flavors right. How we will suffer in our pursuit of perfection!

I'm going to put together a collage of photos for dh's new office space in our basement. And I'm also going to choose photos of each child and have them printed in a wallet size, and get together a new photo insert for his wallet. He's been asking for that for some time, and I just haven't gotten it together, yet.

Third Day's new album won't be released until the end of next month, so my original plan to give him that won't work. I'll have to see if anyone else has some good music out lately. Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

With Hope

With Hope


This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

By Steven Curtis Chapman

In memory of Maria Sue Chapman, 2003-2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rear view mirror

At the end of today's marathon (double dental appointments, Sears--twice--for an exchange, the men's store to pick up dh's hemmed suit pants, and three or four times 'round the mulberry bush) I stopped at Sonic to get my mostly-well-behaved children Happy Hour strawberry slushies.

I looked into the rear view mirror in time to see the three bigs clink their styrofoam slushie cups togeher and say "Cheers!" And then, at the little guys' request, 7yoC "did Cheers" with the two little guys in the way back.

The moment was sweet.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Prince Caspian

Okay, I know I said in my last post that I wouldn't review Prince Caspian, since everyone else and their mother is already reviewing it, but I'm just too annoyed not to blog it.

I didn't like it.

It was okay. It WASN'T true to the book, in that the book wasn't one long battle after another. The movie seemed disjointed to me: battle, battle, quiet sincere moment, battle, battle, battle, quiet sincere moment, battle, chase scene, battle, battle, quiet scene, battle, battle, battle, romantic smooch, the end.

It was better than the BBC clunker, at least. And I thought they did Reepicheep very well. And the actors did a fine job, especially the actress who played Lucy.

I'd give it 2.5 stars out of five.

And, yes, if I hadn't read and loved the book I wouldn't be so disappointed. But, then, if I hadn't read and loved the book I wouldn't still be planning on purchasing the dvd when it's released, despite my feeling that the movie fell far short of its source material. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be, especially given how well they did on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The drive-in with six kids.

Last night dh and I took the whole gang to see Prince Caspian at the drive-in theater. There are many, many others reviewing the movie, so if you're looking for a review I'll point you to Plugged In.

Going to the movies with six children is a potential financial disaster. Ticket prices of $8 for adults and $5 for kids are the norm, so we would be looking at over $40 just to get in the door. And then we can't watch a movie without snacks, and with the exhorbitant prices at the theater we could easily lay out another $25 or so, just for drinks and popcorn.

We just can't justify spending that kind of money for an afternoon at the movies. But the experience of going out for a movie with the kids isn't one we want to miss, and waiting the months for the dvd to be released can be torture for short people anxious for the next installment of The Chronicles of Narnia.

When we moved to the Salt Lake area, we were thrilled to find a drive-in theater within easy driving distance. During the summer we will often go two or three times a month, and we always have a great time. (Well, there was that one time that dh and I saw Blades of Glory, but that was our fault for not looking at any reviews.)

Last night was second drive-in movie of the year, and it was warm enough to keep the car open and sit outside.

Our theater-going experience yesterday started at home, where I put together snack mixes for the kids of dried apple rings, pretzels, goldfish crackers, animal crackers, both chocolate and yogurt covered raisins. Dh and I had our own snacks, with some nuts, beef jerky, and string cheese for him and a variation of the kids' snack mix for me. A half gallon jug of iced tea, water bottles, and a stop at the convenience store to pick up cash for the theater entrance and a Diet Dr. Pepper for me, and we were on our way.

Once at the theater, dh swings into action. The van is parked backwards with the hatch opened, and the rear seat cleared of car seats and small children while he turns it around. The three bigs sit on the bench seat, while the two little guys sit in their car seats on the floor of the cargo area. Pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals brought from home are distributed, along with the snacks and water bottles. Dh and I sit in our folding chairs outside the van, and the baby rocks in his car on the ground in between us--until he wants his snack, too.

We had a great time. I think we'll probably be at the drive-in again this weekend--Indiana Jones is coming out!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Movie meme

Kiersten said anyone who wanted to chime in, feel free...so I'm blogging it.

1. One movie that made you laugh:
50 First Dates

2. One movie that made you cry:
Steel Magnolias

3. One movie you loved when you were a child:
The Black Stallion

4. One movie you’ve seen more than once:
Henry V

5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it:
Titanic

6. One movie you hated:
Se7en

7. One movie that scared you:
Cloverfield

8. One movie that bored you:
Robots

9. One movie that made you happy:
Pride and Prejudice

10. One movie that made you miserable:
The Joy Luck Club

11. One movie you weren’t brave enough to see:
A Clockwork Orange

12. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with:
CiarĂ¡n Hinds as Captain Wentworth in the 1995 production of Persuasion.

13. The last movie you saw:
Iron Man

14. The next movie you hope to see:
Prince Caspian

15. Now tag five people:
Go for it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Mother's Days of my childhood

This week's HK blog topic:

Now that Mother's day is past, look over your Mother's Days as a child.
Which one stands out most to you and why?


Although I do have very specific memories of my childhood, annual occasions like Mother's Day and Thanksgiving tend to meld together into a happy mish-mosh of compressed years and family traditons. I can't tell you what happened in a single Mother's Day, but I know what we always did for Mother's Day:

On Mother's Day, my mom always got breakfast in bed. When we were younger my dad would make the breakfast while we "helped". As I grew older, we took over making the breakfast, and Dad got breakfast in bed, too. We usually made a fairly elaborate meal, with pancakes, eggs, bacon or sausage, and fruit. And we all joined Mom and Dad in their bedroom for breakfast, hauling in the high chair for the baby and eating our picnic meal scattered around their bed on the floor.

Mom loved our homemade cards. Mom always loved our drawings, and made a practice of not keeping coloring books in the house. She much preferred creative drawings to us keeping in the lines.

We always had church to go to on Mother's Day. And there would be the inevitable sermon on motherhood, and a carnation handed out to all the mothers in the congregation.

So much of what I remember fondly from my childhood was the predictibility of our lives. We always celebrated Mother's Day by breakfast in bed and homemade cards. Other things happened some years, like Dad grilling our dinner after church or us going out for a meal as a family. But the framework of tradition was solidly in place.

One of my passions as a mother is giving my children that same security. Our family's traditions are not all the same as the traditions I grew up with, or the traditions of dh's family. We're creating our own traditions and memories. I love listening to my three bigs talk in anticipation about upcoming holidays and events and reminisce about the past. They begin by saying, "We always..." And I smile.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Overheard at the breakfast table

H (the little guy, 6 months): Waaaah!

Me: Aw, what's the matter with this little guy....

M (the girl, 8 years): Mom! It's not his fault! It's just Satan's fault. If he hadn't lied, then there wouldn't be any such things as ear infections.

O (one of my twin guys, 7 years): I just hate Satan. If it wasn't for him lying, I wouldn't ever have dish duty!

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm back on my blog

I'm back, with no good excuse for my absence. Life with six kids, you know?

Bits and pieces from the last two weeks:

*My friends whose newborn was in the NICU were able to take him home after eleven days in the hospital. He initially came home on oxygen, but was given a clean bill of health from his pediatrician a few days ago and is now off of all the tubes and wires and doing well.

*The women's study group I've been a part of over the last school year completed our time together studying Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. What a great book! I'm glad we took as long as we did in studying it, because I needed a lot of time to mull over the various disciplines highlighted in each chapter, as well as work on incorporating some of them into my life. Highly recommended!

*Last week we actually began school at 8:30am for three days running. This meant that we were done with school before lunch--absolutely the smoothest homeschooling days in my memory. My new goal for school: start the day early enough so that we can complete everything (with the possible exception of math) before lunch each day.

*This last weekend was dominated by our little guy getting another ear infection. Poor little smidge! He's just been miserable, wimpering and wanting nothing but to be held by Mommy continually. Babies are so pathetic when they're sick. He just couldn't understand why the world had suddenly become such an awful place, when up until now the worst thing he's had to deal with was the occasional bad diaper or bad bout of gas.

*Yesterday afternoon the little guy started feeling better. After grilling brats and dogs for dinner, we took the kids to the drive-in theater. We had a ball, although The Iron Man was wayyyyy too intense in parts for our kids--they spent a fair portion of the movie covering their eyes with their hands. Even comic-book style violence isn't that great for the littles, and there was a lot of it. Lots of fun, too, though. Made for a verrrrrryyyyyyy late night, since the movie itself didn't begin until 9:00.

*Last night being such a late night and me being pretty sleep deprived because of the little guy's ear infection night-time fussiness, we ended up not doing school today. We did take an unexpected field trip to dh's workplace, though, to watch him work on a drill from a location accessible to the public--a rare opportunity. Got some great pictures, which I'll post on Facebook, and the kids were thrilled to see Daddy hard at work.

P.S. In trying to label this post, I've realized that I don't yet have a label for books or reading. How is this possible? I'm a bookaholic, and have been my entire life. I read less now than I did when I was unencumbered by short people, especially since they started growing taller and having opinions and wanting intelligent interaction and all that nonsense, but, good grief! How have I been blogging for, what three months, without mentioning all the books I've read? Some terrible kind of disconnect, I'm sure. I'll be amending that in the future, you can be certain.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Seriously?

Snow. On April 24th. And it stuck!

I've been working on the season switch for the kids' clothing this week. Now that their drawers are full of shorts and teeshirts, it's fitting that the temperature would take another dip below freezing.

Utah weather. Craziness.....

In other news, we've been caring for the 2yo daughter of some friends whose newborn son is in the NICU. She's a sweet little thing, but after almost two weeks of having her here for most of the day, our 2yo little guy is feeling pretty out of sorts. Normally they get along well, but having her here this much is wearing on him, I think, and he's become clingy and cranky over the last day or so.

Or maybe he's just coming down with the same ear infection that's afflicted two of his siblings, so far.

In any case, he's been banished to his bed for an early nap. Hopefully he'll be happier when he gets up.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Soccer Season

Tomorrow marks a momentous day in our family--the day our three bigs begin playing soccer on our very first organized sports team. The three bigs are practically vibrating from excitement.

Today we need to purchase shin guards, cleats, water bottles, and a ball.

In my years of working as a nanny before marriage and having my own children, I spent innumerable hours transporting kids to and from soccer practices and watching them play. It quickly lost it's appeal, and I spent many years being grateful that I didn't have to spend time at the soccer fields I drove past with my small children. But now that my kids will be playing, I'm looking forward to watching them learn the game, and for them to have an outlet for their energy and competitiveness.

Time to break out the folding chairs and sunblock!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nine Years

Nine years ago today, my dh and I promised God and each other that we would love each other till we were parted by death.

Today our life looks very different than what we expected when we slouched together on my parents' couch and planned out our future. Six children, eight job changes, five moves (one to another state), and major events in our extended family have all contributed to make our family what it is today.

When I was a new bride, I could not imagine we would lose some relationships precious to us. But perhaps that is why we hold onto each other even more, now. We now know in a very real way that nothing lasts except the grace of God by which we stand.*

So today we will celebrate our marriage and plan for the future. And we will continue to trust in the One who has proven Himself faithful, even when we are not.

*If you remember that Keith Green song, you, too, may be a child of Jesus People hippies!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Check this out

I just read one of the best blog posts I've ever read. Very convicting as I contemplate my gut reaction to being wronged, especially as it applies to my parenting.

Here's an exerpt:

I don’t go to church because I expect to be loved. I go to church to learn to love the irascible people who are called by the name Christian. This is one of the primary ways I worship Jesus. I realize that notion cuts against the grain - our cultural assumption is that we find a perfect, virtuous, loving church first, and then join it. Maybe that’s the right thing to do when we are new to the faith and need lots of nurturing, but at some point, we are supposed to become the spiritual grown-ups who can handle loving the cranks.

Come read the entire post.

Dress-up











Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I spoke too soon

The weather today was bizarre. First it was overcast, then it was cold and cloudy. Next came the wind, and there were some serious gusts that whistled through the windows I had left open from yesterday's beautiful, mild weather. Then came the rain, then snow, and then hail. Hail! and Snow! On tax day, for pity's sake!

My friend's new baby boy is in the NICU. My 8yo daughter, the baby and I went to go visit them in the hospital tonight, only to find that their room was empty because my friend and her dh were down in the NICU visiting their baby. When my friend did come back to her room we talked and prayed together.

I'm so grateful that none of my children have ever needed advanced medical care. Even when our preemie suprise twins were born, their lungs were fine and they were able to room in with me from the beginning. Aside from some difficulty maintaining their body temp, which we helped along by wrapping them in three receiving blankets each, they were remarkably unaffected by their early entry into the world.

Sobering, to see how quickly my plans and assumptions must be set aside.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Manic Monday

Today I am watching a friend's 2yo daughter while her baby brother makes his entrance into the world. She's a sweet little thing, and she and my 2yo guy are hilarious to watch playing together. She's an only--well, she was until today--and my little guy is number five in our family. So when they play together, she definitely directs the action.

The three bigs and I are continuing on with first grade. Reading is coming just a bit easier every day, and I'm encouraged by their progress. I am now a complete convert to the BJU curriculum. Today in math the three bigs were "writing" equations by laying out their number cards with the + and the = signs. They are really grasping concepts now, and go around the house adding together everything from their markers to the number of plates they must use to set the table for dinner.

The weather today is gorgeous--sunny and warm. I'm so happy that we seem to have finally seen the end of winter. All the kids spent time playing in the back yard, and the windows are wide open, airing out the house from the stale, closed-up months of winter.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Crunch Time

Tomorrow morning my little guy and I will be flying home to Oregon to suprise my Dad on his 60th birthday. My mom and siblings and I have been plotting for months for my visit, and we're gleefully anticipating Dad's reaction to seeing me casually meander into the room during his birthday celebration tomorrow night. He'll be meeting our little guy for the first time, so this should be a lot of fun.

Before we get on an airplane tomorrow morning, though, there are a myriad of things I need to get done. First and most importantly, I have to complete the scrapbook I'm making Dad as his birthday gift. I'm really excited about this scrapbook, which is titled "60 Reasons We Love Dad" and is a cooperative project with my seven younger siblings. Well, six of my seven younger siblings, since my youngest brother never did get me his part of the project.

I also need to:
*write a shopping list of everything DH could possible need over the next four days
*go shopping
*do laundry (tons of it)
*contact the airline and find out exactly how much stuff I can check in (bag, stroller, carseat, etc.)
*photocopy our little guy's birth certificate--so I can prove to the airline that my five month old is under the age of two.
*finalize plans to get together with my sil and her family while I'm in town
*pack--allowing for multiple changes of clothes for the little guy and me, too, in case he manages to spit/puke/poop/pee/drool on me during our flight
*write up a meal plan and a rough schedule for DH while he's caring for the kids over the next four days
*get the next two days worth of school prepped for him

Monday, March 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday--March 31


Today is the first time I'm posting my menu plan. This week's plan is pretty simple, especially since I'm going out of town this Friday, and dh will be doing kitchen (and kid) duty while I'm traveling.

Monday:
Beef and bean burritos with salsa and sour cream, green salad

Tuesday:
In honor of April Fool's Day, we're reversing the meals today!
Breakfast--meatballs and brown sauce over pasta, green beans
Lunch--as usual
Dinner--waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, scrambled eggs, sausage

Wednesday:
Chicken and mushrooms in stirfry with rice

Thursday:
Spaghetti with meat sauce, green salad, garlic bread

Friday:
Pizza at Chuck E. Cheese

Saturday:
Lasagna, green salad, garlic bread

Sunday:
Pizza, green salad

Monday:
Lasagna (leftovers), green salad

If you want to join in with your own menu or get some ideas from other ladies participating, head over to Laura's blog at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

School catch-up

Winter is still here, despite the calendar telling us Spring began last week. Another storm last night covered the ground in snow. The kitties were offended by having wet paws when they went outside this morning, and quickly shook them off when they came back inside.

School isn't getting done today. We managed Bible and English, and I think we'll at least get Spelling done once the little guys go down for their afternoon naps. I'm already planning on Saturday being a catch-up day, to make up for our abbreviated day on Tuesday with the unexpected doctor's office visit and emergency room run. So far it looks like we'll have one lesson each of English and Spelling, and two lessons of Math and History. I may try to do two Math lessons tomorrow, so Saturday is less stressful.

Since we've made the change in homeschooling curriculum to Bob Jones textbooks with the lessons taught on video, our three bigs have made huge strides in their learning. They are all now reading, with a lot of hesitancy, but definitely decoding the words in the stories in their readers and understanding the meaning.

Today's reader story was the first time I've seen my 8yodd read with confidence. The story had a fair amount of repetition, and once she read through the beginning section she was able to continue on with almost no help from me. This was wonderful to see. My 8yodd often struggles with recognizing that she's read a word before, even if it was in the previous sentence. Listening to her read through today's short story without hesitancy was a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meal planning

I'm the resident cook in our home, not because I'm particularly gifted in making meals or enjoy cooking as a hobby, but simply because I'm the one at home.

When dh has time, he really enjoys perfecting his specialties, bread and pizza--both whole wheat. He's also quite handy with a grill, and makes teriyaki chicken and burgers and dogs all summer long.

I, on the other hand, am much more utilitarian in my approach: I'm mom to six children and wife to a diabetic husband, all of whom need to eat healthy, appealing, economical food every day. I don't have time or energy at this point to make complicated, fancy meals, but am focusing on cooking things that everyone in our family will actually eat, that I can prep with a minimum of time and fuss.


Right now I'm trying to organize four weeks worth of meals along with a corresponding grocery shopping list, so I can simplify the process of getting food on the table. I'll likely vary the side dishes, but since dh and the kids tend to prefer the same meals on a consistent basis I'm hoping this will give me a much-needed break in the kitchen.

I'm finalizing this week's menu, and will be posting it tomorrow. At this point I'm not planning meals for breakfasts and lunches, since the kids tend to rotate through about five meals over a two week period. It's going to be interesting to see how the plan matches reality, once I get it all figured out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fajitas and the Sovereignty of God

Tonight our family went out for a celebratory dinner, having completed a transaction that ended an unfortunate association. We went to The Mayan, a restaurant with "Mayan" cliff divers acting out hyperbolic dramas and randomly diving, jumping, and falling into the safely chlorinated pool below their rocky stage. The kids love it, and dh and I have taken them there for birthdays and when family visits.

Tonight was the first time we've been since the place was renovated and the menu revamped. They no longer serve fajitas, but have a dish called something like Fajita Adventure, which I guess is supposed to be a classier take on fajitas. Instead of the classic flavors and sides, it had poblano peppers and onions, a black bean and corn salsa, a side of some kind of rice pilaf, and a dab of sour cream and picante sauce. No lettuce or cheese, no guacamole, and the steak didn't have the classic fajita seasonings.

I tried not be negative, but dh could tell that I wasn't really enjoying it. And then he said something that really struck me. He said that he didn't want me ordering fajitas anymore when we went out, because they always fell short of the fajitas at El Rodeo and I was always disappointed.

El Rodeo was a little Mexican restaurant in our hometown. Their food was sensational, and I have so many good memories of meals eaten there with friends and family. Some pivotal moments in my life happened in that place, full of the smells of good food and the sound of happy conversations and the cook in the kitchen, singing along with the Mexican radio station.

Some unfortunate business decisions led to the restaurant closing, and ever since then I've been on a fruitless search for a fajita that can bring me back to El Rodeo.

What I realized tonight, though, was that even when I do find that perfect fajita once again, it still won't bring back the place that I loved, with its corner booth and carnival music. That place is gone forever. The last time I visited my hometown, the former restaurant was being used as a Pilates studio. I wondered as I drove past if the diligent people excercising there ever caught a hint of freshly made tortilla chips and salsa.

I miss my home. And what's funny is, if I were home right now I'd still be missing parts of that home that no longer exist. Restaurants shut down. People move away. Relationships change, sometimes radically. Churches close their doors.

My children have already learned the lament of missing our old house, missing Grandpa and Grandma, missing their aunts and uncles. And as I tell them, so, too, I remind myself: where we live now is a good place, we'll see the people we love again, and God is on His throne.

None of these things came as a suprise to Him.

I need a good fajita recipe. By the time summer rolls around, I intend to have a killer version of my very own.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Black Sunday

Fifteen years ago or so, a good friend of mine dubbed Palm Sunday "Black Sunday" because of the lousy run we'd had for a couple of years on that particular day.

Today was not on the same level as some of those truly terrible days, but it wasn't easy, either. Between the two littlest having rotten colds and dh needing to put in some overtime, we decided to skip church today. That always starts our week out wrong--the whole week just seems off kilter.

And we're in the midst of so many things right now, stressful and joyless, that I wonder sometimes if we're in a permanent state instead of a season.

To top it all off, it snowed again last night. Winter doesn't want to let go of us, this year.

Right now, I am focusing on the good things: I'm so grateful that my children are safe and, beyond a case of the sniffles, healthy. Dh's job is a blessing, an affirmation once again that God loves us and provides for our needs. I've been in closer contact with my extended family over the last couple of months, and once again I've been reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of my large, loud, grace-filled but snarky, and even sometimes cranky family.

As winter holds on I'm looking forward to next Sunday, and Easter, and the reason for my hope.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Hero

Today my 8yo daughter came running to inform me that there was a spider in the entryway. She and I agree that spiders are icky, and the boys (either dh or the twins) take care of them.

I concentrate on keeping from squeaking, because, really, a grown woman should be past all that silliness. Nevermind the fact that spiders just completely squig me out--I'm trying not to pass that on to my kids.

So the big boys were busy doing something--building robots or lego towers or some such important thing. Dh was at work. The spider was at the other end of the house, and I told my daughter to just keep away from it, and we'd get one of her brothers to deal with it in a while.

And then my 4yo son proudly informed me that he had killed the spider. Or, more precisely, Buzz Lightyear had squished the spider with his foot. And my heart exploded just a little with love for my sweet boy, who used complete sentences and words I'd never before heard him attempt.

Our 4yo son is significantly delayed in his speech. He doesn't meet the asinine requirements our insurance company has in place for qualifying for speech therapy, and our local school district can only offer placing him in a special-ed preschool, which we have declined. Dh and I work with him ourselves, and we've seen significant improvement.

But I worry. Sometimes I think that's just a part of being a mother, that I worry about my children, the challenges ahead of them.

Most of the time I remember that, as a believer, I am to put my trust in the Lord no matter what cares or burdens I am carrying. I remember, but I can't always quite do it.

My 4yo son is now able to say the word "squished." What's more, he is the brave defender of his big sister and his mama.

His future is looking brighter and brighter.

*I'll post a picture when I can. Our camera port is having technical difficulties.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rejoice with me!

My three oldest children became Christians tonight!


For the last several weeks, my three bigs have been asking probing questions about faith, sin, forgiveness, and what it means to be a Christian. Over the last two weeks we have been learning about the Creation in our Bible time, and then yesterday we began learning about the Fall. It's not the first time they've heard these stories, but they have been connecting the dots in ways I've not seen before.


Dh and I had a conversation earlier this week about all this, and agreed that we wanted to be careful not to push them in any way. It's important to us that they make this decision themselves, and not because they think they should.


So tonight at dinner, my 8yodd asked dh if there were more people in heaven or in hell. To answer her, dh opened the door to our basement 3 or 4 inches, and explained what the word "narrow" means. Then we went out to the garage, and he opened the big door to our driveway, and talked about how wide that door was, and how we could go through every door in our house, and hundreds besides, but never be able to get into our basement unless we went through that one door. We sat down at the table again, and talked about how Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


Our three oldest had many, many questions about all this, and really started pressing us about specifics: What is the path exactly? How does someone become a Christian? What does it mean to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord? How does this fit in with asking Jesus to forgive us when we've sinned?


Finally, dh asked them if they wanted to pray right now. They all said, Yeah! So we sat together on the couch, and dh talk with them for quite a while about how this was forever, that for the rest of their lives and beyond, they will belong to God. Then he lead them in a prayer. (Our 4yods chimed in, too.)


I'm still a bit teary-eyed. I called my parents a while ago, and they were thrilled. Both of them were the first believers in their families, and for them to now see their children's children come to Christ is an awesome thing.


Today is a very, very good day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Looking ahead


Today's grocery shopping trip resulted in a bit of an impulse buy, a fistful of hope in the midst of winter. Aren't those colors beautiful?

We have been planning on putting in a garden this year. The previous owners had a garden in the side yard, and with our houseful of veggie-lovers, a garden is a necessity. We've had to forgo planting a garden for the last several years that we were living in a rental, and last year my pregnancy kept me low-energy, so we didn't have one even though we now own again.

Our house in Oregon came with several raised beds, and included mature raspberry canes, current bushes, and a rhubarb patch. We really enjoyed having our very own tomatoes and carrots, peppers and carrots.

This year I'm planning on checking out the book Square Foot Gardening and following the author's plan for compactly using our garden space. I'm by no means an expert, and this will be my first year gardening in Utah, so I want as much advice as I can get. I wonder if there's a county extension service in Salt Lake County? Hmmmm....

Today's purchases included two varieties each of beans and peas, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, summer squash (yellow and zucchini), radishes, green onion, a lettuce sampler, cherry and slicing tomatoes. This will be my first time starting my own tomatoes, and I'm excited to try it.

Mostly, though, I'm excited to remember that Spring is on its way, and that by gardening, I get to participate in the new life of the season.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Look! My first meme!

100 Questions


1. Do you like blue cheese?
I love it. I especially love the big containers of bleu cheese dressing we pick up at Sam's Club--that stuff is great over a salad or with buffalo wings.
2. Have you ever read a book in one sitting? Ummm...yeah. In fact, one of the most difficult things for me to accept about parenting is that I no longer have the option to just sit and read the day away.
3. Do you own a gun? No.
4. Your favorite song? Right now it's probably Here is Our King, by David Crowder Band. I also love the song We Live, by Superchick.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Not really.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? My kids just had them for lunch. I'm not a huge fan unless they're grilled, preferably Hebrew Nation all beef.
7. Favorite Christmas song? Secular--Carol of the Bells. Sacred--Oh, Holy Night. Silly--Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Hot chai tea.
9. Can you do push-ups? Heh. No.
10. Favorite thing about the person who sent this to you? Chautona posted this on HearthKeepers, so I'm calling her the person who sent it. I love that she's real. And I can still wear the dresses she made me six years ago.
11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? The ring dh gave me for Christmas two years ago.
12. Favorite hobby? Scrapbooking. Nothing else even comes close...although I am enjoying blogging again.
13. Do you put butter on your popcorn? What's the point in eating popcorn without butter? Why even bother?
14. Do you have A.D.D.? I don't really think I--Look! Something shiny!
15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? Lack of follow-through.
16. Middle Name(s): Rachael
17. Name three thoughts right now: I really don't like these oversized dill pickles. I wonder if dh can make it home in time to go out tonight, since we have a sitter. I wish Spring would come.
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday. Nothing. Last time I went shopping, grapes, breakfast cereal, and mung bean sprouts.
19. Name 3 things you drink on a regular basis. Not including water, diet Coke, chai tea, Mother's Milk tea.
20. Current worry right now? Dh's job situation and the stress that bleeds over into our home.
21. Current hate right now? Reality tv.
22. Favorite place to be? The Oregon Coast, my parents' house, and my very own kitchen.
23. How did you bring in the New Year? Sleeping. What can I say? I'm old....
24. Where would you like to go? China, Britain, Chile, Israel.
25. Name three people who will complete this? Probably no one, since I don't think too many folks read my little blog.
26. Do you own slippers? Nope. If my feet are cold, I put on socks.
27. What shirt are you wearing? Red v-neck t-shirt with small button detail.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Ick--no, I can't stand them. I love flannel sheets in the winter, though, and then crisp cotton in the spring and summer.
29. Can you whistle? Yes.
30. Favorite color? Red.
31. Would you be a pirate? Only if I could be a pirate who doesn't do anything.
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Lots of praise songs. Some hymns, too.
33. Favorite girl's name? That I haven't already used, Eleanor.
34. Favorite boy's name? Heh. After having five sons of my own and eight nephews, we've used all my favorites.
35. What's in your pocket right now? Maybe some lint?
36. Last thing that made you laugh? My daughter saying "Gobble, gobble" when I called her a turkey.
37. Best bed sheets as a child? I have no idea.
38. Worst injury you've ever had? Breaking my arm while roller skating a week after finishing fifth grade. It was lousy to spend the summer in a cast, hot and itchy and no swimming, my favorite thing to do. Plus, I got the cast off just before sixth grade, so I didn't even get to show off my cast and get my friends to sign it.
39. Do you love where you live? I love my house. I don't love where I live, but it's where we need to be for now.
40. How many TVs do you have in your house? Two, one in the family room and one in our bedroom. But since we dropped our satelite service, our bedroom tv hasn't been useable.
41. Who is your loudest friend? Probably my dh.
42. How many dogs do you have? None.
43. Does someone have a crush on you? I think my little guy lurves me!
45. What is your favorite book? Um...only one? That's like choosing my favorite child...The Jesus I Never Knew, Persuasion, Ender's Game, A Severe Mercy, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, gods in Alabama, I Know This Much is True, Shards of Honor, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Desiring God...
46. What is your favorite candy? Peanut M&Ms
47. Favorite Sports Team? Boston Red Sox
48. What song do you want played at your funeral. It is Well With My Soul
49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Sleeping.
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? It is too early to be awake, baby--go back to sleep!
51. Do you have a dishwasher? yes.
52. Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floors? Carpet, sadly. I miss the hardwood floors of our house in Oregon.
53. What room is your computer in? The kitchen
54. Are there pictures hanging in your living room? One, a painting of an ocean storm by dh's dad.
55. What personality trait gets on your nerves the most? Hypersensitivity.
56. What decade were you born in? The 70's.
56. Do you like to entertain? I like having over people for casual things--grilling out, things like that.
57. What were you doing exactly an hour ago? Homeschooling my three bigs.
58. Do you like to wear hats? Ball caps.
59. Last thing you read? My Simple Scrapbooks magazine.
60. Favorite website? http://www.hearthkeepers.com/ http://www.facebook.com/
61. Last person you emailed? A friend from church about the kids' upcoming soccer team.
62. Last person who emailed you? That same friend, letting me know where she buys shin guards for her kids.
63. Do you own any season DVDs? Nope. We have Netflix instant downloads, so we don't need to own our favorites.
64. Last thing you ate? Baby carrots
65. Favorite toy as a child? My doll, Pushka.
66. Have you ever ridden on a train. I went cross-country on the train when I moved home from Boston back to the Portland, Oregon area. I was thrilled to be coming home, but the four day trip was more than exhausting.
67. Favorite subject in school? English
68. What do you see out your window? More snow. Bleah.
69. Baths or showers? Who has time to take a bath?
70. Name of favorite cousin? Amy
71. Worst movie you ever saw? Se7en.
72. Biggest change this past year? Dh's diabetes diagnosis. Oh, and we had another baby. :-)
73. What hurts you the most? Seperation from people I love.
74. Biggest regret? Sin. I'm just too good at it. Disgusting isn't it?
75. Person from your childhood that you remember most fondly? My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Geary.
76. What is the third digit of your current weight? 1
77. How many personal snail mail notes or letters have you sent in the past month? 5.
78. Favorite form of art? Pottery
77. Worst date you ever had? A very ugly evening last fall.
78. Second favorite color? Orange
79. Have you ever met anyone in person that you had first met online? Yes
80. Funniest person you know? My dh.
81. Last word you googled? dunno...
82. Favorite author? Living non-fiction--Philip Yancey. Living fiction--Orson Scott Card. Dead non-fiction--C.S. Lewis. Dead fiction--Jane Austen.
83. Favorite fictional character? Ender Wiggins, from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.
84. Last time you ate out? Sunday after church. Cheap Italian at Fazoli's--very nice.
85. The hardest thing you have ever done? Homeschooling three children who are not yet fluent readers while caring for an infant, a toddler, and a preschooler. Keeping a household running and everyone clothed and fed. Being a support to my dh in the midst of some extreme stress and difficulty. Doing all of the above while dealing with postpartum depression. Oh, wait, I'm doing all that right now!
86. Talent you wish you had? I wish I could write like the authors I love to read.
87. Are you a good cook? I'm okay. I'm working on getting better.
88. How do you like your eggs? Fried, with a runny yolk and toast.
89. Favorite vegetable? Artichokes and broccoli.
90. Are you a good speller? I'm okay. I can usually tell if something is spelled incorrectly, but I can't always spell it right. And it's a visual thing for me--I have to see it written down.
91. What should you be doing right now? Sitting in the kitchen while my kids finish school for the day, so I'm doing what I should be!
92. Pet Peeve: People who don't parent their children, but let them run wild in public. And then ignore their little Fifi trying to wake my sleeping baby.
93. Who is your hero? Elisabeth Elliot.
94. Nicest thing that happened to you today? Our friends who we trade babysitting with are coming over this evening to hang with our kids so dh and I can go out.
95. Favorite way to eat a potato? In potato soup. Or baked, with butter, sour cream, bacon, and cheese.
96. Do you have a blog? Heh...
97. Is your hair long or short? Short. And I'm not really happy with it, so I'm growing it out again.
98. What did you do last night? Hung out with the kids and dh.
99. Are you glad this is about done? Um, yeah.
100. Favorite question? Are you glad this is about done...

Monday, March 3, 2008

The end of the world, as I knew it

Thirty years ago today, my life changed forever.

My brother was born, and his arrival marked the end of my existence as an only child. At four and a half, I was old enough to realize that things were different. But a child of four cannot comprehend what a difference having siblings will mean.

For me, my seven siblings have been one of the three greatest gifts my parents gave me. (The other two were their love for each other and a love of God and his Word.)

When I was young, I didn't always appreciate having siblings, especially since they were so much younger than I. But as we've grown up, I've been so grateful to have sisters and brothers who were raised in the same home, laugh at the same in-jokes, and share an appreciation for camping, the Oregon Coast, Bob's teriyaki chicken (all except our vegetarian brother, who makes a mean stirfry), books, 24, and Tillamook cheddar.

So I'm wishing a happy 30th birthday to my brother today. He ruined my life--and made it ten times better.

We can read!


Today marks a momentous occasion: the day my three oldest children officially became readers.

We've been working on their sight words and using their phonics lessons to learn how to sound out what they don't recognize, and today it all came together as they each read the first story in their readers.

I'm so happy I could cry.

This has not come easily. My daughter has struggled in learning to read, and because she is the oldest our entire experience of homeschooling thus far has been frustrating, to say the least. We're on our fourth phonics curriculum. And I'm afraid that in my concern that my daughter not be the last reader among our three bigs I've held back my two boys, who have been ready to take off for some time, now. Even today, my daughter struggled and hesitated, needing several minutes to decode the pages while my boys read the text easily.

It's hard to watch her fight for what came so easily to me. I was an early, strong, voracious reader. I can't remember a time when I did not love books. But it seems that my daughter takes after her Daddy, who also struggled with reading in his early elementary years.

So tomorrow we'll be reading the next story in our readers, and will continue on in the days that follow. And hopefully by the end of our school year, I'll have three children who love books and reading, and have moved beyond learning the mechanics to being fluent readers.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Solace

May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation say evermore,
"God is great!"
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!
Psalm 70:4-5

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Any minute now, we'll be breaking out the Slip 'N' Slide

When we drove by a reader board today, the temp was 54 degrees.

Never mind the piles of dingy gray snow; winter is nearly over!

This has been such a difficult season for me. Between health issues, ongoing stress regarding dh's work and our finances, and having a new little baby, I was already maxed out. But when dh needed to drive my (all-wheel drive and snow tires) van to work each day, leaving me housebound, I started going just a little nuts.

For most of the months of December, January, and February, the only time I left the house was to go to church on Sundays. And making friends has been a slow process since moving to Utah; I only have two girlfriends I get together with, and they both work. So my days have been long and lonely.

Being cooped up alone for weeks on end in a house with six small children is not so good for one's sanity. I'm just sayin'.

So it was with excitement bordering on giddiness that we went out! Today! To the post office! Having a vehicle once again at my disposal is enough to cause the invention of any number of errands, just to get outside our four walls. The necessity of spending most of our day engaged in school and household tasks keeps me honest, though, and today's errand really was important: posting a birthday card to my brother and seven books for PaperBackSwap.

We've almost forgotten the ordinary pleasure of leaving our home and seeing the world. Even the post office is exciting when we haven't been there for two months, and our outing was an unqualified, if noisy, success.

Now that the snow is melting I am anticipating starting to take a daily walk to one of our nearby parks. And hopefully spring will bring some new friendships, too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Flop for Dinner

Today is the first day that we got through all the courses in our new homeschooling curriculum. We began yesterday, but I got suddenly sick in the afternoon and we had to put off doing the first math lesson. We did two lessons in math today, to make up for it. I'm wanting to stay as close to on-track as possible, since our goal is to finish first grade with it and move the three bigs into second grade in the fall.

Homeschooling three kids and caring for an infant, a toddler, and a preschooler, plus keeping up on the house and trying to provide such basics as clean clothes and meals for everyone...right now, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. This new curriculum is a vast improvement over what we were doing before, in that it's not completely teacher (mom) intensive, but it still requires a large time investment on my part. I'm trying to figure out how to fit everything in, still, and so far meals and laundry are suffering. Dh had leftover (homemade, at least) pizza last night, and the kids had cold cereal and toast. They were thrilled, but I can't do that every night.

So, tonight I made a not-so-great casserole with chicken, whole wheat pasta, and broccoli. The kids' weren't too enthused, and honestly I can't blame them. I'm still learning how to make the casseroles dh likes with the whole wheat pasta we're now using, and tonight's pasta was gummy and not very appealing.

Oh, well. Tomorrow we're having one of the lasagnas I made last week, so that's two nights of a good meal that I don't even have to prepare.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Heavy-handed (or should that be footed?) analogy

I love my new Crocs.

When they went on sale at Nordstrom's (thanks to Mir for the heads-up ), I was really excited to finally get a pair--and didn't even mind that there were limited colors in my size. If I'd had the option I would've probably gone with black, and I would have missed out.

These bright pink shoes make me happy.

Which was why I was so sad when the very first time I wore them out in public I came home with a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of my right shoe. Bright green gum, for the colorfully minded.

I spent ten minutes or more cleaning it off, but there's still a sticky residue left that picks up dirt.

They're no longer perfect, but they still make me happy. I learned long ago that perfection is overrated. And when I'm contented with my life and the shoes I'm wearing, despite the inevitable scuffs and ick that come my way, everything else seems to fall into place.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sanity in the freezer


I managed to get all four lasagnas done yesterday, despite the cranky little guy's interruptions. Given the size of these pans, that's eight meals ready to go--a real sanity saver.

I've never done an entire once-a-month cooking session; the process just doesn't work well for me. What does work is making up several meals' worth of the same thing at a time. This goes particularly well when I plan around sales; last fall when boneless skinless chicken thighs went on sale, I put 60 lbs of marinated meat into the freezer. It was great to pull out a bag to defrost and grill with minimal fuss, and since we were given a rotisary for Christmas we've been roasting chicken almost weekly.

The lasagna ingredients weren't on sale this week, but it was a special request from dh.

Lasagna for the freezer, as I made it yesterday:
2 lbs ground beef
7-8 small onions (4 large)
2 green peppers
1 lb mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 28 oz. diced organic tomatoes
2 jars organic prepared pasta sauce
4.5 boxes whole wheat lasagna noodles
3 lb carton lowfat cottage cheese
5 eggs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 5 lb bag shredded mozzerella cheese
4 cans sliced black olives
1 cup Italian seasoning

1. Brown the ground beef in the oil. Finely chop the onions and green peppers in food processor, and add to the browned beef. Dice the mushrooms, and add. Cook thoroughly. Puree tomatoes in food processor and add to pot. Stir in prepared sauce and Italian seasoning and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently.

2. Beat eggs and add cottage cheese, parmesan, and approximately half the shredded mozzerella and mix well.

3.Layer sauce, pasta, and cheese mixture in four aluminum pans. When the cheese mixture is gone, use mozzerella for last layer. Top with sliced olives. Cover with foil and freeze.

4. Defrost for 24 hours before cooking. 350* for 45 minutes, covered, and then anothr 15-20 minutes uncovered.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Teething

The little guy had a tooth break through last night. In the three and a half months since his birth he's proven to be an easy-going, mellow type of baby, so his current fussiness is very out of character. He may have a slight fever, but if it is a fever it's so mild that I haven't yet brought out the thermometer to verify his temp.

If it weren't for my slings, I would be completely stuck with a armful of baby. As it is, I've been able to keep him closely snuggled while still making lunch for the rest of the gang, get some work done on the computer, and even straighten up the fridge a bit. I've had to set aside some of my other plans for the day (assembling four lasagnas and two other casseroles, bagging up frozen veggies into individual meal sized portions, and folding several baskets worth of laundry.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Post-holiday find

Finished the grocery shopping today, and picked up a little Valentine's gift pack of Starbucks goodies at 50% off regular price. Since their prices are normally grossly inflated, I figure the $7.50 I spent on a mug, five tea bags, a cocoa packet, some ground coffee, and a little storage box was just about right.

I'm not a diehard Starbucks patron. My favorite coffee place is probably Coffee People, a Portland area store that makes great coffee and includes a chocolate covered esspresso bean with every order, a nice touch.

I do love Starbucks' version of chai, though, probably better than anywhere else I've tried. When fall rolls around, the sweet, almost pumpkin-pie scent of chai is what signals that it's once again my favorite time of year. And through this long, grey, snowed-in year, chai tea has been a real comfort.

Of course, I can't afford Starbuck's exhorbitant prices more than once or twice a month, at most. And since my days are usually spent at home, I've had to come up with my own version of chai, to get me through the long house-bound days. On a dark February day, I can drink an entire teapot myself.

My Chai

Brew three bags of Tazo Chai tea in a full eight cup teapot. Pour into teacup or mug, about 3/4 of the cup's worth. Add two packets of Splenda and top off the mug with 2% milk. When you've been house-bound for three days or longer, use half and half. If it's been five days or more, break out the cream.

Enjoy. Best drunk while the kids are happily occupied elsewhere in the house, but is good even in the midst of chaos.