Friday, November 30, 2007

A Work in Progress

No one needed Wednesday's post yesterday more than I. It was just a tough day from the morning on. I had been up too much in the night with sick kids and skipped the gym for the first time this week--I'm trying to get there five days a week. Kimball was wound up from the moment he got up. I tried cramming in homeschool work before I watched a friend's kid at nine a. m., even though I should know better than to push him when he's anxious and hyper like that. I was also trying to finish a project for Christmas that had a deadline of today, and mid-afternoon I had to start it over from scratch. Anyway, the kids and I were feeding on each other's negative energy and I had to stop and breathe and say a silent prayer several times throughout the day. Unfortunately, many of those times I didn't stop and look for my cool until after I'd already lost it. Oh well. Better luck today. Even though I still have lots to do on the project today and some other things thrown in, I am determined to be calm and not stress out or lose my cool with my sweet little ones. They are more important than any Christmas project. Now, if I can just remember that in the heat of the moment, the day should go just fine.
Motherhood and being the mother I want to be is most definitely a work in progress.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones . . .

I was touched by Coconutannie's post today, which I discovered on David's post of the day. How often, as a mother, I consider the power of my words, for good or ill, on my children. That is not to say that I never say things to my children that I regret, sometimes instantly. I think that most of us struggle to curb our tongues, particularly in times of passion.
In April of this year, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave an amazing talk on the subject, which I have read and reread many times since. It helps me to remember the power of words and the responsibility that I have as a mother to use my words wisely and lovingly as I rear and nurture my children. This paragraph in particular emphasizes the influence of our words on our children:
  • "We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don't say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child's view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child's faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that 'Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,' but all Susan will remember is that she isn't bright and Sandra that she isn't pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture's obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are 'enough.'"
It is my daily prayer that the Lord will help me hold my tongue and think before I speak; that I will not lash out in anger at my children, nor snap at my husband; that I will be careful of the words that I speak about others.
Thank you, CoconutAnnie, for reminding us of this important principle. It pertains to all, but is even more critical for those of us with the blessed calling and responsibility of parenthood.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Guess Who's Coming?

In our home, we neither teach about Santa, nor against him. We read plenty of books (at Christmastime) with Santa in them, but there is no talk about what Santa is going to bring our children unless it is initiated by them. They seem to pick up on the idea at school, and each have made their own choice as to what they believe Santa to be. Call us humbugs, but it's the way I was raised and it works for us. We try to focus on the Savior and on the joy that comes from buying or making gifts for each other, on keeping surprises secret, and on serving others in need. I'm not saying that your family doesn't do that if you are way into Santa, it's just our way.
Anyway, yesterday on the way home from preschool, here is the conversation between Ian and me, who is obviously too young to remember the Christmas books from last year:
  • Ian: Momma, guess who's coming to our Christmas party?
  • Me: Who?
  • Ian: Santa!
  • Me: Wow! Who's Santa?
  • Ian: I think she's a little girl who's coming to preschool with me.
  • Me: Ian, Santa's not a little girl, he's a man!
  • Ian: No she's not!
I decided to wait and let his brothers set him straight so that they would be teaching the doctrine of Santa instead of me! Otherwise, Ian will sure be confused when instead of a cute little girl, a fat, loud, man with a beard shows up at the Christmas party!

Monday, November 26, 2007

On the Lookout for Predators

In the car on Thanksgiving Day, headed home from Grammy & Papa's house, Kimball announced:
  • I see a kidnapper's truck!
  • How do you know it's a kidnapper's truck?
  • Because the sign on the back says: Stop. Watch for Kids!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bogged Down with Life

I am sorry that I have been such a slacker blogger lately. Besides having lots to do (as you all do at this time of year,) the posts that I have knocking around in my head right now will take some real time and effort to get just right, and I want to do that. But I haven't had the time and effort to give them and therefore, I haven't been posting. In the meantime, it is fairly obvious that I have lost all my readers but two or three. I can't say I blame you. I'm going to put a Thanksgiving poll up on my site, basically just to see if anyone is still out there, so if you are still hanging in there with me, please respond to the poll.
I hope you are all reading Erin's holiday blog on Rachael Ray. At least she's posting, even if I'm not.
Tomorrow is the day I make pies, lots of pies. My sister, Alli, my sister-in-law, Erika, my mom, and I will gather together and make pies and listen to Christmas carols (Sorry, Suldog,) and relish in the together time. Here's a link to my favorite traditional pecan pie--the reason it is the best you'll ever taste is that the pecans are toasted. It makes all the difference. I'll also be making a couple of Mary Jeane's famous apple pies, but I can't post the recipe without her permission. Maybe another time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Marketing Campaign Begins

Recently, my dearest sister, Alli, and her darling husband, Flint, moved to the area from LA. Flint asked me how it is that I have successfully recruited them (and our mom, who plans to retire here in 2008.) I gave him all my tips of luring them up for a visit and making everything perfect, then casually showing them a neighborhood they'd love and pointing out how inexpensive the homes are (it helps if they are currently living in a market like Los Angeles.)
Yesterday, he took this photo and emailed it to his entire family with this caption:
Come to Sacramento, it's different out here!He's got them all coming for the "perfect visit" next week, where they will be wowed by Allison's amazing cooking, charmed by a visit to Apple Hill and to Cornish Christmas, and impressed with home prices (it's a good thing they aren't coming from Kentucky instead.) And we have the most cheerful graffiti around!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Older than Dirt

Overheard this afternoon in our home:

  • Henry: Really? You mean Mom lived in olden times? (he pauses to take it in, then says, in awe,) Wow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Three Women, One Man, and a Baby

No, it's not a new show about an alternative family. It just describes my recent trip. I had the privilege of visiting some former BYU roommates, McArthur and Neves, in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. I took Bronwen with me on her first cross-country adventure, and we left the male folk at home to fend for themselves. Here are a few highlights of our trip:
  • A short but great visit with Rebecca, my cousin, and her two little boys. I took about 15 pictures of her two year old, Brandon, and not a single one was any good. Bummer. So you won't get to see anything from that.
  • Bronwen and I alone with McArthur's car, trying to get from Alexandria, where Rebecca lives, to Reagan National Airport, where I was supposed to pick up McArthur, and Dylan (Neves' hubby). Apparently, one of the security measures in the D.C. area is that you are never really sure where you are at any given moment, nor will you reach your intended destination on the first attempt, even if you are a local! (And I thought, being raised in LA, "I'm a city girl! How hard can it be?")
  • A drive out to the northwestern part of Virginia. If it had not been raining and grey, this would have been absolutely breathtaking. It was rather lovely anyway, but I didn't get any photos of this either, much to my chagrin!
  • A shopping to trip to "Gabe's", a discount store akin to TJMaxx, but on a much larger scale. I've been hearing about Gabe's and drooling over the deals acquired for 16 years now. Now I know what I've been missing.
  • Dinner at a fabulous little tavern in Upperville, VA.
  • A visit to D.C.'s Eastern Market on Saturday morning to check out the international flea market, farmer's and fresh food market, and to enjoy a maple pecan french toast breakfast. Yum. There were many booths to explore with jewelry from all over the world, photography, textiles, and architectural remnants. We would have lingered longer if it hadn't been frigid (the weather report had predicted sunny and 50 degrees. Not once did we see those kind of temperatures.)
  • A free concert at the Kennedy Center on the Millenium Stage. In spite of it being a standing room only crowd, it was worth it to see the Kenyan children's choir and acrobats who performed there. Bronwen made some friends while crawling around the floor under Kennedy's head. This brother and sister duo were so adorable and so into her--they cried when their parents finally said it was time to go.
  • Another great dinner, this time at an Indian restaurant on Capital Hill, near McArthur's home. Since everyone else at our table had been to India multiple times, they knew the best food to order and delighted me with everything I tasted.
  • Here's a shot of our charming hostess, McArthur. She always was the photogenic one.
  • I prepped Bronwen ahead of time that she needed to be on her best behavior, as these friends have not yet made the jump into parenthood, and I did not want to be responsible for scaring them away any further. At the end of the weekend, they pronounced her a "false advertising baby," skeptical that all babies could possibly be as easy as she. Nice work, Bronwen! Our plan worked perfectly!
  • The most miraculous part of the trip was that we didn't have any delayed flights, missed flights, six hour stints on the tarmac without moving, lost baggage, or screaming on airplanes. Our flights were pretty uneventful, which is a huge improvement over the last time I paid these friends a visit with baby Henry back in 2002. That was a nightmare (not the part where we actually got to be together, shopping for Neves' wedding gown--just all the traveling parts.)
  • I left wanting more. Not only more of my friends, whom I see too little of these days, but of D. C. I spent the flight home dreaming up ways that we could move our family there for six months and explore all the city has to offer, then wander up and down that coast. Washington D.C. is a homeschooler's paradise, with all of the free educational places available to visit. Maybe we'll be able to swing it someday, somehow!
Anyway, I'm home now, and busy with laundry, Tiger Academy, laundry, preparing for Thanksgiving next week, and more laundry. Hopefully I'll be able to post again soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I'm Still Here!

Thanks for being patient with me as I neglect my blog. The past week has been a whirlwind as we settled into our Tiger Academy. I am still figuring out how to make time for me to do the things that are important to me (including laundry, blogging, and reading.) We are having a great time learning together.
I've also been getting ready for a trip this weekend that I'm really looking forward to. I'll tell you all about it when I get back. In the meantime, here is something to keep you entertained and indoctrinated in the ways of organic food.

This was made a few years ago by Free Range Studios, a graphic design firm where one of my dear friends from BYU days, McArthur, is the VP. (Yes, I am obviously out to impress you with all of the cool people I know after my last post!)
Also, Tawny requested a low fat dessert recipe. Try this fabulous fancy chocolate souffle for only 152 calories on Cooking Light. Or, if you're in the mood for pumpkin, try this Pumpkin Carrot Cake recipe, also from Cooking Light. Sorry it has taken me so long, Tawny.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Friend, Mentor, Guru . . . Erin!

One of my dearest friends ever, Erin, (who has been mentioned in several past posts,) has been making a name for herself over the past few years by winning many, many recipe contests. She has been to the Pillsbury Cook-Off more than once and every time I talk to her she has just returned from another competition in a far off city.
Erin is doing a holiday entertaining blog for Rachael Ray this holiday season, and whether you love Ms. Ray or you love to hate her, you simply must frequent Erin's posts. She went live today and the first post is about her family's annual Halloween tradition, which is what inspired ours
(although we are crazy enough to invite nearly everyone we know, in addition to the random trick-or-treaters that come by). Wander over and see what she has to say.

Party Wrap-Up

So last night's party was a success. We figure that we had about 90 people come, a few less than RSVP'd, but not too shabby! We had plenty of food, although we did have Jared's parents run to the store for ketchup, then 1/2 an hour later for mustard (what can I say--I don't think straight under pressure--can you imagine how scary it would be if I actually had alcohol at my parties?)
I really realized how many people help make our annual event a success. As already mentioned, Jared's mom and dad are the ones who run to the store for everything we forgot, plus I think Dad made three trips earlier in the day between his house and ours with tables, chairs, a crockpot . . . you get the picture. Then, there was Christine, who offered to have the boys come over and play after naptime. I was sure that I'd be fine without her generous offer, but by 3:00 it sounded pretty darn good. Nancy showed up at 4:00 and said, "I've got an hour. Put me to work!" and proceeded to vacuum most of the house (I had only gotten to the family room so far) and to clean up Ian's room, which he had torn apart during his naptime. My wonderful sister, Alli, showed up about 4:30 with her arms full of decorations (which I hadn't asked her to bring but which made such a great addition to my two little decorations!) She is so good to think of the things that I don't.
We are so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends, and this annual tradition always helps us remember how wonderful that is.
Anyway, here are some pictures for you to enjoy. As you can see, Colonel Sanders attended to festivities (complete with his accent). So did my newest adorable nephew, Isaac, who came as himself.
Here are a few other party goers, enjoying their food, conversation, and other delights (like the train table, which was a hot spot!)
James was so in love, he wanted to share his Skittles with Bronwen. Thankfully, his mother intervened!
Henry felt so let down when the party was over. Here's where I found him when everyone had gone.Dad and Kimball were crashed in the living room at about the same time.
Hope you can make it out next year, dear readers!

Party Post Coming Soon

I can't wait to post pictures and a rehash of our Open House last night, however at the moment I can barely get to the computer for all the clean up that needs to be done! Not to mention that as soon as we finished family scripture study this morning at 7:30 am (which I had rolled out of bed for fifteen minutes previously,) my kids said, "OK, Mom! Time for Txxxxx Academy!" (I'm going to have to come up with a code name for our home school if I'm not going to disclose our family name on this site. In the future, I'll call us Tiger Academy, as the tigers are our chosen mascot.)
So, stay tuned. There will be pictures of our celebrity guest, adorable children, and more.