Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Fun

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but you'll rarely find me donning a costume. As I sit here, I wonder what it is that I love so much about Halloween. The fact that it falls in the autumn, my favorite time of year, is definitely a factor. I love the excitement of children as they anticipate their costumes and all the candy that they'll consume. I love pumpkins and all the fall colors. And I love our annual Halloween party.
The last year that we lived in Whittier (2002), we decided to have a Halloween open house. We invited our friends from church, work, and school, and told the neighborhood to stop by for chili on Halloween night. It was so much fun that I promptly declared it a tradition. (My family will tell you that I am famous for declaring traditions after one time. I see no problem with it, if it's something you want to do again, but I do get a lot of razzing from my brothers and husband about this habit of mine.)
However, the first couple of Halloweens after we moved north were not conducive to an open house. The first year, we moved from an apartment to a house the weekend before Halloween, and we were still unpacking. The next year, we had a less-than-a-week-old baby. But by 2005, we were ready to introduce the Halloween Open House to our friends here. We printed up invitations for the first couple of years, and invited everyone we knew to stop by during the evening's festivities for hot dogs, chili, and homemade root beer. It was a hit! The first year, we had about 60 people come. By the next year, we had more like 80. This year, I just sent out evites and hope that word of mouth will reach everyone else.
So, if you don't live close enough to come to our party, maybe you should host your own. All you need is to make a pot of chili, drag your bbq out to the front porch, brew up some rootbeer, and get ready for guests! We do ask our guests to bring a treat to share, but even the year we didn't request it, many of them brought food along anyway. If you haven't gotten out invitations, you can just invite the neighbors in when they come by with their trick-or-treaters.
Last year, our boys decided to make their bedroom into a spook alley and they have been talking about it ever since! I love that they would rather be home at our party than out trick-or-treating (they do go to a church trunk-or-treat on the weekend before,) and that we can spend the evening with friends we love and with people we want to know better.
So come to our Open House or host your own. It's a great way to catch the spirit of Halloween fun. If only I had Morgan to decorate for me!

 Halloween Chili
  • 7 lbs. good quality ground beef
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 c. chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • 3 14 oz. cans Mexican stewed tomatoes, pureed in the blender
  • 6 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained
  • 3 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained
  • 3 15 oz. cans black beans, drained
  • 3 15 oz. cans corn kernels, drained
  • 2 cans beef broth (you might not need all of it.)
To make this recipe, you need an enormous stock pot or two. It serves about 70 people, so cut it down if your party is smaller.
Brown the ground beef for about 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic and continue to brown 5 minutes more. Add all the peppers and continue to saute until the meat is all brown and the onions and peppers are soft. Drain off as much of the fat as you can. Add chili powder, cumin, and cocoa powder. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and beans and half of the beef broth. Cook for 1-2 hours, simmering on very low heat, adding beef broth as needed to keep it from burning.
Serve with sour cream, chives, onions, and cheese on the side.   (Recipe from my friend, Erin!)

(Pictures are from Halloweens past and the last one is from our trunk-or-treat last weekend. Anyone who has tried to pose four kids in costumes before letting them loose on a party will sympathize with me--this was the best shot I got out of five attempts!)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Apple Hill Adventures

We have a place in the nearby Sierra foothills that we visit every fall. It is one of the things that our family loves about fall. We always plan to go together as a family, but most years we go three or more times. Any of our out-of-town relatives that visit in the fall always want to go there. So, in our home, Apple Hill is synonymous with autumn. We went up yesterday, as Jared's sister and her boys were in town, and the weather was perfect--plus we avoided the weekend crowds. Fun was had by all. Below is an introduction to some of our favorite spots to visit at Apple Hill, so if you don't care, just scroll down to look at the pictures and leave me a comment anyway!
Apple Hill is a group of orchards, ranches, wineries, and farms that have come together to market themselves as a tourist destination. Each place offers something slightly different, although in September and October you are sure to find many places offering pumpkin patches, corn or hay mazes, and even a petting zoo. Everywhere you go you'll find appley treats. The apple cider doughnuts at Rainbow Orchards are almost always our first stop. They don't make them until you order them, so they come out piping hot, which is good because it slows you down as you inhale them. Their apple cider is also the best because it is made on site (you can get apple cider at any of the farms, but many of them don't make it fresh on the premises.) Rainbow has a beautiful orchard that you can picnic in or wander and take pictures as we did last fall. I like to buy my apples (20 lbs at a time) here, even though they are slightly more expensive than Abel's (later) because they are nice quality, crisp apples.
We also like to visit Honey Bear Ranch, were they roast a pig outdoors everyday (my apologies to my veggie readers); the food there is wonderful--the owners used to be caterers down in the valley and moved to Camino for a lifestyle change. The kids like their watermill and koi pond; some times they have a kiddie craft table where they can make a peanut butter pinecone birdfeeder for $2 or something along those lines (since my kids are craft starved, they absolutely love that kind of thing when the opportunity comes up.) And their apples are organic!
Jared's favorite treat to have at Apple Hill is the walkin' pie at Kids Inc. It is supposedly a single serving pie although I don't think I could eat a whole one and I'm a pretty good eater if no one is watching! They have a pumpkin patch and a great hill for rolling down if you are so inclined. They also have a nature trail, though I don't recall the walk. It's been a couple of years since we we took it.
Plubell's Family Orchard is another spot we love to take the kids. I don't think we've ever eaten there, but they have a great pumpkin patch, a petting zoo, a nature walk that we enjoy, and tractors and tire swings for the kids to climb all over. (This is Gabriel, my nephew, on the swing.) They also have nice spots to picnic if you've brought your own food.
A popular spot is High Hill Ranch, although frankly I think that it's too crowded to be worth it. They do have amazing apple fritters, but as you can only eat so much in one day, there are plenty of other farms to visit. They have a stocked pond for fishing, a fudge kitchen, cider mill, and lots of other stuff, but it is always teeming with people.
Able's Apple Acres is always either our first or last stop. This is where I go if I'm in the mood for good apples that are inexpensive. They seem to run a bit smaller and a bit more picked over than Rainbow's, but that may be because they are a more popular destination. They have pumpkins but not much of a patch, pony rides, a hay maze, and a big hill for rolling down. Also some cheesey photo ops, if you're into that--which my kids are. No orchard to wander, but lots of good food including about a dozen varieties of caramel and fudge apples, some apple oatmeal cookies to die for, fudge, and of course (just like everywhere else) frozen unbaked or freshly baked apple pies. They also have several kiosks outside with various crafters and local artisans but I've never found anything at those that I even considered buying.(This photo was taken three years ago, on the last weekend before Ian was born, on our family outing to Plubell's.)
Needless to say, visiting Apple Hill every year is something our kids look forward to and I try to save some calories for weeks ahead. It definitely feels like fall there and we always come home with a big box of local apples and tummies full of things we shouldn't indulge in very often. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The baby who slept

Three years ago this week, we welcomed our third baby into the family. I had a great deal of trepidation in the weeks before Ian's birth, and none of my anxiety was about childbirth (after all, it was a scheduled c-section. What's scary about that?) My transition to two children, two and a half years previously, had been difficult for a number of reasons. But that post about Henry's first months is for another day. The point is, I was scared to death that I would have another baby who cried a lot, required me to change my diet dramatically, never slept, and that I would spend six months struggling with post-partum depression. Could I dare hope that this baby would be an "easy" baby, like those I'd heard about before?
Some of you will say that there are no easy babies, but I beg to differ. If you start off with a preemie who doesn't know how to eat and is easily overstimulated (and turns out to be on the autistic spectrum a few years later,) and then follow that up with a baby who has colic and wants to be held at all times, awake or asleep, then a third baby who sleeps a lot, eats quickly and greedily, and has an even temper is easy as can be. And Ian turned out to be such a child. Thank goodness that he was, because I still had my hands full with his older brothers.
Ian has continued to be a complete delight to his parents. We fiercely love all of our children, but it has been easy to enjoy Ian because he is almost always light hearted, rambunctious, hysterical, and the boy can sleep! By the time he was seven weeks old, he was sleeping 12 hours straight at night--that's without waking up to eat-- and taking two naps a day. He has also been so flexible in his schedule. Of course, you will say, the third child has to be flexible. You are always having to wake them up to pick up someone from school or go on a playdate. That is true, but not all children who have their sleep disrupted regularly do so without being miserable to live with.
Ian also seems to be about as typical as a little boy can be. He is into pirates and cowboys and trains and dinosaurs. He takes imaginative play to a level that I haven't witnessed with our other children. He demands that we sing to him before bed. His favorites: Sweet Baby James and Ragtime Cowboy Joe, although he does also request the "Dog Bites" song (My Favorite Things). And he makes us laugh every day.
So, as we celebrate his third birthday (with everything cowboy) this week, both Jared & I feel so grateful to have this little guy in our lives. Each of our children teaches us different things and in different ways. I think that Ian has helped us to relax and to relish.
Happy Birthday, little cowboy. We love you.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Today was the Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation in our ward. (A translation for those of you who are not LDS: The children, ages 3-11, presented a program of music and speaking parts that outlined what they have learned this year in their Sunday School classes. Hang with me--eventually you'll have all the lingo down!) The entire program was wonderful. It was simple and sweet and the kids spoke their lines well. The theme was "I'll Follow Him (Jesus) In Faith."
The last song that they sang was one that I sang as a child and taught to Primary children during the 5 years that I served as a chorister when we were newlyweds. And yet, today as they sang it, the simple but powerful message really hit me. This is one that we all need to remember and I pray that my children have internalized, as it will bless them all of their days.

Listen to the still, small voice
Listen, listen!
When you have to make a choice,
He will guide you

(Words and music by Merrill Bradshaw. Follow the link to hear the song.)
Thanks to the Primary children and their leaders for inspiring and lifting us today.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Faith, not Doubt

I've been thinking a lot lately about what polar opposites faith and doubt are. I suppose it started with my spiritual wrestling with God over homeschooling our brood. I had previously let fear keep me from doing anything more than talking about researching possibly doing home school! In my mind, I was actually researching, but deep down I was hoping that the Lord would point me in a different direction and that my research would be akin to Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac--at the last minute, the angel would sweep in and send my kids back to school. To my amazement, the more I looked into home school, the more potential that I could see for it to truly bless my family; and yet, I was still afraid.
Anyhow, last week when I felt an undeniable impression that homeschooling our children NOW, not some non-committal day in the future, was the right thing to do, I couldn't shake the fear. I have been heard to say all the same things that so many people have said to me in the past week: "I just don't think I could do homeschool;" followed by one of the following sentences:
  • "I'm not organized enough."
  • "My kids and I really need a break from each other."
  • "I don't have the patience for it."
  • "I really need that time while they are in school."
Guess what? Those things were all still true about me. The only thing that had really changed was that deep down in my heart, I knew that it was the best thing for my kids. (I'm not trying to preach that it's the best for everyone, but I knew that it was the best for mine.) So, I asked the Lord to take away my fear. And I immediately remembered the principle that fear and faith cannot coexist. I determined to focus on my faith in God. I have to trust Him. If He, in His infinite wisdom, knows homeschooling to be the path for my family to take, what do I have to be afraid of? Certainly it will require change, work, more patience than I currently have, and a healthy dose of prayer, but why should I fear those things?
Then yesterday morning as I was studying the scriptures, a strip of paper fell out of them. It was a quote from a lesson I had in Relief Society ages ago. It said,
"Remember, faith and doubt cannot exist in the mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt. Cultivate faith. Strive always to retain that childlike faith which can move mountains and bring heaven closer to heart and home." --Thomas S. Monson
Not only did this quote fit in with the theme of my musings of late, but I was struck with the last phrase: that faith can bring heaven closer to heart and home. Isn't that our goal as mothers (and fathers)? What better reason to cast out doubt and cultivate faith?
I love the term cultivate there, it reminds me of gardening (which is not one of my strengths, although I would love to change that.) Faith doesn't just happen. It's not that you either have it or you don't. You have to work at it, feeding it, watering it, weeding out the doubts and the other weeds that would attack your faith. It goes along with Alma's analogy in the Book of Mormon of faith being like a seed that will grow if nurtured properly.
I have felt so strengthened in the past week, since I made the commitment to follow the spiritual promptings I have been given to homeschool our children. I can feel my faith grow as I cast away doubt. And that faith is strengthening me and telling me that I, in my imperfect state, and take on this enormous challenge.
I am filled with gratitude and with the knowledge that Heavenly Father knows me, my family, our needs, my flaws, and that He is willing to work with me to help me overcome the obstacles to become the woman that He wants me to be.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Say "Pumpkin!"

Last week was Henry's first kindergarten field trip to the pumpkin farm. It didn't matter that we've been to this particular pumpkin farm multiple times, the excitement level was as high as the mercury on an Arizona summer's day. I knew that there would be zillions of parents going along on this field trip because it was the first, and thought that I might escape being a chaperone, but Henry really wanted me to come and I couldn't say no. For a class of 2o kids there were about 15 parents along, so none of the chaperones had to work very hard.
This particular farm plays to the field trips big time. They have singing chickens doing the Star Spangled Banner (it almost felt sacreligious) and a heavily made up "Mother Goose" as the emcee of the pig races. She told corny jokes (no pun intended) and told us when to laugh, cheer, etc. I found her to be barely tolerable, especially since I have sat through the program a few times before, but the kids seemed to enjoy the show. After the pig races (our pig came in third out of four), we headed over to the train ride. This meant standing in line while we waited for the train. The kids were just sure that we'd miss the train somehow and were very concerned. Here they are watching for the train to pull into the station:Henry and I got to ride with Sammy and his dad (Henry's soccer coach) and I snapped some great shots of Sam pouting. I can't even remember anymore why he was mad at us, but check out that face!After a few minutes, he didn't want to admit that he was having fun, so he turned around, hoping his dad couldn't see:
I sat out the hayride, since I had smuggled Bronwen along and she needed to eat. That proved to be torture because the spot where I sat and waited was just near enough the bakery that the most exquisite smells wafted my direction. At one point I went over and looked carefully at each item before deciding that it wasn't worth the money or the calories. I returned to my bench with a very hot cup of cider, which took me ages to sip because of its temperature, and got me through until the class returned.
Here are a few more of my favorite shots of the day:
Brycen's not my kid, but I can't help but snap his picture when he's around. I just love those sweet little freckles!
Ditto for Eliza. What a doll!
The apple trees line the pumpkin patch.
Henry didn't care for the noise in the train tunnel.
And he wasn't about to do the chicken dance, no matter how much that crazy Mother Goose yelled for everybody to join in! He can spot ridiculous from a mile away.
After a lunch and cider under the apple trees and a few rides down the Coyote Mountain slide, the kids climbed the buses and headed home. Something drew me to the bus logo!
P.S. Days later, I realize that this was my 61st post and can't help mentioning that for Henry's sake!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Preparing for the Ride of My Life!

So here's our big news. As fun as it was to watch you all speculate, I guess I should finally share. I just filled out the official affidavit with the state for our new private home school, (Our last name) Academy! We have been talking seriously about home educating our children for about six months, although I have toyed with the idea off and on since I was in college. Over the summer I began to feel better and better about it, yet was scared to make such a big change and commitment. Our plan was to research this year and implement next year, but I think that was mostly because "next year" sounds very far away and less scary somehow. But during the past few weeks I have felt more and more led towards homeschooling our family; the Lord has put people in my path everywhere lately who home school or who were home schooled and I've had so many positive encouraging conversations about it. As we watched General Conference last week, many of the things that were said about families and parenthood supported our long list of reasons why home school would be advantageous for our family. This week I couldn't get it off my mind (remember, I do have a tendency to obsess) and finally spent much of the day Thursday studying about it and praying about it and I just knew that this is what God wants for us. Once I had that confirmation, I changed my prayers to, "Lord, take away my fear and help me have faith." He has done that for me.
We choose to do this for a number of reasons; naturally, the fact that we have a special needs child got the conversation going but the more that we have researched, the more we feel that this will bless our entire family. We truly believe that we will be led to do this successfully, although I am not naive enough to believe that it will be easy or that we will have a seamless transition.
We had a family council today and told the kids. They were enthusiastic. We explained that we would choose a date for Kimball's last day in public school. Henry will home school with us in the morning but will finish afternoon kindergarten before we remove him from public school. Kimball knew exactly how long he wanted to stay for--his class has a "Pumpkin Day" scheduled in two weeks that he wants to participate in. We chose a school name, a mascot, and a few units that we will study first (polar bears and sharks. Did I mention that I already know more than I care to about those two creatures because I live in this house? But we wanted them to have a role in choosing our curriculum, and I'm sure that we can find more to learn about.)
So, wish us luck! We are excited, nervous, and gearing up for negative feedback from the public school when we break the news to them. But we are armed with the confidence that comes from knowing we are doing what God means for us to do. I know that He will help us to do it well. Thank goodness for personal revelation. I am so grateful that He is mindful enough of our little family to lead us in our lives.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Soup Recipes

Jared's Patient Appreciation Day was a success and so were my soups. I had many requests to post the recipes, so they are below. The vegetarian chili recipe can be found here.
This Potato Cheese Soup I only make when I am taking it to poison other people. It is not remotely low calorie or low fat. As a once in a while treat, or when fattening up your husband's patients, it is just the thing.

Jared's Favorite Potato Cheese Soup
(Thanks to Erin Mylroie for sharing this recipe years ago.)
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped (or use a 1 lb bad of baby carrots)
  • fresh parsley
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 cups cream, half-and-half, or whole milk (I generally use the whole milk)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese.
Bring the chicken broth, onions, potatoes, and carrots to a boil in a large stockpot. Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Maintain low boil while preparing the roux: Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until pasty but smooth. Slowly add milk or cream, whisking thoroughly to eliminate lumps. Allow to thicken as it cooks until the roux begins to bubble. Remove from heat. Temper the roux by adding about 2 cups of the soup to it and mixing. Add roux/soup mixture to remaining soup and mix well. Do not allow soup to boil after adding the roux. Add a generous amount of chopped parsely, salt and pepper to taste. Add about half the cheese to the soup and mix in. Serve soup sprinkled with cheese and parsley and freshly ground pepper. Serves 10-12

Beef Stew
(another favorite recipe from Erin)
  • 2 lbs. lean stew meat
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 grated potato
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 2 t. thyme
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 8 baby carrots
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced in wedges
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
Dredge the beef in flour. In a dutch oven over medium heat melt the butter and warm the olive oil. Brown the beef and garlic, then add the grated potato, cloves, bay leaves, thyme, wine, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour. Add the remaining potatoes, onions, and carrots and allow to simmer for half an hour more. Salt and pepper to taste (fresh cracked black pepper is best here.) Add fresh parsley and crushed tomatoes just before serving. Serves 8.

Soup's On!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life is Crazy

I finally have my new computer and have been dying to post the past couple of days. But things are taking a rather crazy turn around here and I haven't had time. There are some exciting things in our future. . . stay tuned for more info. I will leave you to speculate for a few days (leave a comment with your guesses).
In the meantime, I am busy making soups and stews for Jared's Patient Appreciation Day tomorrow. I made rolls earlier this week and froze them. Hopefully things will be a bit calmer by tomorrow evening and I might even get a post in before the Sabbath!
Thanks for not giving up on me. I love knowing that people are reading and I haven't been giving you much to work with lately! Bronwen has resorted to reading the ads in the Sunday paper. Yikes!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fighting the Forces of Evil

This morning over breakfast:

  • Henry: Last night while you were all sleeping, I played Animal Trivia with Darth Vader.
  • Me: Really?
  • Henry: Yes. Darth's question was, "True or False: Monkeys really do have tails." Darth said "False!" I said, "Wrong! It's true!"
  • Me: That silly Darth Vader.
  • Henry: Yeah, because he lives in space, he doesn't know about monkeys. . . Then, I played Zurg. His question was , "True or False: Dogs really do live." "False!" said Zurg. "No, true!" I said. "False!" I showed him the card. "Darn!" Zurg said, and banged his hand on the game. . . . I won the game, Mom!

That's my boy. Battling bad guys and striking down evil, one trivia question at a time!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dinner Tonight

Today was one of those crazy days when I hit the ground running at 6:00 am and never slowed down. Even now I have three loads of laundry waiting for me to fold and a dishwasher that needs to be emptied before I can load it with dinner dishes.
In spite of being gone all morning and for the latter half of the afternoon, I managed to plan ahead and make a crock pot dinner so that when we walked in the door at 6pm after Kimball's RDI therapy appointment, dinner was ready! And even more noteworthy is that it was something that both Kimball and Henry ate without complaining. (I don't know what is keeping Ian alive these days. I swear he never eats and lives on about 16 oz of low fat milk a day. If he were my only child, I'd be worried, but I've learned that these things pass. And he doesn't seem to be losing weight.) I did fib a bit to Kimball and tell him that it was hamburger meat. Kimball is a hamburgertarian and refuses to eat any meat unless it is in the form of a hamburger. It would have been unlikely that he'd eaten this with ground beef--but it was downright miraculous that he ate this turkey chili.
Anyhow, you should try it this week. It is diet friendly (Core if you are doing WW), full of fiber and protein--(beans are our friend) and easy to make.

Turkey and White Bean Chili
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24 oz (3 cups) chicken broth
  • 45 oz (3 cans) white beans
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • for extra kick, add one can diced green chilis
Brown the turkey, onion, and garlic in a frying pan. Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for at least 4 hours. Salt and pepper to taste.
This is a very mild chili--if you like heat, you need to add it. But my boys (including Jared) are wimpy, so they like it as written. We let Kimball put some cheddar cheese on it.
P.S. Here's a Halloween picture from last year. Aren't they cute?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

At 17 months old, I was blessed with a baby sister, a sidekick, a friend for life. Alli and I shared a bedroom until I went to college 17 years later, and when she 
came to BYU the next year,
my friends and I opted to spend another year in on-campus housing at Heritage Halls and she lived in the apartment downstairs. The next year we were back to sharing a room and then we traveled together for a study abroad one summer in Jerusalem (one of the highlights of my life so far.) I left on my mission to Russia in the fall of 1994 and by the time I got home, Alli had already left for her 18 month mission in Honduras. She arrived home shortly before my wedding. Since then, although we have not been roommates, we have remained close friends, talking nearly every day. She insists that she spent the first half of her mission praying that I wouldn't get married while she was gone and the second half praying that I'd find the love of my life and get married when she got home, so she is one of a few people who take the credit for Jared & me falling in love.
Alli has always valued, prized, and looked forward to the divinity of motherhood. I think that perhaps the hardest part for her of being single long past when she expected to be was that she couldn't be a mother. When Kimball was born she was living in Salt Lake City and I in Southern California, but within a year she had relocated, partly because she couldn't stand to be away from him for very long. She was invaluable to me when Henry, our colicky second, was born, especially when I struggled with post partum depression and really felt like I needed support on a daily basis.
When we moved north four and a half years ago, it was a blow to her to realize that she had little control over where our children lived, etc. She had always treated them as if they were her own and I think she really felt that way and was crushed when we felt inspired to move away. I missed her terribly, but you should have seen how my kids missed her--it was as if they had lost one of their two mommies! My heart has ached for her over the years since I became a mother, knowing how much she wanted the life I was living.
Then, a couple of years ago, along came Flint. He treats her with so much love and respect and is most definitely the man she had been waiting for all those years. They married and decided that they wouldn't wait too long to start a family. A miscarriage slowed them down and worried them that their plans might not come to fruition. But happy news! This morning at 3:15 am, their baby Isaac Flint was born!
Yesterday morning I got a call from Allison on her way to her last day of teaching, saying that she was pretty sure that she was in labor. Flint was working up here, so a few minutes later he called me for a ride to the airport. I fell to my knees and asked the Lord to please let him be there with her for the labor and birth of their first baby. Then throughout the day I frequently prayed for them. I know that I can be a worrywart, but when someone I love is in labor I always feel like I need to plead with Our Father for their life and the life of the baby. I guess it's because to deliver a baby we go into the valley of the shadow of death. And I can't imagine anything more awful at a time of joy and hope like the birth of a baby than the loss of the baby or the mother or both of them. I was so relieved and grateful when I got a text message at 3:30 am, telling me that all was well and that Isaac had come.
Allison will finally get to be the mother that she has prepared all her life to be. She has been so wonderful to my children and to her other nieces and nephews. I am so filled with joy and gratitude for this long awaited blessing in her life, and pray that she will find joy and fulfillment as she relishes motherhood.
P.S. (I hate using this blasted laptop. It regularly messes up the formatting and won't let me move pictures around or use multiple photos. Thank goodness our new PC is on its way.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Check this out!

My last post about struggling to lose weight and beat the cravings must have hit a chord. In less than 24 hours many of you have either commented or sent me an email, sharing how hard it is for you, too.
Big thanks to Deborah Gamble, whose blog I adore, for recommending this blog to me. I love it and have added her to my blogroll. I have poured over several of her recent posts and can't wait to go back and read more.
By the way, I resisted the poison and feel stronger today (although chocolate in any form is still calling my name, today I feel like I can beat it because I did yesterday.) Thanks for feeling my pain with me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Many of you who know me well know me to be a fairly regular attender of Weight Watchers. When Henry was about one year old, I joined and lost 40 pounds and felt great. I know the plan works. The problem is that I haven't been working the plan very well since then. I joined up after I had Ian and lost some weight, but never got back to the weight I had been when I got pregnant. Then I had Bronwen. Suffice it to say that I have been back at WW for many moons now and all I have to show for it is a ten pound weight loss.
Now don't get me wrong. I know that if I hadn't been trying at all, I'd probably have GAINED ten pounds in the past six months rather than lost them. I just have such a love affair with food and have an enormous appetite while I'm nursing.
Anyway, I have officially declared this pansy version of Weight Watchers to be over for me. I am not going to eat the WW plan four days out of the week any more. I am not going to pay them my $40 a month in order to gain and lose the same pound over and over again. I know that their plan works and I know that I really want to lose the wieght and have a healthier lifestyle--so I know what I need to do.
I told my friend Mandy today that I was going to start referring to white flour and sugar as poison because they are surely my downfall, and I just need to get it through my head that they are detrimental to my healthy life. I need to see them for what they really are. I have no intention of giving them up completely, but I really do not need to be looking for something sweet to eat every afternoon. As a matter of fact, I know that I have it bad when I'm already looking for chocolate by mid-morning, as I was today. So, after our WW meeting today, I pledged to write down every bite I took and to stay as far away from the poison as I can while I detox.
Can I just say that I have been craving poison ALL AFTERNOON? In fact, one reason that I am blogging right now instead of folding laundry or something more worthwhile at 5:00 pm is that I have been working on dinner in the kitchen and I just want something chocolately and baked so badly. Yikes. I'm pathetic. But I just know that if I don't get over this, I am not going to be any thinner in January, because if I give into my instincts I do nothing but bake and eat from October through New Years.
Most of my readers have probably stopped reading at this point, completely bored by my ramblings. Believe me, today is strictly therapy. For me. But if you are still reading, feel free to pass along tips that work for you or recipes for favorite healthy foods (I don't do artificial sugar, so no Splenda recipes, please.)
And I promise to write about something more worthwhile and interesting next time.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Lucky 61

Scene 1: Kimball and Michal visit the allergist's office for a follow up appointment. The nurse checks Kimball's height and weight.

Nurse: Kimball, you weigh 61 pounds!
Kimball: (with much excitement) 61? That's Henry's favorite number!!!
Nurse to Michal: How did Henry get a favorite number like 61?
Michal: (shrugging) No idea.

Scene 2: Later that day, as the boys return home from school. It is the first time they have seen each other since Kimball's earlier appointment.

Kimball: (bursting through the door, eager to share his good news) Henry! Henry! Guess what? I weigh 61 pounds!!!!
Henry: (incredulously) You do? . . . . (as a smile spreads across his face) Coooooool.

Kids are so strange!